Making the Leap: NYC 🇺🇸 Consulting to African Startups — Efayomi Carr
That 1st leap of faith, really is the most challenging — Efayomi Carr
One of the (many) reasons I’m so excited about the African startup ecosystem is the sheer volume of diaspora who’ve come back with deep skills, experience at global organisations, and worldwide networks to be a part of the tech revolution happening at home — and as a result — really injecting a bit of nitro into the already fast and furious engine powering the rise of African startups.
This week I had the chance to catch up with Efayomi who’s passion for transforming the continent — and, thoughtfully, allowing the continent to transform him, has always been inspirational. I know his story has already inspired so many to join him on this path and if you’re someone thinking about taking the leap to African startups I hope it inspires you too.
Oh also! If you’re thinking about making the leap into African startups as well, it would really mean a lot if you could share 8 minutes with us to help us with this survey — We’d LOVE 💗 to find out more about who’s out there looking to jump into the scene http://bit.ly/VFAsurvey1
Just Dive In
Efayomi and I both had the good fortune of having our 1st sprint year in Africa eased in with being transferred by the same firm we were in before. In his case, a transfer with BCG from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria 🇳🇬 .
He wanted to begin by seeing if he could add value through the BCG mechanism to Africa, with a resounding yes, he then began to explore opportunities to stay for a bit longer.
I see this loads with guys wanting to make the jump, and while it’s well and good to browse roles on all the awesome portals out there, you always find the coolest of things — and where you fit in them by just getting on that plane and coming on over.
Lots of Coffees ☕️
I think a question Efayomi was very intentional about mapping was.
“Yes I want to move back, but what can I do? And who should I do this with?”
He was pretty clear that while his 1st focus was towards roles in Private Equity and Venture Capital (I mean, they are pretty sexy roles), after methodically going through friends, friends of friends, colleagues, family, networks from the US and in Nigeria — having conversation after conversation, coffee after coffee, mapping out all the possible roles out there, and where’d hit fit in, he ran into some he knew that said, “Hey, have you taken a look at Jumia?” — and the rest, is history.
Again supporting the “Just Dive In” 🏊♀️ case, there’s so much opacity in the initiatives being explored, startups being created, opportunities out there in the African startup ecosystem that you’ve really got to be on the ground, speaking to people to really get a better feel for things.
Almost 50% of all the guys I know who’ve come to the continent looking to get involved have shared very similar stories of conversation after conversation filling in a picture of what’s out there.
Being in Charge + Charting your Own Path
“My experience at BCG vs Jumia couldn’t have been more dramatically different.” — Efayomi Carr
One of the coolest things about startup life is the unlimited possibility, but of course, that always come with uncertainty and — often — regular failure.
While at BCG, Efayomi was a junior member of a larger team, an individual contributor (I think some would say “Cog” ⚙️ ) but immediately at Jumia Nigeria, as Head of Marketplace, he was the manager of a large unit with account managers, dispatch teams and reported straight to the CEO.
The role and the span of control sure delivered him a ton of learning, but so much of it was self driven, “What your role is 6 months from now, in an early stage startup, is in many ways up to you to decide”. There’s no set promotion path, no learning manager there to guide you along the way, you really are master of your own destiny — for better or for worse.
“My future is in my own hands, it is up to me to explore and experience” — Efayomi Carr
Not part of plan but a plan to inform a plan 🗺
Reflecting on where he is now, back at Kenyan logistics Startup Lori after a run with Quona Capital. Efayomi shares that “I’m happy with how things have turned out but wouldn’t have been able to predict this.”
What struck me was how considered he was over thinking through each experience as informing him and giving him more and more perspectives over what he’s good at, what he enjoys, where he can have the most impact. Through our conversation he made decision after decision based on the learning experience it would deliver.
He wasn’t so much following a plan as making sure that he was continually gathering data points to help him form a plan.
That Scary Leap
There’s a lot of perceived risk and trepidation about taking that leap, from corporate to startup, from western markets to emerging markets. But the experience you will have is invaluable, and will be instrumental in shaping you and personal life.” — Efayomi Carr
Efayomi and I were both scared that this “deviation” into African startups would make it challenging for us to return to a job in corporate or in developed markets.
For him it’s proved the complete opposite, the finance firms he’s interviewed with have actually put him above other candidates because not many others have had either Africa or Startup experience, Efayomi had both.
His advice to those thinking of taking the plunge is that the fear of not being able to return is overblown — there are a ton of opportunities to “come back” — but the amount of experience and perspective you’ll gain will really be irreplaceable for the rest of your career.
And especially to guys and girls early on in their career, who have more flexibility in their journeys, “Take the plunge, the risk is not as scary or as deep as you might think they are, the upside is way higher than the downside”
Thanks for reading so far! Before you go though! I do have a small favour, me and a few other guys are keen to find out more about your own thoughts about kicking off a career in African Startups so if you’ve got 8 minutes we would LOVE YOU if you could help us with the survey below and please do forward it to friends that are also maybe considering taking the plunge.
Survey — Diving into African Startups — Enabler and Barriers — http://bit.ly/VFAsurvey1