[SiliconAfrica.com: Silicon Valley Firm To Invest $30M Into African Startups] - A Rejoinder

Silicon Africa ran an article on September 1, 2012, titled "Silicon Valley Firm To Invest $30M Into African Startups.'

We were never interviewed for this article and regrettably, it had a bunch of errors. It also spurred a very active comment thread. Deeming it necessary to correct the article, we submitted a comment which was never published. Our comment is published below to avert any further confusion.

It's important to note that while we have not officially disclosed our fund or publicly discussed its specific goals, what we can share at this time is that we are extremely passionate about (and focused on) helping to build out the technology entrepreneur ecosystems in select emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia.


*From: *Eghosa Omoigui

*Subject: *Silicon Africa comment

Many thanks for the kind article. Regrettably, I was misquoted and so would like to correct that and also add some more color.

My partners and i visited Lagos in late July. EchoVC sponsored/hosted a tech+drinks meetup and we all were absolutely thrilled to have over 50 ecosystem players attend. We also conducted office hours (kindly hosted by the cchub team and organized by the IVD team) for various startups as a service to them. Our office hours were simply designed to listen to startup pitches and offer VC feedback. It was a very insightful and educational all-day session and we are grateful to the folks who all contributed to make it happen.

We also conducted our first EchoPlex (3hr) interactive learning session titled 'How To Pitch: Telling Your Story As A Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur,' kindly hosted by the FATE Foundation. I had a blast and i think the entrepreneurs did too.

During our visit, we met some very dynamic entrepreneurs (male AND female) doing uber interesting things and continue to be excited by the opportunities in the Nigerian and larger pan-African tech markets.

The bottom line is that, as in all nascent markets, there are different tiers of entrepreneurs and opportunities. Our mission as a firm is to focus on seeding and syndicating entrepreneurial inspiration. A key underpinning of this is to embody the mantra of 'knowledge worth spreading.' This means helping to educate the ecosystem to increase the opportunities to seed and build tech startups that have a shot at becoming material successes and thus can spawn even more startups. e.g. we are running another EchoPlex learning session on Sept 5 focused on women tech entrepreneurs and how to increase their numbers while trading strategies on how to reduce the friction that is unique to them in the Nigerian society.

At the company lifecycle stage that we are very passionate about (seed and early-stage), there's a TON of heavy lifting required and we will need folks across the board (entrepreneurs, angel investors, service providers, corporates, educational and financial institutions, government, etc.) to help contribute meaningfully to the development of a vibrant and scalable tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. I will caution that it's easy to think you are a winner because you successfully raised venture or seed capital but that's just the beginning of the real effort that goes into building winners. Focus on execution is what primarily separates the winners from the also-rans, along with a healthy dose of luck, humility, the absence of hubris and finally, the constant reinforcement delivered by self/situational awareness.

My partners and I care very deeply about this and believe that knowledge+mentorship is the priority need in this market, followed somewhat closely by seed infusions of risk capital.

The one takeaway I shared was that local entrepreneurs need to defocus on me-tooism and/or slobbering over US tech blog chatter and spend more time looking around them to solve the various problems that exist for large tracts of the population. As I like to say, 'live in analog, but invest for digital.'

Less talk, more walk.

We are excited at the prospects. Please support us.

Eghosa Omoigui

EchoVC Partners

Sept 2, 2012