Lagos Angel Network Makes Its First Investment In Autobox And Hutbay

In what is a notable first for the group of Nigerian investors, the Lagos Angel Network is getting behind two startups in a commitment that will see it invest cash and time in two early stage internet startups, Autobox and Hutbay.

Autobox sells car spare parts online and was the 2nd runner up of the TechCabal Battlefield competition in February. Hutbay is an online real estate marketplace based in Lagos. Both startups are ensconced in what we are adamantly referring to as the Yabacon Valley, from the Co-Creation and iDEA Hubs respectively.

lagos angel network

The Lagos Angel Network’s most visible proponent is Tomi Davies who founded the network with about 12 other angels in 2013. Just shy of one year later, LAN has 22 registered angels who have active interests in the emerging Lagos and Nigerian technology and internet startup scene including Dotun Sulaiman (Chairman, Interswitch), Funke Opeke (CEO, Main One), Wole Lawani (Hyve Capital), Demola Aladekomo ( MD, Chams plc) and more.

The group meets once a month to discuss their activities, and host a dragon’s den style pitch session for Startup entrepreneurs.

On why Autobox and Hutbay were tapped for investment, Tomi Davies said that it considers many factors when evaluating startups and the entrepreneurs behind them, but perhaps the most significant factor they look out for are the personalities of the founders.

“Charles Phillips (Autobox) and Tunji Owolabi (Hutbay) convinced their lead angels not only that they are the right people to execute their plans but also that they can hold drive the vision over a sustainable period of time”.

LAN is not disclosing which investors are participating in the round, or how much they are committing. Both startups however will receive hands on mentorship from at least three angels in the network for the next 12 months.


  • Onyeka A. says:

    “adamantly referring to as the Yabacon Valley”

    – Not sure why, we can do better than that. After all, Silicon Valley actually has a meaning rooted in history.

    • Donnie Ibiyemi says:

      Actually in my opinion the name sounds appalling and does not connote anyform of innovativity or creativity.

      • Onyeka A. says:

        I’m not a fan of Silicon Lagoon either. How about we just come up with something else. Hell we came up with Computer Village, which made a tons more sense, surely we can do that again. Then again I don’t know if we need to aim the area anything at all, but whatever.

        Yes I know I’ve gone off topic but ..

        • Tola says:

          “Yaba Left” has rooted history of people thinking differently and strongly connected to the area. So I vote for Yaba Left – Think Different!

        • NaijaCINE says:

          This is exactly the same irritation I have with the term ‘Nollywood’, and while we’re at it; ‘Ghallywood’, ‘Bollywood’, and all other terminological impersonations. It reeks of zero attempt at original thought and subconscious colonialism. Smh, we can do better. We can always do better.

      • Peter Akporume says:

        Just drop the Valley and use only “Yabacon”
        Makes perfect sense to me

  • Congrats to Tunji and Charles. Two extremely dedicated founders, hope to see them succeed.

    • olatunjee says:

      Someone sent me an email today and it was “the work just begun”! I thought it’s going to get easier with funding but alas, I was wrong!

  • Olu'yomi Ojo says:

    I’d rather go with “Silicon Lagoon”. I don’t get the idea of this YabaCon valley. Great thing that the guys at Autobox got LAN’s backing. Their pitch at TC’s Battlefield was amazing. Wish the two startups best of luck. … But Yabacon Valley. we need to stop this nonsense.

  • Seyi Taylor says:

    Yup. Yabacon Valley has to go.

  • I think this blog post just multiplied the work we’re gonna do by a factor of 3! How I wish we’d employed the tactics of the B-2 fighter jet or the German Blitzkrieg!

  • Congrats to Autobox and…. Hutbay… what bay?

    WTH is a “Yabacon”? sounds like a cross between a lunatic, clown and a con man.

    We have great names already lets not cheapen it. I prefer Otigba any day to “Computer Village” or “Nigerian Best Buy”.

    Sabo is Sabo and let it remain so

    • A name may not neccessarily connotes the market in which a company operates but rather epitomize the desires and vision of the people behind it. Thus, you have Amazon (what’s Amazon got to do with books?), you have Google (initially sounds and looks stupid).

      When you consider the basic rule for naming a company which we adopt, your options are limited: a two to three-syllable word (e.g. Apple, Yahoo, Logitech, Google, etc) , easy to spell, sounds “english” with “local content” in the name (here, the word “hut”) and the desire to have a name that is not in conflict with any known brand and whose domain has not been picked.

      Bays are “significant in the history of human settlement” (real estate) [ref: and they connote a large area (marketplace). I used to live in the village, and with my knowledge of history, I know huts [ref: are the basic form of shelter here in Africa.

      If we can have better names that fulfil the above criteria, we are open to feedbacks.


      • Thanks for your rather lengthy response and detailed explanation.

        I just wonder if “hut” is a good name for quality housing. Hut to me denotes a temporary structure for peasant populations or a temporary subsistence structure.

        “Crib” is more common is colloquial usage. Then again, you have funding and the backers are happy. Kudos to you!

        • You got it! In the same line of reasoning, I don’t think Computer “Village” could have stand a chance! A village is populated mostly by “peasants” or the lower class.

  • Possicon says:

    Wow! The revolution is being televised! Big ups, Angels!

  • El_Komo says:

    I’m glad for the businesses that just secured funding. Hutbay will experience some sensible growth as the demand side in properties far outstrips supply side therefore sustaining arbitrage. They will need to be innovative to experience hypergrowth here though. But like the likes of ToLet have experienced, its a long term play and not many will pay N5,000 to view a string of properties. How about focussing on short lettings for the small business sector for example as well?

    Autobox, I’m not so sure about – buying car parts that are most likely OEM that might not fit and all what not will come with cost of product returns and operations that might bring about stocking large volume of inventory – meaning the constant need to keep raising cash except of course they’ll simply be drop shipping. I love the idea, but certainly they will eventually move from being a solely ecommerce store to doing more of vehicle related business including maintenance to remain relevant in the long run.

    • philip0906 says:

      Manufacturers (OEM and aftermarket), use part numbers to identify
      specific vehicle parts. Even in the offline stores
      (ladipo,aspamda,owode) all you need to get your exact fit, is your
      vehicle year, model, make & sub-model. We are not venturing into an
      untested terrain, but rather something already profitable, tried and
      tested in other parts of the world. Our business model is flexible and
      does not require “stocking large volume of inventory”. We are more than
      an e-commerce store, we are a one-stop portal for all your vehicle
      needs. We are going to be introducing loads of features of car owners,
      be on the look out. Thanks

      • El_Komo says:

        Very kind of you to reply! I’ve wondered since I sauntered upon your website, why your team did not help users narrow down choices based on the exact vehicle they are looking for the spares like it is done in other parts of the world. This way only the parts of the vehicle model that has been selected is displayed.

        What I liked about the site also is that you seem to narrow down vehicle choices to models with large usage within the country – Toyota, Honda mainly. A situation where you also include a marketplace for used dealers might make your offering more competitive as well.

        Wish you and your team the very best as you venture out into aggregating the spare parts opportunity.

        • philip0906 says:

          Oh thanks. . .in the next two weeks, you will be able to narrow down your search & filter according to make, model and year. we are done already with the script(just testing at the moment).

          We initially shied away from used parts, because we couldn’t guarantee them, but we are currently working on including it after being able to source for “first grades”. So the used parts, will be for parts that can’t be purchased as new here in the country. Plus if you noticed, not much inventory yet, we will be doing all that in the coming weeks. Thanks once more

  • Guest says:

    Tech City Yaba “TCY”

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