- Chinedu Echeruo is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur who gained popularity for launching a company that was acquired by Apple for an estimated $1 billion in 2013.
- Since then, he has started and sold off another innovative firm. He has also invented a US Patent and cofounded a startup studio.
- After taking a look at his life’s work, we have been able to put together some tips on how you can also build digital company worth at least $1 billion.
Chinedu Echeruo has made a name for himself as the Nigerian entrepreneur who started HopStop.com and eventually sold it to Apple Inc., for what some analysts estimate to be $1 billion.
Since this historic acquisition, he has co-founded Tripology, a travel referral service that later acquired by Rand McNally, an American maps and navigation company. It is now owned by USA Today.
This innovative Nigerian entrepreneur is the co-founder of a startup studio called Love and Magic Company and inventor of a U.S patent. He has also launched a “cause-driven” social platform called Gigameet, now known as MindMeet, which is the first company introduced by The Love & Magic Company.
With these impressive acquisitions and companies, Echeruo has proved to be a highly successful business innovator worth paying attention to. Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa By Pulse has put together three winning principles from the self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur on how you can also start an iconic business venture worth at least $1 billion.
Be solution driven
Echeruo’s primary motivation is solving problems. This was his reason for wanting to breed rabbits, which was his first entrepreneurial effort. He decided to breed rabbits in an attempt to solve the food shortage in Africa.
This desire led to the launch of all his companies including HopStop, which was a necessary solution for people living in big cities like New York with extensive public transportation systems.
It also fuelled his decision to become a principal at Constant Capital Partners Ltd, a boutique investment bank and personal investment company in West Africa.
In his words, “What I’m doing right now, in Lagos, is taking that approach and looking at the several problems that we have in Africa and specifically in Nigeria and seeing how I can apply technology to solve those problems. What we are doing at Constant Capital [a private equity firm where Echeruo is a partner and head of investments] is that we are essentially incubating a few ideas, which we think will resonate with the Nigerian marketplace to start, then evolve, then grow those businesses. I currently look at all the problems in Africa as an opportunity to leverage technology to solve them. We are working at a few companies right now to address some of those problems.”
Do not be discouraged by your failures
Echeruo is a highly successful entrepreneur right now but that was not always the case. His earliest entrepreneurial effort — breeding rabbits — definitely did not work out.
“I had read somewhere that rabbits procreated a lot, and I thought if I could create a farm to [breed] rabbits, that would solve Africa’s food problem. So I convinced my mum and was able to start with two rabbits and we built a cage and all. They ended up dying though so it was a big failure, but that was my very first effort,” he told Forbes in 2013.
His first venture fresh out of business school also failed but this did not stop him from becoming the enviable entrepreneur he is today.
“The very first venture I did right after business school was a company called Afridaq, and our goal was to create a marketplace for financial securities such as FX and money markets in Africa, but that didn’t work out quite as well. So there have been good successes and there have also been setbacks, but it’s still part of the journey,” he said.
Do not let your ego ruin your business
Despite being the founder of Hopstop.com, Echeruo decided to step aside as CEO in 2009 to make room for someone else to lead the company while he acted as chairman.
He explained that his “passion and core competencies–to create companies and solve problems–were no longer in sync with the needs of the enterprises he’d founded. What I thought, and I persuaded our board to consider, was that at that time I thought that another CEO would be better at running it going forward.
“I think that’s a decision that many entrepreneurs struggle with because usually, the company is something they’ve invested lots of money in, their personal time, lots of things go into the early stages of starting a business and to give that to a stranger is something that is very difficult to do. But from my perspective, I thought it was the best decision for the company, and I think the new CEO has done a very good job of growing the company since I left.”