EP 83 // Angel Investor Tomi Davies' Focus on Find, Fund & Follow

Ep 83- Tomi Davies

If you're interested in learning about a framework that can bring your vision, business, or startup to life, you don't want to miss this episode. It is jam-packed with actionable advice from Tomi Davie (T.D.), who was named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2021 by New African Magazine. 

Harry ‘Tomi Davies (TD) is Collaborator-in-Chief (CiC)’ at TVC Labs, an entrepreneurship support organization in Lagos, Nigeria which he founded. TD is the co-founder of the Lagos Angel Network (LAN), founding President of the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), and Board Member of the Global Business Angels Network (GBAN).

His personal goal is simple to ‘Find, Fund & Follow’ African startup founders that are using technology-enabled innovation to create economic value and social impact on the continent. In December 2021, TD was named as one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans of 2021’ by New African Magazine.

T.D.'s mission in life is to find, fund, and follow. He is an angel investor, author, public speaker, and a systems analyst turned tech strategy advisor. He is the founder and Collaborator-in-Chief of TDC Labs, an entrepreneur support organization in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Akua and T.D. discuss his newest book, Investment Worthy Startup, which he wrote to help founders and investors build successful startups. 

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What's Covered in this Episode About Startup Investment

  • T.D. explains why supporting innovative startups creates both economic value and social impact. 
  • Learn about the POEM framework to build a startup, which consists of Proposition, Organisation, Economics, and Milestones.
  • Learn the three key differences between startups and SMEs.
  • Founders - find out what angel investors are listening for when you pitch them and how to present yourself in the process.
  • Realize that your team doesn't all start in the same place, even though you're all aiming for the same goal. Each member needs something different to achieve the end goal. It's your job to find an aggregate place to meet before you start your journey, so you can all go farther together.

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Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  •  "My mission, my personal goal in life is to find, fund and follow." - TD Davies 
  • "You have a stock of vision, and it's really a star of vision, then the poem brings it to life." - TD Davies
  • "I must know my customers better than they know themselves." - TD Davies
  • "You need to understand your customers enough to know what they value." - TD Davies

Mentioned in Angel Investor Tomi Davies' Focus on Find, Fund & Follow

Get to Know this Episode's Guest

Harry ‘Tomi Davies (TD) is Collaborator-in-Chief (CiC)’ at TVC Labs, an entrepreneurship support organization in Lagos, Nigeria which he founded. TD is the co-founder of the Lagos Angel Network (LAN), founding President of the African Business Angel Network (ABAN) and Board Member of the Global Business Angels Network (GBAN). His personal goal is simple to ‘Find, Fund & Follow,’ African startup founders that are using technology-enabled innovation to create economic value and social impact on the continent. In December 2021, TD was named as one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans of 2021’ by New African Magazine. Order his books here

