The Pain And Gain From Building An Internet Company Out Of Nigeria


It has been an incredible journey starting Iconway and working with our team to grow it into a sustainable internet business over the last 3 years.

An internet company basically leverages the internet to do most of its business. Its products, revenue streams are powered by it and Iconway is one of such companies.

Doing business in Nigeria

Its a known fact that building a company is tough. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.

Add to this the fact that Nigeria is ranked 170 out of 189 economies in the World Bank 2015 ease of doing business index and you will understand why doing legitimate business here is sometimes almost impossible.

The scarcity of talent, electricity and funding makes it really hard to grow but the truth remains that starting a business is the easy part. Getting sustainable growth is the real deal.

Pursuing growth

A business that isn’t growing is dying therefore we think a lot about growth and our long-term opportunities.

We have identified talent, technology, customer obsession, innovation, speed and data as our growth pillars. I will share briefly about data and will do the others in a subsequent post.

Data has been one of our ‘success secrets’. In fact, it is the ‘D’ in our DNA. For example, our writers at Iconway Media take courses in data analytics and use it daily to shape content development.

We have picked opportunities to pursue and discontinued non-performing products based on data. They say data is the new oil. I think its worth a lot more.

Iconway = Media + Commerce

Our company is focused on media and commerce opportunities.

To us media is about channels and commerce is about transactions. Its about getting people to form daily habits around the channels we create and also facilitate transactions that help them live better.

Our mission is to remove barriers to information, communication and trade. Our portfolio is listed on our website.

So why are we doing this?

Every business is built on opportunity/market and we believe that the internet will create and enable profitable value chains now and in the future. Since electricity, there hasn’t been any invention with the ability to disrupt and drive growth like the internet.

Last week, 11 year-old Facebook surpassed 123 year-old General Electric by crossing $300Bn in market value. Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company employs 35,000 people. It didn’t exist 16 years ago. The internet creates business models and growth rates the world has never seen.

Now not every company will reach the size of Facebook or Alibaba but there will be many successful ventures both small and large scale powered by opportunities the internet makes possible.

Apart from becoming a really big business, our vision at Iconway is to be a model company. We want to break the Nigerian tradition. Many Nigerian businesses play by the wrong rules just to make profit. Poor customer service and employee welfare situations are pretty common.

We want our culture to be worth modelling. We want to be a good example of how these things should work. So yes we want to serve our people, our customers and our community.

We want to show the way at Iconway.

Oduntan Odubanjo, Founder & CEO