By Wale Oguntokun
The much awaited 18th Edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout took place on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, at the premises of Godo hub, 53, Oladipo Bateye Street, GRA, Ikeja, with Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, OFR, Managing Partner of StartTeam Consult and current President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, sharing a lot of insights into how to scale a business from Startup with the attendee Startups that trooped in to grace the occasion. The other speaker, Aramide Abe, was stuck in the ubiquitous Lagos traffic on her way to the event and was not able to be a part of the discussion.
Mazi, in addressing the theme of the 18th Edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout, “From Startups to Scale Up: The Whole 9 Yards”, expressed delight at being able to stand before youths striving to make something good out of their Startups and to share his experiences, with being involved in starting about 30 businesses, with about half of that already dead and what worked for the other half that are still standing strong today, due to the application of strong corporate management, organizational leadership and entrepreneurship.
Mazi, stated that everyone knows that, one of the major challenges that Startups have is how to have access to funding for their businesses. He noted that there are two ways of raising funds for your business to scale and these are Equity funding, which involves pooling your resources and applying in the business and then, funding through Leverage. “If you learn to leverage, the work is shared, individual risks are minimized”, he stated, drawing examples from his experience with starting up companies, such as Seegal Pharmacy, Red Star Express and the buyout of Pfizer, which later became Niemeth.
Leverage, Mazi stressed, comes in two forms; loans from banks and other financial institutions and crowd funding of like-minded people, bringing in their little individual funds together to make a bigger pool of fund or investing to scale. This is usually done with offering shareholding to each member that contributes. He advised Startups that are struggling individually, to explore the possibilities of partnering with one another and those who believe in their cause, by pooling resources to scale, since it is very difficult to access bank loans. “The best way to raise funds, is to leverage, by partnering with others and if you learn to leverage, the risk is shared”, Mazi explained.
He, however, stated that, before leveraging through crowd funding, the Startup must have a need that it wants to fill, or a problem that it wants to solve or a value it wants to create, which people are willing to pay for. Other qualities that the Startup must look up to, to scale, include having a clear vision of what you want to do and what you want to achieve and a vision for your life. “A vision for your life is a great propellant for you to do what you need to do to scale”, he stated.
Mazi explained that other things that Startups can do to scale include, proper planning of what you want to do, writing them down and following through. “Preparation precedes success. Where preparation meets opportunity, you have success”, Mazi observed. He also advised Startups to have more than one plan, hence, they should have plans A, B, C, D, E, etc., so that, when one plan fails, you pick on another and run with it.
“The soul of business is customer creation. Build your customer base and your business will grow”, Mazi stressed. He advised Startups to build their brand and market, by exposing and talking about their brands at any for a where they find themselves. To startups, Mazi also harped on the use of technology to benefit their businesses, as it brings convenience.
Mazi gave the attendee Startups advice on a number of issues, ranging from Franchise, delayed gratification to warehousing loans, etc. Questions and answers were taken after Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa’s presentation.
Other nuggets that Mazi gave the attendee startups include, having a mentor in a symbiotic relationship, rather than a parasitic one. Such mentors will be too eager to show you the way to go in scaling when the benefits are mutual, he advised.
CFA’s Startups Hangout is a forum where Startups gather from time to time, to learn from seasoned, successful entrepreneurs and corporate executives, with a view to learning how to grow their businesses, as well as networking and synergising with one another, in order to deepen the sustenance of their ventures, while adding value to the economy in general. Chukwemeka Fred Agbata Jnr, CFA, is the convener of CFA’s Startups Hangout.
VoguePay and Upperlink, two of the sponsors of the 18th Edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout, had the opportunities to make presentations to the attendee Startups on how they can benefit from their products.
This edition is made possible with the kind support of forward-looking brands, such as Remita, Zinox, VoguePay, Swift Networks, Upperlink, .ng (NiRA), AskAnExpert and GoDo.ng.
The 19th Edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout will be announced soon. Watch this space for the announcement.