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Friday, May 06, 2016

Startups advises to see challenges as learning curves

The Office for Information, Communication Technology (ICT) Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) has advised Nigerian startups to see their challenges as learning curves, reports ITRealms.

OIIE is an initiative of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Declaring open the third edition of the StartUP Friday in Abuja, the acting Director General of NITDA, Dr Vincent Olatunji, represented by chief scientific officer, Dr Femi Adeluyi, said the current administration is focusing on ICT innovation.

He acknowledged that established companies have experienced the challenges startups are facing before they reach the zenith and therefore advised young entrepreneurs to see their various problems of growth as learning curves.

“The oil prices are not so much in our favour and we want to convert ICT to the cash cow of the economy. So this event is a very good opportunity for us to make that happen. This year, we are going to establish a number of innovation hubs because the government sees that ICT innovation can help us to create jobs, generate revenue”, he said.

National Coordinator of OIIE, Bunmi Okunowo said that StartUP Friday is an event where nascent companies, irrespective of the sector and solution offering, gather to connect, share and learn from the CEOs of some of the established companies, as well as VCs and other stakeholders. Okunowo said it is an avenue for “startup founders and intending founders to network and access resources”.

According to him, StartUP Friday offered opportunity to attendees to connect with successful CEOs, investors and business owners that would be difficult to access ordinarily. “Leveraging on the convening power of government, we bring these categories of people together within the reach of our startup founders. They are part of the ecosystem, and we want them to share their experience, to network with people and find ways that they can help them. Give them access to resources”, he said.

In the past editions, StartUP Friday had hosted founders of Jobberman, Printivo and Hotels.ng, and these CEOs have shared the stories of how they established their companies. They had told the audience about the road they travelled before overcoming their challenges and how they raised their first big capital.

“If we are all successful then we are doing great. With that success comes a story to tell. There will be a time when a startup founder sits in front of investors and pitch to make them believe that the business is worth investing in. The best way to learn is to listen, learn and follow the principles of those who have walked that path before”, Okunowo said.

According to him, resources do not only mean money, adding that with StartUP Friday, the office would want to make the conversation stronger, deeper and more impactful as it partners with corporates such as Intel and Microsoft that would bring additional value to the startup firms.

“We recently signed an agreement with Intel to tap into their huge network of resources that can significantly benefit Nigerian startups who are using technology to drive their businesses. With this partnership, we are creating the bridge for startups and hub operators to leverage on to create more value for the ecosystem”.

For instance, startup with device-oriented solution would get access to engage Intel through the partnership to drive device production at a cheaper rate. The partnership would foster device penetration and use of new and innovative solutions that would promote inclusive development in underserved and unserved areas.

Other partners, he said, include eLPee Consults, Ripple VC, DraperDarkFlow and SpeedUPAfrica whose managing partner, Toro Orero, has indicated interest to collaborate with OIIE with the objective of exporting StartUP Friday to Ghana in July, as well as sponsor 50 Nigerian startups to the event.

Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Precise Financial Systems, Yele Okeremi, charged the startups to appreciate the seed for greatness in them and pursue their goals with persistency, which often leads to success.

Special Assistant to the Vice President on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Ife Adebayo, observed that the Startup Friday should be replicated across other states of the country, as it would offer Nigerians with great ideas opportunity to show such ideas to the right investors.

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