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Gerald Okonkwo

If Only All Successful Founders Will Be Like Michael Seibel

I woke last week wednesday feeling more loved than ever; with the numerous amount of messages and emails I received, at this point it struck me; it was the “Valentine’s Day Celebration.
As curious as I’m always to see Nigerian’s reactions during festivities, I logged on to my twitter account (@geraldokonkwo_ looking forward to meeting you on twitter 😆) to see what’s going on with ‘Twitter Nigeria’ and I stumbled upon this mind blowing tweet (look below) from Michael Seibel (founder of Ycombinator);

Here’s a tweet from Michael’s Seibel founder; of YCombinator

What struck me more was the part where he said “helping each other is a core value in the tech Startup world”. For some reason I was really excited that our ‘egbons’ (meaning elders in Yoruba language) in the Tech Industry are really excited about helping younger startup founders succeed, but my excitement was shortly met with a sad realization & reminder that Michael Siebel is in the United States and could be referring to helping startups there (don’t correct me it’s just an assumption).

My mind Immediately went to our very own “successful” (cause over here we count raising funds as success) founders in Nigeria; I remember personally reaching out to a lot of ‘more successful’ founders earlier on while  trying to figure things out with iFixng.com and they all seemed to be reluctant to help; one time I approached a very reputable founder loved from afar by everyone, wanting to find out how he’s managed to solve certain challenges I was having at the time, and on meeting him, after greeting and introducing myself and what I do, his immediate response was “my friend is working on something like this already”, I was astonished cause he didn’t even wait to hear what the question was, again this is just one of many experiences I’ve had from ‘bigger’ founders in Nigeria, sent mails, text & Whatsapp messages I never got responses to, it goes on and on, and sadly this is the plight of many other startup founders around this region.
It begins to only seem like the ‘successful founders’ come and speak at events just for cheap press and never really care about startups or their founders cause it’s what happens outside these events that really matters. This is one of the many reasons why I stopped attending startup or tech events.
How I feel when I approach successful founders for help and I’m turned down
The BIG QUESTION for me is what’s the reason behind Successful founders finding it difficult to help other startup founders, is it fear of competition?, pride?, greed?, dues?,
I know there are a couple of exceptions but a large number don’t and this has been a question I’ve been asking myself for a very long time, one of my motivations to start this blog was to help ask or answer many unasked & unanswered questions I hear founders ask during interactions.
I really do hope that Michael Seibel’s comment today will spark a call to action to create a friendly Nigerian/African Tech Eco-System ’cause as far as I’m concerned we don’t have an Eco-system, just a couple of friends and cliques in the Tech Industry who won’t help anyone outside their circles.
Thanks for reading Today’s blog, feel free to follow me on twitter @GeraldOkonkwo_ and don’t forget to signup to receive newsletters right in your mail box.

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