A tremendous opportunity for African entrepreneurs was announced today. Connecticut Innovations, a U.S. organization whose mission is to provide strategic investment for early-stage technology companies has identified Nigeria as a promising hub of innovative, high-growth-potential businesses and has chosen Lagos as an ideal location to expand the footprint of its VentureClash global venture challenge.
VentureClash is Connecticut Innovation’s worldwide competition for companies that are actively advancing disruptive solutions in digital health, financial technology (fintech), the Internet of Things (IoT) and insurance technology (insurtech).
The $5 million contest kicked off in March with the first round of applications and will conclude with a finalist live pitch event on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut in October. The first-place winner will receive an investment award of $1.5 million, and the remaining $3.5 million will be awarded to other finalists based on judges’ input. Winners will also receive mentoring and other assistance.
The Lagos event was inspired by Oni Chukwu a Nigerian native who, after emigrating to the U.S. 25 years ago to pursue advanced education, went on to achieve great success in several entrepreneurial ventures including his current role as CEO of etouches, a Connecticut Innovations portfolio company that was recently acquired at a highly attractive premium. He has played a pivotal role in three companies that each achieved exits of $150 million or more and has been part of six software company exits in total. Chukwu is a technology investor, via his investment company, Frontiers Acquisitions. Among his vast professional accomplishments, Chukwu also established the AfricaPlan Foundation, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Chinedu Echeruo, another success story of a Nigerian who emigrated to the U.S., will co-host the event and serve as one of the judges at the competition in Lagos. Echeruo has been referred to as a serial entrepreneur who dares to invent the future. He founded HopStop, which was acquired by Apple and Tripology, which was acquired by Rand McNally. Currently he serves as co-founder of Love & Magic Company, a start-up studio that incubates companies that enlighten and uplift.
The two-day tech fair, to be held on May 22–23, 2018 at the Radisson Blu in Lagos, will bring together the most promising companies from Africa to compete for one of three semifinalist spots in VentureClash, a $150,000 investment from Connecticut Innovations for the first-place winner, and $5,000 grant awards each for the three top winners to visit and explore Connecticut as a place to live and grow a business.
To be considered, companies must have been in business for at least one year, have paying customers or customers who are actively testing their product, and agree to the terms and conditions, which include maintaining a presence in Connecticut. Those who meet the contest criteria must complete an application prior to May 14, 2018, by visiting: www.ventureclash.com/apply.
The top 10 or 20 companies among those applicants will be invited to pitch at the event in Lagos. They will each be given eight minutes to present their companies to a live audience followed by a brief Q&A by a panel of judges. After deliberation by the judges, the three winners will be selected to move on to the semifinals round of VentureClash.