As much as we like to look to the United States for innovative ideas, and also envy the ease with which technology helps them navigate their lives, a good number of ideas which thrive in their context would not translate quite as well outside of the States.
Some ideas have made startups billions in revenues, turned geeks into millionaires, disrupted and created new industries. They are great, viable innovations but would they have thrived if they had launched in a less welcoming environment, like say, Nigeria?
Let us look at three successful startups and imagine them working in Nigeria.
Airbnb is a great idea. Why not rent out that spare room you have to a verified stranger for a few days. It’s one that has been tried and works well. With over 2,000,000 listings in 190+ countries, Airbnb is now valued at $20 billion. People have even stopped their homes from foreclosing by renting out their rooms to guests. Your guest is free to eat, come and go as they want, sleep, walk around your house even when you’re not around. I see my Nigerians already shaking their heads. We have trust issues. It hasn’t stopped these guys from hosting on Airbnb though, we wish them the best.
Lyft is a platform that connects people who need rides with people willing to provide said rides using their own cars. Lyft has raised over $1billion in funding and is available in 65 cities in the United States. We already have a few startups in Nigeria offering this service(Jekalo and GoMyWay) in addition to your mechanic who uses your car to pick up people and make some money on the side. But like I said before, we have trust issues. How do we know it’s not Ayodele from Ikeja to Lekki Phase 1 that will be the one to end us. Nobody likes being asked ‘who sent you message’?
Co-founded by Elon Musk and named after Nikola Tesla, Tesla Motors make electric cars and is valued at $25 billion. Despite what Senator Ben Murray Bruce may have told you about electric cars, I don’t see them zooming silently down Nigerian roads anytime soon. The horrendous state of electricity generation in the country is legendary and unless we are given a free charger-generator to go with our Teslas, this will remain a dream best left abroad for now.