Our featured VIP blogger for this week is Sanusi Ismaila and he'll be sharing on his knowledge of Nigerian tech experts and what he calls "the Tony Stark complex" which they all possess:
Over the weekend, I got on the phone with one of my friends from high school, a techie’s techie currently with one of the biggest tech companies globally right now and after chitchatting for a bit, we obviously discussed tech globally and Nigerian tech specifically. During the course of our gist, he highlighted something, which I’d thought only I noticed with some Nigerian techies. I don’t know if it’s a much wider phenomenon because I haven’t interacted enough with other African techies (shame on me) to have an opinion, but some of them do have it as well.
I’d call it the Tony Stark complex, because in some respects, it reminds me of the character of the Iron Man, when he's not in the suit.
After the convo, I made a mental note to write a light-hearted post about the Tony Stark Complex, and how to spot someone who has it.
They Proposition themselves as the sole authority and Go-to individual on Nigerian Tech: Ever met a Nigerian techie who doesn’t know that you have an idea of how the Nigerian tech ecosystem works? They regal you with stories of how they were instrumental to some or all of the success stories in the Nigerian tech space. “Oh, that startup? I got them their funding”, Oh this dude? I set up the meeting with foreign media that led to their success. Oh this company? I wrote their strategy and gave them the advice that saved their lives.
Their ideas and opinions on every tech story or trend is bulletproof: Regardless of how knowledgeable you are on a subject, or how dumb the idea they are trying to sell to you is, they always claim to have special insight you can’t seem to see or comprehend. After all, you are a mere mortal and they are techies that see beyond the curve. Their belief usually hold, till some popular international techie proves otherwise, and then they change their mantra.
They disrupt everything…in theory: Doesn’t matter if it needs disrupting or not, E.g
Tony Stark: Internet is expensive; we’re going to disrupt it.
Average Joe: But have you considered why Internet is expensive in the first place?
Tony Stark: The providers are greedy, I will teach them a lesson and disrupt them.
Funding isn’t a means, but an end: They typically focus on getting funding, at least that’s where discussions with them tend to end up when you try to find out how they plan to make money. It’s rarely ever about how to build self sustaining products, but how to create the illusion of growth to generate funds and when you press further on what would happen when the funding comes, such questions are usually answered with the word "scale." In fact, if you get them excited enough, you might hear the word "hammer" used in place of funding sometimes.
They love Techcrunch and study Crunchbase like an academic textbook: I really don’t know why this is, but maybe because the former is a great place to learn buzzwords and the latter is awesome for finding ideas to recreate. In any case, they tend to swear by Techcrunch.
They usually don’t do any of the grunt “techie" work on their startups: This doesn’t happen in all cases, but in a lot of cases, there is usually someone else doing the grunt work. Someone else maybe some software company in India or Ukraine by the way. If you ask them for technical details you probably will just be taking around in circles, punctuated with buzzwords.
They love the Media and Attention: In typical Tony Stark fashion they love the media and grab every opportunity to they can to get in front of a camera, probably because it helps reinforce number 1 above (the proposition that the tech ecosystem revolves around them).
They swear a lot: F-Bombs are the new </> it seems and are used prominently…always. Unnecessarily too, well because they are Tony Starks Gaddemit! So their interactions on social media, blog entries and comments are riddled with curse words.
Their ideas never fail: Like seriously, failure is not in their lexicon. So their ideas/startups never fail. They just retire into stealth mode. While they jump on the next “big idea”.
Their Products/Startups are forever in Stealth Mode: Like you hear a lot of noise and hype about the upcoming product or startup and why it’s the best thing since hot puff puff, but you never get to see the result or get better details because they are in stealth mode “putting finishing touches”.
Disclaimer: No Techies were harmed in the making of this and any real life semblances are purely coincidental