by Akintomiwa Agbaje
The Nigerian tech space may still be finding its feet but players have already emerged, staking their claim and finding their niche. The industry is positioning itself to generate million Naira deals and achieving sustainability. These 10 young people, age from 18-40 are holding the forte now with an eye towards safe guarding the future. They are the folks who get things done.
It is incredible how in one year, this young man has become perhaps the single most powerful media force in Nigeria’s tech space – but it was a long time coming. Writing through TechLoy, Otekbits, and writing for YNaija.com (yes we’re proud of him) amongst others, he made it clear there were very few (very, very, VERY few) with his talent, and his capacity to see far into the future. So when he got the ball rolling on TechCabal, it was no surprise it became a monster hit. Under Bankole’s leadership has steadily ascended the Alexa rankings (even though he claims to dislike its ratings) and, more importantly, has become the sizzling new authority on all matters tech in Nigeria. And then there was the TechCabal Battlefield, easily the industry’s most important – and most-loved – event for a new generation, where the big names in technology were represented and the winning app PrepClass received $20,000 in prize money. All hail.
This serial entrepreneur has had his hands in so many pies that sometimes it is a task keeping up with him. His business focus is building successful mobile and internet companies across Africa and some of his success stories include Jobberman and Cheki.com. At the age of 22, he founded Mtech and managed it successfully, opening operations in at least 4 African countries. His Level5Lab provides venture capital funding to numerous startups and guides them to attract investment from equity firms. He has consulted for the World Bank, Ford Foundation and has served on numerous technology and economic panels.
Femi Longe and Bosun Tijani
These guys are the brains and brawns behind the Co-Creation hub, the biggest and most influential ideas hub in the country. From BudgIT to The Constitution App, some of the finest and most influential apps in Nigeria have been developed at the hub and Longe and Tijani take very seriously the goal of bridging the gap between citizens and government via technology. They have convinced the Lagos state government and Main One to install fibre optic cables along the hub’s vicinity and as broadband penetration grows in the country, the hub’s influence can only soar. It’s incredible to imagine the CC Hub wasn’t even here five years ago.
It is not for nothing that Gbenga Sesan is known as the Oracle in tech circles. Indeed almost nothing techy happens without his knowledge. And blessings. A fierce believer in the power of ICT to drive change, Sesan’s Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) connects young Nigerians with ICT-enabled tools and opportunities. He has worked with countless public, private and international organizations and has been listed on CNN as one of the top 10 leading African tech voices. When Mr Sesan speaks, people listen. Simple as that.
Idris Ayodeji Bello
From his work with multinationals like Chevron to his award winning start-ups AfyaZima which makes use of mobile phones to provide vital health care access, YoKwazi which aims at putting learning resources in thehands of teachers and students across the country and the Wennovation hub which brings opportunity to the ideas of young ones across the country and has successfully incubated over 100 businesses and ideas, this ‘Afroproneur’ is determined to keep his influence running.
The bold, brash founder of iROKO partners has managed to do the unthinkable in a few years of doing business. iROKO has been able to raise an unprecedented $13 million in venture capital funding. With over 500,000 registered subscribers and a peerless collection of local material, iROKO keeps growing from strength to strength. Njoku also co-founded SPARK, an umbrella company that assumed the responsibility of building and grooming profitable internet start-ups. For those who care- and for some who don’t- Njoku shares his business experiences regularly via his blog posts and his in-your-face braggadacio has attracted lots of nay sayers who swear he is losing money. Who cares? He moves from one power deal to the next, taking time out to make his successes (and some failures) public – and to share that success around: Exhibit A – $10,000 to the winner of the TechCabal Battlefield.
Okezie is the founder of TechLoy, Africa’s most visited and most respected tech blog but it’s brave tough talking creator has plans beyond clicking away at the keyboard. Of recent TechLoy has been challenged (and probably has lost the battle) for superiority by TechCabal and its retinue of young, knowledgeable and opinionated clickers, but Okezie’s TechLoy still sits enjoys the advantage of having arrived first. An online media stategist, Okezie once worked at the defunct NEXT newspapers and has been profiled on the Huffington Post, CNN and Venture Beat. Don’t listen to those who rejoice at TechLoy’s monopoly-no-more though, it is difficult to find any in the media more knowledgeable about the evolution of the space and who have the ears of as many of its entrepreneurs.
There are perhaps some ladies who may hesitate before plunging into the testosterone-dominated world of technology and start-ups but Modupe Macaulay is made of sterner stuff. As the founder of CapitalSquare, a co-working space located in Lekki, Macaulay has encouraged the dreams of many small-scale businesses who cannot yet afford the luxury of office spaces. CapitalSquare may be new to the scene but it has succeeded in drawing a wide variety of businesses as members. From fashion to education, human resources to accounting, everyone comes to the space. It might be new, but it’s already too important to fail.
Nkemdilim Begho (Nee Uwaje) is the managing director of Future Software resources, a web solution development firm that provides educational, enterprise and business answers to its scores of high profile clients. She has had experience in public and private sectors straddling the technology, finance and pharmaceutical industries. A graduate of Ludwig Maximilian University Germany, she also runs the NGO Bake for Change development foundation that empowers street children. Her numerous speakingengagements take her round the continent as she offers her wealth of experience and business gems to up and coming ICT professionals.
Sim Shagaya’s Konga was launched in 2012 with only 10 members of staff. Less than 2 years later and Konga is the biggest E-commerce company in the country employing about 100 staff. In 2013, Konga received about $15 million dollars in investor funding and embarked on an aggressive expansion and advertising plan, going toe to toe with it’s main rival. The sheer quantity of subscribers looking to get in on Konga’s Black Friday price slashes led to a temporary shutdown of the site. Shagaya also owns Deal Dey, the most popular online shopping website in Nigeria. Mixing technological knowledge with a strong entrepreneurial drive, Shagaya’s business rivals know better than to cross paths with him. He goes hard.