BusinessDay
Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

Brutal startup lessons

The night I got booted out of the maiden Stanbic IBTC Lagos Founder Institute (FI) acceleration programme marked the dawn of a great awakening for me.

I couldn’t believe very eyes. It was like my hope and dream of launching Waterboy will never see the limelight. I picked up the lessons and promised myself never to give up. I picked up two lessons.

First, my pitching skills were not good enough. I presented using basic and residual jury presentation mode like I was still in the school of Architecture. I learnt the hard way that pitching to investors is trickier in as much as it’s similar to trying to woo clients with colours and lines.

This time, facts and figures are essential factors. I couldn’t communicate how to leverage technology. I could not express myself and hence got booted. Rehearsing became the norm for me. Standing in front of a mirror, using an insecticide can as a microphone, listening and watching shark tank episodes all became the handy norm for me.

Later that evening of my FI eviction, I shared an Uber ride with someone who will later spend the night at my place in Akoka due to the fact it was too late for him to get to his place. I spoke with his brother and he granted him permission to stay over at my place.

Very early next morning, I woke up and set out to hit the street to sell water. I ignored my consolatory messages. Kingdavid asked me, Bros… Where are you going this early? I wan go sell water. Let’s go together naah!!!. That was how Kingdavid and I left to sell water that fateful morning. On getting to the point of sales, Kingdavid screamed.

Bros, this idea will sell. It will scale. We can leverage and integrate technology. I can see it!!! In my mind, what did you see?? I have been the only one seeing it. Kingdavid hatched and x-rayed my mind so well. I burst into tears. Kingdavid accepted to be Waterboy cofounder. He saw and imagined even beyond my wildest expectations and imagination.

My second mistake was entering FI without a technical co-founder. It was suicidal. I couldn’t answer technical questions thrown at me even if I could picture and see it work in my head. Idea and execution are two different demons. I learnt the hard way.

Kingdavid spent more days at my apartment and eventually found it befitting as home. Together, we both analyzed and penned down processes and explored ways to make Waterboy dream come true. It was during this period KD taught me the game of chess. I saw life and business like a game of chess. I picture the checkmate moment. Analyzing competition moves like in the game of chess. I found my God sent angel in a youngster who made me relive my youthful fantasies.

Since 2019 till now, I can candidly count the number of pitches I have done. I can’t count the number of engagements I have had both physically and virtual. I have been able to communicate Waterboy in one sentence. During FI programme, it was perceived impossible for me. Now, I can boldly present an elevator pitch with facts and figures. I can boldly speak from point of execution and sales figure beyond ideation.

It is critical to acknowledge and develop strengths. It is equally essential to identify and improve on weaknesses. To be ignorant of one’s strengths and weaknesses is suicidal. Remember, don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Never!!! See you at the top.

Oluwaleti is Waterboy Co-Founder/CEO and a Jim Leech MasterCard Foundation Fellow. He can be reached via: segun@callwaterboy.com and +2348065710676

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.