Interview with Egbon Ecosystem.
It’s a new month!
Today’s interview is with Timi of Cowrywise AKA Egbon ecosystem, on the tech ecosystem. As a techie, it is necessary that you understand how the system works. What is the system? How does it work? And so many other questions are what you should have an answer to because to successfully exist in a system, you have to understand how and why it works the way it does. If you don’t have the answers, that’s fine too. This interview is here to help you understand what the tech ecosystem is about and why it is important to understand it.
The Interview with Timi went thus;
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Hi Timi!
Timi Joel: Hi Aliyyah ✨
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Kindly introduce yourself.
Timi Joel: 😅😅
Timi Joel: My name is Timi, I currently work with the growth team at Cowrywise, a digital wealth management company, with a mantra to democratise wealth building for all.
Generally, I'm passionate about growth and personal development, with a mix of fun and leisure.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Timi of Cowrywise!!! 💯😅. Thank you for the introduction.
Timi Joel: 👍🏻😊
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Before we fully dive into your understanding of the tech ecosystem, what does the growth team do at Cowrywise or any company at that?
Timi Joel: Hmm,
If you had asked about that of Cowrywise directly/alone, I'd have given you a straightforward and concise answer, but now that you included "any company" 😅.
So, I think I'd give individual answers to the two. Aliyyah Kalejaye: Didn’t mean to put you in a tight spot 😅
Timi Joel: COWRYWISE
So, like I mentioned earlier, Cowrywise is a FINTECH company, offering digital wealth management services with products offerings across savings and investment.
Basically, the growth team at Cowrywise is responsible for mapping out strategies, experimenting, and putting in all required efforts to aid brand awareness, user acquisition, user conversion, engagement, and retention in order to grow the company's user base and of course revenue.
However, some of the other important things we do at the growth team involve data analysis, market survey & research, competitive analysis etc. Because we are very big on data! Afterall, data doesn't lie 🤌🏻
Working with interception of teams, from Customer support, Engineering, Product Teams etc.
Timi Joel: FOR "ANY -OTHER- COMPANY"
One size doesn't fit all, right?
So what we do at the Growth Team at Cowrywise would most likely differ from what the Growth Team at other company does, let's say Paystack for instance.
For some companies, the growth team handles Growth, Marketing, Branding, Communication etc. While for some others, they are distinctively different teams for all.
Earlier this month, I was speaking with a new buddy, and he mentioned that where he works, they have a different set of people for each of this team; Growth, Marketing and they also had a team for Branding.
Now, what matters here is the need for it, in some organisations, they do not see a need for this, which could be absolutely fine. So, understanding their individual company structure matters actually.
Timi Joel: Feels like I've said more than I should 😫
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Thank you for the information honestly. It’s why we call you Egbon Ecosystem 🌚😅
Timi Joel: 😂😂😂😂. God abegggg
Aliyyah Kalejaye: So, about the Nigerian tech ecosystem. We have seen waves of newbies, massive growth in the system and so many negatives too.
From your understanding of the Nigerian tech ecosystem, what are the lapses/challenges you have noticed?
Timi Joel: 😂 😂 😂 This question sounds like a question for CEO's and Investors (in $$)
Make I drop my own sha 😅
Aliyyah Kalejaye: 😅😅
Timi Joel: Well, without sacrificing the very obvious ones, I think I should start with issues related to the OVERVALUATION of tech companies and Staffing & Layoffs.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Numbers!! Let’s go!!!
Timi Joel: The Nigeria Tech ecosystem gained massive PR in 2020 when Paystack was acquired by Stripe for $200M.
Shortly after, in 2021 Flutterwave attained the Unicorn status having raised about $170M to be valued at $1Billion. I was a part of the Flutterwave family at that time, nothing serious ooo 😂.
That very year, Africa produced more unicorns in a single year than ever. All these events raised the interest of many young people to tech, perhaps, just like you and I, I was still a university student at that time by the way.
This could be attributed to the effect of COVID, with the rise in the need for technology services like payment, commerce etc.
Which would obviously require that these companies hire more people than they had before (post covid) to be able to serve the growing demands of their services.
Covid ended and demands are being corrected to their usual parallel line. And now there's a market correctional uproar all over the tech ecosystem around the world, though maybe with not so much impact in Nigeria and some African countries. We've seen companies close down in Nigeria, like Safeboda, e-commerce giant; Jumia lay off staff, Softcom and a host of others.
