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What do you do when you’re trending for all the wrong reasons?
Wait the noise out? Type a half-hearted apology on your Notes app and release it on Twitter 👀? Or pay influencers to write threads about your good works?
If you’re a public figure or if you own a brand, a business or a startup, then crisis communication is something you definitely have to learn. Over the past couple of months, startups across the globe have been at the centre of negative attention, and not all of them have handled it well.
Be it a whistleblowing employee, a troublesome regulator, or a misguided founder, crises will happen and you should be ready for it. Lucky for you, we’ve started a PR column, and the first one talks about how you can plan ahead for a crisis.
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* Data as of 22:00 PM WAT, September 1, 2022.
QUICK FIRE 🔥 WITH FAISAL SADEGH
Faisal is head of product at Wowzi, and he has a deep passion for all kinds of information systems.
He can often be found working, cycling, making bread or playing base-building games like Factorio. He also loves eating pancakes and hanging out with his partner and friends!
Explain your job to a five-year-old
I work alongside a wonderful group of people from many different countries. I work online using my laptop, and my job is to listen and understand a lot of opinions, problems and ideas so I can make sense of the different needs that people have. I then pass along the information to my workmates, and together we work to build, solve, and fix what is needed!
What’s something you wish you knew earlier in your career/life?
I’ve had the pleasure of dipping my toes into many different careers and studies, and I wish I had known sooner how powerful a vast diversity of experiences would be. Being able to wear many hats is an essential skill set that has come in very handy in daily and professional life.
As a product manager, what’s one misconception people have about your job?
The biggest misconception is that many people expect product managers to be the “CEO of the product”. However, this is very rarely the case. A good PM can make sure to translate the CEO’s vision into a product with real-world traction, but ultimately a great PM can adapt to the organisation’s needs in fulfilling the role. That’s how we provide the best value, by understanding that the product is done differently in different places and there is no set, right way to make it happen!
Is there a difference between project and product management?
Project and product management are similar in many ways but differ in others. Primarily, I find that projects have a start and an end date or, at the very least, fixed objectives and methodologies. Of course, products could be similar, but I find that products are more hit-or-miss on all these characteristics, requiring pivoting, tracking and recalibrating the course according to the market and resources in an attempt to establish and maintain a presence.
What’s the one mistake startups make when they’re building a new product?
The actual work of a startup is to build and release a product, get it into users’ hands to see if they like it, and then iterate on that. Unfortunately, a lot of noise and other priorities can get in the way of this. The startup scene is rife with voices and popular culture distorting people’s perception of the main objective, a product-market fit (PMF).
The biggest mistake for startups is neglecting to connect the definition of PMF with where they are in the journey. PMF is a state, and what happens after you hit it makes it clear that you’re there. It’s not the actual product, it’s the response of the external world to your product.
Your product is so in demand that you can’t produce enough of it; the usage is growing very fast; your servers might even break with that sudden demand; you’re hiring people as fast as possible to support the new incoming users, and there are piles of money coming in—there must be profit!
Do all products have the potential for success? Or are there some that will flip despite the effort put into it?
Everything lies on a spectrum, and any product can get points for its chance of success (or penalties) based on a number of factors.
However, the main factor determining success, and sorry to sound like a looping Instagram video here, is achieving product-market fit. Once you’re there, you are guaranteed to have a successful product in hand. Well done!
What’s one thing entry-level product managers should know?
Critical listening skills are one of the most important toolkits in your arsenal. Making sense of things and translating them into reality is built on the preconception that you can understand and question what and why it is needed by the people you are talking to.
If I could add another, it’s to find an expert to learn from. For me, at this moment, it is Michael Seibel from Y combinator!
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AMAZON OPENS NEW OFFICE IN JOHANNESBURG
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced that it has opened a new office in Johannesburg citing growing customer demand for the cloud service as the main motivating factor for the decision.
“The new office will support South Africa’s burgeoning cloud market, and provide a range of services to organisations of all sizes, including startups, enterprises, and public sector agencies,” Amazon said in a statement on Thursday. “[it] continues Amazon’s growing investment in South Africa.”
Not the first one
This is AWS’s second office in Johannesburg. The company launched its first local office in the city on 13 August 2015.
“Johannesburg offers an incredible talent pool of highly skilled and creative people,” said AWS country manager Chris Erasmus.
“It is home to many notable South African enterprises leading the way in digital innovation as well as fast-growing startups.”
An update on the Amazon Cape Town HQ
While a new office in Johannesburg is good news for Amazon, the company continues to face roadblocks in the construction of its Cape Town multi-purpose complex which is to house its Africa regional headquarters due to protests from indigenous activists who consider the site of the complex a sacred land.
In March, an interdict was issued preventing the developers from continuing with construction pending the outcome of a High Court review of authorisation decisions.
The activists however allege that the developers returned to the site on June 27 to resume construction, violating the interdict granted by the High Court in March.
Today, September 2, a contempt hearing will take place at the High Court regarding this matter.
