Sharing failure stories can be key to developing the Nigerian startup ecosystem

by | Sep 6, 2017

Something stuck to me while reading a recent article on TechCrunch about well-funded startups that have failed in 2017. These were textbook cases of startups not only well-funded but with good ideas, and perhaps some solid execution. For one reason or the other, they still failed.

The interesting take away from it is how the founders of these startups didn’t hold back in sharing their experiences. That these failure stories are in the public domain is somehow a pointer to how much the founders were willing to let on and not a result of some media maneuvering.

A few days ago a tech enthusiast wanted to know how many fintech companies have raised money in 2016 and 2017 so far, I could not readily answer.  The reason is that I had to look up enough data to back my response. Sadly, there wasn’t.

In a way this was even a relatively easy question, considering how funding is celebrated in these parts as  founders are “sometimes” willing to share funding stories. But it is not usually the case with their failure stories.

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An interview with a typical Nigerian founder could go sour if curiosity leads you to ask why his/her company isn’t doing well. If you’re lucky enough, you sometimes get useless responses.

Last year, Sheriff Shittu took to his Medium page to share a personal account of what led to the demise of Showroom, his now defunct startup. While it was a commendable effort, it seemed a strange thing to do because most local founders would rather hide behind their shame.

Granted, every founder wants to launch a startup that would run for many years at the very least. Attaining broader targets like profitability or a possible IPO could be counted as the very pinnacle of success. But in business, there is no guarantee that any of that would happen. 3 of 4 startups are expected to fail within their first few years of operation, according to an article by the World Street Journal.

Having such failure stories in the public domain can steer others (founders/startups) away from repeating the same mistakes. And that is very key to the development of any functional tech community.

The technology ecosystem in Nigeria has come a long way since inception, but many are still of the opinion that it is yet to fully mature due to the lack of avenues to share knowledge and form collaborative synergies.

We are presently living in the data age and information sharing everything– especially failure stories– can be very important. Rather than hoard information, startups and every stakeholder should be more willing to share. Maybe then, we can  think of catching up with those in the Valley.

Ifeanyi Ndiomewese
Ifeanyi Ndiomewese

Ifeanyi is a desk reporter-turned administrator. Outside of work, I love to read and travel.

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