What does it take to defy the Startup Failure Rate?

Building anything is hard. Creating from scratch, having a vision in your mind and bringing it to life takes a truckload of audacity and tenacity. Building a tech company in Nigeria or in any part of the world for that matter however, is a different level of hard. Exciting? Yes! Fulfilling? Yes! A walk in the park? Definitely Not!

You’ve probably heard about the research which concludes that 21.5% of startups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in their 10th year. Sounds gloomy but it’s the absolute truth because it’s one thing to have a great idea and actually execute it, it’s another thing to convert users steadily over decades and decades.

A classic example of a totally unprecedented failure is the Black Berry Smartphone. At one point, in Nigeria and most parts of the world, Blackberry was the leading device owning 43% of the smartphone market share as at Jan 2010 however in 3 years, this number crumbled to 5.9%. For context, according to research by Counterpoint, Samsung, which is the leading phone brand in the world, has never had more than 22% market share in the last 12 quarters. This shows how much Blackberry was dominating and how great their fall was.

So what does it really take to build a sustain a tech startup?

Asides from having an excellent product and nailing product market fit, there are other important factors that are crucial to sustaining business growth as a tech startup:

1. BE INNOVATIVE: This is non-negotiable when it comes to growing a business in today’s world. You have to be constantly thinking, ‘what new problems are there to solve?’ ‘How can I improve my solution?’ ‘Is there a better way to solve an existing problem?’ The moment a tech startup becomes complacent, death is inevitable. The top companies in the world (think: Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Uber, Zoom  e.t.c) are constantly innovating. There’s always a new feature or a new product, something exciting that keeps them top of mind and continuously drives revenue for the business. 

At Advansio, we are constantly thinking, how can we better solve the problem of Financial Inclusion in Africa? This question has birthed a number of products including our Agency banking solution and we intend to keep discovering new ways to solve for this.

2. BE USER-CENTRIC: There’s no business without the customer. Who are you building for? What are their needs? What are their motivations? It’s important to ask these questions not just when you set out to launch your tech startup but at regular intervals if you want to continue to remain relevant to them. Human behavior is constantly changing and you have to be willing to adapt just as quickly. Conduct regular user research, stay up to date with trends, listen to customers very closely and ask for feedback. A great example of a tech product that refused to adapt is Skype. No doubt, Skype is a great and relatively successful product but Zoom has changed the game of virtual meetings. This is mostly because Zoom understood what users want – No frills, easy to use, accessible by everyone and a simple user interface for virtual meetings. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Zoom was more than ready to take over the market.

3. KNOW WHEN TO PIVOT: The hard truth is that not every product will be successful and this is not because it wasn’t a great idea or it wasn’t executed intelligently. A lot of founders have fantastic products couple with hardwork and grit but a lot of factors come into play when building tech products – time factors, sometimes it’s just not the right time, Location, the market you play might just not be ready for that product, Human Factors, not having the right talent, investors e.t.c All of these are reasons why a product might fail, but a Founder at heart never really fails when they understand the game. There’s always another product to build and knowing when to let go of a product and pursue another if most times the defining factors between founders that fail and those who build phenomenal products. If you’ve genuinely given your all to a product and it just doesn’t fly, by all means Pivot into something else and build another great product that solves a real problem!

This month, we’re incredibly proud to be celebrating our 5th year anniversary. It’s been such a fun ride, obviously we’ve had our fair share of hard turns but we are still here, building great products.

A collage of Advansio Staff

Our vision for the next five years is to keep driving financial inclusion for the unbanked and we’re taking this a step further by partnering with one of our clients to build a Digital bank that will change how we bank in Africa. And speaking about Africa, we will be expanding our operations to 6 new countries on the continent. Watch our Founder and Co-Founder chat about the journey so far here and here
We also had a fun chat with two of our amazing team members, watch it here.

Our goal is also to keep strengthening our relationship with our clients to deliver even more superb services and innovative products.

To everyone who has been a part of birthing this dream that is Advansio Interactive, THANK YOU and we’re looking forward to the next 5!

Hope you enjoyed reading this! 

See you in our next blog post!

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