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I am writing this from a small island off the coast of East Africa, and I noticed something curious in the past few weeks. Most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met in the 6 months I’ve lived here do not see their country as a primary market, but only the base from which they serve the entire world.
When I compare this to, say, Nigeria, there’s a big difference in how we think about the products we build. The internet has removed geographical barriers, yet we still sit in our tiny corner of the world, accusing ourselves of building “X for Africa”, while not causing any dents beyond what’s in front of our noses.
I have two theories that explain this phenomenon. i) we are seduced by our large population, often forgetting that the addressable market is many times smaller, ii) there is a vortex, a reality distortion field that pulls Nigerian-founded internet products into itself, occupying them with the day-to-day concerns of serving a loud minority, ensconced in a massive country, and blinding them to opportunities that lie elsewhere.
Even this newsletter, which calls itself a digest of “African tech” and has 60% of its daily readers in the USA, often forgets all that and pretends that everyone is Nigerian, lives in Nigeria, or is familiar with Nigerian tropes (I mean…you are currently enduring my navel-gazing). This bothers me to no end, and I love it when some of us cross the chasm, casting away our self-imposed straitjackets and attempting to break into other markets, either directly, via partnerships with local players, and/or acquisitions. You don’t grow bigger by shrinking.
On that note…
Here’s what you should know today.
1 – Karibuni, Ogavenue 🇳🇬 🇰🇪
Ogavenue, the event-venue booking platform started by Andrew Airelobhegbe in 2014, has launched in Kenya with roughly 200 venues vs. 6000+ in Nigeria. The market for the product in Nigeria is very clear – no weekend passes by without hundreds of parties or other events taking place in Lagos (which I expect to be their biggest market by far). In Kenya, the mix is a little different, with lots of the events being “internationally-funded corporate events”. This makes me even more bullish about their prospects, as long as they either hire local talent or partner with people on the ground with deep domain expertise.
+ I guess congratulations are in order, for Andrew, his team, and his investors, Hotels.ng and Jason Njoku’s Spark (valuations going up!…on a Tuesday…).
+ Speaking of investors, Hotels.ng invested in his seed round because of the many synergies between their businesses (travel packages, event guests, etc). It is possible that their backend operations are consolidated in some meaningful way, but I have not seen any cross-promotion or products that leverage on the other’s offerings, on both Hotels.ng or Ogavenue. Guys…wyd?
+ Techmoran’s shameless, unattributed clone of Techpoint’s original report (if you’re into that sort of thing 🤷🏾♂️).
2 – Delivery Grows 🇳🇬 🇰🇪 🇬🇭
Logistics platform, Delivery Bros, is breaking into Kenya and Ghana in the coming weeks. It’s not clear to me how large the market for logistics platforms is, but Delivery Bros will meet players like Sendy, Fargo Courier, and KejaMove in Kenya.
They recently launched a consumer facing app, but I have a hunch that the more interesting business case is in partnerships with local niche e-commerce players (please reply this email to cure me of my ignorance, if you have domain expertise) via their API, which is “coming soon” according to their website.
3 – Kenchain 🇰🇪
QZ reports that the Kenyan startup ecosystem is getting increasingly diffused, with tech hubs coming to life in cities outside Nairobi like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, etc. This is great news, in my opinion, because decentralization is always good for value creation. It also suggests to me that mobile connectivity and economic activity are more evenly distributed across Kenya, than, say, Nigeria.
+ According to GSMA, Kenya has the third-most tech hubs in Africa (27), with South Africa (54) and Egypt (28) coming 1st and 2nd, respectively. (I am almost certain this data is incomplete, but I can’t prove it yet.)
+ If you view the debate about the tech startup cluster in Yaba through the lens of this news, you will agree (as I do) with Oo Nwoye’s view that too much focus concentrated on Yaba, and not Lagos or Nigeria, is a net negative.
+ What do you think? Hit reply to let me know.
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What else is interesting?
+ A new digital savings product, CowryWise. (Worth noting that according to my filter bubble, Piggybank is totally owning that space, and its co-founder, Odun Eweniyi, is jetting around the world as part of CcHub’s Pitch Drive.)
+ Someone is building a service that layers over Paystack, Interswitch, Flutterwave’s Ravepay, etc and adds new features targeted at businesses with subscription products, e.g. free trials, coupons, etc. I like the idea, and to my untrained eyes, it looks pretty neat. Link.
+ Facebook hands publishers a bone after eating their meat. Hehe. Link.
+ Techpoint is going on another tour, this time, to South-South and South-East Nigeria. I wish them safe travels. Link.
+ Bankole says Taxify is winning Lagos. Link. (No, Taslim and Lolu, I won’t link to my analysis of the Nigerian ridesharing industry or spend the next 200 words editorializing.)
+ Benjamin Dada, about his Google internship. Link.
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+ Apply for the fourth edition of the GE Lagos Garage. Kicks off on September 4. Deadline is today at midnight (WAT). Link.
+ Applications are open for Seedstars Accra. Link.
+ AppsAfrica Innovation Awards are now open. The deadline for entries is September 10. Link
+ Apply for the Silicon Valley Accelerate Programme. Deadline is 22 September. Link.
Radar: Radar AMA sessions are back, and Yele Bademosi, founder and managing partner of Microtraction will be taking your questions tomorrow. Mark your calendars. Link
Benin: The final showcase of the third edition of the Summer Workshop of ImpactLabs Nigeria. The event will take place at 10am on Friday, August 25, 2017 at the Senate Chambers of University of Benin. Link
Owerri: Owerri’s first major tech meetup will be held on the 26th of August. Register here.
Lagos: On Wednesday, August 30, ABAN, VC4A, LAN, and V8 will host an investor masterclass around the topic of startup valuations. The session will be facilitated by Tomi Davies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an invite.
Abuja: The Abuja Masterclass on the 31st of August will be ‘an introduction to Angel investing’ conducted by Tomi Davies. Check it out if you’d love to deepen your understanding of early-stage investing. Link
Lagos: At this month’s Usable meetup on the 31st, the discussion will be about the steps to take to recruit the right users for your research. Link
Thank you for your time.
I’m back writing the digest, after a long hiatus. Share the digest to let me know you missed me. Have a great day. 🙂