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Uzoma Dozie Unveils 5 keys for Start-ups' Success in an Economy under Recession

For those who haven’t heard about Tech Turks, it is an online video series for Diamond TV with the purpose of being a space for me to meet transformational thought-leaders and entrepreneurs who have been the new-age technology harbingers in Nigeria. As a banker and a technology enthusiast, I could sense a wave of change that new generation entrepreneurs are bringing to the market. Mark Zuckerberg in his recent visit to Lagos was taken by the city’s vibrant developer and entrepreneurial ecosystem. He strongly emphasised on the entrepreneurial energy of Nigerians and how with technology, they are going to change the country and lead the continent’s progress

To me therefore, the interviews at Tech Turks reflected Zuckerberg’s belief in Nigerians. Through this platform, these young transformers share the stories of their struggles, their inspirations and vision for Nigeria and Africa. To me, there are five strong takeaways that will guarantee sustainable success for a start-up.

Market readiness is key
Market readiness as a concept is instrumental in the rise or fall of an organisation. There have been several instances in history where reputed brands have failed to dominate global markets because of market ‘un-readiness.’ While discussing with some young entrepreneurs, what struck me was that each ventured into the Nigerian market, when the market was ready. Take the case of Vanso, there was demand in the Nigerian market for software and mobile app developers and Vanso was quick to identify it. The same can be said about Wakanow, the promoter of the business, Obinna, was smart enough to bring home his experience of using Experian and use it strategically for improving people’s travelling experience in Nigeria. Not only have they been able to consolidate the travel industry in Nigeria/Africa but have also been able to extend their portfolio.

All you need is vision
People often believe that in order to be big, you have to do something new. While speaking with some young Nigerian entrepreneurs, I realized that you don’t always have to do something new, but do things differently. People need to have the vision to realise what works and what doesn’t, and then have the persistence and clarity to follow it to its goal. Take the case of Spinlet, it is not that online music streaming is a new concept, but what Spinlet is doing differently is that they are creating a niche for themselves by restricting their music to Africa and the Diaspora. With two million downloads and 1500 subscriptions every day, Spinlet is not chasing the crowd but compartmentalising its audience base – and that is its vision. The same can be said about iROKOtv and how its’ CEO, Jason Njoku is doing more than creating a substitute for Netflix or Amazon TV. The present version of iROKOtv therefore is a download only option, aiming to bring the world of African cinema and entertainment literally into people’s hands at affordable rates.
Consumer Awareness
Being a banker, I have first-hand experience in dealing with educating the consumer. Education means sharing information and creating awareness, but most importantly instilling trust in its consumers. For instance, in OLX’s case, online classified is a new concept with only 3-5% usage in Nigeria. Although they have certain engaging plans like ‘Sell it for Me’ and ‘Do it for Me’; awareness and trust, like the two sides of a coin is a long-term relationship. Similarly, when Google Nigeria started the company, it invested money in advertising to showcase how amazing their products are and how they can add value to consumers’ lives.

Technology is everything
No matter what your business is, if you have been able to recognise the potential of technology you are set to achieve your goals. All my guests recognised the need to use technology for their business. Spinlet, Digital Jewels or Wakanow are all driven by technology. All businesses are relying greatly on technology, which definitely makes it the right time for Nigerian youths to hone their skills and leverage from the opportunities that the market presents.

Fixing Payment Challenges
Finding ways to fix challenges opens doors for a business to succeed and it is very interesting. Why?  In a country where 80 per cent of all payments are being made in cash, it is a major challenge for any technology inclined business to drive and induce people to make online payments. According to Nkiru Balonwu of Spinlet, it is easy to get a week long or month long paid subscription from European or American countries using PayPal, but that is not the case with Nigeria, as people often don’t trust the concept of cashless transaction. As it is, banks have a critical role to play in shaping the future of several businesses in Nigeria and Africa. Payment or rather, monetary success, is critical to all businesses and that is the one area that most are struggling with. As CEO of Diamond Bank, this provides an opportunity for us to grasp and grow with. And I am certain we will do something out of it soon. You can watch all the Tech Turks episodes here.

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