We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Okoho Etim”, Co-Founder/CEO of the Lagos – Nigeria based startup “StartitAFRICA”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
StartitAFRICA is basically a fundraising platform working by the principle of crowdfunding and strictly focused on funding raising for impact entrepreneurship as well as creative and innovative projects across all African countries.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
StartitAFRICA was founded in 2014. The beta version was released for test on Christmas day same year. Presently though, we are re-engineering the platform and the re-engineered version would be ready to go live before July 30th, 2015. A formal launch will be made before year end of 2015.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our business model is simple. We accept initiatives or projects that are published on the platform and we work with the initiators to promote this through digital marketing and otherwise, soliciting small contributions from interested persons and organizations. We earn a percentage commission on the funding raised. We earn this money by helping users raise money for their pursuits.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
My team met through referrals. The crucial persons are our developers and content manager. As CEO, I primarily must ensure that our start-up funding never runs dry on us amongst other things I’m required to be in charge of.
The team is primarily divided into those who focus on maintaining the platform and the others who focus on selling it’s potential to the public.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
What makes us unique in the of crowdfunding sphere is what we are focused on funding. That is, social impact entrepreneurship across Africa.
Social impact entrepreneurship has the greatest potential to quickly transform Africa and improve the welfare of its peoples.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Within weeks of the release of the beta version, we had over 5000 sign-ups. This is outstanding in an environment where the idea of crowdfunding is quite new.
We are yet to register a defining milestone, however, we calculate that this will change with the release of the re-engineered platform and a full promotion campaign.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Some of our competitors are based here in Africa and others abroad but non has a focus on funding impact entrepreneurship in Africa.
We believe that the worldwide funding network will be more inclined to fund impact enterprises because of its loaded potential for Africa.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
A major obstacle faced by anyone who wants to start up a micro enterprise in Africa is funding.
This was a big problem for us and to some extent still is. But we are able to stay afloat because we deliberately operate very lean while seeking private investment in what we are doing.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
The method of operations of crowdfunding itself. Well, we decided to call it fundraising instead of crowdfunding. It easier for the masses in this part of the world to buy-into the idea of fundraising than the idea of crowdfunding. This is a key thing that outsiders to what we are doing don’t get.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We are going to succeed because the team wants to succeed and also because we have a model that serves the purpose of our pursuit, a service that is focused on tackling a real problem of Africa micro and small enterprise.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
If StartitAFRICA succeeds the other area we would explore is equity crowdfunding for African start-ups. Another would be online information dissemination on project management and start-up management. This value will be created for users and charged for via subscription fees.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
I chose this idea because I discovered a major problem of the lack of funding for micro enterprises across Africa and decided to use the principle of crowdfunding to tackle this.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I have learned that in dealing with people, especially on a start-up project, one has to find and have greater amount of patience and also, one has to show much more care about persons if any reasonable achievement is to be reached through the persons.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Six months from now, our biggest problem would be ensuring our service standard at all times and at all points that users interface with the platform.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
StartitAFRICA offers three major good to its users. These are convenience for you, exposure for your work and a fundraising channel. In addition, the platform vets all initiatives published on it. This offers those would fund projects some assurance.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Our users found out about us mostly through our digital marketing campaigns. With increasing numbers of success stories, we expect our new users to find us by referrals.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
All users with an idea for business that can impact their society and interested persons that would like to conveniently invest with the purpose to positively impact Africa.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Our new customers come from referrals and via our marketing campaigns. The are willing to try because of the success stories we are slowly achieving.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
They are excited about the idea behind StartitAFRICA and they really want to see StartitAFRICA become the platform of repute in the online fundraising sphere.
20. How are you going to scale?
StartitAFRICA plans to scale by going into as many markets in sub-Saharan Africa as possible while in the same time encouraging repeat use of the platform by existing users and use by visitors signed-up on the platform.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest missing feature is security of personal information. A major request from customers is for deployment of reliable security on the platform and enuring the integrity of our process.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
No. We are not ever going to be focused outside Africa. By this I mean that the start-up is set up to serve African funding needs only and in the area of impact entrepreneurship.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Africa has a growing and vibrant micro entrepreneurial class in many of its countries. I see StartitAFRICA being an online community of this population of this class.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
َNo, we are not hiring presently. However, we welcome professional feedback and inputs to our work. For this purpose, we can be reached on email@example.com
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
Absolutely. We are seeking funding for investment in our start-up -StartitAFRICA. We can be contacted directly for talks via email on: firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Because one has to live while starting up a business, one has to ensure to have a source of living while building a new business. It helps you stay the course.
That plus passion for the particular pursuit and good planning should put one in a position to win. To succeed.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Well, you should visit and sign-up on www.startitafrica.com