It’s nearly 4:30 in the morning here in Lagos and I’m too excited to sleep. Later today I’m going to get a chance to sit on a stage with some of the best and brightest in Nigeria’s burgeoning tech scene for a pitch competition and the chance to give one lucky startup a spot in Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015.
Nigeria’s got a growing e-commerce market, powered by the country’s 173.6 million strong population and an expanding base of smart phone users and served by startups like Konga, the country’s answer to Amazon.
But as one of Africa’s cultural hubs (the Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood is popular from Nairobi to New York) the country’s entrepreneurs are about more than just the art of the sale.
Countries such as Nigeria are in the midst startup booms. In Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy hundreds of online portals are popping up to provide just about every commercial service and solve any business problem.
I’ve already been affected by the crazy energy that comes from spending time in what has to be one of Africa’s most populous (and most frenetically paced) cities.
I’m only two days into my trip here, but I can pretty safely say that there’s nothing… anywhere… that can compare to Lagos (or match its feverish entrepreneurial energy).
It’s all so overwhelming that I’m just feeling lucky to be sharing the stage with a star-studded group of Nigerian entrepreneurial talent who can help me make sense of it all.
Here’s a rundown of my fellow judges:
Bola Akindele is the Founder and Group Managing Director of Technology company Courteville Business Solutions, which was founded in 2004 as Courteville Investment Ltd. The company was one of the first tech companies to hit it big with a public offering in Nigeria.
Funke Opeke founded Main Street Technologies in 2007, which went on to raise $240 million to build Main One Cable the pioneering submarine cable that stretches 7,000 kilometers from Portugal to Ghana and Nigeria.
Bastian Gotter, hails from Germany and is one of the co-founders of iROKO, which has created the premiere platform for bringing Nollywood movies and Nigerian music to the world. The company powers Netflix’s African service and has raised $21 million from Tiger Global, Kinnevik, and Rise Capital.
Chika Nwobi is the architect behind MTech, a publicly traded mobile content company spanning Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tansania, and Uganda. After taking MTech public, Nwobi founded L5Lab, an early stage investment firm which backed Jobberman, Cheki, and Private Property Nigeria, a clutch of businesses now consolidated under the moniker of One Africa Media.
Toye Akindele co-founded Synergy Capital, a Lagos Nigeria based private equity firm that invests in technology startups as well as traditional
Toks Ogun is a serial entrepreneur based in Abuja who co-founded Marvel Web and SOP Notify, a power outage notification and analytics startup which competed in our Disrupt Battlefield in San Francisco.
Event sponsors include Synergy Capital, Paga, Private Property Nigeria, Venture Kinetics, Cheki, Jobberman, Uber, Hacker Home San Francisco, Of A kind Creatives, Softsmith, and Courteville Business Solutions.