How Lagos Startup Week is creating access to investment for entepreneurs


On July 31, a Nigerian startup will be offered the opportunity to compete for $1.5 million in investment by emerging markets-focused startup competition, Seedstars World. The global seed-stage competition will climax the Lagos Startup Week holding from July 27.

The week-long event for startups and entrepreneurs in Nigeria will culminate with a pitching competition for 10-15 Nigerian companies to identify the best early stage startup in Nigeria. Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and/or develop profitable products for the global market.

“Some of the most pivotal moments for startups and businesses have come down to one big pitch. We are committed to supporting Startups/SME’s, entrepreneurs with investment opportunities, mentoring and tools to make great ideas come to life,” says Olumide Olayinka, one of the organisers of the event.

He notes that with Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, set to experience significant growth over the next couple of years as predicted by economists, Lagos Startup Week hopes to bring together major industry players and create a platform to harness opportunities and encourage growth of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.

Marcello Schermer, Regional Manager for Africa at Seedstars World, says the competition partnered with Startup Week Lagos for the promotion of entrepreneurship and the elevation of Nigerian startups to a global stage. “We believe partnerships are an essential element to drive the growth of an ecosystem and we couldn’t have found a better partner for this,” says Schermer.

Seedstars World’s past participants have raised $20 million together, providing employment to more than 360 people around the world. The competition has also expanded to more than 50 countries for 2015 (up from the 36 countries of the 2014 edition).

Simeon Ononobi, Co-Founder of SimplePay, an online payment system and winner of Seedstars Lagos 2013, advised startups to register for the competition. “For me Seedstars was a great step in the right direction, as I not only got funds, but the required expertise and exposure my business needed. SimplePay was transformed from a bedroom company to a world class solution.”

A statement by the organisers of the event highlights the basic criteria for applying to the competition: a seed-stage company, less than 2 years since the founding date, less than $500,000 in funding and a minimum viable product available.

Startups can apply by an invitation through key incubators, accelerators and investors in the market, through the open pre-application and the #UberPitch competition that will allow anyone with 15 minutes and a good idea to request a ride and compete for a last minute spot in the Seedstars World competition. Uber, whose appas connect riders and drivers is also a partner for the competition.

So far, Startup Week has been hosted in 75 cities around the world including Seattle, Austin, Denver, Portland, Maine, and more. Lagos is the first city to host it in Africa.

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