The Battlefield Academy demo day was yesterday, Each of the seven startups that made it into the Academy got honest feedback from the properly constituted panel of mentors that the Faculty is comprised of. The whole thing, from about 10am to 2pm, was as exhilarating as it was exhausting.
The past six weeks of work all comes down to this evening. The TechCabal team is looking forward to a vacation. But for the startups participating in the Battlefield, this is the last stand. This evening, all seven startups will present. Only one will win $20,000.
Throughout my frenzied coordination of the startups (thank you Capital Square and Easy Taxi!), hustling them in and out pitch sessions, photo shoots and video cameos, I felt inspired, proud and humbled at the same time. Inspired by the amount of work and time that each startup and mentor has put into this. Proud of the emergent technology startup revolution that the people in that room represented. And humbled that somehow, TechCabal is playing a role in all of this.
The world might be vaguely aware of Nigerian technology startups like Interswitch, Sproxil, iROKO, Jobberman, Wakanow, Paga, Konga and more. Collectively and in the last decade, these companies have unlocked hundreds of millions of dollars in local value and foreign investment. As editor of TechCabal, I believe that Nigeria’s next generation of technology startups will outdo their predecessors by many orders of magnitude. The macro and micro indicators are encouraging –
- Technology in Africa is actually mainstream already, a key driver of the economy; ICT now constitutes 8.5 percent of Nigeria gross domestic product. Expected to come in at just under $500 billion post-rebasing this year, Nigeria’s economy is on track to become the largest in Africa.
- The Nigerian technology ministry is investing heavily in critical broadband infrastructure and working with the private sector to bring Internet connectivity and associated services to 80 percent of the population by 2018, and at the same time working to catalyse the local technology industry with one billion dollars in venture funding by 2017.
- Regional governance interests are not being left – quite a few have begun to actively formulate innovative, technology-driven and friendly policy. Lagos State created its innovation council, and has waived rights-of-way fees for broadband operators laying fibre. Cross-Rivers is building tech hubs. Edo state is at the forefront of open data initiatives. Osun and Ekiti state are investing directly in ICT for education.
- With a median age hovering somewhere around 19 years, Africa’s 1 billion plus population is the world’s youngest. Over 170 million of those people live in Nigeria and own over 80 million mobile devices connected to over 160 million lines. Economic and infrastructure reforms promise to swell the middle class and their disposable income, creating the world’s next store of immense commercial opportunity.
And it has only just begun. The pace at which innovation will continue to “eat” the continent will only become faster, as this generation of Nigerian and African entrepreneurs turn to technology to solve pressing local problems and leapfrog decades of lag to catch up with the developed world. The possibilities for disruption — the good kind — are limitless.
We are excited about the times we live in. The TechCabal Battlefield and the participating startups, each with their own game-changing idea, is one way by which we are helping to accelerate the pace of development in Nigeria.
Tomorrow and every day after, we continue to build this ecosystem. But tonight? We battle!
The place is Four Points by Sheraton, 6:30 pm. Follow the Battlefield on the liveblog.
View the live stream (link coming).
We are on Facebook and Instagram too.
The TechCabal Battlefield is proudly powered by prize sponsors Stanbic IBTC Bank and iROKING, with Jobberman, Konga, Etisalat, and support from VC4Africa, Ventureburn, Capital Square, Easy Taxi, Ebonylife TV, YNaija, YourStory, TechCityNG, RELOADED Magazine, HumanIPO.