The recently concluded Wetech 2023 founders conference brought together a diverse array of accomplished professionals, thought leaders, tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, all centred around the theme of "Women Redefining Tech Entrepreneurship." The event, held in Lagos on Saturday, December 9, showcased inspiring discussions and insights into various aspects of the tech industry concerning female founders and how they are navigating the landscape.
Guided by the adept moderation of Koromone Asabe-Yobaere, Chief Branding Officer and co-founder of Jamit, Wetech 2023 delivered on its promise, which was to facilitate a place where women converge, connect and grow together.
The first panel session, "The Role of Nonprofits and Community Building in Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurship," featured Flora Uwadiegwu, co-founder of Wetech; Kaosi Anyanwu, software engineer at Microsoft; Gabriella Uwadiegwu, co-founder of Wetech; and Nsikan Ubi, CEO of NUBI Consulting.
The panellists touched on the impact of nonprofits and community building by sharing interesting testimonies. The session emphasised the need for a clear plan and impact strategy when presenting women-led tech ventures, including non-profit organisations, to investors.
One of the breakout sessions, titled "Demystifying Startup Evaluation: Insights from the Investor's Lens," featured Kenechi Eze, an investment analyst; Oluwadunni Fanibe, Program Manager at Techstars; and Gabriella, who is also a founding partner at Archangel Fund.
Gabriella shared her criteria for evaluating startups, emphasising the significance of domain expertise, team experience, and meeting predefined metrics for each stage of funding. The session shed light on the challenges female founders face, with Kenechi noting that VCs tend to be more stringent in their scrutiny of female-led startups.
The panellists also discussed differentiating between hype and genuine innovation, with Gabriella acknowledging a knowledge gap when it comes to product and technology on the investor side. She stressed the responsibility of investors to research to understand how their software or tech-enabled solution as a product solves customer problems and seek expert perspectives in areas where they lack experience.
The second panel session, "Scaling Up: Growth Strategies for Female-Led Tech Startups," showcased insights from Kate Victory-Oedema, Growth Marketer, Founders Factory Africa; Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka, Founder/CEO, Traders of Africa (TOFA); and Sylvester Kay-Adade, LP Relations, Ingressive Capital.
Kate briefly discussed “The Bull's Eye” framework for traction. This framework, inspired by the book Traction, encourages startups to think broadly but act narrowly, emphasising the importance of finding the right channels and iterating based on experiments.
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Kate highlighted the importance of value creation when approaching partnerships. Sylvester emphasised the significance of founders learning to delegate effectively, finding the right individuals, and experimenting with their small teams.
In the insightful session titled "Decoding the Art of VC Funding: Pioneering Perspectives from Entrepreneurs and Backers," Dolapo Morgan, Investor, Ventures Platform Fund, and Miishe Addy, Co-Founder & CEO, Jetstream Africa, shared crucial insights for founders seeking venture capital.
Demonstrating traction emerged as a key theme, with Dolapo stressing that showcasing user engagement, waitlists, or other metrics indicating demand apart from revenue enhances a startup's appeal to investors. Strategic expansion was also highlighted, with Miishe advising founders to adopt low-cost approaches and understand the regulatory landscape of target countries.
The session also addressed the vital aspect of respect in venture partnerships, particularly for women founders, with Miishe stressing the need to establish mutual respect between the founder and their partners from the outset.
Dolapo provided empowering advice for female founders, urging them to exude confidence, possess in-depth knowledge of their ventures, and recognise the importance of presentation.
According to Miishe, there’s always something to learn from every rejection and the feedback she gets acts as fuel to do better. Dolapo encouraged founders to actively seek feedback, ensure their business is "venture-backable," and engage with investors for genuine insights.
The event climaxed with the PitchHer startup competition, where three-minute pitches were presented by Lawretta Egba, CEO of Mustard Insights; Chinwe Udo-Davis, CEO and co-founder of Instollar; Dr Kieva Chris-Amusan, CEO of Fertitude; Rhoda Orovwiroro, co-founder of Helgg; and Morayo Ojikutu, CEO of Flow, with Morayo emerging as the winner of the 1.5 million naira prize.
In a moment of anticipation, Gabriella announced the Wetech event for next year, celebrating "5 Years of Women Redefining Technology and Entrepreneurship" on September 20–21, 2024.
In an exclusive interview with Techpoint Africa, Gabriella shared insights into Wetech's strategic approach to partnerships and its broader mission of empowering women in the tech ecosystem. She emphasised the significance of value alignment in partnerships and the need for formalised collaborations with investors.
Gabriella called for a collective effort to address the systemic issues affecting women in the tech space and generally. She emphasised the need for companies to be genuinely concerned about the state of affairs and recognise that empowering women is not just a social responsibility but a strategic and economic imperative, as everyone stands to benefit.
Gabriella highlighted the multiplier effect of empowering women, especially in terms of supporting young girls. "Women have more affinity to help other women than any other demographic," she explained. By empowering women financially, Wetech aims to create a ripple effect where empowered women, in turn, uplift others in their communities.
Flora Uwadiegwu, co-founder of Wetech, echoed the organisation's commitment to propelling women forward. She encouraged aspiring female founders and tech enthusiasts to be consistent, have a genuine interest in what they are doing and network with people in their field.
For next year’s conference, Flora envisions an expanded event in the future, integrating interactive workshops and career fairs to provide tangible opportunities for participants.
The Wetech 2023 founders conference was held in partnership with the gold sponsor, Founders Factory Africa, and Lagos Innovates, the silver sponsor. The bronze sponsors were CcHub, Interswitch, Jetstream, Anitab.org, Jetstream, Crafter and Archangel Fund, among other partners.