My message to startups in our portfolio: “Competition will not destroy you in Nigeria, but failure to execute will. Do not spend too much effort on what competitors are doing or will do, I want to see what you are doing and will do”.
Failing as a Nigerian startup is not because any competitor took you down. The likely major reason is that you could not execute to fix that friction you have established that company to solve. For the solar companies that went under, they did not die because of DISCOs, since the DISCOs are still not distributing enough electricity.
NB: Startup in this content means going to create something of value with transformational impacts in the market. It is different from small business which could be “barbing salon” [Nigerian slang for barbershop], selling corn along the roads, etc that rarely scales. While a barbing salon [small business] could have competitors on a street, a barbing entrepreneur who runs many salons across Nigeria, will not collapse because of many salons, at the moment. Rather, the entrepreneur will likely go down because of poor execution. Nigeria has not attained parity on the number of barbing salons it needs at the moment; we have more rooms to grow nationwide, but that has to be done optimally and profitably. The competitive elements remain low.