Early in this year, 2017, I got wind of a book by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum titled “The 4th Industrial Revolution” and it completely revolutionized my mindset on the power of technology and the possibilities in our hands today. In the authors words, “The 4th industrial revolution will bring change at a speed, scale and force unlike anything we have experienced before, it will affect the very essence of our human experience”.
It’s happening!!! It’s here already!!! The 4th Industrial revolution!!! Mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed.
Professor Schwab’s thoughts opened me up to a whole new world where the challenges of our common existence can be easily solved using technology for economic value, prominence and advancement. Suddenly, I am becoming increasingly aware of a dynamic ecosystem of innovators, IT developers, programmers, technologists, entrepreneurs, tech startups, impact investors, hackers, SME’s and tech enthusiasts who are disrupting the status quo and changing the African narrative on a global scale.
Nigeria boasts of well over 20 tech hubs with the premier open lab and most of the major tech hubs based in Lagos, Lagos seems like the first option for a go-to location for a newbie in the ecosystem.
Living outside Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s biggest commercial hub, Lagos, for over 5 years was becoming a drag as I had begun to feel shut out from the fast-paced commercial buzz of life.
It seemed like within Nigeria, everything great only happens in Lagos so you can imagine my utter shock and excitement when I first discovered Startup Sunday, Port Harcourt.
Currently at its 39th edition, Startup Sunday is an outright buzzing startup ecosystem. It is a monthly meet up where entrepreneurs, innovators, hackers, IT developers, programmers, impact investors, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, connect with potential team members and mentors, develop and nurture products and launch startups.
The program which holds every third Sunday of the month at The Elkan Terrace conference room in Port Harcourt, features the full array of mentoring, pitching, video viewing and discussion, elevator pitch challenge and networking sessions.
It is organized by Bereni D. Fiberesima, Founder of Netopps- an organisation that is focused on building people and systems in Africa to leverage internet opportunities to optimize potentials in digital jobs, tech entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.
Startup Sunday debuted on July 12, 2015 with a 20-week viewing of ‘How to Start a Startup’, a series of 20 lectures originally given at the Stanford University by Y Combinator in the fall of 2014. The mentoring session, which is the highlight of Startup Sunday’s program and has featured eminent founders, including two YCombinator backed founders; Shola Akinlade, CEO of Paystack, Kendall Anayi CEO of Tezeti (which raised $2.1 million, barely one week after he spoke at the June 2017 Startup Sunday meetup, and Mark Essien, CEO, Hotels.ng.
So, my first Startup Sunday experience began with a video viewing session featuring Chinedu Echeruo, Tech Entrepreneur & Founder, HopStop.com and Tripology.com, two US-based internet companies. Chinedu talked on “Bringing ideas into Reality” where he essentially shed light on How to start a business, using HopStop.com as a case study. The 30 minutes session was immediately followed by discussions as a fall out from the video viewing, where participants interacted and shared on Chinedu’s narrative on How to start a business.
Hereafter, it was time for the Pitching session which featured Bill Kenneths, CEO Eistyles.com – an eCommerce platform to showcase the Nigeria fashion designer with focus on Nigerian native attires/wears. Eistyles.com is looking to raise $20K to drive the vision of Eistytles into new frontiers.
We walked right into a 15mins networking session where everyone had an opportunity to introduce themselves, share ideas, discuss business proposals, communicate invitation for upcoming events, networking platforms and upcoming conferences/summits. It was a bubbly networking session that saw new alliances, relationships and collaborations form.
Surely it was a September to remember with the much-anticipated mentoring session featuring Fola Olatunji-David, Program Manager at Ventures Platform Abuja. Fola manages the accelerator program at Ventures Platform, which provides $20k investment, for 10% equity to innovative new businesses, solving some of Africa’s biggest challenges.
Introducing Fola, the Founder of Netopps and convener of Startup Sunday, Bereni Fiberesima spoke passionately about how Ventures Platform is setting the lead in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem. Over the past 18 months, Ventures Platform has accelerated 13 startups, directly invested in 8 startups and supported over 400 startups through its Foundation and Accelerator programs.
Fola spoke extensively on having clarity of purpose, building relevant skill sets and identifying a big market as necessary tools for entrepreneurs that want to build successful startups. These he highlighted are some of the key qualities that Venture Platform looks out for in determining investment-worthy startups.
Participants had questions for Fola which led us into a brief question and answer session with the Venture Platforms Program Manager.
The final session was an elevator pitch challenge where I was amongst three randomly picked participants to showcase their business ideas and innovative platforms. As a newbie in the ecosystem, this was a thrill for me and I amazingly won the heart of the audience as I was voted as the winner of the pitch challenge, showcasing my-lady-carpenter-inc.business.site/ (A bespoke kitchen cabinet making brand using sophisticated technology, exotic finishing and ensuring timely delivery).
Other features in this session was thirtysix.com.ng and throwayng.com.
Participants were invited to all three of the following upcoming programmes;
The 36 Forum’s “Youth Summit” coming up on the 12th of October 2017 at The Dome, Peter Odili Road, Port-Harcourt, from 9:00 a.m. prompt.
Women in tech week Port Harcourt slated for Saturday, 23rd Sept 2017 at Swiss International, Mabisel Port Harcourt no 9 Mabisel Street, Off Peter Odili Road, Trans Amadi.
Eistyles’s AfroYard Sale slated for 30th September-2nd Octoberm2017 at Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, 11am-6pm.
Clearly, we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. Radical system-wide innovation is happening in only a few years and Startup Sunday is well positioned to foster the growth and development of the Startup Ecosystem within Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Surely I am excited and thankful to be part of this ecosystem and look forward to more alliances, learning and growth opportunities, new collaborations, partnerships as we together join forces to build a formidable community of innovators solving scalable local problems.