#StartupSouth is one of the major projects in the South-South and South-East that trains, connect and bring investments to Startups. In my dialogue, Uche Aniche Elaborates on key points that Startup founders and enthusiasts should consider before and after starting a startup. He also stated how Startups can gain opportunities from #StartupSouth.
Matthew: What motivated you to start #StartupSouth?
Uche: #StartupSouth was birthed as a result of the lack of both opportunities, development and hunger for innovation prevalent in the South-South and South-East.
Matthew: What’s #StartupSouth about?
Uche: #StartupSouth is a Startup/Entrepreneurship ecosystem development project with a goal of connecting, educating and attracting investment to Startups and Founders living in the South-South and South-East.
Matthew: What areas do you think Startups should channel their focus?
Uche: They should channel their focus on getting their business model right first. What I see, a lot is that people think up ideas without finding out how they will make money. Making money is at the heart of running a business regardless of what the objective is because the business has to first be sustainable. I think we read a lot of Silicon Valley stories and it’s confusing us too much. People think investors are stupid people looking for where to throw away money. They are not, you have to show them where the money is before they can take you seriously. Additionally, people should stop deluding themselves, Startup is not for everyone. If you want to grow very fast, go and open a shop or kiosk and trade but if you want money, you must think very big, hard and fast.
Matthew: I want to get something straight boss. You actually think that Startup founders should understand that the Nigerian startup ecosystem is far different from the US?
Uche: Business and investors sentiment in Nigeria, and maybe in Africa, is far different from Silicon Valley. Interestingly, if you grow here, you’d be sort after by foreign investors.
Matthew: How do you think the Nigerian Government can participate in the Startup Ecosystem?
Uche: I am not a Government expert so I may not be in the best position to say how they can participate. I, however, know a few things that the Startup ecosystem needs. One of them is, we need local investors, this is from a purely patriotic point of view because only local investors can jump-start the economy sustainably. Foreign investors will repatriate profit at some point and if the system is not strong, it will collapse if this happens. If you have local money, not only will it stabilize the economy, it will encourage even bigger FDI. The government can come in to create incentives for Local Investors to invest in Startups. That’s one way I know they can participate.
Matthew: How can a Startup participate in #StartupSouth?
Uche: So there are so many levels of participation. Firstly, there’s a #StartupSouth community on Facebook and WhatsApp where Startups and Founders from across South-South and South-East and even beyond gather to get trained every week. The community on Facebook is open to everyone but the WhatsApp community is strictly for those that are interested or are already building a business because the training requirements are more practical and require people to practice what they learn. To participate in the conference, you need to just register to either attend or pitch. We’ll soon open up the portal for both registrations to attend and to pitch. #StartupSouth4 is holding at Owerri this year and it’s going to be way bigger. With the calibre of people that have already confirmed to attend and the entire programming this year, the impact is going to be heavier than it has ever been.
Matthew: What should Participants expect from #StartupSouth Owerri?
Uche: Though we are going to have a Pre-Conference in Warri this year. Last year, we went to four cities, it was supposed to be five, but Asaba was cancelled. This year, we are going to ten cities. The Pre-Conference is renamed #StartupSouth4 #ForeTaste and we’d be touring Awka, Onitsha, Warri, Benin, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Aba and two other cities.
Matthew: Finally, In the area of making a pitch, what key point do you think Startups should focus on?
Uche: Startups should focus on their model, market and opportunity, team experience and traction.