Investing in Nigerian tech startups


What is Deal Weekend?

Deal Weekend is a 24 hour event where 440 and founder-investors will evaluate your startup and potentially make an investment offer. During the event, you provide information on your startup, seek advice, and negotiate investment terms with 440. Founder-investors may also co-invest alongside 440.

By the end of the day, you will know whether your startup has received an investment offer and deals will be completed using 440’s standard terms.  After Deal Weekend 440 will help you to arrange regular feedback and board meetings with your new investors.

Why should I apply to 440’s Deal Weekend 2015?

If you are a startup with a mobile product or service targeting African markets, chances are you won’t find a better way to fund your company. Besides the 440 team, we have gathered a group of investors, all of whom have experience starting, building, and growing web/mobile businesses.

We believe this model is especially well-suited to startups that already have a team of employees, some paying customers, and daily operations that are difficult to put on hold.

Raising funds for your startup is generally an unproductive time for most startups, and can take many months. Our thought behind Deal Weekend is to speed up that process so you can get back to building your business as soon as possible.

How does this work?

Applications are open from 17th July – 13th August. You have to apply before the deadline to be considered for Deal Weekend.
If we like your application, you will be invited to a short interview at the Lagos Garage during August 17th – 20th. If the interview is successful, you will be notified latest August 21st and you will need to be present full time during the entirety of Deal Weekend, which runs September 4th – 5th.

Before Deal Weekend, 440 will:
1. Collect due diligence documentation from you, which is a prerequisite to participation in Deal Weekend
2. Perform a standard due diligence – using 440’s DD checklist
3. Ensure your management accounts and reporting practices are in order to receive an investment.

During Deal Weekend, 440 will:
1. Explore the different aspects of your product, business, and market – using the Lean Canvas
2. Give you an assignment to complete and present to 440 and founder investors
3. Give you the chance to meet founder-investors and 440 mentors who can give you expert advice on your business

Are investment terms negotiable?

No. For us to be able to do this many investments, we can’t have flexible terms – apart from the individual terms like investment amount and % equity we ask for, which will vary across startups. The amount and percentage will depend on your team and your progress so far.

How do I prepare an application?

We accept applications online. You can apply here.
Here are the questions you will be asked on our application form. You will also have the possibility to submit a video, and attach any documents you think are relevant.

    We receive hundreds of applications for every program, and the ones that have stood out, have:

    1. Described the relevant backgrounds of all founders, and how they compliment each other
    2. Convinced us that there is a sizeable market for their product/service
    3. Indicated that they understand this market
    4. Noted what they’ve done so far to build the product and attract users, including the things that have failed
    5. Shown that they are hungry

I don’t live in Lagos, can I still apply?

Yes. The program aims to attract applicants from all over Africa, and beyond. See FAQs for international applicants below.

Do we have to be physically present for an interview?

We have accepted skype/hangout interviews in the past, but to date, have not made an investment where the startup chose to use this format. And only once, where one of the founders had to call in for the interview.

Do you invest in social entrepreneurs?

We invest in startups that can scale. We don’t put entrepreneurs in categories. Entrepreneurs are people who want to create something new and in doing so, create competition, jobs, better products for consumers, and ultimately a profit. Companies without profits find it difficult to scale.

I have a job and am doing my startup on the side. Can I keep my job if I get accepted?

No. Only in extreme cases will we accept startups that don’t have all the founders present during the program. Building a startup is a team effort that requires full focus and commitment.

What if I have an idea, but no team?

We very rarely invest in one-man shows so we definitely encourage you to find and build a team before applying.

What if I fail?

440 invests against equity in your startup, so you are not liable in any way if you should fail.

Do you expect a certain return on investment within a set timeframe?

No. We don’t set a specific target or time frame at this early stage.

Can I apply if I have funding already?

Yes. Many startups use acceleration programs to gain networks, exposure and mentorship. In many cases these can be more important than capital. We have invested in 1 week old startups and 5 year old startups. What’s important is that the startup needs and wants to make huge progress on their company in a very short time. The key is a commitment to listening to and understanding the advice provided.

What do you invest in?

Our focus is purely businesses that scale well through web/mobile and target African markets.

Do you give grants?

No. If 440 doesn’t get any equity, there is no incentive for us to help you succeed and no business model that makes this initiative sustainable in the long-term.

What happens after Deal Weekend?

If you receive an investment during Deal Weekend, we will expect you to provide regular updates, as would any investor. Beyond that, it will be up to the startups to reach out to 440 and the Deal Weekend Investors to request support when and how they see fit. Building a company takes many years, so while investors are important sources of advice and network, ultimately it’s the founders that will make the bulk of decisions and organize operations.

Do you sign NDAs?

No. We see a lot of ideas and we don’t want to get into legal trouble. Odds are that you are not the only one with that idea and someone else might pitch the same (or similar) idea with a stronger team. Or maybe you pitch something that is very close to something we are already working on.

How can I become an investor?

If you have previously started a successful company, and would like to attend Deal Weekend, you can write to aa at 440 dot ac.

How can I become a Mentor?

We find most of the people we work with via referral or at our events and, occasionally, twitter.

I would like to bring my MBA class to visit 440

While Deal Weekend is on going we don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate visitors who are not directly involved. If you’d like to visit one of the Startup Garages, please contact them directly.

I would like to partner with 440

We are approached by many organisations and companies that would like to partner with 440, and try to make room for all serious requests. A request is serious if it can help the startups in one way or another, has the intention to a commit money, time or equivalent, and intends to get something in return for the commitment. We never partner, just to partner.



Do I need a Visa for Nigeria?

Please check with the relevant embassies in your country for the latest information.

What is the business language in Nigeria?

Nigeria is home to a plethora of official languages, but English is the most prevalent business language.

Will 440 cover my travel and accommodation?

It is expected that the startups cover their own travel & accommodation costs.

Is Lagos safe?

It’s much safer than people generally think. If you’re street-wise and stay away from certain areas of town at night, you should be fine.

Is life expensive in Lagos?

Living costs in Lagos are relatively high compared to most African cities.

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

You can ask us anything on twtr or G+. Time permitting, we try and answer everyone.