Website: www.tomidavies.com
Twitter: @TomiDee 
LinkedIn: @TomiDee

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 83 about Angel Investing

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 This week, I am so excited to bring you someone who was named one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2021. By new African magazine, his mission, his personal goal in life is to find, fund and follow. This week's guest is an incredible an integral piece of the African startup scene. If you're interested in learning about a framework that can bring your vision, your business or your startup to life, keep listening. Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea yami Mensa I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I served over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more done. Let's tune into this week's episode. I am so excited today because I have a legend on my podcast. TD welcome. Unknown Speaker 02:14 Thank you. Thank you very much, much appreciate it. Akua Nyame-Mensah 02:18 And to start us off, what I'm doing with my guests this year is asking them to share an accomplishment, something that they're proud of. So TD Can you tell us? What are you excited about? What are you proud of so far this year? Unknown Speaker 02:30 Oh, wow, what I'm most proud of? Oh, that's easy. My grandson's turning five. Yay. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, his younger brother's three, but just the fact of having a grandson that you can have a conversation with, is phenomenal to me. It's just something to me, that's mind blowing. fact that, you know, just because my daughter's son, not even my daughter. Yeah, my daughter is quite brilliant. And growing up was amazing. But having her child being able to have a conversation, and he's asking questions, like Why you go into that particular country? And what are the people like, I'm like, fascinated, you know, to me, that is is the business. Akua Nyame-Mensah 03:14 I love that. I love it. And I love that you have the time and the space also to engage with your grandchildren as well. Because I know for a lot of entrepreneurs, sometimes there is sort of that that tension between building a business trying to fundraise and then creating space for family as well. Unknown Speaker 03:31 Yes. But as a human being, you've got to get your work life balance, right? Yes. Yeah, that's fundamental Akua Nyame-Mensah 03:39 and credible. And hopefully later on in the conversation, we can actually get to your thoughts on on how to do that if we have the time. But what I'd love to do is give you an opportunity to introduce yourself, who is TD, and I'm also really excited to get to talk a bit about your book. But before we get to the book, who is TD Unknown Speaker 04:00 who? Well, who is TD? That's an excellent question. First and foremost. I am a Yoruba man out of Lagos, Nigeria. Yes, I was born in England. I currently am and have been for a while the collaborator in chief, okay, at TVC Labs, which is an intrapreneur support organisation that works with tech enabled innovation in Lagos, Nigeria, which I founded in 1999. I am the founding president of the Africa Business Angel Network, and I'm a board member of the Global Business Angel Network. My background is in tech, so that has influenced and shaped my thinking a lot because I do believe that Humans are using technology to build a better life for humankind. And I believe that innovative African startup founders that are using technology are using it to build a better Africa. Yes. I also very firmly believe that supporting innovative startups not only creates economic value, but also social impact. People like myself who run innovation hubs and have angel groups, business angel groups are a critical resource to these founders and the startups growth. And finally, you know, my assertion is that international support, when it is locally led, actually accelerates that ecosystem development process I just talked about with that. I therefore have, you know, my background, as it says, in technology, I've spent sort of the last couple of decades as an angel investor across the continent helping Angel local investors, and some of the founders themselves understand the fundamental difference between SMEs, yes, which everybody loves, and are a fundamental part of our economy. My wife runs a couple of SMEs, herself, and startups, which are explosive growth, innovative commercial enterprises, and you know, sort of helping people understand when they have one on their hands. And unfortunately, when they do, and that's what's informed a lot of my thinking over the years, I got a personal portfolio, I think I've done something like about 4849 investments. But wow, my current portfolio is about 2025 26, odd active and when I say active, that means in the last three years, they received funding from somebody. Akua Nyame-Mensah 06:53 Wow. Yes, thank you. Thank you so much for that TD and I feel like you're already hitting a lot of the topics I wanted us actually to cover within this episode. But before we get to that, I also just wanted to share TD also just released, I believe this is your second book. Correct. Unknown Speaker 07:10 This is my second single author where I put myself, but it's my fourth because prior to my to those two I had co authored My first book was co authored with my colleagues from the University of Miami, it was called Corporate bold. That was in 2010, or something like that. That was followed with a book I co authored with Brad Tracy called cracking the success code, which was a couple of years after that. And in 2014. Yeah, by nine