Hot, humid and lots of hooting sums up my first impression of Lagos. However, by the time I left four days later, I had another H to describe my experience. Hustle! Traditionally the word refers to a state of great activity which at face value also defines Lagos perfectly. The urban dictionary defines hustle as having courage, confidence, self-belief and self-determination to go out there and work it out until you find the opportunities you want in life. This definition is more appropriate based on my interactions with all the great people I met. We visited Lagos last month to kick off our coaching of the Make-IT startups. ‘Make-IT in Africa’ (Make-IT) is a project implemented by GIZ whose mission is to promote digital innovation for sustainable and inclusive development from East and West African entrepreneurs in their early stage growth phase. ViKtoria Ventures is a partner in supporting the startups to navigate through the program. Make-IT selected 28 tech-startups, 15 businesses in Nairobi and 13 businesses in Lagos. For the past 3 months, the startups have been part of an Accelerator training program ran by Nailab and Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) respectively.
The 13 businesses that are part of the Make-IT program in Nigeria are from 3 different countries. The accelerator at CcHub focused on positioning the startups for growth and equipping the founders with the tools they need to achieve this growth. In the 12 week program, the startups refined their product vision, business models, value proposition and internal processes. In phase 2 and phase 3 of the program, the startups will go through coaching to provide opportunities for partnerships as well as focus on financing requirements to ensure investment readiness. We are working with the Lagos Angel Network to implement this. We had the opportunity to sit in for the initial mock-pitch session of the 13 startups. In the lively session, the founders were given notes on how to tweak their presentations by their peers as well as the panel present. Most of the businesses still had some work to do in terms of putting across their key value proposition but we were impressed with the passion of the founders and their dedication to make their businesses work; a true display of their hustle. The startups recently graduated from the Accelerator, you can read more about them here
We also visited the Impact Hub in Lagos where startups that are part of the Google Launchpad Accelerator were having a week long session. The six month program matches growth stage startups with people, networks and advanced techonologies to help scale great products. Out of the twelve startups selected, six are from Nigeria such as Riby and Babymigo. Kenya is represented by two startups, Flexpay and Pezesha.
In an article on Disrupt Africa, the founder and CEO of CcHub – Bosun Tijani said this, “The tech startup ecosystem in Nigeria is following a known trajectory, which can be seen in the journey of Nollywood and the Nigerian music industry – organic, misunderstood, but purposeful. The ecosystem is deepening yearly and anyone with a medium to long term outlook on tech in Africa will take Nigeria seriously.” After hearing the great ideas, meeting determined individuals and seeing the level of grit and hustle for myself, I agree. Keep an eye out for the startup scene in Lagos.