Timi Joel: God abeggg 😫😫
Timi Joel: I tried so much not to say so much ooo Aliyyah, forgive me please.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Ride on 😅
Timi Joel: But broadly speaking, one of the main lapses in the Nigerian tech ecosystem is a lack of infrastructure and resources to support the growth of startups.
Particularly in terms of local financing, regulatory system and other governing policies that are critical to building a sustainable and scalable business.
Timi Joel: Another challenge is the shortage of skilled talent and technical expertise. While there is a growing pool of young, talented developers and entrepreneurs in Nigeria, there is still a significant skills gap that needs to be addressed in order to build a thriving tech ecosystem.
And when you look at the forces of demand and supply, then it's enough reason for some ideas not to fly beyond the heads of the ideator.
"The higher the demand, the higher the price and vice versa"
When you look at a scenario where 10 different companies need 5 senior developers each, which equals 50...
But there are only 25 capable senior developers, now the law of demand plays in, with a tendency for these developers to move with the HIGHEST BIDDER, not just in terms of salary now...
I remember when OKRA was giving $1,000 for you to refer a developer. When the developer gets successfully hired, you get $1,000 as the referrer. Interesting.
Timi Joel: I do not know if Okra still does this now though.
Timi Joel: Oh, they still do.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Ohh wow. Now that’s a discovery!
Timi Joel: As another lapses we have been experiencing in the Nigerian tech ecosystem, the regulatory environment is another complex and difficult element to navigate through, with a lack of clear policies and regulations around issues such as data privacy and intellectual property protection.
When you see a fintech founder, hug them! 😂😂. My short contractual time at Flutterwave exposed me to this so much.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Will keep that in mind 😅
Timi Joel: From CBN to NDIC just name it. God abeggg
Aliyyah Kalejaye: So in summary;
- Overstaffing that has now led to layoffs
- Talent gap -the demand and supply factor
- Lack of adequate infrastructure and proper funding
- Lack of clear policies and regulations.
These are the lapses/challenges you’ve noticed.
Timi Joel: Yeah,
We could then add lack of collaboration in some sectors...
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Which sectors?
Timi Joel: Well, the Fintech sector But yeah, the tech ecosystem at large, to be very honest
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Hmmm that’s loud.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: These are very fundamental aspects of the ecosystem and it really just keeps showing up over the years. What can we do to make the system better?
Timi Joel: These questions ehhnn 😫😫 I am still young in this tech space. These are questions for people like Asemota, Oviosu, Rasaq etc
Aliyyah Kalejaye: There are questions for people that understand the system.
Timi Joel: I look forward to what the TALENT CITY team is doing to fill in some of these gaps. Itana — formerly Talent City
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Same here
Timi Joel: Somehow, I believe that ADDRESSING THE REGULATORY CHALLENGES will go a long way to make the ecosystem better, to be very honest.
The Nigerian government and other relevant bodies/parastatals need to begin to develop clear policies and regulations around the growing digital economy. Policies do not have to be so stringent for the financial economy to be better, rather, many times, they do not help to encourage innovation.
The level of uncertainty and instability to the political environment of the state is another challenge in this regard.
Timi Joel: To solve the challenge of funding, there is a need for local investors to begin to look into the tech/digital space than they've always done in previous years. Of course, international funding DEFINITELY cannot be ignored likewise.
Thanks to Venture capital, Future Africa, and a host of other local investment companies (Venture Capital and Angel Investors).
Timi Joel: Other things we could look at is the development of local talents, fostering collaboration etc
Aliyyah Kalejaye: This is one reason I am glad young people are getting involved in the elections. I look forward to seeing more tech-oriented people in the houses.
Timi Joel: Now, tech is just a section, yet important. We tend to forget that there's the creative industry, entertainment, sports etc. So, we need more young people across these verticals actually, maybe not just in tech.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: I totally agree. I raised the tech because that’s within the scope of this conversation.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: I believe funding from the government will also be a major bonus especially when there are proper regulations to foster positive growth, don’t you think?
Timi Joel: Funding from the government 😂
Well, there's been not so many positives from that area in recent times. But of course, that will help a lot more to be very honest!
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Right!
Timi Joel: 💪🏻💪🏻
Aliyyah Kalejaye: How important is it for every techie to understand the ecosystem?
