The CEO OF a $1.2m Nigerian Company Has 17 Pieces of Advice for Startup Founders
Mark Essien, the CEO of Hotels.ng, Nigeria’s biggest hotel booking site had some advice for Nigerian startup founders. In a recent post on his blog titled “My advice to Nigerian startup founders” he outlined 17 advices for entrepreneurs on the road to building a successful business.
Here they are below:
Focus on making users use your product before you over-invest time in building the product. If people don’t want to use a simple version of the product, they won’t want to use a complex version. Building the first version of the product should take at Most 3 months.
- Give your technical co-founders equal stake, or have enough money to pay for the good guys. Or be convincing enough to convince someone good. If you hire a 50k programmer and give him 3% equity and you are not technical, you are doomed.
- Understand the Unit Economics of your startup. If you don’t know what Unit Economics is, spend the next 7 days reading up on it.
- Read the book called “traction” by Gabriel Weinberg.
- If your product does not have a clear and single primary method with which you will gain your first customers, then don’t build it.
- Social Media is not a distribution strategy.
- Ads is not a monetization strategy.
- There are some very common startup ideas that nobody has made work yet (e.g small e-commerce store, artisan recommendation). Do not go into them unless you clearly understand why the others failed.
- To go from idea to product to first revenue or first users. This is YOUR job. Don’t try to raise money to achieve the above. Save money to get to those stages. This is your traction benchmark: 100 daily users OR 100k in monthly EARNINGS. Not SALES VOLUME.
- Don’t confuse SALES with REVENUE. If you sell goods worth N1million, it makes a huge difference if your margin is 30% or 1%.
- You will raise money through recommendations and through introductions, not through cold emails. If you want to send a cold email, send your numbers and traction.
- If you do not have 100 active users 6 months after you started working on your idea, move on or change something.
- Consumer internet is very hard in Nigeria. B2B is much easier. If you are going into B2B, understand “SALES”. Read up on various sales Books.
- If you consider yourself D-Class in the tech circles, get the C-Class excited about you. Then work your way up to the B-Class and ask for the intro’s to the A-Class, who are the gate-keepers of investors.
- If you are going to ask someone to mentor you, come with something. If you go visit a chief to ask a favour, you take a gift, right? If you request someone to give their time, then also offer your time in return.
- A word is enough for the wise. Ask for just 2 sentences feedback from people you respect about your product. Fix those 2, ask another 2,etc.
- Don’t be stubborn. Doubt your own idea. Don’t defend it, join others to criticize it, and try to think if the criticism is unfixable or if it can be fixed. If it can be, fix it. If not, work around it. If nothing can be done, move on.
- Hire people you are scared to hire because of how good they seem.