The one thing startup incubators are good for in Nigeria

by | Jul 31, 2015

Mark and I recently had a conversation about his article — Startup Incubators in Africa and why they don’t work — where he mentioned that he is 100% certain that incubators won’t create big software companies in Africa.

I agree, the next million- or billion-dollar start-ups won’t owe their origins to a Nigerian incubator — So what are Incubators good for?

Nigerian start-ups cannot — and should not — be precluded from the Nigerian growth curve tech-wise, as incubators will be the major platforms for training the people who will eventually build those million- and billion-dollar software companies in Nigeria I earlier mentioned. They will inadvertently be responsible for setting these future entrepreneurs on the path to becoming these great industry leaders, but they may not play a great part in funding the companies that will eventually succeed and become the high-revenue companies in the tech industry.

I won’t dive much to talk about why they wont produce the next billion dollars companies because Mark already said it the way I would put it — the problem is the kind of people who join incubators, they are not ready yet.
So why am I not in a hurry to dismiss Nigerian incubators and why do I strongly believe they will be instrumental in creating the next entrepreneur(s) who will come to successively lead the Nigerian software industry?

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While the current entrepreneurs in incubators may not be ready to steer the tech industry in the direction it should go, they will nonetheless learn the hard way. The up-side is that they will gain more programming and management skills than they signed up for in the process. It will take sweat and strain; and they will part with their hard-earned earnings to attain this level. They will be no strangers to failure — and they will fall, and rise, and fall over again. Trudging through these uphill streets will give them the skills and tricks — at great personal cost — and when they have aged and parted with significant amounts of their personal cash, they will join vibrant start-ups (like Konga, for an example.) Konga, of course, will benefit from their wealth of experience. These older, experienced and more tactical brand of start-up people will always fare, naturally, better than their more brilliant — but inexperienced — counterparts freshly graduated from the Nigerian universities.

So what’s in it for our careworn entrepreneur above? It is literally a win-win situation for everyone because he/she will now be working in a start-up that comes with funding and a revenue-making framework where he/she can put his immense knowledge to growing without losing sleep over cash-flow.

Within two/three years of working in this environment, he/she is more likely to renew his/her zest and interest in his/her initial — and, hopefully, exciting — start-up idea, and his journey from point zero to now will ensure that the odds of his/her succeeding this time around are better than the first time. He/she would have made the relevant connections and built indispensable relationships and the funding he/she will need to match his/her impressive experience will finally be matched, and this will usher in the making of an all-round, refined and better-positioned entrepreneur.

In the end it all depends on focus, perseverance and drive.

This feature originally appeared on Ridwan Olalere’s Medium. Photo Credit: mulf via Compfight cc

Ridwan Olalere
Ridwan Olalere

Ridwan Olalere loves reading and writing

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