The event took place on the 2nd of May, 2024 at the Ebony Life Place, Victoria Island, Lagos State. The event opened with welcome speech and opening remarks by Adeleke Alex- Adedipe, Managing Partner, Duale, Ovia&Alex-Adedipe after which a keynote address was given by Chairman, ARCA Payment Limited. Upon conclusion of the keynote address, a fireside chat commenced. In this session Mr. kyari Abba Bukar was asked questions by Aruoture Oddiri “Rotus” regarding his business, experience, challenges and insights about technology and policies. The members of the audience were also given the opportunity to ask questions.

Subsequently, the first panel discussion began following a brief interlude for tea. This panel comprised esteemed figures and emerging leaders within the financial technology realm, including Olatubosun Alake, the Honourable Commissioner for Science, Innovation, and Technology; Adesuwa Okunbo-Rhodes, the Founder of Aruma Capital Management; Kola Aina, the Founding Partner of Ventures Platform; Femi Ogunjimi, the Co-Founder of Cardinal Stone Capital Advisers; and Tosin Eniolorunda, the Founder of Moniepoint. This session was moderated by Adeniyi Duale, Partner at DualeOvia&Alex-Adedipe.

The interaction commenced with the moderator inviting Adesuwa to share insights on potential reforms for venture capital to fortify the ecosystem. Adesuwa highlighted significant declines in venture capital and advocated for leveraging local investments as a remedy. She proposed the establishment of a government-backed venture capital fund to bolster the economy, suggesting that untapped funds could be redirected for this purpose. Additionally, Adesuwa recommended implementing a framework for Local Capital Mobilization.

Tosin Eniolorunda was tasked with offering advice to startups. He began by stressing that the primary goal of any startup, like any other company, is profitability to provide dividends or returns to investors. He asserted that a startup must offer a product or service that resonates with customers and identify an industry to target for sales. He recommended that startups generate significant publicity for their offerings and ensure they have a plan to provide returns to investors while also focusing on the growth of their products and services.

Femi addressed the hurdles faced by Nigerian tech startups, emphasizing both internal and external challenges. He focused particularly on internal obstacles, emphasizing the importance of business model and strategy. He challenged the common narrative among founders, which typically revolves around identifying problems, developing solutions, and expecting product adoption. Instead, he proposed key questions that businesses should consider at the outset, such as how to generate revenue, the timeline for profitability, revenue projections, scalability of the product or service, and the business culture. He believed that addressing these questions comprehensively would not only help businesses thrive but also mitigate challenges encountered during the business-building process.

The moderator directed a question about mentorship to Kola Aina, who personally expressed his divergence from the concept for entrepreneurs. However, Kola emphasized the importance of entrepreneurs recognizing that capital alone is insufficient for business success; they also need to establish advisory boards and cultivate a supportive community. He concluded by highlighting the correlation between entrepreneurial promotion and business success.

The Honourable Commissioner was then asked to elaborate on the Lagos state government’s contributions to venture capital and startups. He explicitly mentioned that the government has awarded grants to 70 startups across various sectors and has consistently provided a launchpad for startups to prepare them for venture capital investments.

Subsequently, the panelists addressed another round of questions. Tosin discussed the challenges faced by startups during the scaling-up process, which encompassed regulatory hurdles, compliance issues, funding, talent acquisition, and the impact of external factors like the “Japa wave” and manipulations by crypto operators, prompting government policy shifts affecting fintech startups.

Kola tackled the measures required to bolster investor confidence in Nigeria’s fintech sector. He stressed the necessity of creating a robust investment environment in Nigeria to attract foreign investors and instill faith in startups. The first panel session concluded with an interactive question-and-answer segment involving both panelists and audience members.

The second panel session was moderated by Nichole Yembra, the founding partner of The Chrysalis Company. This panel featured Olumide Soyombo, the Co-founder of Voltron Capital and Bluechip Technologies Limited; Yanmo Omorogbe, the COO and Co-Founder of Bamboo; Olu Oyinsan, the Managing Partner of Oui Capital; Dr. Femi Kuti, the CEO of Reliance Health; and Tosin Faniro-Dada, a Partner at Breega. The session focused on the theme “Show me the money,” where panelists shared their experiences in securing funding for their startups.

Yanmo encouraged startup owners to consider several key factors to effectively reach their target customers. These factors include bringing on board founders with prior experience, understanding the market and the needs of the target audience, evaluating competitors, selecting co-founders who complement each other, and recognizing the significance of timing. Additionally, Yanmo advised entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to themselves first before presenting them to others, emphasizing the importance of self-assessment in gauging investment potential.

Tosin addressed the question of “How to navigate choosing the right partners and attracting investors,” echoing Yanmo’s emphasis on timing. He also underscored the importance of thoroughly evaluating potential partners and investors to ensure alignment with the startup’s vision and goals.

Olu Oyinsan shared his experience as a startup owner, highlighting the importance of taking calculated risks despite unforeseen challenges. He emphasized that before anything else, startup founders must determine if their venture is necessary, assemble a capable team, and define what success looks like for the company. Answering these fundamental questions guides critical decision-making for startup owners.

All panelists emphasized the importance of clarity in defining the problem a startup aims to solve, crafting a compelling narrative to attract investors, and ensuring the business can generate returns for its investors. The event concluded with closing remarks from Soibi Ovia, a Partner at Duale, Ovia & Alex-Adedipe.

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