6?s with Silas Okwoche, Founder of NERVE Phones Nigeria
What is Nerve’s area of focus?
Nerve is a startup mobile technology venture that has developed and is bringing to the market a line of convergence smart phones with accessories and an Afro centric mobile ecosystem for relevant local content and mobile services.
What experience did you gain at Gitex?
GITEX was amazing! We had the chance to be exposed to international best practice on how to stage corporate presence at an expo/exhibition as well as had a chance to network with potential partners from every corner of the world.
Do you think that NITDA is doing enough to incubate ICT startups in the country?
NITDA is very forward thinking in their approach towards supporting ICT startups as visible by our presence at GITEX and the IDEA accelerator initiative. I believe it can only get better from here. Though, there is room for improvement, particularly in the areas of helping startups with market entry strategy via pilot government patronage and endorsements… but all in all it’s a good start.
As a hardware manufacturer, what is your relationship with oversea organisations?
As a hardware manufacturer of connected devices, we currently partner with oversea organisations for supply of electronic components and PCB assembly as well as for non-recurrent engineering and product development. These are areas for which we do not have the infrastructure to handle locally in the country. However, our roadmap includes the development of such capacities on the continent.
Have you made any serious business contact here in Dubai and what are lessons learnt?
Yes indeed we have. Our talks are still ongoing and we hope to make exciting announcements very soon. For lessons learnt, well, all I can say is that it pays to be professional and be straightforward.
What are your future projections?
We have a vision to be a Fortune 500 company of African origin in the near future by creating products that meet the personal productivity and digital lifestyle needs of our people and for the world.
Drivers of the new economy
Not so much a delightful place considering the infrastructural challenges, but Nigeria appears to be increasingly inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit in young people who are leading the new generation of tech start-ups. These tech-entrepreneurs are opening new and innovative frontiers in manufacturing, finance and banking, retail, health and education. Definers of the new market progression, they hold the keys to where the economy is headed and are helping to expand the portfolio of the service industry. And what is also exciting, is their ability to meet market demands by working round the deficiencies in infrastructures – power, roads, etc. Nerve is only one of the foot soldiers feeding the market for mobile devices. There are several other quiet start-ups selling somewhat customised brands of mobile devices and you hardly have them mentioned within the noisy arenas where the big global brands dominate. But the start-ups are carving their own niche. Perhaps, it is in the retail, education, finance and banking sectors that you feel the impact best. Cart.Com.Ng, Paga, Inye Tablet, Tutor.Ng, Dealdey, 500shops, Kicking, are all part of a growing list of enterpreneuers who are offering us a peep into how tomorrow’s market will look like in Africa’s largest but grossly under-infrastructure economy.