5 lessons from 5 young Nigerian Entrepreneurs

(Author of this post & Steward of jaraCake.com)

 

For those of you who travelled out of space on the 6th and 7th of May, you missed out on the amazing 2-day business and career transformation conference by the Eden Centre called the ‘Upgrade conference 2016’. the conference was held in Lagos.

Eden centre is an organisation with a mandate to discover, develop and deploy leaders that will become influential in all spheres of society. Their annual conference, the ‘Upgrade conference’ is a “platform for visionaries to meet luminaries without protocols in order to chart a way forward for the advancement of young professionals in their chosen careers”.

Whether the environment was perfectly placed for “meeting luminaries without protocols”, I will not get into here. What I will talk about, however, is one of the sessions that involved a panelist of young entrepreneurs. For lack of a better word, let’s call that session the ‘Young luminaries’ session. The panelists in that session were young people making an impact in their chosen spheres. In no particular order, these are the names of the speakers in the ‘young luminaries’ session. 

Young luminaries:

  1. Afua Osei (Co-founder: She Leads Africa)
  2. Osagie Alonge (Editor in Chief: Pulse, fact only)
  3. Lanre Aina (Google: Brand activation specialist; social entrepreneur)
  4. Chika Ikeji (McKinsey; Angel Investor)
  5. Bankole Oluwafemi (CEO: TechCabal)

Here are the 5 spoken and unspoken things I took from each entrepreneur during the young luminaries session:

Bankole Oluwafemi (CEO: TechCabal)

  • To grow your startup, you need to find and focus on your uniqueness. Sam Walton actually corroborates this here Lesson 24 of the business lesson series.
  • Have a goal within a goal. Be very strategic. It’s not every profitable opportunity you should explore, especially if it might compete with your overall goal.
  • Bankole had originally studied law as an undergraduate. In spite of that, however, his legal background has actually helped him on this new path because one the few things law and blogging have in common is ‘writing’.
  • It’s important to go for events outside of your field. If Bankole had limited himself to law-related events, he might not be on his techcabal path.
  • It is very important for an entrepreneur to be able to take ‘initiative’. Initiative cannot be taught. Business owners must always find a way.

Chika Ikeji (McKinsey; Angel Investor)

  • The most important thing an entrepreneur needs to have is ‘Tenacity’. Tenacity means not quitting till the work is done.
  • There are 5 things an investor looks at Market, Solution, Team, Idea (less important), and very important is RESULTs (not just fancy and wishful thinking. Rarely would an investor put funds into a business that hasn’t been tested)
  • The perfect team is one where the actions of each team member bring the startup closer to achieving her vision and success.
  • In finding a Co-Founder, find someone willing to take the kinds of risk you are willing to. (I definitely can relate to this: Shout out to Lola, the only one who comfortable scaled school with me to source for sponsors, #2010LawFair; and to my Jcooks #Asisterneverforgets)

Osagie Alonge (Editor in Chief: Pulse; Fact only)

  • Keep doing as many things as you can. You will find yourself being pulled by the exact thing you were born to do.
  • “You cannot out-Linda a Linda Ikeji” Or to put it simply, you cannot compete with Linda Ikeji when it comes to gossip blogging. Blogs that succeed are the types that focus on a Niche.
  • There are key things every blog must get right, amongst other things: time of posting, quality of posting, quality of content.
  • For a blog to grow and be consistent, it must have certain laid down rules/guidelines, which must be adhered to.
  • Discover/Know your strength, understand your own purpose and refuse to follow the crowd. Don’t blog cos because everyone is blogging.

Afua Osei (Co-founder: She Leads Africa)

  • It is very important for entrepreneurs to ask for help when they need it.
  • You can validate your idea before building a website. Sometimes landing page is good enough.
  • When you have a ‘never quit’ attitude, you can achieve great things.
  • When you are solving an actual problem, you will be sort after.
  • There are institutions willing to sponsor and partner with not-for-profit business ideas.

Lanre Aina (Google: Brand activation specialist; Social entrepreneur)

  • A person must know how to ask the right questions.
  • The questions you are asking is a pointer to your passion.
  • Your past failures don’t define you. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve failed in life, you can always get back up.
  • With the right relationships/connections, you can get for free what ordinarily would have cost other people money.
  • It is good for entrepreneurs to have an escape, and for Lanre Aina, Basketball is his escape.

For more info on @edencentreng and how to connect with them/ be a part of their monthly business related activities, check out their website below.

Sources

  • http://www.edencentreng.org/
  • https://www.eventbrite.com/e/upgrade-2016-lagos-international-conference-tickets-25026926210

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