By Udoka Peace Ugwoke
Imagine walking by your street and could barely find somewhere to fix your legs due to the fact that wastes have defaced the area. This analogy may not necessarily reflect absolutely what I have in mind concerning this piece, but can you picture yourself gasping for breath of fresh air in that vicinity.
Likewise in the startup ecosystem in Nigeria there are wastes- ideas that are waiting for the ‘sanitation agents’ to just brush them to the garbage. These ideas could have brought solutions to our community healthcare, transportation quagmire, energy crisis, education, or even electoral processes.
Who knows, if that such ideas were given few seconds during that particular pitch- the investors- whether angels or ventures capitalists, would have seen the value. Probably, the ideas were not well articulated. Now, what happens to the idea after the pitch- the young and potential innovator should ‘perish with whatever they have in mind or papers’ or we ought to have a ‘collection centre’ where the ideas are further sieved?
The young man/woman with an idea
Before we go further on that it is imperative to underscore that in a world where almost everyone wants the same things, what do you do to stand out? Everyone is talking about being very rich, famous and powerful. With the scarce resources available and greed lurking around the corner, what would you do differently?
A lot of startup ideas across sectors, that may worth billions of dollars may be as well regarded as “wastes”, not because they failed at execution rather the idea was never explored further.
It is true that we want to be rich, relevant and accepted. Plenty of youths want to be the Linda Ikejis or Uche Pedros or Mark Essiens or Seun Osewas of this present time, but their billion dollar ideas never see the break of dawn. A friend of mine has been talking about establishing an online market for over some years now, yet, I never see where him build website. If I ask him about it, it’s one excuse or the other.
Work is too hectic. Oh!! I hardly have time for myself. Oh!! How do I combine my ever tasking job with the establishment of this idea that has been taunting me? The truth is that we have too many excuses. Procrastinationand indiscipline has taken over the right virtues we are supposed to have. Many youths lack the passion to work yet they crave for fame, wealth and power. For some others, it is the fear of failure.
Having too many excuses can be likened to giving yourself reasons why you are not ready to bring your brainchild to life. You keep telling yourself that you have insufficient information about the subject matter and so you are ready to wait till you think you are satisfied with the wealth of information you have – of course, there is no timeframe to this study time table.
I am not discouraging having full information about the business you want to go into or the start-up you want to establish. All I am saying is that a time frame should be given to the information search. Besides, information can never be enough until you actually venture into and begin to explore that idea. The more you execute that idea, the more knowledge you have. Naija people say experience is the best teacher.
Startup wastes litter everywhere
Tech startup wastes stink everywhere because vibrant youths are unwilling to pay the price. We are unwilling to have a mentor who would scold us and correct ourmistakes. We don’t want to give what it takes to go where we want. We want things fast. Fast money! Fast Fame! Fast everything!! What comes that fast hardly lasts. If we must have what we want, we must subject ourselves to those who have made indelible marks in the proposed field. Many youths are stricken by the five lettered word SLEEP. Many Naija Youths can sleep for Africa. We want all the wealth
in the world and we want them while we spend all our time in our comfort zone. We derive so much joy in satisfying this desire. Of course, it is necessary to sleep, but some form of moderation is required if you really desire to see your idea or business blossom.
I read a story of a woman, who had her 9 to 5 job in Lagos but would stay awake most of the hours of the night baking cakes for weddings, birthdays and other events. And the cycle continues every week. She finally resigned from her 9 to 5 job to face her passion- baking- squarely. It all culminates into paying the price. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. The world would never give you what you want. The world gives you what you take from it. Your desires only remain desires until you are passionate and take what you want out of life. Resolve to leave your comfort zone and tell laziness to get behind you.
Fear of failure
Another issue, which Iconsider very grave is the fear of failure. We don’t even want to try to set up that tech idea because we don’t want to fail. We fear what people would say if we don’t make it or if the idea does not survive.
But let me shock you, the Linda ikeji we know today failed at a lot of businesses too. After she finished from school, she started a Modelling and Event Company, she failed. She started a magazine company, it failed. She started a marketing company, she failed. She started a TV modelling show, failed again. She went into Reality Modelling TV concept, failure swallowed it.
According to her, she wrote a book, but didn’t sell up to five hundred copies. Thirteen years after she started her hustle, she was still broke and struggling. To her, giving up was never an option. In her words “failure is part of success. If you never fail, how are you going to learn”?
Jason Njoku, the owner of IrokoTV also failed at a lot of businesses before the IrokoTV idea came up. He faced a lot of challenges ranging from the poor internet connection at that time plus the inadequate funds and many others. How would you ever know the idea that is worth billions of dollars if you never try to execute it? Until you see failure as part of your life, you might never break through.
The only true failure is when you stop trying. If people have done it and are still doing it, what is your excuse?
Start that business. Bring that idea to life. Make it see limelight. The pain is not that you started the idea, but it didn’t excel. Your regret would be that you had the idea but you were never disciplined enough to start it.
Pitches: the winner takes its all
That said, let’s reflect on my opening statements once again. On that side of the divide, several times we screamed in excitements whenever winner(s) is(are) announced during pitches, hackaton or such events. But who have sat down to ask what happens to the supposed runners-up or those considered ‘not good enough to win’? It is a big issue that must be addressed.
Just like we have blood banks for hospitals I am proposing that idea banks be opened too to harness these supposed ‘not good enough ideas’. Most times we behave as if Nigerians problems are limited to Banana Island, Lekki or Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, so any idea that isn’t targeting these markets aren’t good enough. We need to look at the diversity of this country; it is only then that our huge population becomes a gain. Sometimes, those we hail and sponsor to even international fora end up as disappointments.
Let’s gather the waste and make solutions out of them; there must be a way out.
Ugwoke Peace Udoka, ACA, MNIMN, BSc (Marketing) University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, 2016. She can be reached via: [email protected]