Tech Startup's are the Apple of Nigeria's Eye
The race to win superiority in the mobile GPS market is becoming increasingly more intense, with Google and Apple seemingly fighting tooth and nail to outdo each other's latest advance.
The former's acquisition of Israeli mapping app maker Waze back in June appeared to place the American multinational ahead. However, Apple has purchased online city transit guide HopStop.com, the product of Nigerian businessman Chinedu Echeruo, in a bid to level the stakes and improve its mapping services.
The fact that this particular Nigerian startup was based in the US is evidence of the long-held belief that Nigeria's business credentials are far from perfect. Stringent regulations and lack of investment has resulted in entrepreneurial ventures remaining small and sometimes unprofitable. However, the industry seems to be making a timely U-turn, with Apple's interest in this tech startup seemingly pointing the spotlight at the West African country's untapped digital potential.
So, who are the players to watch?
In August, internet group SPARK secured investment of $2million in just nine days from a syndicate of 17 international investors. The money will be used to expand its offices in Lagos before opening more hubs across Nigeria. The capital will also ensure there are further follow-on rounds of seed investments for its nine companies. Three of these have already secured second-round investments, with the large sums involved pointing a large neon arrow at Nigeria's tech startup sector.
The online music distribution platform is to be pushed into the limelight later this year, with the company given the opportunity to meet and pitch to some of the world’s leading CEOs and executives at October's Web Summit in Dublin. This is testament to the international potential of Nigerian startups, with many becoming increasingly viable as a natural ally to Western multinationals.
The same opportunity has also been presented to Insidify - a job aggregation website that integrates social media, so job seekers can have a unified search experience. The success of Insidify has largely been down to the network effect, with the company working with local businesses to help gather the "largest collection" of career opportunities in Africa.
The reputation of doing business in Nigeria is improving in leaps and bounds, and the rapid success of the country's tech startups in securing venture capital signals that more is to come. I will be keeping a close eye on the Nigerian business community in the coming months, and I would encourage any other investors to do the same.