Graceful 2013 – thanks for pivoting CcHUB
The year my life ceased to be the same, one filled with immense reasons to celebrate and the burden to stay true to a vision and myself.
2013 witnessed the arrival of our daughter; Ademide Thea Tijani – who joined us in style on the 17th of May bringing with her promises, re-assurance and a deep family bond that I’ve promised to forever protect.
Professionally, this is one hell of an elegant year where assumptions got affirmed and partly redefined. I write knowing that the decision to ditch a lot of things for Co-Creation Hub in 2010 is one I’ll forever be glad I took. With lots learned and proven, CcHUB this year quietly pivoted and in my opinion positioned to accelerate its objective of contributing to economic growth in Nigeria by empowering social entrepreneurs to deliver us from some of our shackles.
This post is an attempt to share the highlights of the year and how they contribute to a stronger CcHUB. It isn’t about stock taking but a part of my diary that shares my excitement for 2014.
a). i-HQ – Innovation City: albeit cliché, it is unique in its own way. We conceptualised the i-HQ as part of our overall goal to accelerate the application of social capital (gains from collaboration amongst citizens) and technology for social good. A virtual tour was launched early 2013 http://cchubnigeria.com/i-HQ/ giving us the chance to sample the community’s opinion and engage key stakeholders.
Why i-HQ? Simple actually, we strongly believe a smart way to jump start an industry is to build an aggregation (cluster) of businesses in that industry and empower them with resources and a platform to collaborate. i-HQ isn’t Silicon Valley but an attempt to limit the numerous barriers in the way of technology innovation in Nigeria. After several presentations, including one to the Minister of CT and the LASG Exco, the year ended with:
- Approval being granted by LASG to MainOne to lay Fibre Optic Cable in Yaba and its environ
- Agreement by the Minister to situate the IDEA Hub in Yaba thus building a stronger tech community in the area
- Most importantly, Fibre is now in Yaba. I have been the happiest kid in town for the last months seeing Main One lay cable in nooks and crannies of the neighbourhood.
i-HQ is real so expect to see the other elements of the project come to life in 2014 (see the tour for info). However, this isn’t about CcHUB but the community. Projects of this nature present us a platform to leapfrog growth of tech in Nigeria – it is up to us all to make it count!
b). TEF/CcHUB Innovation Grant: blindly bashed this year, this initiative lived up to the reason it was setup and set to change the game significantly in 2014. The idea was simple; how to do we empower aspiring entrepreneurs to have a go at their ideas, demonstrate viability and ultimately their ability to lead a business? We all hear stories of how friends and families wrote the first cheque or how co-founders maxed credit cards to kick-start their ideas – however, how many families in Nigeria can write a 5,000$ cheque? Credit Card is certainly out of the question anyway.
In simple terms, TEF’s 5kUSD is your family, friends and fools. 18 “start-ups” have taken advantage of the scheme with over 10 moving into revenue generation, raised angel rounds or in the process of doing so. For others, it was an opportunity to fail quickly and learn about own limitations. I know some entrepreneurs claim to disagree with “grants” being on the balance sheet of start-ups – let’s not be deceived, it is a commonly used tool to spur and grow deal pipeline in high-risk industries. Very well used in almost all developed nations on earth.
TEF has agreed to do 50 grants in 2014, get in touch if you have a great idea but no dad, mum, uncle, girl/boy friend or friends to write you 5k$ cheque.
c). CcHUB Incubation: pre-incubation was planned to be our forte – we identified a huge gap in people being able to move from idea to prototype and thought we’d focus on bridging this gap. We wanted to create a pipeline of angel worthy ventures and attract other players to contribute to building a stronger ecosystem. We however quickly realized that:
- There wasn’t anyone else at the time interested in incubating social tech ventures (this is still the case to the best of my knowledge)
- Incubation isn’t particularly attractive or easy to sustain in Nigeria. So there wasn’t any one in the market able to absorb ventures coming out of CcHUB (Spark came few months after we decided to establish our Incubation space – and yes, with a different philosophy)
The addition meant investing in a new floor pushing our capacity to 3 floors in less than 2 years. This is however already paying off with over 80% of the incubatees in income generation phase thus forming a desirable community on top of our traditional pool of early stage ideas.
In 2014, I expect us to support our work in this area with a well thought through mentorship programme that will leverage expertise from both local and foreign networks. Please get in touch if you can be of help.
d). MX Lab by CcHUB: yet another expansion in 2013, the MXLab was informed by the lack of attention to user experience amongst most efforts to apply technology in Nigeria. A new floor in addition to existing 3 that is all renovated and ready to launch in January 2014. The MXLab will bridge the gap between end-users and digital service producers by providing:
- a state-of-the-art facility for mobile app testing across all platforms
- open access for users to test and download mobile apps and experience devices from multiple OEMs (We have Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft and Tecno all signed up as part of the lab)
- pre-launch usability testing with real users to help developers avoid poor user experience which can inherently ruin a product
I am uber excited by the value this new platform will add to our community and the society at large. Activities in the lab will be categorised under Evangelism, Training & Support and Experience. The lab will also officially represent and retail Raspberry Pi in Nigeria (you can pre-order your kit now to enjoy a 10% discount http://cchubnigeria.com/rpi/).
e). Social Change Lab by CcHUB: finally and at the core of it all, we are consolidating all our channels for attracting social ventures into the Social Change Lab. Starting with Health come Q1 2014, the lab will act as a cross between a workshop and an accelerator for social change ideas. We’ll engage diverse people with interest, passion and capacity to tackle social challenges in Nigeria using technology.
The lab will source funding, expertise and networks to support innovators to experiment and deliver their innovation to attain impact. 2014 will witness efforts to support ideas in Health, Environment, Security and Governance. Join us!
It’s been a fantastic year for the entire team and a blog post certainly can’t express how pumped I am about 2014. This is a journey, not a sprint.
Happy New Year!