Ndidi Nwuneli speaks to startup founders on how to launch a successful startup 

Nigerian entrepreneur Ndidi Nwuneli, yesterday, dropped some powerful and insightful nuggets on the subject “How to Launch a Successful Startup”.

She was a speaker at the just concluded Future Forward 2.0 Techfair organized by Zenith Bank in Lagos, Nigeria.

According to her, highlighted below are some important things you need to know and questions you need to ask yourself before launching that business:

Your Business plan

  • What is your ‘Why’ for doing this business?
  • Is your business model unique?
  • What is your plan A, B, and C?
  • What business are you starting?
  • It’s easy to get started but think about scaling up after you’ve started.
  • The business must be driven by demand. It’s not about what you want but what people are willing to pay for.
  • It should leverage technology, data and innovation and shape the ecosystem
  • What policies will affect it? Gokada, for example, was affected by the ban on okadas.
  • Is it cost efficient?
  • Are your products or services expensive, and can you justify the cost?
  • How do you adapt to change?
  • An example is Twiga in Kenya which raised almost 90 million dollars, and their business model was simple- Connect those who sell bananas, apples etc, to farmers. They are now planning to expand to the rest of Africa.
  • You must be willing to redesign.
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Your team

  • Beyond the team you field, you need real partners you can trust, who have integrity and who share your vision.
  • The skills of your team members should complement each other
  • Regarding leadership, you have to show credibility. It is also quite important to have a board of directors because no one gives money to a one man squad.
  • Invest in governance – have an advisory board or board of directors.

Your brand

How does it tell the story of your brand, and how does it reflect in the business name, logo, tagline, marketing strategy, etc.?

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An example is HelloTractor, which the founders consider ‘The Uber of tractors’. The business has an impressive marketing strategy and now has a presence in India, rest of Africa, Asia, etc.

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Business Continuity

  • How is your pitch money spent?
  • Do you have credibility and a good track record?
  • You have a presence on the ground and not just some figures pumped up on paper, e.g. 500 million users, views, subscribers, etc?
  • What is your exit strategy?
  • Do you know the policy that governs your business?
  • How are you shaping the policies that govern your business?
  • Who are your opponents and your champions?
  • How do you convert your opponents into champions?
  • How do you build financial resilience?
  • Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get the job done.
  • You will have a six month buffer for your business. That is, if your business is yet to be profitable, do you have something to live on from then?
  • Make a scenario plan and a contingency plan.
  • Avoid the hype because it is not sustainable.
  • Invest in impact, not fiction
  • Commit to building your startup.
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Finally, she noted that running a startup can be lonely. But having a support system can be helpful. Also, it is important to remain humble and grounded in order to rise. Eventually, we want to create a country that lives in the future.

About Ndidi Nwuneli

Ndidi is the executive chairman of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd, Founder of Leap Africa, Sahel Capita, and other entrepreneurial ventures.

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She is an expert on African agriculture and nutrition, philanthropy and social innovation and has over 25 years of international development experience. She is also a recognized serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and consultant.


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