In Nigeria, the oil and gas sector has produced a few successful entrepreneurs. Although this sector has created wealth for these few, the new Nigerian digital age is setting itself up to produce many more extremely wealthy people. Find below 5 accidental millionaires the new Nigerian digital age has produced.
The phrase ‘Accidental Millionaire’ was made popular by Ben Mezrich the author of ‘Accidental Billionaires: The founding of Facebook, a tale of sex, money, genius and betrayal. The book tells the story of a few college kids writing code in their Harvard University dorm room for fun and unknowingly building a product (Facebook) that would forever change the world.
‘Accidental Millionaires in the digital age in Nigeria’ connotes the tale of individuals who faced certain obstacles, but turned those obstacles into opportunities despite infrastructural and financial challenges. These individuals have carved a niche in the digital space without fully comprehending the great impact their businesses would have on the general public. Let us begin:
Obinna Okezie (WAKANOW): Wakanow is an online travel portal where you can buy travel tickets and also check for travel deals. Wakanow was founded in 2008 by Obinna Okezie and Ralph Tamuno (co-founder). Obinna Okeziea professional basketball between 1999-2007. Amongst others, he has played for the very popular LA Clippers; he ended his career in Russia playing for Dynamo Moscow. He began questioning his long term career goals after sustaining two major injuries. He found inefficiencies in the way travel tickets were bought in Nigeria and decided to provide a solution: ‘Wakanow’. Wakanow has begun expansion into other African Countries and has recently acquired an online bus company called Oya. He has attributed the success of wakanow to building the right team and constantly innovating.
A Specific Lesson I learnt from Obinna Okezie is this: ‘No matter your passion (Footballer or a Musician) you need to empower yourself even with basic education and think of your long-term.’
Jason Njoku (IrokoTv): Iroko Tv is an online streaming platform. Jason Njoku started Iroko Tv in 2011 almost 5 years ago. Iroko Tv is regarded as the Netflix of Africa, and her main customers are outside Nigeria. Jason Njoku saw an untapped opportunity in Nigerian Entertainment industry to use the internet as a distribution channel for movies being produced. So far, Iroko Tv has raised $10 million from a New York based private equity. Jason Njoku didn’t waste any time in exploiting more business opportunities. In 2013, he launched Spark an angel investment company. So far, the firm has provided seed capital for start-ups like Tolet.com.ng, Hotels.ng, and Drinks.ng amongst others. I can say Jason Njoku has done well by paying it forward and developing more tech startups.
Read also: Hotels.ng Business Model Insights
One strategy Jason Njoku has had is to keep following his passion, despite failures
Mitchel Elegbe (Interswitch): Interswitch is an African focused digital payments company. Mitchel Elegbe started interswitch in 2002 as a transaction switching and payments processing company. Interswitch started due to difficulties surrounding cash payments in Nigeria (Long queues in the bank). Mitchell Elegbe brought innovation to the payment industry in Nigeria by introducing electronic payments systems. In 2015 Interswitch launched a $10m investment fund for African start-ups in the payments sector. Most people would think this industry is capital-intensive maybe because interswitch is worth over N26Billion but according to Mitchell Elegbe, he started very lean by partnering with the Nigerian Banks.
A key lesson from Mitchell Elegbe in one of his recent speech was that true entrepreneurs never have everything (Money, skills and many more ).
Sim Shagaya (Konga) (Dealdey): Konga is the largest online marketplace in Nigeria. In July 2012, Konga was founded definite goals of making Konga an engine of trade. Having failed at other startups he was able to get and understand the markets with dealdey which was founded in March 2011. Sim Shagaya has other ventures like a digital advertisement platform. He has proven over the years to be a real business mogul (our own Dangote in the tech space), against all odds in the unfriendly economy for internet based retail business he is able to successfully dominate the market. He has introduced more job opportunities in the areas of logistics and has also recently entered the online payment sector Kongapay. Sim Shagaya loves data and believed Africa is positioned for the online retail business.
Sim Shagaya loves data and with data, you can spot a gap.
Uche Pedro (Bellanaija): Bellanaija is an online website about entertainment, fashion, and lifestyle. Uche Pedro founded Bellanaija in the year 2006 as a hobby. Bellanaija has stayed true to her vision of providing relevant African online content. Uche Pedro has definitely carved a niche for herself and has used Bellanaija to be a voice for social change in the society in terms of tradition, employment, and awareness to societal issues. Uche Pedro has won various awards including ‘best African blog‘ at the recently concluded Nickelodeon kids choice Awards 2016. She also owns Bainstone limited. I must commend Uche Pedro and her team and I believe there is more to come from Bellanaija soon.
More ‘Accidental Millionaires’ coming soon…
Who else do you think is/should be on my list next list of ‘Accidental Millionaire in the Nigerian Digital space’? Comment below, I’d like to hear from you.
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- Youtube videos ( MYOB, Theplatform)