Startup Mentality in Silicon Valley is killing our Local Business Mindset in Africa

Picture of a founder pitching at a TechCrunch BattleField Africa cohort

This article was written in context to business ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa as an extension, I hear a lot of startups going and around lately, and watch as many die on arrival why others waste money trying to prove they need to start a business to be relevant in the World. I have no problem with ambition and love energy when I see it even if its negative energy.

Studying Nigeria’s history, we see it’s a country or community that has been christened on trade, from the Portuguese in the 1600 to the Dutch and English, fine slave trade came along the way, which stamp us as the largest export of human labour in history (I stand to be corrected).

If what history left in culture for us to ruminate shows the rich tradition of trade and business, though we might not be as shrewd as the Arabs or Indian traders, but we do a lot and also have proper wealth distribution channel, even better than today.

The Internet has brought modernization to a lot of industries and revamping the way business used to be. The business world of the old hasn’t really changed much only that there is faster access to information and better connectedness, these two factors have changed business and mind-set over time.

Startups are small companies within their first five years, though to call a company a Startup, one must check a number of variables like valuation, growth rate, number of employees and a whole lot of other criteria.

Today it seems almost impossible to build one from the scratch as the rate at which they fail demands sympathy. Though many see failing as noble thing and claim to learn their lessons after, it’s pathetic we find them fail again and again.

Failure is a relative thing and it means a lot of thing to different people, for this context I will define failure as quitting a Startup because you couldn’t meet a set goals or let’s say you collapse under pressure.

Studying the Nigerian ecosystem before the emergence of tech in let’s say 2001, we see businesses thrive and grow. We have financial institutions running for over 50 years and still strong even after facing some industry setback(though some quit too), Manufacturing Companies making simple stuffs like foams, plastics, paper and a number of other things, also we have companies in food, beverages, cements, law and so on.

Most of these businesses have faced harder times than any startup could ever face, some even still find it hard to switch over to technology but they are still in business, not that they know how, but because they know or think they’ve faced harder times and this won’t be an exception.

I am not writing a motivation, I am just observing the rate at which Startup fail in Nigeria and its alarming. Though its agreed that Nigeria is a very volatile business battle ground, with bad government policies on ground and other disarming factors like, lack of access to capital, poor internet facilities, growing internet users, underprivileged customer base who wants everything for free, high poverty rate, deficit in infrastructure, dire talent accessibility and a host of other problems everyone will always face, but in between all of that, there are companies that have risen through the debacle of volatility.

Comparison is really killing the energy in entrepreneurs of nowadays, they compare the Startup ecosystem with that of the United States and believe they can ever meet that of Silicon Valley’s. As an entrepreneur, your context/environment defines you, if you’re an American entrepreneur or a British what matters most is your target market. “Build what people need” is YC’s code name, it should be yours too.

When doing your market analysis, if you’re an African Startup, and you’re the first to build a product/service in your industry/lane, then it should be under Abraham Maslow first hierarchy of needs. If it’s not, then there should be an infrastructure you are building on that is on the hierarchy. If you’re the infrastructure, you should know you have to find a way to acquire businesses that meets the consumer needs.

In conclusion, African startups that want to last very well without funding/big funding, should build a consumer driven product/service, so as to validate their business model and start making money. If you intend to only add value without making money, value might not last you longer before your Startup burn out.

Anything you create that can give people value, can and will give you money, so Stay Woke

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I am searching for purpose, I was told I can't find it in this life.... but I keep on searching

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Sam Adekunle

Sam Adekunle

I am searching for purpose, I was told I can't find it in this life.... but I keep on searching

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