Nadayar Enegesi has gone from building companies out of Canada, back to the entrepreneurial hotbed of Nigeria for his biggest startup venture yet.
On the Dealmakers Show, Enegesi talked about how perseverance pays off, raising capital, building a multibillion-dollar company, company values, and starting up in Africa.
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Pivots & Perseverance
Nadayar Enegesi grew up in southern Nigeria. A place with great weather and lots of seafood. From an early age, he says that he loved both music and math.
When it came time for college he took off to Canada to study computer science. While he says that he didn’t realize how big of a leap that move was until he made it, it has since made him more fearless and resilient to build things and enter new territory. An experience he is now very grateful for.
For his first business, Enegesi jumped into edtech. The idea was to bring global university content to others, including Nigeria.
That first attempt didn’t take off as planned for a couple of reasons. One being timing. Their target market of consumers just didn’t have the internet bandwidth to make it effective.
Secondly, they realized that people didn’t care that much about education and learning in itself. What they care about is outcomes and direct correlation in increasing their incomes.
Nadayar could have certainly given up his entrepreneurial aspirations right then. Which may have been tragic when you consider the value and impact his ventures have had since then, and aim to have.
So, switching things up, he teamed up with three other cofounders to take another run at this from a different angle. This became Andela.
Which began focusing on finding the brightest young people in Africa and teaching them to be software engineers, who could work for any company remotely.
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Raising Funding And Valuing Andela
Andela went on to raise well over $300M, with a valuation of $2B.
As experienced investors know, once you start fundraising and bringing in outside capital and investors, it is a process and cycle that never stops.
You are in constant fundraising mode to continue to try to double or triple your revenues and keep on pushing that speed of growth.
He says that there was little time to celebrate closing any of those rounds. Because once you get the money, the real work and pressure is on to deliver on your promises to investors.
Today, Andela is a technical talent marketplace. Providing access to remote jobs, and talent across the technology space, from software engineering to design, and data science.
His perseverance clearly paid off. Many people are certainly glad that he did not give up after those initial entrepreneurial challenges.
Today, his top advice to others is that “You have everything within you to materialize whatever vision that you have in your head. You have to trust that at the right time things will materialize, and you’ll meet the right people, and you will achieve those things.”
He admits that there were times when he was pretty nervous and scared, and did not believe that he had it in him. He credits their success to the amount of focus, the amount of perseverance, and also the people that were committed to accomplishing the same goals.
If he could go back in time, he says that he would save himself the anxiety, and just give himself that reassurance that all of those dreams were possible.
Building Companies In Nigeria
Nadayar Enegesi’s most recent venture is based out of Nigeria. He describes it as a place of great innovation and raw entrepreneurial energy.
A place where everybody is building something, and the pathway to wealth is seen as starting a business. Where you have this convergence of adopting a lot of digital technologies, where almost everybody has a smartphone and internet.
Yet, infrastructure in urban areas hasn’t caught up to the rest of the world. This means that anywhere you look, there’s a problem to be solved. If you can solve that problem and create more efficiencies or create convenience for people that need it, then there is a great opportunity.
In contrast to Andela, his newest venture Eden Life has already grown to 50 people, but has only gone out to raise $2M.
Not only are they intentionally trying to do more with less, but he also says that they do not have the problem of the extremely his cost of talent as his previous company faced in New York or San Francisco.
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His Mission – Economic Prosperity For Africa
After Andela had raised its Series D funding round, Nadayar had already been back with his boots on the ground in Africa for about five years.
He had traveled through Kenya, Uganda, Nairobi, and more. He was able to see the real daily challenges facing the people in the markets he was building his company in.
He says that he just couldn’t get it out of his head, and developed a feeling of personal responsibility to do something. He felt that he was there for a reason. In spite of the huge success of Andela, he was inspired to create more economic prosperity for millions more people. This was the catalyst for Eden Life.
Their vision is to help Africans thrive, by giving them better access to all of the things that they need in life, improving their quality of life, and saving them time, so that they can use that time to upgrade their skills, spend more time with family, or engage in more experiences.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Creating a values-based business, and what to do when your values are challenged
- Managing quality in marketplace businesses
- Startup fundraising