years ago, I wrote my first single authored book, the African project manager. And, yeah, on the eighth of February this year, I've published investment where the shorter Akua Nyame-Mensah 07:56 Yes, yes, yes, yes. And I'm really excited. And this is something actually we were discussing before starting to record, I've actually had the privilege of hearing TD share the framework behind the investment where the startup and before we started recording, you also let me know that sort of this, this framework, this approach, this thought process is over 10 years old, that you've written over 18 articles about this. So why was now the right time to put this book together and share I think this amazing framework with the rest of the world, Unknown Speaker 08:32 very simple. Title repeating myself. I'm sorry, longer hard about it, when they say you sound like a broken record. But truth be told, the framework has evolved. Just a little bit of background, please. During the.com bubble of the 1990s, I had the privilege of being the chief operating officer for the Ernst and Young incubator called Future wealth.co.uk. And that's where I got the startup bug. Okay. And that's where that's where the thinking on the framework actually started was, you know, what are the things because, you know, we've got all kinds of business books based on business theories, but how do you deal with explosive growth? How do you deal with unfulfillable demand? What happens when customers want to pay you to become your customers rather than you pay them to acquire? Hmm, these are challenges I've seen startups to have. So it was in answering those questions. And then you know, you answer it for one set of founders, you find out three years later, another set of founders are having the same challenge and they're totally oblivious of what had happened prior to others. classic, simple case. You know, now when we talk about corporate governance, why don't you You forgot to incorporate in Delaware? Yes, one because you have you have to have a corporate governance structure in place. And you have to report on taxation and all the other things. But why would you not do Delaware? Well, there are implications for your investors around taxation, etc. There are these things we've come to accept and take as standard. That is pure new knowledge to other people. And after 20 years of repeating myself, 10 years of putting it in writing, and slight wear and SlideShare. Yes, different videos, you know, one of my friends, I have to give him a shout out, hey, shout out to you. If you ever listen to this, Peter bad call a professor at Penn Atlantic University, good friend of mine says TD just put it in a book. So COVID came calling, we all got locked up. What do you do with your time? Hey, write a book. And here we go. Akua Nyame-Mensah 10:56 Love it. I absolutely love that story. And I think let's actually start at the beginning, you already alluded to this, and you mentioned that your wife has several m s es. And sorry, SMEs, what is the difference? Right? Because I think this is something that a lot of you know, founders or potential founders, or people interested in building businesses get wrong. And I know in your book, that's actually kind of where you start defining the difference between the two. So yeah, can you just share really quickly? What's the difference? Unknown Speaker 11:25 It's, let's call it businesses are built based on a formula. Okay. What do you mean by for? Well, last I checked, I don't have any business that doesn't have a customer. Right? Okay. And the customers actually pay for a product or service. Right? Right. So that's, that's what makes any business you that we agree that that's a fundamental structure of any business, whether it's SME, corporate, whatever, whatever, wherever you have customers, you provide them with a product or service, they give you money. And that's why we call it a business. Right? Right. Whether you make money or you don't your nonprofit and all those nuances, I just wanted to look at the basic that basic structure now, an SME, the equivalent of an SME, if you think of a restaurant, okay, is a set menu, you can have a or b or c. So you can be a hotel, if your hotel, that means you take this number of people, you have this capacity. Are you want to be a petrol station? Oh, no, no, you want to be a school already. What, you know, there are predefined set pieces, and therefore they have what we call a risk profile that banks understand. So they are bankable. Uh huh. Do you get my point now? Yes. If I'm starting at SME, and I do my business plan well enough, and do the research, I can go to a bank, and I can get a commercial loan. Why? Because they know the risk profile. So that's, let's talk that there. Okay. It just stays right. Mister startup. What's your startup about? Oh, we're gonna flip burgers do this do this. Yeah, but what does it does? It does this? Well, it's a bit like Facebook, but it's not really Facebook. It's a bit like Uber, but it's not really, you know, it's like, but not quite why cuz it's innovation of people haven't done it before. Nobody's really done what I'm about to do before. So I really can't explain it to you in other terms, until you see it. So that's sort of a first thing is the innovation. Okay, what that means is you don't have a risk profile that the bank is can say, Okay, this is what you've done. It means therefore, that your funding profile, how you get money to run your business is different. That's why angel investors and venture capital exists. So that's sort of the first part is the funding. The second why do they fund it is because