Can I just write code and easily land jobs and then face front? Or do I have to connect and understand the ecosystem to better aid growth?
Timi Joel: Hmmm,
Understanding the tech ecosystem puts you miles ahead of your colleagues with the same level of expertise in your track. This is something that ISN'T compulsory but necessary!
It's just like living in a house and not knowing your way around the house, you do not know your way to the kitchen, the restroom, the bath etc and then you get confused when people make references to these places in the house.
But if you know your way around the house, you find it easy to navigate through and of course contribute to discussions around matters that relate to the house.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Hmmm words of Egbon Ecosystem!!
Timi Joel: A "VERY BASIC" EXAMPLE
You want to apply to Flutterwave, you can write code, but you do not know the languages/frameworks — or a little knowledge about their Tech Stack at least — they use there, because you have NO IDEA about the company and you have no guide in this regard.
You do not know their recruitment processes, their hiring needs, people you need to connect with etc. You're many scores down below those that have prior knowledge about all of these things.
Timi Joel: Or you want to apply for a role, the company had prepared as much as #500,000 as monthly net salary, but because you do not know the industry standard, when you got the question about your salary expectation, you go ahead to mention #150,000.
Another VERY RELATABLE example, considering the potential audience of this interview.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Fact!
Timi Joel: You remember that thing I mentioned about collaboration, it's also embedded in understanding the ecosystem and how it works.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: How?
Timi Joel: Understanding how the ecosystem works, puts you in track of trends, and knows where and when to collaborate. Simply.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Thank you!!
Timi Joel: 🤲🏻🤲🏻🤲🏻
Aliyyah Kalejaye: On a lighter note, what’s your opinion on the Naija Tech Twitter in relation to the Nigeria tech ecosystem? Has the latter helped to improve the former, or not?
Timi Joel: There's the positive and negative side to everything which also includes this.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Hmm, preach chief!
Timi Joel: Yeah, I think that settles it, yeah?
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Please explain in detail.
Timi Joel: One of the ways we have seen improvement in the 9ja tech ecosystem in Nigeria through the Niger Tech Twitter convos is DISCOVERY!. And I believe that this addresses all other parts.
Hundreds and thousands of people discovered their career path in tech through Twitter. Innovators have met on Twitter and went on to establish startups.
People have learnt a whole lot on Twitter. It has created a sense of exposure to endless possibilities for many people. It has helped to birth startup ideas for many businesses.
It has helped to serve as a means for raising investment rounds. The possibilities are endless, really..
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Discovery! Great that we are seeing major positives.
Timi Joel: Yeah actually!
Aliyyah Kalejaye: There is so much to talk about in the ecosystem but we have to round up. So, is there anything else you will like to share? Any final words?
Timi Joel: There's just so much like you've rightly said.
Timi Joel: Hmmm,
Just start out
Just keep pushing
Take a U-turn if need be
Network with — the right — people
Timi Joel: I remember when I started some years ago, I was doing design, I dropped off, I pivoted to Frontend Engineering, then again to PM, then now I'm doing Growth.
Look who's getting interested in consuming APIs and digging data again with Backend Engineering now 😂.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Oh wow. That’s a surprise 😅
Timi Joel: I've had direct and indirect work relationships with about 10 startups within the last 3 years, and all I can say is one size doesn't fit all.
Timi Joel: Most importantly, understand yourself, talk to people, seek help if you need to.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Word! word!! Thank you so much for your time Egbon Ecosystem! 😌
Timi Joel: God abegggg 😫😫😂😂😂😂
Aliyyah Kalejaye: The name must stick for life 😂
Timi Joel: I thought this was going to be a 60 mins conversation, it's just about 10 mins away from becoming a 120 mins interview.
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Ikr 😅
Timi Joel: It was nice doing this with you by the way, Aliyyah! 💪🏻
Aliyyah Kalejaye: It was a pleasure having this conversation with you!
Aliyyah Kalejaye: Thank you!! Enjoy the rest of your day.
Timi Joel: And you too. Thanks Aliyyah.
Well, that explains it guys. I know this is a lot of information to take in, but take your time. Seek help, and ask questions if you still require clarity in certain areas.
The tech ecosystem is where you dwell as a techie, so familiarise yourself with the system now.
You can read other amazing articles such as this on this blog. Just click on ‘the interviews’ tag below, and you get to see all the other interviews.
See you next Wednesday!
Publised March 01, 2023