iROKOtv founders Jason Njoku and Bastian Gotter have announced the launch of SPARK, a US$1mn-backed company designed to support and develop Nigerian entrepreneurs in the technology and Internet industries
Based in Lagos, Nigeria the new company will facilitate the transformation of ideas into profitable and sustainable African Internet businesses, SPARK claimed.
Njoku said, “In Africa, we’re witnessing an exciting metamorphosis, from a tech ‘scene’ to a tech ‘revolution’, where Lagos is very much the gateway for the entire continent.
“The creativity, talent, the spirit of entrepreneurship is here but Nigeria’s business eco-system isn’t set up to adequately support start-ups in their earliest days. Our intention with SPARK is to act as the catalyst to a period of aggressive and exciting growth in Africa’s Internet sector,” he added.
According to the company, many entrepreneurs currently struggle to succeed in the industry due to prohibitive start-up costs, a lack of on-the-ground angel investment opportunities, lack of access to trusted mentorship and business bureaucracy.
SPARK said the companies it funds share the same administrative infrastructure, legal teams, mentors and marketing support, adding that all follow well-defined and scalable revenue models.
The company reported that it has so far seed-funded or created 13 start-ups to the sum of US$35,000 to US$75,000 each, including a hotel room booking site, a Christian dating site and a property-letting site.
Companies in the network currently employ a total of 80 people and by the close of 2013, SPARK said it expects to have created or funded 20 companies overall.
Nigeria’s economic growth stands at seven per cent per annum, with the Internet sector estimated to be worth US$250mn; a figure set to reach close to US$1bn in 2016, the company said.
Gotter noted, “The incubation period for any start-up is critical and we found that this is where Nigeria’s business infrastructure struggles most. SPARK is uniquely positioned to totally change this; we aren’t just an incubator, we aren’t just an investor – we are a company that builds companies.
“We fund our companies, provide them with the back room assistance they need to get started and advise them on all aspects of their business. SPARK is the financial, intellectual and pragmatic engine that will propel Nigeria’s Internet entrepreneurs from start-ups to dynamic businesses that generate jobs and income for the region,” he added.