The much long awaited #StartupSouth event in Port Harcourt has come and gone. The event which held at the Dome on the 28th of November could not have come at a better time even as startups are beginning to sprout all around the South-South and South-Eastern parts of Nigeria.
The event began with opening prayers from Tony Balogun of GoldGate Media Productions and a welcome address from Uche Aniche of Biztorials (chief convener). In his emotionally laden opening address, Uche pointed out that the private sector economy has a life blood which consists mainly of startups. He beckoned on investors to look beyond the oil and the politics and focus on building a sustainable economic hub in the South-South by investing in SMEs and startups that show promise.
Next up was Ikechukwu Uche, co-founder FocusHub who presented a case for funding startups in the South-South. In his speech he stated that poverty alleviation could only be sustained by job creation and jobs could only be generated by creating companies, startups. In his own words, “poor man idea, na dream e be.”
Lexi Novitske of Singularity Invest also talked about the importance of solving local problems before going on to tackle global ones. She mentioned power as one of the areas that needed urgent attention. She also advised companies to ensure their business plan was water tight before seeking investments.
Of course, what would #StartupSouth have been without a few lessons from two successful startup co-founders Etinosa Omoriege of Bole King and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji of Andela. Etinosa shared his vision of expanding Bole King outside the shores of Nigeria. He also expressed his optimism for startups in the south while Iyinoluwa advised aspiring entrepreneurs to get their metrics right. He also advised young people to stop asking for permission to do things but to go ahead and get them done.
Chinenye Mbauzokwu of Demo Africa was indeed a pleasure to listen to; In his talk, he urged participants to avoid being mediocre even if the educational system is mediocre, he inspired them to rise above the mediocrity, to become better and greater.
The amazing Julia Jacks, channelled her inner teacher as she took the participants through a session on branding. She pointed that one did not need to own as much as ten thousand naira to build a brand. A brand is your identity, it is the information you communicate to the outside world about you.
The interview segment with Mark Essien, founder Hotels.ng, was truly awesome; he talked about the importance of pitching the press even as one pitched for investors. He shared some tips on recruitment and business education, urging everyone to study up on business related issues they were not conversant with.
The event finally came to a close with the acknowledgment of media houses and personalities that have supported small businesses over the years. The event also saw Hojah– a food delivery platform that aims to tackle the problem of proximity, emerge the winner of the pitch competition.
The occasion however was not devoid of logistic issues as a few things appeared to be missing, however Uche Aniche has promised that with lessons learnt from this year’s edition, we should watch out for a better and bigger #StartupSouth event in 2016.