We’re Giving Out a Million Naira to Discover the Next Great Nigerian Startups.

Summary: Techcircle is organizing a pitch competition holding on June 12 where the winner will go away with N1 000 000 – ONE MILLION NAIRA. All applicants will have a chance to put their startups in front of some prolific local and international investors from Japan. Apply now

For those that like long stories, read on.

In 2016, my man Shollsman – aka Shola Paystack reached out to me stating one of his investors wanted to visit our tech ecosystem and see “startups”.

I told him guy, I hope say e serious. This no be 2011 when oyibio on summer break go come gather men dem in the name of ‘I wan invest’, press us like who wan check which bread soft pass then leaving us all hanging.

He assured me his investor was legit serious and introduced me to Hiro Mashita of Japan.

I spoke to Hiro and let him know “hey, you have to commit something to show seriousness for the time these founders will be going away from their businesses to meet with you – hopefully, it leads to investments”.

We decided rather than force a promise of investment, putting up total prize money of $3000 was a good start – cos as the Japanese say, とても悪い – at all at all na im bad pass.

We had the pitch competition – which frankly was pipeline generation; Hiro and his team met with a bunch of startups that applied. The meetings were independent of going through the pitch competition.

Kangpe – Now Reliance HMO won the top prize and Furnish.ng won the popular prize (both startups are alive and well today and I want to believe the prize month made life easy then)

Hiro Mashita Presenting Femi Kuti with his Prize

Early this year Hiro reached out stating he wanted to visit again. In my mind, I was like “this is not 2014-16 when a bunch of twitter bio and conference panel investors came around held meetings and used our time to do research raise their funds.

So early in our conversation, I wanted to establish his true commitment to investing in Nigerian startups

“Hey Hiro, including Paystack how many of our startups have you invested in. Didn’t really hear back”

“Ahhh Oo. One moment.

So my west Africa portfolio currently is Paystack, Hotels.ng, BuyCoins (BitkoinAfrika), OMG Digital and Releaf”

“Very Niiiiice” I responded. Channelling my inner Borat.

Give or take, Hiro and team have put in ~ $1 Million (ONE MILLION US DOLLARS)  in our techosystem in less than 3 years and he’s told me he wants to double down in investing here.

To prove it, this time around he’s coming with more people including Yuzuru Honda CEO of a publicly traded Japanese company, FreakOut Holdings. They are on the hunt for startups of all stages – post-launch.

Beyond investing, they are looking to help in cross-pollinating (tech and market entry) our ecosystem with that of Japan and far Asia.

Therefore, if you are presently fundraising and open to meeting with Hiro and contingent, there are two ways to go about it.

Or if you are a bit further along and not interested in the pitch competition but would like to meet the team

If you run a co-working space, incubator/accelerator, fund etc. Send this to your portfolio.

The pitch competition will be held on 12th of June the details of the event will be coming up in a bit keep your eyes and ears open for the details.