As you all know, EchoVC Partners is a Silicon Valley-based early to seed stage venture capital founded by Eghosa Omoigui. At the last DEMO Africa which held on the 25th – 26th of September, Nigeria’s communication technology minister Omobola Johnson during her speech announced that EchoVC would be the principal manager of the federal government’s $15m IT Innovation Fund.
The minister said: “In the next few days we will be conducting the first close of the government seeded IT Innovation Fund. Government has committed $9 million as seed capital to this fund to be managed by EchoVC and we are literally a month or so away from making our first investment in a number of Nigerian and African tech startups.”
Clearly, it’s past a month now after that exciting announcement but there’s no word on the Fund or how it can be accessed. Probably there is a drag somewhere. The honourable minister has been working tremendously and she’s earned my respect so I take her word seriously that the funding pipeline would be open pretty soon.
I met with Eghosa Omuigui after his panel session at FBN Capital Conference to ask if the IT Innovation Fund is ready. The light-hearted venture capitalist said it’s not in his place to disclose but that the minister would make the announcement. He also disclosed applications are already coming in from entrepreneurs and his firm has begun discussions with them. I guess that’s encouraging and some good news corroborating the lunch of the Fund.
During his panel session which also had Gloo.ng founder Olumide Olusanya, Pagatech cofounder Jay Alabraba, and First Bank mobile financial services head Mr Mike Ogbalu, Eghosa shared how he and the team decides on its portfolio selection.
Here are a few quotes…
“We like hunters! Basically people who would die trying.”
“Not only do we focus on the business or the feasibility of the idea, but more on the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs with no plan B. Entrepreneurs that are all in.”
“We’ve seen consistently how entrepreneurs are very unprepared (during their pitches). It takes the first minute for an investor to click into the entrepreneur. It takes two minutes to decide.”
“If you go online and you pick up the standard deck the Americans and Europeans use, it’s not a really good strategy to tell your (African) story. We’ve a popular training on how to tell your story as a tech entrepreneur in Nigeria.”
“For me as an investor, I like to see conviction in the entrepreneur.”
“We like to invest in entrepreneurs we call lubricants. They oil frictions in day-to-day lives of the market.”
“Everything here (Nigeria) is scale. Everything! You could have a $100 million revenue per year idea but would never cross the island to the mainland! So we ask how do scale? You don’t have to have a perfect answer. We just like to know you’ve thought about it long enough to empathize with the market.”
“Do you want to own 100 percent of a $100 million business or 10 percent of a $10 billion business? Sadly, the Nigerian man will tell you he wants the former. Shebi it’s my own?”
By Adegoke Oyeniyi, Founder of Enterprise54