Considering my experience as one of the founding and active members of Lexington Hub, an innovation hub operated by Lexington technologies, located in the heart of Kaduna state’ s capital, I was invited by Startup Borno, a collaborative community that cuts across the tech enthusiasts in Borno State, to discuss the Hub Experience in Nigeria. Excerpts are shared with you below.
What do you do?
I am a professional software engineer who has been coding for over 9 years and has 3 years of professional experience working for reputable software & hardware development companies as an IT consultant, software developer and project manager. I have so far delivered application software to over two dozen clients around the world with excellent client satisfaction scores.
How do you describe tech hubs?
I will describe ‘tech hub’ as space, an outskirt or just a suite of offices developed to help technology startup companies succeed, assist tech enthusiasts to easily gain professional tech knowledge and help firms and individuals network and interact with other like-minded individuals and enterprises.
How does tech hubs support and facilities for tech entrepreneurs?
Tech hubs support tech entrepreneurs in different ways, but in Nigeria majorly by;
💡 Assisting them through the stringent process of gaining easy access to funding and finance to scale their startups.
💡 Breeding an ecosystem that presents them with a network of entrepreneurship peers to collaborate and brainstorm.
💡 Giving them easy access to mentors and advisers, and providing them with accelerators and incubation opportunities.
💡 Guiding them on how to stay on the better path of government rules, regulations and frameworks that may affect their startups or ideas.
💡 Motivating them to tolerate risk and failure, and persevere for success.
How would you describe your stay in a tech hub?
I am a member of Lexington Hub, where we are motivated daily by our urge to equip the community and upcoming generation to become proficient with the ICT skills needed to thrive everlasting solutions to existing problems. We have since rolled out different packages based upon training, incubations, accelerators, competitions and many more to stimulate the local community and assist them to reach their goals while developing the ecosystem.
Why are tech hubs important?
We are all aware that Nigeria depends almost solely on the revenues generated from crude oil and recently, its price has been continuously plummeting. Hence, the need for the Nigerian economy to be diversified can not be overemphasised and ICT undeniably remains one of the most reliable sectors to be considered as it records 14.07% of Nigeria’s GDP in Q1 of 2020 as announced by @FMoCDENigeri @DrIsaAliPantami. It is no rocket science to realise that, to increase revenue generated from ICT, we need to increase the number of tech startups and tech giant companies and the obvious way to achieve that is through tech hubs.
How would you describe the collaborative nature of a tech hub community?
Everybody in the tech ecosystem is aware of its roller-coaster nature. Tech is mixed with a series of challenges, especially for #newbie tech enthusiasts and startup companies. Hence, the need for a collaborative community that will continually stimulate members can not be overemphasised. A hub community is known to breed members to tolerate failures and risks, celebrate innovations, culminate research culture, improve positive image of entrepreneurship and drive for the preference of self-employment
What role do these hubs play in early-stage startups?
According to statistics carried out by Moya K. Mason on Worldwide Business Startups, around 90% of startups fail. This failure is largely due to incompetence, lack of experience in terms of goods and industry and little experience from the team and personal problems. On the other hand, the 10% that succeed do because they have a well-defined market, disruptive ideas and the founders are persistent and take advantage of mentors. Simply put, one major role the hubs play is helping startups succeed and scale.
Can you share with us how hub has helped improved your skillset?
Sadly, I learned the hard way. I realised it takes almost twice the time and effort required to learn within a positive community to lean alone. So, I was already a professional software developer before joining @LexingtonHub. Even so, I was tremendously impacted by the community as I see my motivation, concentration and skills tripled in a short time. I realised how I will hardly go a day without learning something new from both the #newbie and experts developers.
There has been a growth in tech hubs, how does this benefit the economy as a state or nation?
The growth in tech hubs and its positive impacts can be felt in every corner of states and even the nation at large. Tech hubs are helping to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country, stimulating ICT startups there my helping to increase ICT revenues and boosting the nation’s GDP, supporting tech enthusiasts to innovate and proffer solutions to pressing challenges in the economy and assisting the Government in the diversification of the economy to reduce its dependence on crude oil among many more.
Tech hubs are thriving and fostering innovations, what challenges do you feel hubs face?
Some of the challenges faced by most tech hubs include:
☛ Lack of good business atmosphere for business zones and innovations hubs,
☛ Absence of policy strategy by the government, to encourage the setting up of innovation hubs and even the development of already established tech clusters,
☛ Absence of initiatives to attract financing for tech hubs through a special investment fund that can be visible to venture capital and private equity firms,
☛ Inadequate tech talents (programmers, developers e.t.c.),
☛ Immature ecosystem/community
New hubs are been created, in what ways do you recommend the engagement of the youths?
Alignment increases the likelihood of success. So, a tech hub should select an approach that complements its members, community and goals. If a tech hub operates in a mature ecosystem with many key resources such as good infrastructure, financial capital and robust internet access, the hub may be better operated as an accelerator and focus on startup creation. However, if there are only a few viable startups and many inexperienced founders with no access to key resources, it may be better for the hub to operate as a community-focused hub or a co-working space and focus on ecosystem building.
What advice will you give to tech enthusiasts on leveraging on hubs?
My advice to tech enthusiasts are thus;
🔥 Stay active in the tech community, if it is difficult to stay physically active, join online-teams or follow active mentors on social media.
🔥 Engage in a continuous identification of credible mentors both around you and far away and never desist from asking them good questions.
🔥 Be aware of the roller-coaster nature of tech, and never give up on your goals and dreams.
🔥 and lastly, never stop believing in yourself!
What are some of the vital lessons you have learnt in hubs that are not thought in a formal education system?
The conventional teaching environment will usually have a time table, courses, course outline, topics and course materials to be covered and strict rules to be adhered. On the other hand, life is unpredictable. Formal education system prepared me for already known problems and tested solutions to conquer them while the hubs are always available to guide me through thick and thin to see that my startup succeed, that I deal professionally with my clients, guide me to make good decisions as challenges surface and improve my skills in such a way that is consistent and up-to-date with other more developed parts of the world.