VP Blog

Two quick lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. — Ventures Platform

By Oyewole Kayode

I recently met an aspiring entrepreneur who was pitching me this brilliant idea for a mobile app he was working on and he was super pumped about it. He went on and on about all the features they were going to roll out and why there is currently nothing on the market like what he was building.

This happens all the time, so I asked him two questions: what problem are you solving? Who are you solving the problem for? He apparently didn’t have an answer to either. So, my advice to him was simple; rather than waste time, effort and money building tech nobody is going to use (he was non-technical). He should identify what problem he is solving and validate if the problem exists.

Rather than waste time, effort and money building tech nobody is going to use, you should identify… Click To Tweet

So, two quick lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.

  1. Identify and validate the problem: go out there and talk to people, figure out if they have that problem, and find out how they currently solve it. You can either build a product that solves a problem or build a product then go search for the problem your product can solve. I recommend you do the former
  2. Build a Minimum Viable product: Don’t be quick to think that an MVP is an app or a website. It’s basically anything that allows you to validate your assumptions. E.g. If you want to solve the problem of finding schools for parents, rather than spend money or time building an app with a search functionality, why not create a google form for parents to fill in the type of schools they are looking for and send out to all the parents you and your friends know. When the responses come in, manually look for those schools and send 3 matching schools to each request and ask the parents to allow you to handle the booking process and pay you a small fee. This is just an example of how you can test the proposed solution.

Whatever you are doing now or intend to do, make sure your startup idea solves a problem. Don’t start a business to build an app but rather to solve a pain people are experiencing.

Originally published at on August 15, 2017.

VP Blog

You’re a software developer. Where’s your start up?

Care to tell me where your startup is?

My phone vibrates as a WhatsApp message gets in from a friend who now works at a startup accelerator. ​ “Do you intend on starting a start-up?”.

“Just like that?” ​I mutter underneath my breath as I exhale heavily.

If you — like I am — develop software for a living, you probably receive different morphs of the same question all the time. One thing they forget is that we don’t all have the same paths. If we all started going door to door making pitches for funding, who will build the products?

The problem is a simple one when you put some thought into it. There is a percentage of people out there that think one needs to understand the nuances of developing software to build a tech start-up. Similarly, there is a percentage of people that believe every software developer is cut out for building and running tech companies. They are right and are wrong at the same time.

Admittedly, they are lots great software developers with the drive for entrepreneurship and the ability to execute — ​Looking at you Mark Essien ​- and it’s great when these skills come together. Should that become a yardstick to measure everybody’s success? No, for many reasons. A good percentage of software developers enjoy what they do and just want to build great solutions. No one needs be a CEO to be a part of something great.

No investor hands money over to a founder just because they say so. A very simple question has to be answered every time -​ Why?

Why the burning desire to go through with this?

Whydo you think your solution will work.

Whywould you keep going when no one else believes.

While it’s really exciting to daydream about running a company and posting a billion-dollar valuation after a short period, it’s not all petals of roses on that walkway. You must be ready to deal with the thorns to pick the flowers. The tech start-up scene has seen a lot of growth over the last year. A side effect of this magnitude of growth in any sphere is that a lot of people begin to see the glam and the basic principles (problem solving in this case) that have caused that growth to begin to die off. I’m just a software developer with no experience running start-ups but I have been around start-ups and founders just enough to give this a lot of thought.

Bottom line, everyone with solutions to problems should be encouraged to put them out. A lot of the infrastructure to help is being built and built well too with hubs and accelerators being setup to aid founders. A scary thought is that the system begins to fall for what I like to call “the buzzword syndrome” with everyone jumping on ideas just because they seem cool.

Entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that building a company from scratch is difficult and every company needs to stand for something or it’ll fall for anything.

Michael Obi is a software developer that’s enthusiastic about community driven growth.

He’s always looking to share and listen to ideas.

He currently works at Crackle Nigeria, an Abuja-based Software company.

Michael can be found here.