“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” — Winston Churchill
Oo Nwoye there was never an old guard. There were opportunists who still exist and there are entrepreneurs who invest in other entrepreneurs. There are also people locally who have a misconception of what the investor’s role should be. Some think it is a Chieftancy title instead of an entrepreneurship role. There are also naive entrepreneurs as well as enlightened ones.
This is why I am more in favor of entrepreneurs becoming investors rather than moneybags who have not really run anything before they made their money from deals. Opportunists will always remain in all markets (including Silicon Valley) the same way suckers will remain as well. There is no grassroots, only suckers, opportunists and the enlightened. We should stop this “us vs them” mentality as we are ALL in it.
It has always been a supply and demand game and it will still remain so for a while. At the moment, there is a lot of supply from Silicon Valley making early bets on what they perceive as virgin territory. It is virgin territory because they have not seen major gains by investors flaunted publicly. When I tell them that 25x exits have happened, they are shocked. Those exits happened quietly and people have also lost hundreds of millions in our markets quietly as well. It has not stopped deal flow.
People need to learn to respect each other. I didn’t make an investment in a startup that you are aware of because I saw how a founder treated someone whom he said didn’t give him money. I told him point blank that it was bad behaviour as you will not know where you will meet the guy again.
The example Tayo Oviosu gave about being asked to give a reference for Mark Essien is interesting because someone with the same foreign investor had asked me many years ago to do due diligence on Paga and Tayo as well. I declined for reasons of conflict. It is big world but it is also a small market. I perfectly understand what Tayo means. The investor is not your father or mother. They will still ask those whom they know and trust. What Tayo is saying is that we should not blow this trust.
On the other hand, I think we should not discourage foreign investors from coming in. These large valuations will correct themselves or become larger if the founders perform. It is a market. You don’t argue about fights when there is ground to wrestle. Let the wrestling happen but let’s be civil about it.
My concern is that we should not end up like India where someone like Chamath Palihapitiya didn’t invest in some local startups because the foreign investor class had ruined the market by dictating ideas. I believe innovation should still come from bottom up and not ideas imposed top-down. It is still very early days for us to be having these conversations but they are however relevant. We must keep talking and call less names and use less insults.