Last week, word spread that Bastian Gotter, co-founder, of IrokoTv had exited the startup he co-built with Jason Njoku, to focus on investing on African startups. Bastian, whose first major investment was in mid-2010, when he invested $150,000 for a 50% stake in Jason’s idea to sell African movies online, has gone to make series
Last week, word spread that Bastian Gotter, co-founder, of IrokoTv had exited the startup he co-built with Jason Njoku, to focus on investing on African startups. Bastian, whose first major investment was in mid-2010, when he invested $150,000 for a 50% stake in Jason’s idea to sell African movies online, has gone to make series of investment rounds on African startups like Paystack and OgaVenue. He revealed in an interview that although he had always believed in young western educated people returning to their home country to build businesses, he never thought the IrokoTv business would revolutionize the Nigerian film industry the way it has.
“Iroko was my first large personal investment – I always believed in young western educated people returning to their home country to build businesses. However, that we would go on to change the nature of the Nigerian film industry was beyond my imagination at the time. Especially after we closed on the initial investment from Tiger Global, the business got very real, very quickly, and I decided to leave BP, leave London and head for Lagos,” he revealed.
In early 2012, five years into his work as an Oil trader at BP, Bastian joined Jason in Lagos as the COO/CFO of IrokoTv after the company has raised a $3 million Series A funding from US-based Tiger Global.
With the success Iroko continues to record and the promising investments of Spark (Bastian and Jason’s investment platform) in local startups like Hotels.ng and Tolet.com.ng, Bastian isn’t done with putting his money in promising startups across Africa:
“I genuinely believe reinvesting some of your gains is a founding block of a successful start-up ecosystem. In terms of cash on cash returns, my portfolio is up by 12x – and some companies, such as Paystack and OgaVenue, are still very early in their cycle. I plan to make more investments in 2017, and am also speaking to a number of both local and international investors who are keen to expand into the African market.”
However, when he was asked his views on indicators of success as a tech entrepreneur in Africa given that he had operated on both sides ( as a founder and an Investor) of the tech scene in Africa, Bastian, believes most entrepreneurs and investors are not in tune with suitable business models for the African market, and this in his opinion is why very few startups scale.
“I see entrepreneurs and investors making many mistakes in Africa. Especially with international investors, there is a general lack of understanding of what 99% of the African consumer looks like and how to serve their needs profitably. The entrepreneurs who go on to scale the companies are, in my opinion, generally those who have an innate understanding of the African consumer, and can therefore tailor their product or service accordingly.”
Bastian who lists founder’s credibility, size of the market, and the suitability of business model to African market, as things he considers before investing in startups, also believed there is a big disconnect between international perception and the reality of the emerging African market.
“Iroko has given me an incredible insight into doing business in Africa and what I’ve learned is that there’s a real disconnect between international perception versus reality. What I mean by this is that international investors are often scared of investing in start-ups or founders on the continent, because they aren’t really sure of the market, the scale of opportunity or indeed where to actually invest. There’s a real lack of understanding of what this emerging market presents in terms of opportunity.”
Having been replaced by Lauren Miller, a corporate finance heavyweight with vast experience in top roles at Millicom, Paramount, and Warner Brothers, Bastian will move around Africa exploring the tech scene looking for promising startups to invest in.