Has the bubble burst? developed a leak? or was there even a bubble at all?

“Today, across my network of companies, I directly and indirectly employ around 200 people. 90% under 27. 150 or so in Lagos but hope by 2015 that number reaches at LEAST 1,000.”
May 7, 2013.

“Today I had to fire retire 13 people.”
October 13, 2013.

What happened in the time between the 2 posts?


Its alright, be a clone.

Yeah, you heard me right, its alright to be a clone. Why?

Google wasnt the first search engine

Twitter wasnt the first microblog

Facebook wasnt the first social network

The ipod wasnt the first personal music player

The iphone wasnt the first phone or first touch screen phone.

What really made these products and services successful is the way they were implemented.

Google had the PAGERANK algorithm

Facebook had the “WALL”,

Twitter had its 140 character limit

THe iphone and ipod had “Steve Jobs” (no, seriously, they had a superbly made hardware combined with even better software which the Japanese portable players popular at the time and other phone makers didn’t have). All they did was to take something and add an innovative twist to its implementation which made it seem “original”.

This means in Nigeria’s tech scene, you can take an already tested idea which would be locally relevant, tweak it to create a breakout product or service and you would come out looking like a tech star. Example:

1. Instead of creating a Twitter clone, why don’t you create a fully mobile “Twitter” which works with sms. You “tweet” by texting a 140 character message to a short code and your followers receive you “tweet” from that short code. Your business model would be sms advertising based. [1]

It doesn’t really take much to be “original” all you have to do is to copy. So please go ahead be a clone.


1. Something like this already exists in India called Gupshup and its very huge in India and most importantly its profitable.

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.

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?

How to hack Twitter’s registration (using gmail)

I wanted to create another Twitter account for my new project (@forefont) but Twitter’s registration process doesn’t allow would be users to register using an email address already in their records. So this is how I did it using Gmail.
Gmail, allows catchall email addresses i.e. my email address is aitoehigie {at} gmail {dot}com, but if you send an email to me at aito.e.higie {at} gmail {dot} com or any other combination, Gmail still delivers the email to me. Since I had used my correct email address to register my main Twitter account, I just used the combination above, and it was successful.
Try it.