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Startup - October 13, 2022

How to Build the Next Billion-Dollar Startup in Africa

It can be difficult to come up with a billion-dollar startup idea in Africa. Most entrepreneurs aim to be the next unicorn. While many have been unsuccessful, a few entrepreneurs have been. Notable names like Drew Durbin, Maijid Moujaled, Samir Goel and Mitchell Elegbe.

Every investor is also on the lookout for startups that have the potential of reaching a billion-dollar valuation.

However, the statistical likelihood of any startup reaching this stage is less than one in a million based on certain reliable estimates of the number of new businesses that have been launched in the previous five years.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to build the next billion-dollar startup in Africa. However, venturing on this route needs you to be highly informed on how to achieve this process. 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at how to build the next billion-dollar startup in Africa.


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1. Look for a problem nobody is solving

Every great person stood out for a unique thing. Great business ideas do not come often. There is never going to be a scientific formula to solve this. 

The key thing here is to have a differentiator, simply put, what are you doing that nobody else is doing, what idea do you have that is different from the rest?

Your aim as an entrepreneur should be to build a monopoly, where you are the only one doing what you are doing.

This idea may sound extreme. However, there are only two kinds of businesses in this world. Businesses with lots of competition – restaurants– and there are one-of-a-kind businesses that are monopolised. Good examples include Google, Tesla and Facebook. 

“The next Mark Zuckerberg won’t be starting a social media, the next Bill Gates won’t start an operating system, the next Elon Musk an electric car company,” former founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel quoted.

2. Launch a good product

There is a popular idea that people can launch a lean product –a small team that iterates over their mistakes over time. This is also a good process to launch a startup but it should be done for a good product. The world is in need of good ideas that will lead to good products. 

Before launching a product it has to be good, not just mediocre or manageable. For example, Facebook, Mark Zukerberg’s plan was to build this product to serve only Harvard students, now the platform serves over 2 billion people. 

A good product will sell itself. Don’t rush to bring out a product. Create a good one for a problem that hasn’t been solved yet.  

“There are probably too many bad ideas getting started and not good ones” Peter Thiel 

3. Don’t overestimate luck

We tend to over-exaggerate the role of luck in our future. Some people tend to depend on luck to make their own path in life. But this is not the same in the world of startups.

With hard work, you will make your own success and luck. Opportunities—or what some refer to as luck—are produced by this hard work.

The goal is not to completely discount the significance of luck, as it undoubtedly exists. Instead, there is a need for you to seize opportunities by working hard.

Rarely do people experience enormously fortunate events, and when they do, they frequently don’t last. Being in the ideal location when possibilities present themselves is the secret to frequently being lucky.

“So, there is indeed luck, but luck on its own does not translate to success because it needs to combine with the needed qualities” Tony Elumelu.

4. Be passionate about what you want to solve

You need to be passionate about what you want to venture into. The reason you got started should always be in your mind, that will be your fuel in achieving your desired product.

However, a lot of things will come along the line to distract you, like competition and finances. But don’t forget why you started. 

Your determination to make your business successful, no matter how difficult the process may be, is what propels you to success.

Many would-be entrepreneurs lack enthusiasm for their ventures. Even their desire to get wealthy is lacking. Simply said, they are only attracted to the idea of success.

“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else” – Elon Musk

5. Your co-founder should be someone you have known for a while

Picking the right co-founder is of great importance. It is important that you pick individuals you can trust and can work with.

It is better to go into business with people you know well. It could be a bad idea to go into business with people you don’t know well.

“I always like asking people the pre-history question.. The bad answer is that we met at a social networking function a week ago and decided to start a company and be entrepreneurs. 

The good answer is we have been talking about this for a number of years and we have been thinking of pulling this off”  


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