The Last Days

Nigeria Summer 2012 Blog

Written by: Olateju Abimbola

Sept. 8, 2012

New words

1.  “Gingered”:  jin-jerd ; adjective

Meaning:   To give incentive to, to inspire action

Synonyms: Inspired, Motivated

Example sentence:  The students were gingered after listening to guest lecturers in week 4 & 5

                2. “Famzin”: fuh-mzing; verb

Meaning: to establish friendship, to get acquainted with people who can be helpful to one professionally

Synonyms: Network, Familiarize

Example sentence: Wezam and Olumide were famzin Sim Shagaya to get feedback on Myshopper

Road to Ithaca

Several speakers came in to speak to the students, Fowe, from MoMo’s lecture about trends in the mobile space had a technical twist, I had to pay close attention to follow, but had the programmers in the room who are often quiet asking questions and excited. Zubair and Bayo from Pledge51, young, patriotic and full energy (even though Zubair was fasting) outlined the opportunities they have positioned themselves for and taken advantage of. This served as the perfect case study for what the AITI students could achieve. Bayo graduated from Unilag only few years ago.

Femi from CChub made every student answer the question, “What problem are you solving?” and spoke about the value of social impact innovations.  As always, the class had a good laugh as Team DitaCam tried to explain the value of their cool creation, an app that accesses your phone’s camera, takes a picture of you and then makes a funny sound “hhhuuuuhhh” if the app decides you’re “cute” or “hot” and another sound (they are still working on) if you’re not. Then allows you to upload your results to facebook.  Sorry I got side tracked, was talking about the speakers.

Jobberman co-founder, Deji Adewunmi spoke about how he started a business in his dorm at Obafemi Awolowo University, identified a  unique problem, found a great team to work with, and set aside his degree in Medicine to develop Nigeria’s largest online recruitment platform. He closed by challenging the students to provide a solution that makes JAMB (SAT equivalent in Nigeria) easier to study for. A problem every single student faces in Nigeria.

 Sim Shagaya, HBS and Google Alumni, Serial Entrepreneur, Co-founder of E-Motion, DealDey and Konga  was the first speaker of the CEO Speaker series and definitely made an impression on the students as he explained a founders journey with insights and examples from all his companies and the different emotions an entrepreneur experiences, he described the founders journey as analogous to the poem “Ithaca” ……

“And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.

With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,

 You must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean”.

In summary, the speakers gingered the students. The following week, the students’ excitement and commitment was almost tangible, there was no pushback when we scheduled a weekend “hackathon” to clean up their apps.

Reality Check: Have you mastered the art of Pitching and “Famzin”?

The same MIT honed “famzin” skills (as my students described it) that got most of the speakers, got us 10 seats at a Fate Foundation event, courtesy the Tony Elumelu Foundation. I selected the most prepared four teams, Omoonile,  Myshopper, HandymanNaija and Graid to get the opportunity to attend a training on “How to Pitch Tech Ventures”,  as well as pitch their ideas, and watch and listen to other tech entrepreneurs pitch too.

The teams all arrived on time, stuffed in Busayo Longes car and I got to see them in business formal for the first time. All ready to pitch, they recanted their memorized pitches flawlessly before we went in.

 The training was facilitated by Nigerian born Palo Alto, CA, venture capitalist, Eghosa Omoigui, Managing partner of Echo VC. There were a ton of entrepreneurs from different startups, the students were happy to run into a familiar face Bayo from pledge 51, but also mingled comfortably with the other Entrepreneurs  and pitched their ideas over and over  again to anyone who cared to listen.  They even made a good famzin shot with the biggest fish in the room, Eghosa.

 I think for the first time, I knew what it felt like to be a proud mother.

The Final Pitch & App Demo

The class looks different and at first glance I think it’s because we have had the very touching last class and said our semi-goodbyes or because after seeing them every weekday I haven’t seen them in 10days,  the extra time  given to the students to fine-tune their pitches and clean up their business plans before the Buisness Plan Contest  or maybe its because thanks to CITS and Prof Uwadia, we got approval to use Lab 001, a more fancy space,….. but its none of that; it’s because the  students are dressed formally, ready for their final pitch looking all gingered.

There are also a bunch of notable guests in the audience, Entrepreneurs from the CChub, and a number of other start-up CEO’s, an angel investor from Boston, a Stanford Business School student ,  friends and family of the AITI  students as well as the judges, Wole Odetayo from Wennovation Hub, Celestine Omin from and Ayodeji Balogun from the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Mariam, from the Omononile team starts off the team presentations ……  “There are about 40,000 students in University of Lagos and only 4,000 bed spaces provided by the school”. She’s loud and clear about the problem their app solves and the carefully identified niche market, revenue model and growth strategy. I watch as the judges adjust in their seats to give her their full attention.  No wonder the OmoOnile team won the Judges Choice Award.

Tobi, from team Graid, presented their dark green themed slides a subtle reminder of their target market, and explained with screen shots of the app, the features of their alpha product, an app for poultry farmers that allows them to: track then recommend optimal feed and water consumption, serves as a reminder for vaccinations, provides regular tips and a directory of suppliers and vendors (revenue source). The judges were excited about the foresight the team had to go after a market in serious need of innovation and the potential for social impact. Also one of the most diverse teams, no surprise they won the Audience Choice Award

Other team presentations went well as well, the judges didn’t let some teams go off as easy as others.

 Ifeanyi, Team DitaCam started their pitch by asking the audience “who here thinks they are good looking?” this won the audience over. Personally, I was impressed with the picture of the good looking girl on the home page of their app but the judges were only eventually convinced that there is value in exploiting peoples vanity  and that they could make money, (If Instagram could make money, maybe DitaCam can)  after the team answered several questions.

Other apps, developed by the other teams include: PC Repair Toolkit an app that provides a step by step approach to solve basic PC problem and provides a directory of certified PC repairers, Virtual Market a directory for small supermarkets inventory and prices explained their progress with the Unilag market., HandymanNaija (Yelp equivalent) and VOP aka Voice of the People, an app that allows users to comment on feeds of  ongoing programs from different media sources. Members of these teams all presented their business plans, each explaining what problem their app solves and received feedback and answered the judges questions.

We were running past the scheduled end time when Team MyShopper began their presentation, the audience was distracted with the sodas and meatpie going around but Wezam, closed the team presentations with a flawless pitch of their business plan. (Bravo!). This earned them a resounding applause from the Judges and their classmates.

Myshopper has developed an app that will host a directory of grocery inventory and their prices for users to make orders that will be sourced from their patners (reputable supermarkets and grocery stores) and delivered to their customers doorstep. Their pitch included Problem Statement, Product/Solution, Team, Target Market, Entry Strategy (Delivering orders from YemYem Supermarket to Unilag students), Industry Analysis, Growth Plans and their Ask.  Everything they've learned and more. They won the well deserved Best Pitch Award.

Wura from Google, gave very kind closing remarks to officially bring the MIT AITI Business Plan contest to an end.

Special thanks to University of Lagos, the CITS Team, Google Nigeria, all our guest speakers and partners, my fellow instructors, Victor and Bolu and all the AITI Nigeria students  for a successful  program.