10 Lessons From Our Fireside Chat with Rich Tanksley

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As part of the lineup of events for the Lagos Startup Week, we hosted a fireside chat with Rich Tanksley.

Rich is the Senior Vice President of Special Projects for the Nigerian/American consulting firm NeuBridges. He is also an official brand ambassador and former CEO of Pulse Nigeria and has been in the tech startup space in West Africa for 5 years, having started, advised or been involved in more than 2 dozen startups.

He ran Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana for 3 years as senior faculty. He was also the Africa director for Seedstars.

In a conversation themed ‘Scaling your business through creative thinking’, Rich dropped some wisdom on us, so I've put together 10 of my favorite lessons from the event below: 

Figure out how you can do things different and better than everyone else.

You must do things faster and better than your competition, and you have to be exponentially better. Otherwise you have no real advantage and you leave them room to catch up with you.

Your ability to scale depends on the right team

and creating the right working environment is key to getting great people on your team

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Investors are typically risk averse

Most investors are leery of putting money into just an idea, so you're more likely to succeed if you seek funding when you have proof of traction. An existing customer base, for example.

Lose the fear of people stealing your idea

 Figure out your competitive advantage that is difficult to replicate instead. If your idea is easy to steal and replicate, then is it really that great?

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Know your customers

That’s the only way to build a great product or service

On company culture

The CEO and leadership sets the tone for a company's culture, so strive to lead by example.

On co-founders

Put a vesting schedule in place to protect your startup from under-performing co-founders or any potential issues that may threaten your working relationship.

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As a rule of thumb your initial investor shouldn’t get more than a 10% stake in your company. Otherwise, raising funds in future might be a challenge if an initial investor takes too much of your business.

Travelling is a great way to broaden your worldview and improve the way you think as an entrepreneur

It exposes you to how things are done in other cultures and environment. It is also a great way to get fresh ideas for how to do things.

Before you consider scaling your business, make sure you have these basics in place:

  • CAC registration (make sure you pay your taxes and have proof!)
  • An accounting system
  • A system for tracking and managing customer support (trouble tracking: this will help you measure whether you’re getting better at resolving customer issues)
  • Salesforce tracking system
  • CRM automation
  • A means of accepting money (it should always be easy to give you money!)
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There you have it!

Obviously, Rich shared way more than these 10 nuggets with us (it was a 3-hour long event with a room full of young, vibrant minds after all!). Be sure not to miss any of our future events, so you don't miss out all the knowledge and networking again.

You can view all the photos from the event on our Facebook page. (be sure to follow our page while you're at it!)