I believe a couple you guys reading this blog could say…yeah, I said it! Last weekend we held Barcamp Lagos in the University of Lagos which was attended by quite a number of people who are doing something great in Nigerian tech scene. It also gave aspiring tech entrepreneur opportunity to connect with successful entrepreneurs and like-minded people. We had representative from a couple tech power houses and we had a good time. I believe many people out there are thinking in the same line, these guys will take-over our market, they will crush us… they have the money and the technology, “we don die”!
Who are the internet giants?
Permit me to ask you that question, pretty fast please give me an answer who are they? Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Nokia, Samsung or MIH (owner of Kalahari.com.ng and Dealfish.com.ng “sponsored link”)? Who? Who? Tell me? If you choose any of the companies I listed above you could be right…but and then some! You might not know them all, they might not have a Face but they are investing real hard in the country. I can tell you I’m currently in the office of the money bags as I write this article. It’s no more fiction, it’s real that Nigerian internet market has got the attention of world powers and they are also interested in eating from the cake. 80M+ mobile subscribers and 40M+ internet users, is no joke. The fact that Nigeria has a questionable name on the internet is not a deterrent for those who are really serious about expending their markets.
So, then why are they coming?
Profit, profit, profit! No more, no less! The underlining tenet behind every business is to make profit and as such, customer acquisition and satisfaction are only the means to the end. If I own (stake or shares) in any of the tech giant, I will indeed want to expand our market and grow our business. So, for every internet giants that sees opportunity in Nigerian market, they will come. We can’t do anything about it, it’s just natural. If we try to start hate campaign or legislative battle we could be shooting ourselves in the foot. One major advantage of their coming is validation of our market. Those who have blacklisted Nigeria from doing business online with them, will discover that they are leaving millions on the table. Also, for the traditional investors who are sceptical about internet business and investment, they will soon shine their eyes.
Who are the entrepreneurs?
Seriously, let’s differentiate doing, from talking, wishing and thinking! Those who panic might not be sophisticated entrepreneurs but for every decisive person, there is always an opposite. So, who are the real entrepreneurs? Well they are those guys, working in garage (in some cases), coding their ass out, those seeing opportunity in Nigerian tech sector and exploring it. They are not just wishing, but actually doing though some are still in running pretty slow but they can see the opportunity but are not taking it as they should.
Can they really crush us?
The battle really is not between us and them but between service providers/entrepreneurs and customers. We need to understand one basic thing, customers are not too keen about where the product is coming from but its ability to meet their needs and wants. So, like Chika Nwobi, quipped; build world class product/solution, solve local and easier product and take the product to market. If you are able to meet the need of your target market, the giants will find it hard to push you aside, how about them acquiring you?
The easiest and most likely way they can crush us is if we continue to build substandard clones. If you are going to build clones, make sure it has a unique selling feature that will make local (or international) people go for it.
What can we do?
You need to debunk myth of giant coming to crush us, it is normal for every business to move to where there is opportunity. So, there is nothing we can do to stop them other than for us to harness the potential we have; our skill, understanding of the local market, our culture and our tenacity as Nigerian to be creative. Also, the boom time is now, don’t wait for it to be announced on TV or Radio else you will lose out in the gold rush.
What does the future hold for the industry?
The industry looks rosy, since late last year we have seen investment inflow and that has continued since the start of the year. I expect to see more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increase geometrically after the elections.
My general line everywhere we have debated this issue is; If you don’t start something now, they will come, start it with their financial might, technical competencies and experiences running technology companies and you may have to work for the big company (if you are good enough) or get pushed aside. The make take away I want to give you is, their arrival in the market is a validation of our efforts to promote internet business in the country. The earlier they come the better for us in the country to jointly educate the populace about the potentials of the internet.
Are you an entrepreneur in Nigeria’s tech industry, or observing the industry from the outside, what are your thoughts?
Update: The URL to Kalahari.com.ng is sponsored! But did not influence the content of this article.