The brain behind Tizeti is Kendall Ananyi, who currently leads the Nigerian startup as the Chief Executive Officer. There is another cofounder called Ifeanyi Okonkwo, he is the Chief Operating Officer, the man who believed in Kendall’s dream.
It became a reality when Ifeanyi and Kendall successfully delivered their first ever Internet service to a residential estate in Lagos. This was in 2012, and the startup is still on and running.
Tizeti is focused on providing unlimited Internet to Nigeria and beyond at an affordable rate and is on a move to become a global brand. The paths to achieving this goal seem very achievable looking at the spectacular trajectory of the startup.
It has grown from just 2 persons who probably weren’t too sure of what they were doing to a company that currently generates N11 billion in revenue, spending only N400 million plus on marketing, and sponsored twice one of the biggest TV shows (Big Brother Naija) and many more in 10 years.
As at today, Tizeti has not debt, either in Dollar or Naira. Tizeti has also a conference called NeXTGEN in 2021. Then in 2022, it hosted the second edition on Friday in Lagos – an annual event focused on Africa’s digital environment, which also commemorates its 10th anniversary.
Further, Tizeti is an Internet Service Provider licensed by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). It provides all of its services through Wifi.com.ng in Nigeria, Ghana Wifi in Nigeria, and Wifi Call.
10 Years Journey
Kendall and Ifeanyi started Tizeti 10 years ago offering just 1 Mbps Internet to people living in a residential estate. Over the next two years, it started gathering momentum and finally launched to the public in Lekki Phase 1 in 2014 as Wifi.com.ng.
The startup bootstrapped with no investors at all and was able to get to a $1 million ARR and 5000 users in 2017. And in that same year, Tizeti got accepted into Y Combinator and raised the largest seed round at the time of $2.1 million.
That same 2017, it signed a partnership with Facebook and launched Express WiFi. “So in 2017, we had 5000 users, continued on our part of building business fundamentals, and by the next year, we raised $3 million.”
Tizeti used $2 million to grow from 5000 users to 100,000 users. That same year, Tizeti generated its first N1 billion in revenue, he said.
Fast forward to 2019, it expanded to Ghana – Ghana WiFi and secured LTE spectrum, and built on an LTE network. That same year it launched its voice service Wi-Fi Call.
According to Kendall, Tizeti has been profitable for 3 out of the last 4 years of operation and 2022 paid its first dividend as a startup.
“And, if you have a 10-year-old as I have, you know, you’ve started to grow up, and so we need more and more adult supervision to bring in more guidance and we expanded our board. And we’ve also continued our expansion within Nigeria and expanded to Oyo State.”.
In 2012, it generated N25 million at 160 exchange rates in revenue without any investor, a feat that only a very few startups, according to Kendall.
“The next year, we felt very confident and that’s when we launched in 2014 as Wifi.com.ng. Even as young as we are, we’re able to get international press in July 2014 from one of the top Wi-Fi blogs at the time.”
Further, Kendall said in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Tizeti increased its network capacity to 100 gigabits per second. Consequently, at the end of the 2021, financial year, after three profitable years, Tizeti issued a dividend of two Naira per share.
In 2022, it announced a partnership with Microsoft, this would mean that Tizeti has now partnered with most of the large tech companies in the world – Microsoft Meta, Google, and Netflix.
Ahead of Competition
Tizeti is ahead of any competition when it comes to data plans. It offers a 100MBps unlimited Internet package at a paltry fee of N12,500 for 30 days which no other ISP is offering in Nigeria.
Tizeti owns telecom towers that are solar powered, which are super capital efficient as it eliminates the cost of buying diesel and maintenance.
“We build it at 20 to 25% of the cost of our competitors. There are no generators. There are no diesel tanks, so we get a lot of cost savings from it, even the land lease,” Kendall disclosed at the event.
According to Kendall, the land Tizeti leases for the towers is a lot smaller than what its competition will require. “They will require space for a generator on a diesel tank. They will also require diesel every two to three days, for us, we don’t have to deal with that.’
“Solar is very low maintenance on all of this cost savings. We offer it to our customers in the form of unlimited internet. That’s why we’re able to undercut the competition and offer it at a price that is 30 to 50% less than your data caps plans.”
How the Idea of Tizeti Was Conceived
The idea of Tizeti was conceived when Kendall wrote a blog post at a time when was doing his Master’s Degree Program in Canada as far back as 2006. Although, he never had thought of it coming to reality.
