Investing in Nigerian tech startups

What’s been going on at

Posted: November 12th, 2014

What’s been going on at

On September 22nd this year, we made investments into nine startups and kick-started the first accelerator program in Lagos.

Three weeks in, mentors, investors, and sponsors, were invited to the Lagos Garage to meet the startups and were treated to music, cocktails, and a 45-second pitch by each of the startups.

Over the first 6 weeks, the team and selected mentors have assisted the startups to build, test, and find channels for their products. The methodology used is inspired by the Lean Canvas model where startups “get out of the building” to find customers, and test assumptions about their business. We use this model because its a faster and more effective way for the startups to communicate their business model and focus their development in the short time they participate in the accelerator.

We’ve also been hosting some Super-entrepreneurs at our weekly Wednesday Dinners.

Dinner #1 Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and CEO of Interswitch. Full blog here.


Dinner #2 Denis O’Brien, Founder and CEO of Vanso


Key takeaways:

  • The Nigerian consumer wants essentially the same as the US consumer, so quality products are in high demand. Its a huge market to tap into if you can produce a high quality product
  • Business plans can change quickly due to misinterpretation of the market as the e-commerce industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy
  • Nigeria is such a large market that there’s no need to look at expanding elsewhere right away
  • Good entrepreneurs look at businesses that others are not chasing.

Dinner #3 Ayo Olashoju, Founder and MD of Tavia Technologies


Key takeaways:

  • You have to be passionate about whatever you’re doing. You can’t do it just for the love of money. If you’re good at what you do, money will come
  • In an internet age, there are so many businesses that already exist, so you need to focus on your unique selling point
  • Your business has to consume you. When people talk to you, they should be convinced about your strategy because you are completely convincing.
  • Push through shyness and self doubt
  • Be curious, look for pain points to find opportunities

Dinner #4 Gavin Marshall, VP Product Dev Konga. Previously, Head of Innovation at Mxit


Key takeaways:

  • You should have customers willing to use your product before you start building. Get your customers first and then build your product. Don’t scale without customers.
  • The best retention strategy is to have a really good product.
  • Trying to be all things to all people doesn’t work.
  • Find a market where you’re the only one and then build a product that meets a real need Partner, Diamond Bank, also descended on the Garage with a sizable team – including GMD Uzoma Dozie, Head Corporate Communications Ayona Trimnell, as well as other colleagues from Corporate Communications Dept., Customer Engagement, and MSME, to see what the Startups were up to, and give feedback on their businesses.


The startups have less than 5 weeks left in the accelerator. Their key focus is now on launching their products, sales, and revenue generating activities. They will present the combination of these efforts to a group of selected investors on the Investor Day which takes place on December 10th. You can request an invite here if you are an investor and would like to attend.

To catch a glimpse into what’s being going on at the Garage so far, check out this video:

We are grateful to our partners who support these efforts to give Nigerian startups the best launchpad for their products and services:



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