business, hacker spaces, hacking, Internet, Technology & Startups

Why tech startups should not move to Yaba

For all those sitting in traffic right now.
– JASON FRIED

The above quote is from “Remote – office not required”, the latest book from the guys at 37signals. I guess having just finished reading the book and the intense debate that went on here birthed this post.

WHY TECH STARTUPS SHOULD NOT MOVE TO YABA OR ANYWHERE AT ALL.

1. Work doesnt happen at work: We all are guilty of goofing off on facebook, twitter, youtube et.al instead of working. Some employers even go as far as installing blocks to the Internet on office systems (this didnt stop certain adventurous individuals from bypassing it though *cough, cough*).

Programmers, designers etc produce their best work when they are inspired and in a state of flow and this has a 1% chance of ever happening in the office. IM’s, endless emails, co-workers stopping in for mindless chitchat, purposeless staff meetings etc would ensure this never happens.

Inspiration can’t be called up on demand and ordered to deliver. There are days, weeks and even months when I don’t create anything, when looking at code hurts my eyes but oh boy when the inspiration hits, my heart rate would go up, insomniac mode comes on and I just keep at it till its all out of my head. So being forced into a cubicle farm and ordered to produce stuff would be pure torture and a waste of time. Back to the warm embrace of fair lady twitter.

2. Traffic, traffic and more traffic: “Commuting is associated with increase rate of obesity, insomnia, stress, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, heart attacks, depression and even divorce” Study. You wake up very early and jump into the jungle called Lagos to fight the beast called “go slow” and after some hours, bloodied and sweaty you slay the beast and arrive in your office. How long do you think you would need to settle down and then get into that state of mind when you can produce some quality work? driving or commuting via public transport in Lagos can be a really hellish experience, just imagine if your daily commute was a maximum 5 seconds from your bed to your home office?

You could wake up 5am get some stuff done in 1-2 hours, eat, exercise and even go back for a short nap. This is time you would have wasted in traffic. If you live in the Yaba axis, good for you and best of luck if you commute from Okokomaiko to yaba everyday, you would die!!!

3. Yaba isnt the Mecca of Nigerian tech startups: Yaba, Yaba, Yaba, left, right and center (pun intended), thats all you hear. How Yaba is the place to be if you are into technology in Lagos, Nigeria. How CCHUB is the home of all the code ninjas and picasso-ish designers in Lagos. Talent has no hotspot, even infrastructure, i.e. uninterrupted power and fast internet speed found in cchub (my generator, Inverter and Swift modem aka The holy Trinity) and the mainone cable being laid in Yaba doesnt offer a bigger offset to the downside of a long commute.

As an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you’re not getting the best people you can. As an employee, restricting your job search to companies within a reasonable commute means you’re not working for the best company you can.

4. Magic doesn’t always happen when we are in the same room location: People who would support the great Yaba march would say that there is strength in the collection of tech heads present in Yaba, there are talent hubs in Yaba (CCHUB, IDEAHUB, UNILAG, YABATECH et. al and other tech companies) etc. Not that I dispute that fact but at the same time we dont need to all move to Yaba to harness these resources.

There are ways we could all collaborate without necessarily being present in Yaba: e.g. github, bitbucket dropbox, IRC, skype, screen sharing, google groups, etc the list is endless.

Some people find the very idea of living in Lagos with her attendant madness reprehensible. Does that mean that those people would miss out on the “gold rush”?

***Original artwork by Mike Rohde***

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hacker spaces, Technology & Startups

A Nigerian Hacker’s Wish (4): Business Models

“How will this generate income?”

“Can it stay afloat?”

“Is this economically viable?”

These questions and more are what I get tossed at me whenever I pitch a new idea or project. To the average Nigerian startup founder, the most likely answer to such questions would be “Google adwords/adsense”, which is the most popular ad network in the world today. Since a business model based on advertising might not be the best option for some startups, I have listed below some business models that Nigerian startups can adopt.

1. Subscription: This means charging users of your site right from the very beginning. This requires a lot of gumption and courage as most would be users might not be so well disposed to paying for a service that has not yet tried and tested. Also most web users have been spoilt by the FREEMIUM model which is the most popular business model on the web, hence it would be extremely difficult to get those kind of people to pay for what you have to offer. The success of the SUBSCRIPTION model depends on some factors:

(i.) Your Product: Can your product offer enough value to would be user’s to convince them to pay for it?

(ii.) Means of Payment: How easy is it to pay for your service? In a place like Nigeria, where e-commerce and e-payment platforms are either complacent or not interested in offering mobile/web payments, this can be a huge challenge.

2. Incentive Marketing: This business model involves offering discount coupons to users as an incentive to using your website. The income generated from this is shared between you and the merchants/advertisers.

3. Affiliates: This is a variation of the advertising model, and it works by having the website owner advertise goods and services for merchants, thereby providing customers to such merchants and taking a percentage of the sales generated.

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hacker spaces, Technology & Startups

A Nigerian hackers wish.

How I wish there is a place in Lagos, Nigeria where:

1. I can code without bothering about power cuts from the power company, my inverter running down, my generator running out of fuel or my laptop dying and also have REAL BROADBAND ACCESS.

2. I can harness the collective intelligence of fellow hackers, brainstorm on issues relating to coding/startups/funding/business models etc, get validation on ideas for web projects etc (Twitter/Facebook doesn’t just cut it).

3. I can get to meet VC’s and angels who might become interested in my work, put in funding and get it off the ground.

4. I can have unlimited access to food and energy drinks to fuel my coding sessions i.e. I wont mind paying a daily/weekly/monthly fee to get something like this.

5. I can concentrate on coding which I do well and leave stuff like UI/UX design, database design and administration, system administration to the guys who do it better.

6. I can attend hackerton’s, *camps, workshops and trainings related to IT facilitated by veterans in the industry, both local and foreign.

I think I should stop wishing and start acting, anyone else interested in making this happen?

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