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How Are Nigerian Founders Self-Funding Their Startups? 

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Despite Nigerian startups raising over $1.2 billion in funding in 2021, some, by design or otherwise, are trying to succeed without external capital. We spoke to the founders behind a few of these startups. They give brief accounts of the journey so far. 

“I have enough money to self-fund” — Temitope 

I’m self-funding my startup because I have enough money to do so. From what I heard, raising money seems exhausting and I’m not ready for that stress. So far, the journey has been seamless. We get repeat customers and we are profitable. 

“I wanted to understand the market first” — Kenneth

I haven’t raised external funding yet because I want to understand the market first. It’s easier to convince investors when you can show you grasp the workings of your startup’s market. Interestingly, understanding the market and our target customers has helped us position ourselves better. 

“I have two co-founders who make the journey less stressful” — Timmy 

Bootstrapping a startup till it becomes profitable is any founder’s dream. I mean, you own it 100%. I’m glad to be living this dream. However, it can be hard and sometimes it messes with your emotions because paying employees and settling other bills monthly can be draining. 

Fortunately, I’m not building my startup alone. I have two co-founders I have known since 2009 and 2016. They make the journey enjoyable and less stressful. We’re making money too!

“My startup is at its earliest stage” — Opeyemi

I haven’t considered raising because my startup is at its earliest stage. We’ve not launched yet as our product development was delayed due to insufficient funds. 

Notwithstanding, we’ve made tremendous progress as the product is almost finished. My team and I feel fulfilled about how we built the product to its current stage without external funding. This fulfillment drives us to do even more. We might consider outside capital after we launch, though. 

“We felt we weren’t ready” — Obinna

My team and I are currently applying for seed investments. Previously, we didn’t seek funding because we believed we weren’t ready yet. But we’re adequately prepared at the moment. We launched our Most Viable Product (MVP) four months ago. This MVP has generated a decent number of active users and revenue. I’m proud of what we achieved while bootstrapping. 

Are you also self-funding your startup? These tips will help:

  1. Prioritise profitability over quick growth. As a self-funding startup founder, you need to make quick money to reinvest in your startup due to your limited resources. Consider scaling your business only when you have made enough money.  
  2. Automate as early as possible. There are several no-code platforms you can use to automate your workflow. Try them out so you can become more efficient. 
  3. Be frugal. Use second-hand products and affordable office spaces until you can afford expensive ones. Aesthetics don’t matter for now. Focus on what matters: your product and the business.
  4. Be a generalist. You might need to work different roles at your startup to save costs. For instance, you might have to be a marketer, a salesperson and a designer. Eventually, you’ll hire experts for different roles. 
  5. Hire enthusiastic people. As you can see from our subjects’ stories, the startup journey is easier when you are surrounded by teammates who care about the mission as much as you do. Ensure you recruit people ready to be generalists and help your startup succeed. Treat them right too. 
  6. Be patient. Your startup will succeed if you keep working hard, listening to your customers, and improving. Everything good will come. Don’t rush the process and burn yourself out.
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