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The Cupids Of Commerce

Published 8 years ago
By Forbes Africa

Finding your perfect match is never easy. But it’s been made easier now thanks to Chinedu Onyeaso and Emeka Akano. The two Nigerian entrepreneurs are pioneering the way co-founders in business find one another in Africa by bringing global Founder2be’s match-making service to the continent for the first time.

When you sign up on Founder2be’s website, you create a profile including the type of co-founder you’re looking for. In this way, someone interested in working with you will contact you via an anonymous, built-in messaging system that allows you to decide who you share your contact details with. If all goes well online, meeting in person would be the next natural step until the two founders decide whether to work together or not.

Onyeaso and Akano took the idea further by organizing events. In the case of Nigeria, the online service and the Founder2be events go hand-in-hand, allowing for a lot more entrepreneurs to meet and connect.

“For the Lagos events, besides the networking, we bring in a few notable speakers to share some of their experiences and knowledge with the attendees. So the event also provides people with the opportunity to learn from experienced entrepreneurs and professionals so as to be better equipped to start and run their business,” says Akano.

In August, the first Founder2be Nigeria event was held on Victoria Island. Speakers included entrepreneurs to legal and information technology experts, who were all partial to business creation. Even Tomi Davies, the convener of Lagos Angel Network, an exclusive network for angel investors focused on supporting early stage start-ups in Lagos, was in attendance.

Founder2be provides an environment for people interested in business to learn, connect, share ideas and potentially find partners. These co-founders can come in the form of a business partner, mentor, adviser or investor for a business. It allows individuals with different skills sets to connect and work on ideas to launch start-ups. It’s reportedly the leading co-founder matching community in more than 100 countries.

Asked whether they have come across entrepreneurs who have become co-founders from the Nigerian network, Onyeaso says it’s still early days, but they’ve received positive feedback from some of attendees of the event.

“I met quite a few people I’d never encountered previously within my personal tech network, and I think with a few tweaks and consistency, the event and the community that hopefully emerges from broken ice could lead to many interesting transactions,” says Bankole Oluwafemi, founder of TechCabal, an online technology publication.

The duo became friends while they were university students in Ghana. They relocated to Britain after completing their undergraduate studies to obtain their Master’s in engineering at the University of Nottingham.

After graduating and working in Britain for a short while, they returned to Nigeria. They had been involved in the creation of affordable web design and corporate identity branding services to SMEs in Nigeria where the two identified a gap in the untapped market in the education sector.

Onyeaso and Akano then co-founded Entarado, a web development company empowering small businesses with web and mobile solutions. The business launched WebBlis to help other businesses gain an online presence and now they are working on EasySchool, a platform to help schools better manage their administrative functions, such as sending results to students.

From there, they became Nigerian ambassadors for the Finnish-created Founder2be forum. It is part of a global event which is held in major cities around the world.

Following two successful events last year, the two entrepreneurs hope to host at least one event every three months. The forum is growing so fast that interest has spread to other parts of Nigeria in Abuja and Port Harcourt.

“We understand that having the right founding team is an important step in the right direction for any start-up towards building a successful business. However, we also know that there are a number of things that are needed for someone to build a successful business. Things such as access to funds, mentors, work spaces and support,” says Akano.

Onyeaso adds Founder2be Nigeria is working on partnerships with investor networks, like Lagos Angel Network, accelerators and hubs to be able to help Nigerians get the support they need to start and grow their business once they find the perfect co-founder.

Through Entarado and Founder2be, the pair hopes to provide a platform to help foster entrepreneurship in their community. They believe that everyone knows something, but nobody knows everything and that by sharing ideas and meeting with people of similar interests, they will be able to find partners and get the help needed to start or grow their businesses.

Although they didn’t meet each other on the popular match-making site for co-founders, Onyeaso and Akano believe they have what it takes to spark a revolution in Nigeria’s budding start-up scene.

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Related Topics: #Business, #Chinedu Onyeaso, #Emeka Akano, #May 2014, #Networking, #Online dating, #Partnerships.