Learn more about the entrepreneurs selected to fundraise in VC4Africa’s June Cohort. Below we interview VC4Africa member and DEMO Africa 2012 laureate Francis Onwumere of Prowork, Nigeria’s collaborative project management solution.
Please introduce Prowork?
“Many businesses face massive loss of productivity as a result of improvising project management: collaborative project management is a genuine need of every business.
Prowork’s dashboard brings business project management and collaboration together on one platform and makes it mobile, real-time, and ubiquitous. And on top of this, we extend project management data to help give businesses insights for making better decisions.
Research firm Gartner projects enterprise software revenues will rise to $304 billion globally this year. With growing economies and better internet connectivity in emerging markets, new and existing business are embracing innovative solutions like Prowork to help save cost and improve efficiency. The industry is ready for disruption, and we are going to do just that.”
How do you look back at your participation in DEMO Africa 2012 and what milestones have you reached with Prowork since?
“DEMO Africa was of a very high standard, the 40 startups were carefully selected; these early stage companies were of high quality and made up of entrepreneurs very focused on execution. And DEMO Africa organized pitch trainings and rehearsals to make sure the pitches were well polished and articulated.
In June 2012 we launched Prowork commercially. At that time revenue and user adoption was slow, so we looked for opportunities for growth. DEMO Africa provided the perfect platform to launch Prowork to the entire world. With the event in October 2012, we crossed the 10,000 users mark with users in over 50 countries and a number of paying companies and leads.
Since then Prowork has gone ahead to win the APPS4Africa 2012 Business Challenge. Last month we joined Tech Launch Pad, an accelerator programme in Lagos organized by the Nigerian government in partnership with stakeholders in the Oil and Financial sector, to help technology businesses improve their product and market reach. We’ve also launched Prowork version 3 for Enterprise and SaaS customers, and we are working with retailers to increase our market access. We are focused on sales and conversion.”
What kind of investments are you looking for, and which milestones do you want to reach with them?
“We are looking for seed investment of $1M to help us grow cloud and enterprise adoption. With a user-base of 500,000 users, our projected revenues will be north of $2M.”
How have you financed the business to date, and what makes Prowork interesting for investors?
“Since inception we bootstrapped Prowork, and we also received seed funding from APPS4Africa to help grow the business.
The enterprise space in Africa is warming up and there’s a lot of reward in understanding the needs of customers and the market early. The Prowork team is focused on bringing the most effective project management solution to the market. Our target is to expand the team size and reach a minimum of 300 paying companies on our platform in the next 9 months.”
What was the greatest challenge you faced to date with your business, and how did you overcome this?
“Being bootstrapped forced us to be agile and to be lean thinking. We are always learning how to maximize our resources and minimize waste. Even though we, the co-founders, have worked together for 4 years now, I think bootstrapping has definitely helped us get closer and better working together.”
How do you see VC4Africa as a platform and as a community and how do you use it?
“Being part of the VC4Africa community keeps us connected with the efforts of the best startups in Africa. You get to see the trends and can evaluate whether you’re on the right path. I think this is very important, as Africa is in many ways different to the Silicon Valley startup education we usually get online. We also try to keep a close eye on the VCs and Angels on the platform, connect with them and keep them in the loop via frequent updates”
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are presently considering to apply for DEMO Africa 2013?
“Go for it! DEMO Africa is the best platform on the continent to pitch and demo your product, attract investor attention and establish expansion opportunities for growing your business across the continent.”
For more information see Prowork’s VC4Africa venture profile. Only investors registered on VC4Africa can get access to private documents and all other details of the ventures, and express their interest to invest. Inspired to launch your product in front of a global audience? Apply to be a part of DEMO Africa 2013!