Google Inc this past week, camped 21 Nigerian startups in Lagos for a week-long training, mentoring and meet and greet with select investors as it launched its global mentoring programme, Google Developers Launchpad in Nigeria.
Although the programme has been around for a couple of years and in different countries in the world, it is the first time the Launchpad came to Nigeria and with partnership with Nigeria’s Co-creation Hub (CcHub), the first set of startups were inducted last Friday after a five-day mentoring from 100 mentors across all sectors in Nigeria, who helped the startup founders validate their ideas.
A total of 21 Nigerian startups have had access to one-on-one mentorship and instructor-led workshops that has provided them with actionable, in-person training to help them tackle critical growth and scale challenges.
John Kimani, Developer Ecosystem Program Manager at Google told me that at end of the bootcamp, he expects that in the couple of months, those startups would hit the ground running, as the startups have trained to address specific challenges in their environment, using technology solution.
The Launchpad’s mentorship model, Kimani said, is unique in the sense that it tracks the advice that mentors give startups, telling the Google team what advice works well against specific startup problems, and what doesn’t.
‘Building the ecosystem’
The CcHub collaboration with Google on the Lunchpad “fits right” into the hub’s drive of building the startup ecosystem with respects to mentoring technology startups with great and scalable ideals, Tunji Elesho, Co-founder, CCHub, said.
Seven years ago, the CcHub launched to help startups create “novel technologically driven solutions to the myriad social challenges facing the average Nigerian,” while also networking “stakeholders from diverse walks of life to create these solutions and also encourage social accountability through social creativity, activating knowledge networks, harnessing resources and imagination across society not just within public service professions and institutions.”
This partnership helps strengthen the CcHub’s drive to help startup scale, Elesho said.
Enabling start-ups and entrepreneurs in Africa, and the world
“The growth of entrepreneurship in Africa is critical to the survival of the continent. Therefore, we are training startups with the aim of creating opportunities for job seekers who are just entering the labour market,” Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, Country Manager, Google Nigeria said a pressing briefing explaining the programme.
Thus, the mission of Google Developers Launchpad is to “enable startups from around the world to build great companies,” Roy Glasberg, Global Lead, Google Developers Launchpad said in a July blog post. “In the last four years, we’ve learned a lot while supporting early and late-stage founders. From working with dynamic startups – such as teams applying Artificial Intelligence technology to solving transportation problems in Israel, improving tele-medicine in Brazil, and optimizing online retail in India – we’ve learned that these startups require specialised services to help them scale,” the post read in part.
As Ehimuan-Chiazor explained it, the Google Developers Launchpad Program is a three-phase programme – the first phase being the Launchpad Start, a fiveday problem solving bootcamp designed for early stage startups. Each day of the bootcamp focuses on a different skills with specific target outcomes. Such skills as Product, Design, Marketing, Business and Growth were the focus for the five-day period.
The second phase, Launchpad Build, is a single-day event focused on any stage startups that are building their app, platform or business on Google technology, while the third phase, “the mother of all launchpads” as a startup founder who is aiming at that told me during the bootcamp, is the Launchpad Accelerator.
The Launchpad Accelerator is six-month hyper-acceleration program for growth-stage startups from emerging markets, who get access to a global list of mentors, Google engineers and a two-week all-expense-paid bootcamp experience at the Google Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco, in California, US.
Nigeria’s Paystack, Flutterwave, gidimo, Delivery Service; and Kenya’s Twiga Foods as well as Mauritius’ JUMO are currently participating in the Accelerator programme in the US.
The future of African startup
“By 2034 Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion—yet only three to four million jobs are created annually. That means there’s an urgent need to create opportunities for the millions of people on the continent who are creative, smart and driven to succeed,” Ehimuan-Chiazor said during her July speech, Making the internet work better for everyone in Africa.
Building on the success of Google’s global Launchpad Accelerator programme, Ehimuan-Chiazor said Google is planning a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos that will provide African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa over the next three years.
“We want to do more to support African entrepreneurs in building successful technology companies and products. Based on our global Launchpad Accelerator program, this initiative will provide more than $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisers to more than 60 African startups over three years. Intensive three-month programs, held twice per year, will run out of a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos—the program’s first location outside of the United States,” she said.