An easy way for startups to offer returns on dollar investments is to operate in multiple markets. The chief operating officers at Flutterwave, Paystack and Autochek share how startups can scale across Africa.

For most African startups, achieving the right level of scale means being present in multiple countries. But expansion comes with a lot of challenges; a startup must consider the legal and regulatory requirements, the market size, and finding product market fit for each country. 

Speaking at a panel session at Moonshot by TechCabal on Wednesday, October 11, the chief operating officers of Flutterwave, Paystack, and Autocheck, startups in multiple African countries, shared how their startups were able to expand. 

One thing a startup must get right before expanding from their home country is a paying customer base. Mayokun Fadeyibi, the COO of Autocheck Marketplace, said that a startup should have found a product market fit in a country before considering expansion. She added that an operator should also have “self-awareness” and a good grasp of the metrics of the business and that by scaling their technology as they scale the business, startups could avoid a common pitfall that might hinder their expansion drive. 

Bode Afobarin, the COO at Flutterwave, said that for Flutterwave’s expansion, the company developed a playbook covering business development, regulatory requirements, and information the startup had gathered since its inception. Likening the effect of the playbook to how Catholic churches are similar despite location, she advised all startups to create something similar. Last month, Axel Peyriere, the CEO of Auto24, an Ivorian startup that expanded into four countries simultaneously, told TechCabal that he leveraged his company’s documentation process to start the expansion process months before and that he was already preparing to launch in more countries because of this documentation.

One issue with expansion is finding a cost-effective approach to entering multiple markets. Amandine Lobelle, the COO at Paystack, advised startups to make tradeoffs and find a balance between expansion and cutting costs. She added that because of the year’s funding challenge, startups should not take the “growth at all costs” approach. 

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