Nigeria’s smartphone builder Ideacentric secures angel investment, part of US$ 200,000 seed round


VC4Africa registered venture Ideacentric Global Systems Limited received a sizeable angel investment last month, and is in talks with more investors. We had a change to catch up with Silas Okwoche, one of the entrepreneurs behind the company.

Congratulations with the investment you’ve secured! What did you secure and what are you still looking for?

“Thanks! We are thankful for the investment that has come in. We set out to raise a seed round of US$ 200,000, and the current inflow from angels we found is a great jump-start.”

The last time we interviewed you was in December 2011. What has happened in the mean time?

“We made a critical pivot from a tablet-based product to a smartphone-based product, which has given us better product-market fit. Our venture simply wants to meet the massive and growing youth-driven demand for quality mobile productivity tools encapsulated in the modern smartphone. Nigeria is currently 95% feature phone dominated, thus a wide blue ocean exist for lower-cost high-quality smart phones. Few homegrown phone companies exist. We have taken up this challenge by leveraging world-class hardware and software technology. We are have added ‘relevance’ to our design via local languages and content, desktop convergence, power optimization, cloud services etcetera. These value-additions provide uniqueness for our smartphone, which is called Nerve, and boost our profitability.

We have grown our team, developed market ready prototypes of the phone and have solidly connected our manufacturing and product-supply end via global original equipment manufacturer partnerships. Next, we are priming the demand to come our way via partnership with our telecom carriers… We are this close to a deal with a major carrier!” 

What do you hope to achieve with Ideacentric in the long run? And what will happen the coming time that we can look out for?

“Our prime motivation is to unlock the innovative spirit of Africa by making apt information age tools more available and more relevant. So, in the immediate future (Q4 2013) the Nerve smartphones & accessories will be rolling out along with our content store & ad network, then our tablet, M2M devices & local assembly plant will debut next year along with other mobile enterprise solutions.”

How did you find your investors to date, and what would you recommend to other entrepreneurs in and outside the VC4Africa community?

“So far we have found our investors via our team’s personal networks and through LoftyInc and WennovationHub. My recommendation to other entrepreneurs is to look deep into you and your team’s friends and family, and then build strong relationships with local incubators and hubs. Investors first look to see great quality in people behind great ideas, thus it makes things a little easier in the very early stage if you are talking to investors that fairly know you, your passion & your capabilities.”

What makes Ideacentric interesting for investors?    

“I believe Ideacentric is interesting to investors because its obvious to them that we have figured out product-market fit with our upcoming convergence smartphones plus accessories that combine a unique business model and an interesting angle on local content distribution,

Ideacentric is about creating products that inspire generations to innovate! We believe that the future will belong to those that can create and use technology to solve the significant problems people face today and will face tomorrow.”

What are Ideacentric’s unique selling points?

“Ideacentric’s products, i.e. the Nerve devices, are unique because they will enable current feature phone users to switch to an affordable consummate smartphone with desktop convergence and high local relevance, local apps pre-installed, and with access to more content.

Ideacentric as a company is unique because of the purity of our inspiration drawn from Africa; hence our products are not pushed on the continent but rather created by the aspiration of its people. We are driven to get Africa into the deeper end of technology creation that solves today’s and tomorrow’s problems.”

How do you see VC4Africa as a platform and as a community and how do you use it?

“Before VC4Africa there was no good unified continental platform for connecting investors with entrepreneurs, the community has been a great addition to the African startup scene and it has helped Ideacentric gain a bigger picture on what it takes to grow a startup to something great, for instance just applying to get into the 1st VC4A Cohort funding round helped us refine our business plan and made our company better.”

You also presented at the Angel Fair event in Johannesburg last week, how did that go?

“The Angel Fair event was great, the organization was superb & we totally benefited from the pitch masterclass and subsequent peer networking sessions. Ideacentric Co-founder/COO Dimeji Obimakinde made our business pitch to a grand collection of continental angel investors and VCs. Thereafter, we received great interest both from individual/institutional investors for our Series A US$3m round of funding and from fellow entrepreneurs in other African countries that have found synergy with the Nerve smartphone such that we can co-develop solutions for their market in the coming months. All in all, it was an awesome time and it was great meeting teams from Extreme Design & Engineering – Senegal, Clark Impressions – Ghana, and several other amazing people, including Mr Dotun Sulaiman & Mr Alpesh Patel. Big thanks to the Angel Fair Founders – ArtLogic, Jamie Clyde & Eric Osiakwan – for putting the Angel Fair 2013 together, and also the Lagos Angel Network for our nomination!”

Check out My Ideacentric’s VC4Africa venture profile for more info. Only investors registered on VC4Africa can get access to private documents and all other details of the ventures, and express their interest to invest.