“My school was one of the first schools in the world that had outdoor Wi-Fi on the campus. I wrote a thesis on what will happen if we all had Wi-Fi, which was broadband.
“So pondered that not a lot of people using the internet. And I said it will be great that wherever I live, I would love to put Wi-Fi there. But this was just me speaking it live.
“I didn’t think about it that much beyond just writing the blog post, the blog post is still up. And a lot of people refer to it online because I also made a lot of project predictions about things like Google Maps.”
Years later, the dream became a reality after Kendall and Ifeanyi successfully delivered Internet to residents in an estate in Lagos.
Next Frontier & Initial Public Offering (IPO)
Tizeti is growing and wants to continue to expand as the goal is to provide the Internet to entire Africa, not just Nigeria. It is Africa’s number in voice and video but with intentions to become a global player.
To achieve this, the startup has near-term plans but has a long way to go, Kendall said. In the meantime, there are plans to expand to 10 more states in Nigeria and two francophone countries in Africa.
Tizeti intends to offer an IPO before the year runs out, and an opportunity for Nigerians to invest long-term and create wealth for themselves.
“Nigerians now have the opportunity to explore the public markets for equity and debt to fund Tizeti’s next phase of growth.
“We want to explore and pick an Exchange – Tizeti is looking at NASDAQ, London NGX, and others. Then, we will select parties to the transaction, clear regulatory requirements, file documents, and commence trading, while building the next frontier with those of you that come on board.”
To be kept abreast of the long road Nigerians should always check www.tizeti.com/invest and put their information to know as the potential IPO progresses.
Journey to Silicon Valley
In 2016, the two cofounders took a leap of faith and traveled to Silicon Valley in the United States. This was after they had met Y Combinator in Nigeria and offered to provide them with Internet coverage at an event.
Kendall and Ifeanyi were encouraged to apply to Y Combinator for funding. At that time, they had no money for a flight ticket to the US. It was only surviving from the revenue it generated over time.
They decided to take a leap of faith and travel to progress discussions with Facebook after the cofounders had talks with Mark Zuckerberg when he visited Nigeria.
“Our calculation was not even to get into YC, it was to go there and meet with the Facebook team and progress our potential partnership, which looked like a long shot.
“We progressed the Facebook partnership and by the time we came back, email those signed off the contract.”
Further, Tizeti has an ongoing partnership with Microsoft another multi-billion global brand. It took over 3 years for Kendall to close the partnership with Microsoft despite being a fanatical former employee. The partnership deal with Microsoft was signed off in March 2023.
He said: “In 2017, I also went on a trip to Microsoft to talk to Microsoft about a potential partnership at that time this was on the back of raising a seed round and understanding that also Microsoft will be interested in bringing customers online.
“Nothing happened but I kept on with Microsoft because this is very personal for me, especially for me because I learned how to code at age 12. And it was my love for Microsoft and Windows that made me become an engineer.
After my MSc Program, I applied to Microsoft and worked for Microsoft. And over the next couple of years. We kept on talking and in December 2021 the due diligence toss. I was wondering about having the conversation but they also said they wanted to speak to someone that’s it’s me they’ve been talking to.
” So, I involved Ifeanyi, although I didn’t give him any background knowledge of it. But I’m like we have to close Microsoft. We’ve been on this thing a lot, but I don’t know what Ifeanyi said to them on that call. And we closed Microsoft in December 2020. And they came down in March of this year to launch the partnership.
At the time of writing this report, Tizeti currently delivers a whopping 190 terabytes of data a day. Tizeti has 3884 hotspot locations, 2.8 million users in Nigeria, builds an average of one tower every month since its inception
Tizeti in the last 10 years has generated over N11 billion in revenue. It has about 760 staff that have either worked with it or who are still working at Tizeti, or half of that is still working there.
“Surprisingly, the startup has $0 in debt and spent only 404 million on marketing in 10 years.
“We are debt free. That has not happened. You think of all the companies that have died along the way. That is one of the reasons. We have no debt both local and international.”
Conclusion and What the Future Holds for Tizeti
Tizeti is already laying the foundation for the future. The pace at which it has accelerated in the last 10 years with good financial records, and strong strategic partnerships with the biggest tech companies in the world, are all indicators that Tizeti is on its way to greatness.
Potential Nigerian investors anticipate a successful IPO, a move that offers it to the next frontier. Tizeti is on a clear-cut journey to becoming a unicorn in the next 10 years as long as Internet access remains a major challenge in Africa.