Friday July 26, 2013 was a special rewarding day for the technology ecosystem in Lagos as it got to mingle with Tony Elumelu (C.O.N.) Chairman, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Mrs. Omobola Johnson, Honourable Minister of Communications Technology at the Hub.
Bosun Tijani (C.E.O. of CcHUB) took the audience through the CcHUB methodology, which is focussed on supporting very early stage ideas through prototype development to solve social issues in Nigeria. He stressed that TEF was one of the first local organizations to support CcHUB through a partnership to award pre-seed grants of $5,000 to 20 technology ideas/ventures targeted at typical social challenges faced by the average Nigerian. By focusing on the early stages of high-impact, results-oriented ventures, the pre-seed funding supports experimentation and prototype development in order to accelerate the adoption of the solutions.
Three (3) start-ups i.e. BudgIT, Efiko, and Traclist told the story of how the grant had helped their ventures. They also received on-the-spot mentoring from Mr. Elumelu and Mrs. Johnson.
- Seun Onigbinde, Team Lead, BudgIT (www.yourbudgit.com) used the grants to improve BudgIT’s data strategy and scale its mobile presence that increased their web hits by 1 million whilst also helping to hire 2 data analysts
- Adebayo Adebayo, Team Lead, Efiko (www.efiko.com.ng) said the grant was used to complete and launch the platform via a National secondary school competition that has so far impacted over 12,500 students in six months
- Emotu Balogun, Founder, Traclist (www.traclist.com) was able to complete a beta version of Traclist, figure out a working business model and sustained day-to-day running of the pilot for 6 months. Traclist now generates over N1.6million in monthly transactions
Mr. Elumelu announced the intention of the TEF to increase to 50, the number of annual grants to support ideas that solve challenges while providing sustainable returns. He also pledged to start an Incubator and SME fund to provide follow-on funding for businesses. He remarked that it was refreshing to see young entrepreneurs focusing on innovations that have social impact who also have the potential to make profits to ensure they stay sustainable.
Entrepreneurs then had the chance to ask burning questions to Mr. Elumelu and Mrs Johnson. In response to a question on how start-ups could stay alive in a fiercely competitive industry boasting established brands, Mr. Elumelu advised on the military concept of creeping colonisation, which allows you take the enemy from the flanks and not head on. He shared his experience of running a commercial bank Standard Trust Bank and closed with a comment ‘and today when I look at what we achieved, I realise that with commitment and focus, anything is possible’.
On what impact-investing firms like TEF look out for in technology businesses, Desiree Younge, Director TEF responded that it was about ventures with strong business models and solving a real need with social impact.
In response to how mobile app developers can negotiate better revenue share with Telcos, Mrs. Johnson advised on the need for mobile apps to add value and improve the quality of people’s lives that will generate tons of downloads/repeat use to strengthen their negotiation stance with Telcos.
The event wrapped up with light refreshments on the CcHUB rooftop.