Founders Connect had its first physical gathering on Saturday, July 8th, 2023.
The event gathered founders, tech professionals, ecosystem enablers, non-tech professionals and investors all across the country for the one-day event.
Founders Connect is a 30-60 minute video chat between Peace Itimi (the host) and African Entrepreneurs, where they share their stories on their journeys to entrepreneurship and insights into the current products/company they are building.
Speaking on when she started, Peace said, “I started Founders Connect in February 2020, when the first video with Atsu Davoh, the Founder of Bitsika was uploaded. It was actually Atsu’s idea. I just started my YouTube channel at the time and I posted random content around marketing. He was in Lagos at the time, so he asked if I wanted to interview him, and I said no. But after thinking about it some days later, I decided to do it. It was while we were recording that first video that I came up with the name Founders' Connect.”
Since that first interview, over 75 videos have been uploaded with shots in Lagos, London, Accra and Nairobi.
While speaking about her why and the mission for the YouTube series, Peace said, "as a recipient of the impact these founders are making, I believe we need to document the history of Africa’s startup evolution; the key players, their journeys, the obstacles they overcame, and the lessons they learnt along the way.”
Founders' Connect has featured founders such as Ezra Olubi, Co-Founder & CTO, Paystack; Hanu Agbodje, Founder & CEO, Patricia, Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-Founder & COO of Piggyvest, FirstCheck Africa; Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Co-Founder of Andela, former Managing Director of Flutterwave; Adia Sowho, CMO of MTN, and many others
Founders' Connect Live Event was an opportunity to showcase the Nigerian startup ecosystem’s thriving innovation, creativity, and community. The event brought together a unique opportunity to connect and network with founders, operators and colleagues.
The fully packed event witnessed a lot of insightful sessions, live musical performances, games, photo booths, and delicious food and drinks.
Founders Connect inaugural physical event featured brilliant keynote sessions and stimulating conversations with pioneer tech founders in Nigeria, their stories and experiences in building lasting tech companies on the continent.
While giving the opening keynote speech, Mitchell Elegbe, the Founder & CEO, Interswitch emphasized the importance of finding a vision and building from there. “You can’t make building a unicorn your goal,” Elegbe said, “your vision should be tied to the problem you are trying to solve in your society.”
Also, Funke Opeke, the Founder/CEO, MainOne was interviewed in the first physical Founders Connect. Sharing how she was able to raise $240 million as far back as 2008 to lay 4,400 miles of fibre optic cable from Nigeria to Portugal, Funke said “Finding mentors and those who believe in you and an enabling environment is essential to build a successful business.”
Before the 20 minutes speed networking session during the event, Maya Horgan Famodu, the Founder of Ingressive Capital, also gave a keynote on "How to Unlock Opportunities through Strategic Connections."
She said, “Allow yourself to connect with people that you are attracted to. Be persistent and invest in building a relationship where it’s not only about asking for things. You do the best business with the people you are comfortable with. Connect to people you feel a genuine connection with.”
Other speakers who graced the event include Odun Eweniyi (CoFounder, Piggyvest & First Check), Bayo Adedeji (Group CEO, Wakanow), Babajide Duroshola (GM, M-KOPA Nigeria), Fola Olatunji-David (Senior BDM Africa, AWS) and Victor Fatanmi (Founder, Fullgap.co)
Some quick networking tips which can be gleaned from the event brochure were:
- Stay genuine: Authenticity is crucial for successful networking
- Be curious: People enjoy sharing their experiences and knowledge
- Adapt to individuals: Each person is unique, so adjust your approach accordingly.
- Balance listening and talking: Engage in active listening and share your stories too.
- Follow up promptly: After a meaningful connection, reach out within 1–2 days to express your appreciation.
To catchup with the event recordings, you can subscribe to the Founders' Connect YouTube channel, so you will be notified when it goes live.
Founders Connect Live was made possible by partners and sponsors such as Africhange, Tech1M, SAVA, Rise, Ohentpay, Seerbit, Paystack, WiiCreate, Pepsi, Urban Pumpkin, and The Zone.