they know to expect what we call explosive growth. I have, for example, one of my startups, okay, in Nigeria, multiple month, when you compare the revenue they made last month to the revenue they're making this month, there's an increase of about 14%. Okay, and that increase has been there for the last 16 months. Wow. Now, that's what we mean by explosive growth. What does that therefore imply it means you got to bring on more people, a government, you've got to raise more money to meet the demand, etc, etc. So there's a whole framework of what you need to keep your fingers on as a dashboard to be sure that you're growing into the corporate you want to be in the future. So that's the second part is our explosive growth rate. Okay, so the first is uncharted territory. The second is explosive growth rate. And the third and final is from the Stephen Covey school that says Begin with the end in mind. Because of the funding model, you're going to be asked about exit If I'm building a hotel, I'm not going to tell you 10 years from now I'm going to sell the hotel. If I've been there a restaurant, I'm not telling you I'm building this restaurant so I can sell it also like, Do you get my point? Yeah, there's a concept of perpetuity in standard business practice. So you build a business, it's like supposed to run forever, your hand it to your children, or your children and into the next generation, most startups will start off because you're taking this third party funding to develop it. The third party funding is giving it to you with an expectation of returns, that will happen within a fixed window. Typically, we talk about five to seven years on the continent. I tell people that seven to 10. Okay, I, for example, had a startup. Okay. When we started, I put in $5,000. At exit, I got $250,000. Wow. However, it took 18 years. Okay, so it's patient capital. That's the final part. I trust. That helps. Akua Nyame-Mensah 16:03 Definitely, definitely. And I think a lot of our audience, and I think a lot of once again, people who are interested in you know, being a startup founder, building a startup are definitely going to benefit from hearing that breakdown. Because I think it's something that so many individuals don't necessarily understand. And I've been involved in several, you know, accelerators, programmes for startups, where they don't do a good job of, you know, helping filter out businesses based on some of those pillars that you described. So let's, let's talk a bit about you know, your framework, right, so now we know the difference between an SME and a startup. So let's say it's a startup tell us a little bit about the key elements that all startups should consider, especially those on the continent. Okay, Unknown Speaker 16:50 why Sasol eyebrow Careca does you know it off hard, but Akua Nyame-Mensah 16:57 looking at it right now. Unknown Speaker 16:58 Okay. Now, all I say is, look, first of all, if you have a stock of vision, and it's really a star of vision, then the poem brings it to life. What is poem? Well, poem says that you have a proposition that is delivered by an organisation. And that delivery is measured by the economics over milestones or in time, that's all poem stands for Proposition organisation, economics of milestones. Let me see if I can break that down a bit further. The first to make up your business. The other two are just measurements. Okay. So let's, let's look at the first two, we said you got a vision. All right. So that vision will be about a proposition but what is the proposition? The proposition? Okay, actually starts with the market will say which market are you in? You can never be bigger than your market. And I hear a lot of people are wearing Africa market, then I say, okay, which are the 55 jurisdictions? Where in Africa says yeah, okay, fine. Is it which region of Africa which country, you know, why? Because the market defines the regulatory environment and compliance you have your you have to deal with, it defines your competition. Okay. It has its own trends that underlie whether your market is in growth or decline. But most significantly, it encapsulates the next pillar, which is who are your customers in that market? Are you with me? Akua Nyame-Mensah 18:32 I'm with you. And you know, I'm just looking at the notes I have. And I find, and I'd be curious to hear your perspective on this. But I found that I had the most highlights, actually, Within chapter four, which is understand your customer and chapter five, have a valuable product service offer, because I feel that's where a lot of founders on the continent tend to get it wrong. I'd love to hear your perspective on that. Unknown Speaker 18:52 tastic. Because you see, that's why you start with market because your market defines your customers. Yes. With the customers. The first thing you want to know, apart from the traditional, everybody knows about demographics and customer profiling. What I say is what's the psychographics why are people consuming your product or service category? That insight that understanding is going to stand you well? What are those profiles? And what are the acquisition mechanisms for those profiles, because you see the acquisition costs and the lifetime value of your customers is going to ultimately define the profitability of your enterprise. So it behoves you to understand for each profile, what exactly those indicators are, it is that understanding that insight of demographics psychographics are Behold, behavioural patterns off that customer base that will then enable and inform the next pillar, which is your product design and development and distribution