Don’t Chase Money At First
It’s been a while! How have you been?
Today we have David Lanre Messan (popularly known as DLM), the Chief Executive Officer of FirstFounders Inc and Senator of the World Business Angels Investment Forum — WBAF who is committed to raising digital disruptors and entrepreneurs to lead some of the biggest digital startups in Africa through his exclusively styled ‘techpreneurship’ incubation program in a bid to engender wealth and job creation. He is originally an idea strategist who evolved into becoming a digital enterprise strategist, serial entrepreneur, startup advisor, and angel investor. He heads a business incubation center committed to accelerating tech start-ups that serve the retail and consumer sector through the application of social capital and technology.
He shared with us important lesson he learned on his journey as a startup founder
Getting into Tech
In 2014, I developed a product, an ATM card that allowed young people to buy things online and get points that can be converted into not just rewards but also work opportunities but the deal fell through. There was an emergence of tech startups during this period. After closely monitoring Iyin Aboyeji of Andela, his actions, successes, and his impact on the startup space for a while, I saw that he was very keen on building tech startups and this made me realize that strategy wasn’t going to be enough and I needed to delve into the tech space fully to see how I would evolve.
In 2016, after losing some money due to the recession, I studied the market and looked at opportunity areas, and this led to me starting Trogge Urban, a tech solution company. Running Trogge Urban helped me understand the tech startup space better.
Technology has driven the narrative of consumption and interaction. It plays a very important role in how we live as human beings which means to be successful in life today; we need to apply technology to everything we do either as business owners or as individuals.
Bringing technology into everything I did, changed my perspective and helped me get fully into the tech startup space.
In summary, I looked at what was happening in the market, I saw what Iyin Aboyeji was doing in the startup space, and saw what was happening generally, even internationally.
Lessons I Learned in my Journey as a Startup Founder
- Don’t try to build many products at the same time.
Building the technology of a product is quite expensive and doing more than one at a time can be difficult.
2. Substantiate your idea before getting to the point of building your technology. This process requires that you are:
- clear about the problem you are solving
- clear about the market and its competition
- able to develop a business model that is unique and clearly states the jobs to be done. Be clear about the specific jobs to be done, the specific gap you are trying to fill from the eyes of the consumer.
You need to take the time to understand the very core of what it is you are trying to do before you get into building the technology.
3. Do not run after the money too early. Run after the customers
If you run after the money too early, you will not be able to go through the process of development easily. You will become lazy and will ignore the nitty-gritty details of your startup. It is very important for you to go through the pain of developing the business by yourself; this helps you to understand the process and in turn, allows you to know when and how to scale.
4. Startup is not just in the nomenclature. It is more about the business value you are offering to the customers. There must be a seamless relationship between the value you provide and your customer otherwise, there is a problem. There must be an automatic demand for your product in that you are creating a solution that people already need.
Meet customers at their pain point.
5. Build Relationships.
Going at it alone will stunt your growth.
I made the mistake of believing I could do everything on my own, I thought I could just Google anything I needed to know but then you cannot google relationships. You have to build relationships. Join communities, collaborate and co-create with people, learn from them and show your capability. You need to interact within an ecosystem that supports your growth. Through people’s activities and successes, you draw insight that will help you on your journey.
6. Adopt a mentor
I did not adopt a mentor that could help me through the process of failure and success. This mistake led to a high rate of failure and made it unmanageable. Yes, there will be failures, but with a mentor, someone with experience to serve as a support, it will be more manageable and there will be a lower rate of failure
7. Own your ideas and strategies
Other people can come up with the same ideas and strategies as you. What is important though, is for you to own your idea. Ownership cannot be stolen. If someone can steal your idea and your strategy and thrive with it, then it was never yours to own in the first place.
Inspiration Behind First Founders
The name First Founder dropped in my Spirit during a teaching at WAFBEC (West African Faith Believers’ Convention) 2020. The vision and instruction for First Founders came from God (Glorayyy!!!).
First Founders is raising people and startups that will be first among many. We help founders become first in whatever it is that they do.
The economy of Africa is fast emerging and the entire world is turning to Africa right now. You need to be a solution provider, if you are not one, plug yourself into one. This is the time to create solutions that will solve the several problems of Africa.
The good news is the African population is embracing tech at a very fast rate. There are several opportunities,
What will you do within that space to add value?
There you have it,
Create value for the existing market
I hope this has helped you.
Don’t forget to check back every week for new content specially curated to help, educate and teach you on your journey as a founder.
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