Zoom out: According to the developer of the Cape Town project, if the construction faces further delays, Amazon may be forced to scrap it entirely. If the court decides in favour of the activists on Friday, that cancellation might move closer to becoming a reality.
FLUTTERWAVE RECEIVES A NEW LICENCE AND PLANS FOR IPO
Flutterwave might be having licencing problems in Kenya, but it is flourishing in Nigeria.
The payment unicorn recently secured a Switching and Processing Licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that will allow it to facilitate transactions between financial service providers, merchants, customers and other stakeholders without intermediaries. The licence will also allow it to offer new services such as transaction switching, card processing, non-bank acquiring, agency banking and payment gateway services.
Despite its barriers in Kenya, Flutterwave received this new licence, dubbed as the Nigerian central bank’s most valuable payments processing licence, to strengthen its hold on the Nigerian financial space.
Before now, Flutterwave had operated in Nigeria with Payment Solution Service Provider (PSSP) and International Money Transfer Operator (IMTO) licences. While the PSSP licence allows users to pay merchants and IMTO licence allows it to power cross-border payments, Flutterwave still had to leverage partnerships with different partners to make these transactions happen. It wants to change that and process transactions directly.
According to Flutterwave, this licence will allow it process transactions faster, launch new and improve existing products, and improve payment experience.
The company’s chief regulatory and government affairs officer, Oluwabankole Falade, also acknowledged the rigorous process of acquiring the said licence. “We’re thrilled to have been issued this licence after fulfilling all of the regulatory requirements. The application process was very rigorous and included a detailed review of our operations as a business,” he said.
Preparing for an IPO
On Tuesday, despite still facing multiple allegations of financial impropriety, news broke that the Lagos-based and San Francisco-registered company is preparing an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange, the second largest stock exchange in the world. The company’s hiring of four new executives from American Express in June is largely seen as another move to bolster its corporate governance.
Flutterwave, valued at more than $3 billion, is eyeing greater success on the continent. Its chief financial officer, Oneal Bhambani (one of the executives snatched up from American Express) said that the company will use funds from the stock exchange listing to expand operations in its existing markets, and enter new ones in Africa.
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TC INSIGHTS: FUNDING TRACKER
This week, Kenya’s Pezesha raised $11 million in a pre-series A round from women’s world banking capital, a gender-lens investment fund established by US-based non-profit organization Women’s World Banking and managed by WWB Asset Management. Other participating investors included Verdant Frontiers Fintech Fund, cFund, IOG, Talanton, and Verdant Capital Specialist.
Here are the other deals this week:
- Duplo, a Nigeria-based company, raised an initial funding round worth $4.3 million from a coalition of investors including Liquid2 Ventures, Soma Capital, Tribe Capital, Commerce Ventures, Basecamp Fund, and Y Combinator.
- Nigeria-based fintech, Grey, raised $2 million in seed funding led by Y Combinator. Other participating investors include Soma Capital, Heirloom Fund, True Culture Fund; and angel investors, Alan Rutledge, Samvit Ramadurgam, and Karthik Ramakrishnan.
- Nigeria fintech company, Anchor, raised $1 million in pre-seed funding. Participating investors include Byld Ventures, Y Combinator, Luno Expeditions, Niche Capital, Mountain Peak Capital, SeamlessHR and CEO Emmanuel Okeleji.
- Octiv, a South African fitness software company, raised an undisclosed Series A funding round from Knife capital.
That’s it for this week!
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more funding announcements.
EVENT: INSIDE IDENTITY
Fintechs need a strong foundation for risk and compliance management. They help to detect fraud and ensure that their platforms are not used for money laundering and other related crimes.
But how can they build strong KYC frameworks to achieve regulatory compliance?
Join us on Inside Identity (formerly Digital Identity Matters) this morning at 11 AM (WAT). Daniel Adeyemi, senior reporter at TechCabal, will be speaking with:
- Ebi Wanapere, head of treasury and platform operations at Bamboo
- Daluchi Iweanya, head of compliance at Quidax
- Esigie Aguele, co-founder and CEO at VerifyMe and
- Michael Safo, compliance/KYC expert, Ghana
If you haven’t registered yet, sign up here.
Inside Identity is powered by VerifyMe Nigeria, in partnership with TechCabal.
IN OTHER NEWS FROM TECHCABAL
Technology now contributes more to Nigeria’s GDP than oil.
Transcendance VC wants to show the world that impact investing is not charity.
UberEats is pausing deliveries in parts of Soweto following “multiple safety incidents”.
South African startup Trabel launches its “NoPBX” technology in Namibia.
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- Big Cabal Media – Head of Events – Lagos, Nigeria
- Big Cabal Media – Reporter, Citizen – Lagos, Nigeria
- Big Cabal Media – Newsletter Editor, Citizen – Lagos, Nigeria
- Big Cabal Media – Multimedia Content Creator, Citizen – Lagos, Nigeria
- Big Cabal Media – Newsletter, Editor, Zikoko – Lagos, Nigeria
What else is happening in tech?
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