U-Law Black Friday 7.0 was held recently, gathering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and fintech firms, with a comprehensive exploration of legal considerations in the African business sector.
Themed “The African Business Journey: Stories of Resilience,” U-Law Black Friday 7.0 included legal experts, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders who focused on how startups and MSMEs can scale through to success despite challenges.
In a fireside chat, Chinedu Azodoh, Co-founder of Max NG spoke on his personal journey, providing invaluable insights into the challenges and triumphs he faced in the African business sector.
Reflecting on his experiences, Azodoh recalled, “In 2005, I was fortunate to finish my college education. In 2006, my father retired from the army, and for six months we kept looking at each other in.the house because we were on strike. He said I needed to leave the house and go anywhere and shortly after, I got a scholarship in the US. I set off and later on embarked on a project, after which I fell in love with the dynamics of the market.”
Azodoh touched on his university years, where he aimed to improve the quality of life. “Out of college, my focus shifted to service. I wanted to build systems that helped individuals achieve financial peace and contribute to economic prosperity,” he shared.
The discussion shifted to the inception of Max NG, a company that has significantly impacted the transportation sector in Africa. Azodoh provided insights into the challenges faced in the Nigerian market, noting the importance of addressing issues related to motorcycle transportation regulation.
He further highlighted the stress of dealing with regulations: “In Nigeria, there’s no regulation around motorcycle transportation. We were at the mercy of states to determine our fate.” He elaborated on the challenges faced during meetings with government officials and the need to navigate a complex regulatory ecosystem.
“One of the most challenging things for the business was the lack of regulation around motorcycle transportation in Nigeria.” The struggle extended beyond economic considerations to safety concerns. He detailed meetings with government officials and the need for industry-specific regulations.
“The challenge also reflected broader issues in Nigeria, where politics often overshadowed economics. Privatizing politics over economics became a recurring theme.”
A key aspect of Max NG’s success was its strategic use of technology. Azodoh shed light on how technology was leveraged to enforce safety measures and improve operational efficiency. “We published traffic data, implemented smart traffic lights, and built a filing system to hold riders accountable,” he explained.
Azodoh emphasized the importance of technology in overcoming challenges, stating, “We figured out how to leverage technology for safety, selection, and validation. We even paid the Lagos state government to prove our commitment to safety.”
As the regulatory landscape evolved, Max NG underwent transformations. Azodoh discussed the shift to electric vehicles, stating, “We changed our entire business model to focus on electric vehicles. It wasn’t easy, but every three to four years, businesses need to adapt.”
He highlighted the importance of focusing on long-term outcomes: “Entrepreneurs are essential to recovery. Your mindset is critical to your performance. You need to manage yourself and focus on long-term satisfaction.”
Azodoh shared invaluable insights into the art of fundraising, emphasizing the significance of relationships. “Fundraising is literally about relationships. Build relationships through stories and industry knowledge,” he advised.
The discussion shifted to investor relations, with Azodoh providing candid advice to startups seeking funds. “Ask investors if they lead rounds and identify deal breakers. Investors aren’t doing you a favor, but don’t be arrogant about it,” he emphasized.
Azodoh concluded: “People who do not have money to give you are the most curious people in the world. Fundraising is about relationships, and relationships will fundraise. Your time is very important”
The U-Law Black Friday 7.0, Chinedu Azodoh’s fireside chat dissected the complexities of the African business sector, reflecting on the resilience required to scale through the regulatory space and transform challenges into opportunities.