Everyone who attended the 36th edition of Startup Sunday meetup held on June 18, 2017, at the Conference room of The Elkan Terrace Hotel, GRA, Port Harcourt can agree that it was an awesome event filled with lots of learning and fun. The meetup witnessed a huge turnout of people particularly excited to meet and hear the star attraction and guest of the event Kendall Ananyi, Founder of Wifi.com.ng, speak on Bootstrapping to a $1m run rate (revenue) in Africa.
But before his Speech, there was a viewing of Building for Your Next Billion Users’ presented at Google I/O 2017 by Tal Oppenheimer – Chrome Product Manager. In the video, she talked about Google’s lessons from building great experiences for internet users around the world by using fresh platforms such as Progressive Web Apps. A short discussion session led by Tonye Jumbo after the viewing engaged participants such as Google Developer’s Group Port Harcourt Team Lead, Gino Osahon in highlighting the benefits of Progressive Web Apps.
Two students of Rivers State University pitched their novel products afterwards. First was Daniel Oyeh who made two demonstrations;
- Tank Track – a water detection system that prevents overflow from water tanks
- Wireless Power Transfer System – a product that enables power supply to electrical devices through an air gap, without the need for physical connections.
Second was Samuel Adiela. He pitched Tabanatech, an offline Desktop Application which can be used by large organisations such as Churches and companies to manage and monitor their resources.
I had the privilege of moderating a Fireside Chat with them both after their presentations, which provided an opportunity to discuss and entertain questions from the attendees regarding their prototypes. And as is the policy of Startup Sunday, the participants were encouraged to make contributions but refrain from imposing their views on the students.
A short break ensued…
Then came the moment everyone had been waiting for – Kendall Ananyi’s Mentoring Session.
But first a look at Kendall Ananyi’s Profile:
- He began writing codes at the age of 12
- He was the best graduating student of Federal Government College, Warri
- He has a Bachelor’s in Electrical/Electronic Engineering from the University of Benin, where he was a Chevron scholar
- He has over 15 years’ experience in Telecommunications and Information Technology
- He worked in ExxonMobil, Microsoft and PriceWaterhouseCoopers
- He has a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Victoria, Canada
- He is the CEO of Y Combinator-backed startup, Wifi.com.ng. He and his co-founder started the company five years ago from a need to provide internet service to the estate where he lived in. He did this by bootstrapping – when an entrepreneur starts and grows a business without external funding – until when they got accepted into Y Combinator.
- He tried his hands on different startups before his breakthrough with Wifi.com.ng, such as;
- K & O (2002) Accounting/Customer Relationship Management System
- My9ja.com (2004) – News site that offered free SMS to attract readers
- MyAfricasite.com (2006) – Social networking site for Africans
- Callnigeriaonline.com (2007) – VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service for Nigerians
- Privatecallme.com (2008)
- Songito (2009) – Karaoke video game for Windows desktops
- Pinmessage.com (2009) – Blackberry-based messaging app
- Nettybox.com (2012) – Android-based video streaming box
- Tizeti (2012) – Internet service for estate and multi-tenants building
Profile on Wifi.com.ng:
- Wifi.com.ng is the third Nigerian company to get accepted into Y Combinator after Paystack and Flutterwave. It was enrolled in the Winter 2017 batch in California and was among the top seven startups from Y Combinator W17 Demo Day
- It built 35 towers that beam internet from the towers into homes. It has a coverage area of a Kilometer and a half.
- It offers cheaper service than service providers at N9500 for unlimited internet access for residential customers
- It has immediate plans to launch its services into Port Harcourt
On growing a business to generate a yearly revenue of $1m in Africa:
He spoke numbers which flew over my head. So unfortunately, I’ve got nothing on that. Haha kidding.
He said that in every major African city on the continent, you can find at least a million people living in it. Thus, generating a yearly revenue of a million dollars in Africa is possible.
How he arrived at this conclusion?..
He said if a service that you offer is able to generate up to $90,000 a month, when you multiply that by 12 you have over a million dollars in revenue for the year.
How do you get up to $90,000?
Well, say you have a Startup like Wifi.com.ng that charges $30 per subscription, how many subscriptions would you need in a month to generate $90,000?…you got that right – 3000. He said it’s possible to achieve this in Africa whether you are serving its entire population of about a billion people or just a major city of about a million people.
His advice for African entrepreneurs:
For startup ideas, solve a personal problem. As said succinctly by Y Combinator,
it is better to build something that you yourself need
Also, Kendall’s advice is to solve a problem a lot of people share. In his words,
Make something people want (if you’re bootstrapping), charge them for it and build a sustainable business out of it.
His tips on Bootstrapping:
- Collect your payments from customers upfront
- It is okay to offer reasonable discounts
- Always collect your payment upfront, but make your payment as late as possible
- Always have good distribution of customers
- Make getting referrals easy
- Constantly Benchmark to get a good deal
- Have a lifestyle change. Cut all your personal expenses
- Pay yourself a salary
- Build mobile
- Avoid FX costs
- Seek advice from mentors who have been founders
- Be constantly advertising
- Once you start gaining traction, seek partnership from large companies abroad
He also told his really cool and inspiring Y Combinator story which got lots of laughter and cheers from all present.
Startup Sunday will be two on July 12, 2017. More details about its celebration will be communicated as it becomes known.