and pricing. So understand In the market and the customers in it enable me to design a product to offer to those customers in that market at a significantly profitable, yes, an acceptable way. Why? Because I know affordability, I can understand psychological psychology of purchase, and cetera, et cetera, I could go on and on and on. But if you hang on to, I must know my customers better than they know themselves and to stage right next to Steve Jobs, you start to get the point I'm making. I'm not talking of just customer centricity, I am talking of actually, the fact that understanding the rest on debt for your product service offering to those customers in that market is what is going to ignite your sales and accelerate your growth. The explosive growth I was talking about. Please note, I have not talked about any mechanism of engagement yet. This is purely from an understanding and design standpoint, I've, I've been speaking. Now, however, I have talked about the fact that your proposition is that offer of a product or service to an identified customer base in a specified market? Where agreed, so you now know that? So the next question is, who's going to deliver it? And that's where the organisation comes in. The organisation is a specific construct of people using processes that are enhanced by technology to deliver the proposition so that the gets the question, Who are the people? Who owns the company? Who are the executives that run the company? Who are the employees that are going to work for the company? And who are the partners that the company is going to work with to deliver that proposition? Once we know that the question then becomes how do they get things done? What kind of governance structure what strategy? Okay, what processes? What plans? What procedures will they use to get things done? In terms of delivering the proposition? Then finally, once we know that the question, were then in a position to define what we need from the technology, knowing that the default of the world today is what we call the Cloud Mobile architecture? How will your processes work with the app store? What happens with the cloud back end? And the security in between? What kind of user experience are we talking about delivering that complements the product service offering in a way that ensures sustainability? Once you've understood that, you then have a full picture of how the business will work? Why? Because I know the proposition I know the organisation. So now the question becomes the last two, so it's recognising that one capital is required. What level of capital? Well, it starts with the founders themselves, the family, the friends and some say fans and some safe foods I love. Yeah, that's first money in and when people like myself come in as we're looking at that and saying, Okay, your dad gave you five grand? What did you do with it? Your aunt gave you two grand? What did you do with it? Your best friend gave you 14 grand? Your best friend? How did you spend it? Because that's gonna determine the kind of returns and Angel can expect. I'm that measure of capital is sort of the first measure. And with capital, it's about utility, how you use capital to create value. That's what's been measured. What how much capital Have you raised? If you've only raised 20 grand, and you're generating 100 grand, and somebody's raised 100 grand, and they're generating 100 grand, you see, you're gonna come across as 100 100 grand revenue startups, that's what the outside world is going to see. But in our model, we say, Okay, how much capital did they use to get there? Yes, yes, you get the picture. Yeah. Right. So that takes us to how you deploy your capital, which is really what we call expenses. Okay, because you deploy capital expenses. Why do you deploy it as expenses is because there's an expectation of returning revenue, you deploy expenses to generate revenue, and create impacts. So what we then measure that backdrop of expenses to revenue is profitability. And typically at the early stages, it's a question of when do you get to break even where you're making as much as you're spending? But beyond breakeven, there's a return of capital, or why you're doing all of this. The question becomes, how many jobs have you created? How many women are you employing? How much poverty are you alleviating? What are you doing about the environment? So the impact measures also kick in? And that is what we talk about the economics of you your startup, okay? The capital, the profitability and the impact, define your economics. So that's the first measure. It's a measure of money and impact. The final and the ultimate arbiter is time. And it is recognising that startups are on a fundraising journey, whether they like it or not. If you tell me or a startup, I can't talk to me about how you get to Series A, then you're probably not a startup. Does everybody, every startup have to raise Series A? Well, with all due respect, that's how we define them. So you start with what we call the minimum viable product. To me, that's the beginning of the journey. Why is it the beginning of the journey, because on tianma customer, you don't have a business. Or your MVP gets you, your first customer. So that's why that is ground zero. And if you look at the startup curve, where we talk about the hockey stick, the bottom of the pyramid, before you start going upwards, that zero is when you start making revenue. So that's the MVP point. That's why it's important, that's when to me, the journey really starts, then we talk about product market fit, which is where, you know, you've got an established customer base that