HOW PASSION INCUBATOR PLAYS THE ROLE OF FOSTER PARENT TO NIGERIAN TECH STARTUPS

Four years ago after he returned to Nigeria from India where he had spent some time at the Kathari Institute (a Social Enterprise Incubator) doing extensive research on how the Indian government supports entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators and training centres through funding skill development programs. Olufunbi Falayi figured out that it was time to replicate what he had learnt.

This period coincided with the time the Indian technology ecosystem was experiencing major transformation and development, with several significant announcements and deals — RedBus, Snapdeal, Zomato and Flipkart are some of the popular Indian startups from this time.

Fascinated by his experience in India. “I reached out to Taiwo Ajetunmobi, an old friend who at the time was working with Hewlett Packard (HP) Enterprise Services, about setting up a business incubator to help create opportunities for unemployed young Nigerians. We both explored a few approaches to achieving this goal and quickly agreed that focusing on technology was best,” says Olufunbi.

And so Passion Incubator (PI) — a technology startup incubator, was born. PI, based in Lagos, helps early-stage founders validate their startup ideas and refine their business model. Startups that have benefitted from this initiative include:

we settled for 6 startups founded by individuals/teams with zero startup experience.

  • TalkingBookz: African books in an audio version for the global audience
  • WaraCake: Online cake store
  • MedRep: Supply chain automation solution for drug procurement
  • MovingAds: Outdoor advertising platform for small businesses.
  • FashionCabal: DIY fashion design platform and online store
  • BeatTraffik: Traffic navigation app.

Passion Incubator launched its first programme (Cashless Acceleration) in April 2014 and brought a few startups into its first cohort. Right out of the gate, they knew it was going to be a bumpy ride. They received quite a bit of criticism for their Cashless Acceleration model.

However, in spite of the early challenges, PI’s vision was clear — they wanted to help create successful technology companies. PI would identify high potential startups early and take a pivotal support position early enough to make sure they survive and grow. This intense focus on very early stage startups has remained a cornerstone of all PI programs till date.

 

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