By Ben White on April 6, 2012
Recently, member Silas Okwoche took the initiative to organize and host the second VC4Africa meet up in Abuja, Nigeria. We had a chance to catch up with him and find out more.
Please tell us something about Abuja and the startup scene there? What’s happening?
“I would say the Abuja Startup scene is still in its infancy, largely business activity is centered on the construction industry. But the fast pace of infrastructural development is attracting more and more entrepreneurs into the city so things are starting to look up!”
We had a meetup in Abuja already 2 years ago, why did you decide it was time to step forward and organize such an event again?
“Why should Lagos people have all the fun? lol! Well, I just felt that it was important to provide a platform for Abuja based entrepreneurs. To grow support from VCs and to see how we can help each other. It’s hard enough starting in virgin territory, but it’s easier if we can stand together.”
How did the Meetup go?
“The event started at 1pm local time as slated, four people (myself included) were present at that time, but more people showed up in groups of 2’s and 3’s over the next hour until we came to a grand number of 12 (equal male to female ratio). I started by giving a brief intro to the whole concept of VC4Africa and generally stepped aside for people to have 1-on-1 discussions with each other. Three hours into the event, light refreshments were served and I encouraged a group discussion by asking for views on the Nigerian entrepreneurial environment and what we could do to improve it. The discussions were interesting and I can say that it was generally an enlightening and fun time. We ended at about 4:30 pm.”
Can you give us a breakdown of who attended?
“It turned out that most of the attendees were information technology based entreprenuers, but there were also people from real estate, construction, consulting and non-profit.”
Who was the most interesting person you met and why?
“The most interesting person I met is a Mr. Daniel Oratokhai, who happens to be a startup finance broker with a background in real estate. I admired his aspiration to become a VC/fund-manager in the near future as well as his passion for startups as a vehicle for national development. He gave us all a fresh insight into simple alternative funding sources for our ventures.”
What did you like about the meet up structure and do you see potential for further nurturing the startup scene?
“I particularly like the simplicity of the meetup structure which provides attendees with a relaxed and ‘casual’ atmosphere to meet people and share information that could make all the difference in the future of their venture. Yes, the potential for a startup scene is already quite evident, more events like this will help nurture the growing interest.”
Tell us about your own venture / any recent developments we should know about?
“Ideacentric’s current venture is a vision to combine the latest mobile hardware technology with custom software and cloud solutions that will serve to improve the quality of education and productivity in sub-saharan Africa. We are currently focusing on achieving a critical mass of unit pre-sales that will help propel a mass rollout… we are succeeding on this path. Getting significant VC financing will help us accelarate this plan and bring our solutions to the mass market even faster.”
What do you think of VC4Africa and how can members support you further?
“Newton’s first law essentially states that “stuff” will not change unless acted upon by other “stuff.” VC4Africa is in many ways already providing a platform for interaction that fosters new ways of thinking on the continent… it would be really great if the network can go a step further and inspire physical “stuff,” such as the initiation of a crowdfunded techhub that could be setup in Abuja and other cities that don’t have this kind of infrastructure. Speaking personally, members can support my venture by contacting me and proposing how our solutions can find application in their countries or territories.”
Thanks Silas. We appreciate your efforts to bring the local community together. We look forward to future meet ups and to growing together.