you know, what I can't do without your product. And they represent at least 20% of your customer base. So you got repeat customers, then you go to what we call product channel fit. And ultimately, it is the Series A, B, C, but they're all fundraising. And like I said earlier, what do we talk about in fundraising? What did you do with the last capital you raised? Yes, because that's gonna give me a clear indication of where you're going to do with my money when you get it. And that's why it's a journey. And those are the milestones as you traverse as you go on the nerves on the journey. So we started with your vision, we talked about the fact that it's a proposition to a market that's delivered by an organisation, we've covered the economics that measures it. We've talked about the journey that economics is measuring as you go along. I trust that helps. Akua Nyame-Mensah 27:04 I know I love it. Absolutely love it. Thank you so much for sharing that. And those of you who are listening, we are just, you know, barely scratching the surface. I think that TD and the book does an amazing job of breaking down all of these elements. And I love TV. I love that you include questions that, you know, founders can reflect on that founders need to keep in mind that investors might ask I find it just incredibly actionable. And you know, just just so practical, something that every founder definitely on the continent needs to pick up and take a look at. You know, I'd love your perspective on this. And I mentioned that I have a perspective based on the founders. I've supported in sort of organisations, I've been a part of related to startups. But where do you see most entrepreneurs get it wrong in relation to the framework that you just outlined for us? Well, it's in Unknown Speaker 27:55 sequence, most nine out of 10 entrepreneurs I meet when I say tell me about yourself on Tinder Biostar. They go into product design and product affiliation. In our Oh, you know, product, we have this doohickey that does this. And you know, this guy is going to, and then just as they get into the end, they say, oh, yeah, by the way, we've got my co founder is this person or, you know, and that's where they get it wrong. The way you present yourself, as a startup will will change over time as you mature. But you need to know this, at the very beginning, notice respect, you may have the best ideas since sliced bread, guess what is just a multiplier for execution. So what a savvy investor is listening for, is why you are the best person to execute. And that's where most early stage people get it wrong. They don't spend the time to demonstrate an understanding of the market enough to be able to overcome challenges in design, they deep dive into the functionality of the product and how it solves the Akua Nyame-Mensah 29:03 problem. I love that. So taking that step back. And you know, just following right following the process following this framework that you've outlined. And I love how you've also really focused on right. It's also the people. So their story. And I know early on in the book, you actually highlight a few Nigerian entrepreneurs you think do a great job of this. And you have an entire chapter dedicated to building a great team. And one of the things you put in here is that you can't do everything but your startup can't do everything by itself. So beyond making sure that you have the right team, making sure you have the right partners as well. When you start getting through parts of your framework. Unknown Speaker 29:42 Well, you say as an active stakeholder in the African startup ecosystem, I value intellect. I don't suffer fools gladly. I believe it in innovation. Yes, you've done it, but it can be done better. I highly, highly respect independence of thought, backed by data by come from Africa and in Africa, we say you want to go fast go alone, you want to go far go together. Collaboration is how we're going to get there. That is why my formal title is collaborating chief. Yeah. or above all of these four, if you don't have integrity, everything else is meaningless. those core values, our to me are critical. I trust that helps. Akua Nyame-Mensah 30:30 Definitely. And, you know, as I was, you know, talking to you before we started, the first thing, right, I work with the leaders that I support is around cultivating their self awareness. And a key component of that is understanding your values. And also getting clear on whether or not that's actually how you're showing up, right? Are you just saying it for saying its sake? Or is this truly, you know, how you're coming across? And you know, that's also a Rican start talking about executive presence, or, you know, leadership presence or professional presence, right? This? These are things right, this is something that's going to come across to people who potentially want to invest in Unknown Speaker 31:03 you as well. That's it. That is spot on. Akua Nyame-Mensah 31:07 And I think, you know, we actually, we touched on this before we recorded we started recording, but I did want to give you an opportunity to talk a little bit more about this. Because having the right team, right, building a great team is a part of the process. But you share a little bit about how you found your initial team members. You talk about cold outreach, and you also shared before we start recording a bit about how you manage all of that. Can you share a little bit more about how you found the right people and how you currently manage them virtually? Unknown Speaker 31:35 Well, for me, it's about value alignment. A lot of people say, Oh, TD for somebody, so Oh, the other