Grahhhmm Grahhhmm its 4am in the morning, it was just a 4hrs sleep for Ade, he had spent the whole night working on his soon to be launched start up. Ade works in one of the most established asset management firm in Africa`s largest city Lagos Nigeria. He lives on the
mainland while he works on the the island, that is virtually 2hrs drive from his home. Today is his last day at work as the financial analyst of his firm; he has enjoyed over 12years of fantastic career starting out at as a junior marketing executive, assistant manager at Human resources, Head of investors relation before his current role.
He had everything going on for him; but not fulfilled with his job, the news about the recent success stories of tech start-ups is making him very uneasy. Around Africa different entrepreneurs are raising million in USD from Silicon Valley, private investors are taking positions in very young firms hoping they would become the next mix.com, www.yola.com, jobberman.com, and www.cobiinteractive.com. With his level of experience and a savings to last him the next 1 year, he believes he can do something better than the current players, his soon to be launched tech start-up allows the public to invest in assets and mutual funds directly from their phone. The beta testing with over 500 sign ups in few weeks has shown a linear proof that it would work. The excitement is high, most importantly the rat race would end today as there would be no need to wake up this early again.
Immediately after his resignation, reality starts to sets in; the total amount he had budgeted to spend on the start up imploded, to have more users he had to spend a fortune, rent had to be settled, Family expenses, salaries and other operational cost became a problem he had to grapple with. His social network of friends was gone in months, they were primarily people in his former workplace, his car was retrieved because he could not pay up his loan, users growth on the platform became stagnant and few month later the government passed a new bill requesting all Fintech companies to provide a minimum capital deposit base of $100,000 to continue operations.
The Camel’s back was broken, being an entrepreneur seems far harder than he could have imagined, Ade could not raise such amount of funds so the business had to go down.
He lost everything, the business was gone, he went through a bitter divorce with his wife, he could not return to his former job, no more friends, only few families left, to relieve stress he started involving in drugs and alcohol and became an addict in the process, scanning through the street of Obalende in Lagos you would find Ade relaxing somewhere under the bridge with no one knowing what he had gone through in life.
Though some other entrepreneurs would have been lucky to succeed even passing through this same thing, we normally don`t hear the news of those that failed until you have a bit of success in it.
People go through a lot to survive in this journey of entrepreneurship, many trade their souls to be in the corridor of power and success, the hope that comes with the joy is filled with different level of uncertainties . Founders are expected to be innovative, quick to make decisions, have vision and be able to create something out of nothing, it’s about building credibility with investors, staffs, partners, media, ethnic, family and any stakeholders that might come across in the process of your company.
Those start-up we considered to be successful go through a lot of pressure to meet demands from investors, there is always a target in sales you must have to meet up to sustain your valuation to enable you raise additional funding.
At MEST launching this year Jason Njoku said if he had his way he would not have received any funding from venture capitalist.
A big part of those we consider successful is hype, hype and hype. It’s more easier without funding to grow organically than to launch you venture waiting for investors. To keep all cost low and make sure employee receive their salaries; founders live cheaply as they can “If you haven’t missed payroll at least once, you are not a real entrepreneur,” goes a startup mantra.
Its interesting to fratanise entrepreneurs, they break rules and set new standards, we see them at talk shows, forums and read about them on newspapers. The are regarded as wealth creators but the reality can be as impossible as walking on water. They struggle through everything that seems good on the outside. Some journey through a $1 investment like Wilson`s Juice (An African Juice company) to become a mega company. In a recent post on medium Sheriff Shittu the founder of showroom.ng lamented the difficulty involved in building a venture from scratch after his start-up failed. Only a few bold entrepreneurs can make the stories public. They practically don’t have a work life balance, many live on stipends hoping they would become successful in no time.
Over 90% of every business launched in Africa fails, many of those you see as founders struggle a lot not to fail, in this part of the world failure is not celebrated. Those that receive investment find it difficult to return the capital invested in them let alone generate positive return. Even success can turn into failure if care is not taken, many entrepreneurs have tried to build companies with other co-founders, so they can the share the risk but most times it leads to quarrel over power, title and money.
Health issues are also other prominent occurrence that founders deal with, due to the type of lifestyle, many suffer from poor work life balance and this may lead to diabetes, kidney and heart failure.Founders are encouraged to do regular medical check up and find time to exercise and relax, to prevent an unprecedented loss they should make sure that due diligence is done on every new venture to reduce the risk of failure. Failed venture pains are sometimes compared to divorce.
Above all, entrepreneurship is an interesting journey of life, if feels like being baptized and starting afresh once you lunch a new venture, the feeling is totally different from any other person out there. The responsibility that comes with entrepreneurship make you stronger than average, more detailed and cautious about every actions of life. Such kind of attitude is transferred into the family and every other areas in which you share relationship. Sometimes an element of luck is needed but the most important of all is hard work and focus.