Top 5 Nigerian startup developments in 2016

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Another bumper year in Nigeria, one of Africa’s fastest growing tech startup ecosystems.

Here are Disrupt Africa’s picks for the top five developments of the year. And no, Mark Zuckerberg’s visit isn’t one of them.

iROKO scaling up

You might have thought Jason Njoku’s video-on-demand (VoD) startup iROKO would have gone into 2016 with some trepidation after the long-expected launch of Netflix in Africa.

Not a bit of it. The company started the year by closing US$19 million in content and capital deals, and was busy putting that money to good use thereafter.

iROKO’s 2016 saw it partner CANAL to launch an SVOD app for French-speaking Africa, and launch an MPN for African digital entertainment. Not a bad year at all.

Nigerian startups going global

Global accelerator programmes are taking a serious interest in Nigerian startups, as demonstrated by the visit of Y Combinator to the country in September.

2016 saw a host of Nigerian companies accepted into international accelerators. E-commerce company Podozi took part in 500 Startups earlier in the year, while Aella Credit and Talentbase joined a later cohort.

Start-Up Chile – and its connected S Factory – also liked the look of Nigerian startups, with Beavly and Curacel Health accepted into programmes. Expect to see more of this in 2017.

LAN steps up investments

The Lagos Angel Network (LAN) has been around for a while, but really stepped up its game in 2016.

The network launched its pitching event series Startup DealDay earlier in the year, and held quite a number, pumping money into selected businesses.

It is great to see the local angel scene developing to such an extent, a move that can only help startups grow.

DealDey acquired

Nigerian discount online shopping platform DealDey was acquired in March by Ringier Africa Deals Group, joint venture between Switzerland-based Ringier Africa and South Africa’s Silvertree Internet Holdings.

DealDey has already proven popular with investors, raising US$5 million from Investment AB Kinnevik in 2015, before spinning off its business promotion and listings section, PromoHub, into a separate entity and launching LYF, a socially-driven business listings, reviews and transactional platform.

For all the African tech scene’s undoubted growth, acquisitions are still few and far between, so this was a major boost to the ecosystem.

Nigerian president backs startups

Support for Nigerian startups came from an unlikely quarter in 2016, as President Buhari launched his Aso Villa Demo Day scheme.

Thirty startups were eventually selected to pitch to Buhari and other stakeholders at the demo day event, gaining access to investors and support from an energy firm.

Fantastic to see a government take such an active part in the growth of the tech ecosystem. It can only be hoped such initiatives don’t remain so rare.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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