Well, I’m a techie, and each time I recall that Linda Ikeji just bought a N500,000,000 House, I begin to ask myself, what the fuck have we been doing all this while? Learning PHP/Java, Angular, PS6 etc and selling less. The best of us techies will probably get a job and get paid 800k per month, how long will it take to make a dent on Nigeria with that? You are sitting on a long thing!
If you look critically at the list of those who have made significant impact in terms of how well they have harnessed technology and build business that makes sense and billions, you will discover that a lot of them don’t code or aren’t software engineers. So, what are the things that made them go further ahead, while we still fall in love with our beautiful design patterns and how cool our UIs are?
If your dream is to build a house in Lekki, have Range Rover/Gwagon, have a plush office on the island and go on vacation twice a year, this post is not for you, you are not broke, you are living your dream. If you have a good job and are ok making impact, pushing code to repo, this post is not for you. You are ok! This post is targeted at those who wish to become, Zuckerberg of Africa, Elon of Nigeria and Marc Andresen.
Here are reasons why I think we are broke
- It’s not about the technology but about delighting the customer; When you look at Nairaland and Lindaikeji, you want to say their UIs are not the best in the world but how come their bank accounts are fatter than yours? Is it infected with HIV or Leanosis? When the customer comes to their sites, they get what they want and the customers(who paids) see the numbers and open their purses. Simple!
- We don’t understand what real hustle is; I mean, spending the night coding your MVP and pushing code through to live while fixing bugs…working 120hrs per week to ensure we have a scalable platform but refusing to go to the trenches to interact with our customers. The real hustle is not the code you just compiled; it is hopping on the bike, going to Idumota market to on-board your first 10 customers. That’s the trench, it’s not sexy but over time, it is the one that pays! Remember they don’t have ACs there but they have naira and kobo! You can pay someone in India to do the coding, but you can’t pay someone to do the real hustle for you. Sifting the signal from the noise!
- You are not competing with your peers, you are competing in the market: a lot of times we want to feel good, be featured on top tech blogs and even CNN and get that thumbs up that; o’ boy, you made it! No, you haven’t, you have just sent invitation to your competitors that something good is happening in your vertical and if you are not well prepared or fast to react, you will be crushed. One of my startups was featured on Techcrunch along with other reigning startups at the time about the time iRokoTV was also feature. We got loads of traffic, we got commendation but we still failed. Early recognitions are cool but we got to have dreams that are bigger than accolades, It needs to shake us!
- We are not tackling the real problems Nigerians have: on a scale of 1 to 10, which Nigerian startup is currently being used buy 40% of Nigerians at least once a month? Please if you find one, do let me know.
- Technology doesn’t start and end on web pages; Ok, yes everyone should learn to code…yea but on which Computer? Which power Nepa or Gen or? We need other technologies we can build to impact Nigerians and we will make crazy money if we are able to sell. We pay too much attention to web apps that we get frustrated to discover that, no one is willing to pay for it of fund it!
- Change your mentality from consultant to empire state; as in, why would you bill the ministry of mineral resources over 700m to maintain a site (just kidding, but if you work for the company that did, show your face oo), like seriously? As in Uncle Fashola also spent about 70m to build his personal site. It’s looks weird but there are companies that charges that high to build websites (as in relatively speaking). Like 5m to setup WordPress etc. When you are able to see that, your customers are not the few people who can cough out millions but the millions who can pay few bucks to patronise you, you may just be ok running a company of 5–20people for 20years. I’m not saying that’s bad, far from it. Some people dreams are just that way and they are living it! It’s ok…but the people I’m talking about are the one who really want to make a dent on the Nigeria and the world at large.
Ok.. there are a lot of reasons, but I want to pause here. I will do more in a bit. Why do you think Nigerian Techies are broke and what do you think needs to change?
Feature Image Source: sokalako.com
Lanre Shittu O. is a Web Strategist, Entrepreneur, industry analyst, Tech community Organizer, author and software engineer based in Lagos Nigeria.