team was so young, how do they call? I've run a virtual team and a virtual organisation for nearly two decades. Akua Nyame-Mensah 31:50 Yes. Unknown Speaker 31:51 And a lot of people know me, you know, in fact, there was a time my wife said, stop telling people you live in the UK, just tell him you live on a plane, because you come over to change suitcases. Now, the thing being, you know, it's about how people buy into the vision. Because remember, I said starts with the vision. Yeah, if people can't see themselves in your vision, then they're not going to come along. But when people see themselves in your vision, they take ownership for that, for that for bringing that vision to life, in terms of their own lives. And that is what I've always tried to do with any any of my organisations is to be sure that what the core vision is something people buy into, if you can't, if you're you know, and it's not for everybody, this is what I try, not everybody's going to buy into what you're trying to do. Some people will be violently oppose, it doesn't mean they're right, or you're wrong. You're right. And they're wrong. It just means that's how it is. That's the reality of the world. We can't all agree on everything. So in terms of team selection, is it is about vision, Okay, forget, you know, what come to execution is about ability. But first, if you haven't even, you know, let me I like metaphors or practical examples, right? We're both you're in our crime in Lagos, right? Let's say we both we both say, Oh, we want to travel. Can you see that? Our travel arrangements, if you are coming to Lagos and I to our crowd be different to if we're both going to the United States? Yeah, I will be totally different yet. Again, if we're both going to Australia, and it's about that I agree. Where are we going? Because first of all, we're not starting from the same place. We may agree and say, You know what, since we're both going to New York, why don't we take Emirates or we'll meet in Dubai? That's what people don't do. Everybody just assumes, Okay, guess what? We're going to New York. Nobody asks, Where are you starting from? Akua Nyame-Mensah 33:47 Yes. I love this. Yes, yes. Yes. Unknown Speaker 33:50 So that's the challenge. And it's about, okay, I can buy into going into New York, I buy your vision. But I happen to be an outcrop my visa requirements are different from somebody who's sitting in London, we're all going to New York, we've all agreed we're going to take Emirates, which means we'll meet in Dubai for days, but I've got to do this, he's got to do that. etc. So it's that how you bring people together to go on the journey. You've got to have that aggregation point is what I wanted to bring back. What is that aggregate What is your Dubai? Okay, that makes sure we're now all on the same plane heading in the same direction. Because when we start we don't start from the same place. Some people will already have winter coats so they don't need it. Others will have to buy winter coats because they don't have it. That's where you call capacity development training. Akua Nyame-Mensah 34:44 I absolutely love this metaphor. I think it's such a great metaphor. Unknown Speaker 34:47 I love you know, the travel industry and planes give because it's the same one I use when we talk about customers because I think the airlines have the best metaphor. Well, you know for customer service. What I mean by that we're all on the same plane. But you pay 10 times more than I do. So you get first class. Yeah. Okay, that guy pays half as much as you. So they go to business, I pay the cheapest. So I go to the economy, but we're all on the same plane. So it's the same underlying service. But the functions and features are different. And that's why today you have the freemium premium concepts, the economy, guys can get it, you know, they get the plastic wrappers, the guys in first class, get the silverware and champagne. What that does is it means if I do this AM, I might be able to afford first class and decide to go economy, or I may even go and borrow money to travel first class experience design is what your product is about, I have to understand the value of the experience to the customer. Because that's what they're paying for, not what you think, is the value they place on that experience that your product or service offers them. That's what they pay for. And you might think, oh, that thing is rubbish. Another person says, Yeah, I'll pay you $1,000 for that. Yeah, I love it wasn't what I was saying earlier, you need to understand your customers enough to know what they value. Akua Nyame-Mensah 36:12 And I love that parallel. Because I think that's also what you need for your employees as well. Right? Especially within a fast growing startup, you need to also understand what they value and be willing and open to provide those spaces. So I think, yeah, your employees are, you know, you could think of them as customers as well, especially if you don't have much compensation to give them. Unknown Speaker 36:33 No, there's no you should, they are. Okay, if you look at the graphical design of of the framework, it talks about people, two people connection, that is your people on the left side, the product in the middle, and the customers on the right, just think of that. Okay, the interface between the people in your organisation or your customer? Is the product in the middle, behind the customer? Is the market behind your people or your processes or your technology? What that means is humans are interfacing with humans, yes. Which therefore means you you have to understand that context of interaction, because