As you work hard to make your products better and improve your processes, do not forget that business model could be as catalytic. Yes, business model innovation is one of the most overlooked areas by startups in Nigeria despite the fact that the right model could help you thrive. In one of my companies, we do not serve private companies and individuals, we focus on governments and cooperatives because they PREPAY for our services [we use their monies to serve them!].
Magically, we have zero need of stocking inventory which would have been necessary if we have to serve consumer market. While the model is not perfect, it is a balance to advance the mission, as it has helped us to manage the burden of raising raise capital just to stock the warehouse.
I did note in this Harvard Business Review article that thriving in business goes beyond engineering and technical superiority. Yes, there are many other elements like branding and marketing which must work in a symphonic way to deliver value at scale.
In the tech startup world, technology is important for success, but it does not disproportionately determine winners and losers. Two companies can invent similar technologies; one will win and the other will lose. Focusing on technology supremacy alone is a model for failure. Over the years, I have consistently seen what I call “latent factors” — business features that are generally outside the scope of the core tech team — to be real factors in a company’s success.
As I have noted, Nigeria is a place where one customer can technically prepay you. Do not overlook such customers because they tend to be the best investors. They give you money and wait for you to supply in two months. The customers abound but you must have the credibility and offer real value for them to work with you. Give them symphonic innovation at scale and they would see the differentiation.
To help our clients in the Fasmicro Group, we have come up with what we call Symphonic Innovation. Simply, Symphonic Innovation is innovation that is not domain-specific, but is anchored on a unified and harmonious approach.
Investors are not just venture capitalists or angel investors; your main customers could be your best investors. Take the prototypes to them, ask them to place orders ahead with lead times, and then deliver to them. Do not fall into the temptation that the only path to market is to stock the warehouse and then wait for people to buy.
In Fasmicro Group, we offer many advisory services and innovation presentations to help clients innovate. We would like to have you on board