Unlocking Success: Five Crucial Lessons for Emerging Startups and Entrepreneurs from the CIBN Generation Next Programme

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For most of last week starting from Wednesday to early morning Friday, I was in Lagos. That should be my first visit to Lagos this year. And the event that took all of us from different locations of Opolo Global Innovation to Lagos was the CIBN Generation Next programme. The programme which had in attendance the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu, represented by his Deputy, Femi Hamzat paraded the best in banking and financial technology in Nigeria and beyond. But, that is not my point. My focus is on the opportunity given to emerging startups and entrepreneurs, especially in the technology sector, to exhibit what their products and services. Since, it was the part of event that Opolo organized for the foremost professional body in Nigeria, myself and the Opolo team were at the exhibition arena ensuring things got set before the dignitaries came calling. I saw the palpable excitement that enveloped the arena as these young men and women looked forward to telling their stories and getting opportunities to either get patronage or scale their businesses. Among the crowd of the exhibitors were also a number of startups who are currently in the pool of our company’s startup ecosystem from different locations in the country.

The array of products and services on display was impressive. In reflecting the theme of the programme, the products and services were either physical or tech related.  For the young business owners, this gathering wasn’t just an event – it was a masterclass in harnessing the art of pitching ideas, amplifying values, and seizing golden opportunities. Here are five lessons I feel emerging startups could gain from what I saw as the techpreneurs displayed their brands to the participants.


Tell Your Story with Impact

In the midst of the bustling exhibition hall, I saw something come to life – the art of pitching! It is the gateway to turning dreams into reality. As the dignitaries moved from one booth to the other, startups fervently conveyed their visions, dreams and aspirations, it became clearer that brands need a compelling narrative to attract patronage, funding and investment. Young business owners must master the craft of articulating their ideas with clarity, passion, and purpose. A well-crafted pitch has the power to captivate hearts, ignite curiosity, and open doors to unforeseen possibilities and opportunities.

Business Values are Important

Amidst the dazzling array of products and services in the buzzling hall, a common thread emerged – values. I observed that startups that resonated the most with the dignitaries were those rooted in a strong set of values that extended beyond profit margins. As a startup, it is good that you infuse your ventures with values that define your purpose, guiding every decision and action. The Sustainable Development Goals are the buzzwords now and reasonably so. That is what has dictated the world trajectory from 2015. Importantly, a business built on authenticity, integrity, and a commitment to societal well-being is not only inspiring but also stands the test of time.


Seizing Opportunities: Courage and Agility in Action

Exhibitions are opportunity arena. It is the boxing ring where startups spar for opportunities. As startups, with excitement, projected their brands, it was evident that success favors those who courageously step out of their comfort zones. I saw young entrepreneurs surmounting obstacles to get their businesses pitched. A young man came from Ife. When his team was long in coming and the dignitaries were close by, he moved round the hall to set his brand up. He pitched! He recognized the fleeting moments of promise and the opportunity to set them on a trajectory of unparalleled growth.

Networking: Forge Relationships, Forge Success

Beyond the products and displays, three things were obvious at the exhibition arena: relationships, collaborations and connections.  Young business owners should nurture connections, cultivate a genuine interest in others, and build a network that extends beyond transactions. From mentors to potential partners, every relationship can be a stepping stone to new horizons.


Embracing Feedback and Iteration

Among the startups, I observed an openness to feedback and a willingness to iterate. This mindset speaks volumes to young business owners. Feedback, whether constructive or critical, is a priceless gift for growth. Embracing it with humility and using it to refine and iterate can propel ventures from good to exceptional.

In conclusion, the CIBN Generation Next exhibition has gifted young business owners with a treasure trove of insights. From the art of crafting impactful pitches to infusing values, seizing opportunities, nurturing relationships, and embracing feedback, I am sure these lessons will serve as the compass guiding them through the labyrinth of entrepreneurship as they journey on in their quest to live their dreams. I am also sure that the insights gained from the exhibition would live with these young entrepreneurial minds as they unlock a future brimming with possibilities.

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