how did they put it? They say, your employees will treat your customers exactly how they are treated? Oh, yes. Akua Nyame-Mensah 37:26 I think that's a good one. And that's why for me, you know, I'm always talking about that that engagement piece, right? You can set expectations. So right, it's like you said, you can you can say, hey, we're all going to New York, this is how we're doing it. But that engagement piece to understand, like, what are the individual things that each employee potentially needs to be successful, right, to make it on a plane to Dubai, and then be able to go from Dubai to New York? So they're not rejected? Right? Unknown Speaker 37:52 Exactly. And that is why, you know, on till the baby's born. And for me, people say, oh, yeah, once we got customers, No, all right. It's when you've got product market fit, when you've got a repeatable customer base of about 20 to 30%, continuous use who aren't going anywhere without you. Okay, right, then you know, you have a business, that's where you can start to codify. And a lot of people don't know that you're dealing with innovation. So you can't do things the same way or repeat them. Until you they are validated. Yeah, that's why we believe strongly in Bill Reese's build, measure, learn, okay, methodology and approach in Lean machine startup, the concept of trying something out measuring it, come back, take a look at it and fine tuning it. That is a non negotiable approach to building this. Trust, that helps. Akua Nyame-Mensah 38:53 Definitely, like I said, I know I'm getting so much value from this. And I'm sure all of you listening to this also, are getting lots of gems, I just want to remind everyone that TD has an entire book on this. So please make sure you take a you know, take a look. He has an entire you know, Chapter actually where he breaks down the build, measure, learn feedback loop, and adds his additional thoughts for how it potentially might work even on the continent. But TD I could talk to you honestly forever. But I am looking at the time and I do try and make my episodes a certain certain length. So maybe to just close out our conversation. You know, what's next for TD? What are you excited about? Looking forward into you know, 2024 2025 Well, Unknown Speaker 39:39 I'm excited about the fact that people are finally starting Okay, let me a bit of background again, is my backgrounds in tech. People are talking to chat DBT and AI now yeah, I said using AI for a while we call them predictive algorithms, okay? To calculate daily takings When I was a head of ITV search for Marks and Spencer, and we were doing that because by noon each day we had to give the banks how much we would deposit in takings. Okay, but we didn't close the shops until evening. So there were what m&s had actually done was we have three very then I'm talking 30 years, 20 years ago, we had three very senior actuaries, who would predict the day's takings based on different variables, whether you know, tie season, things as mundane as what the traffic count was, based on that they were actually hitting a 97 to 98% accuracy in prediction, just to bring it to life, just so you get a rough, rough idea. Imagine you can either take 11 million or 15 million in a day. Now think of 1% of that, I just start to understand the level of numbers we're talking about. That's what was happening. I trained Wow, using news in neural networks actually trained an algorithm that got to 94%. Wow, over a nine month period, and this was in 1980 8586. Incredible, sorry, 9590 9596. Okay. Now, the reason I bring that up is there are so many new things coming AI is just you can imagine why AI meets IoT as an example. Okay, so you heard it here that things, you know, we have something called radiofrequency tagging, that hasn't hit us yet. That's going to be a part of IoT, you know, where, you know, you can tell the the washing machine, what temperature to wash your clothes with? are you pressing any buttons? The tag in the clause will tell the machine what to do. Oh, wow. Akua Nyame-Mensah 41:51 And just to make sure our listeners on the same page, IoT is Internet of Things, correct? Oh, yeah. My apologies. No, no, no, it's fine. I just wanted to make sure I put that in there. Just in case. Yeah. So for Unknown Speaker 42:01 me, climate smart agriculture, clean tech. Okay. Digital, trade, and smart cities. Oh, Akua Nyame-Mensah 42:11 exciting. All those sound very exciting. I'm looking forward to see what you get involved in next, which you invest in next, and TD just maybe to close this out? Where can people find out more about you your business and also get your book? Unknown Speaker 42:24 Well, my name is Tommy T, oh, mi Davis, d H, E i, e. S, Google and chat. GPT are your friends. Akua Nyame-Mensah 42:34 I love that. I love that. And we will make sure that we link up everything in the show notes as well. We'll include your you know, your website, as well as the book because I definitely think it's a must read for anyone who wants to build or is currently building a startup on the continent. Thank you so much TD for your time and your energy and your thoughts. Unknown Speaker 42:53 Your Pleasure. Thank you very, very much for you, too. You talk about me, you know, you are actually helping the next generation understand what I call the opportunities and possibilities that technology presents to humankind. And for that I thank you. Akua Nyame-Mensah 43:10 Thank you so much DD. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests, and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane


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