The Flip is an editorial-style podcast exploring contextually relevant insights from entrepreneurs and investors changing the status quo in Africa. The name The Flip comes from the opportunity to flip the script – question some of the pervasive narratives on entrepreneurship, challenge the ubiquity of Silicon Valley thought leadership, and champion the entrepreneurs building a future inspired by Africa. Produced and hosted by Johannesburg-based entrepreneur and American expat Justin Norman. Sayo Folawiyo is the executive producer and b-mic.
Smart People Should Build Things - On Recruiting and the Global Competition for Top Talent
The very nature of a high-growth startup means that the company is always growing and hiring at a rapid rate. And for African startups, in particular, the talent question is even more acute, given the general challenges of sourcing for select roles, as well as the difficulty in competing for talent with other startups, multinationals, and companies elsewhere in the world. In this episode, we unpack the talent and recruiting situation for venture-backed startups and growth-stage companies - how do we source for newer types of roles, like product and growth? Do we hire for aptitude and train up? Do we go to where there is more talent? How does remote work - particularly during COVID-19 - play a role here?
2:50 - We discuss the current recruiting landscape with Toun Tunde-Anjous, Founder of The People Practice.
4:38 - Charles Sekwalor, CEO of Movemeback, shares his views on the talent question, and the opportunities with startups and growth-stage companies on the continent.
8:17 - We explore startup recruitment strategy with Ijeoma Oyeyinka, Helium Health's Head of HR.
10:26 - Many startups, including Helium Health, use outside recruiters, as well. Toun's The People Practice is one such firm.
11:20 - We har from Ijeoma & Mansi Babyloni, Flutterwave's Global Head of People Strategy on the hiring competition, and the pitches they make to mission-driven talent.
15:12 - Mansi & Toun on compensation and their experiences with African startups offering equity packages.
17:59 - On remote working dynamics and the opportunity to tap into a wider talent pool, particularly due to COVID-19.
20:46 - A discussion on training & development of talent, and in particular less experienced talent, on the continent.
24:23 - We hear from Aaron Fu, on the Venture for Africa fellowship program, and their endeavor to de-risk an exploration into the African tech and startup ecosystem.
28:13 - As always, a reflective conversation between Justin Norman and Sayo Folawiyo on this episode's topic.
Much Ado About the Media
In this episode, we explore and unpack the relationship between the tech ecosystem and the media. We'll seek answers to questions such as - what roles do media publications play in the ecosystem? How does this differ between international and local publications? What are the key considerations for the media in doing this work, particularly from a talent and business model perspective? What about companies creating their own content - what is their motivation and what can be learned? And, why is there seemingly a contentious relationship between African tech and the media?
2:27 - We talk public relations utility and strategy, with Wimbart's Jessica Hope.
6:47 - What role does international tech media play in the ecosystem? We hear from TechCrunch contributing writer Jake Bright.
12:05 - A discussion with Tomiwa Aladekomo, of Big Cabal Media, the parent company to TechCabal, on the publications' objectives and challenges.
17:03 - We explore how one publication, Stears Business, is tackling information scarcity, talent, and business model challenges in Nigeria, with Preston Ideh.
23:05 - We speak with Paystack's Emmanuel Quartey on the company's editorial approach and hiring content to solve a problem.
28:23 - Is there a contentious relationship between African tech and the media? Are those in the ecosystem playing their part in sharing with requisite openness and transparency?
30:41 - A retrospective conversation between Sayo Folawiyo, Justin Norman, and this episode's co-producer Osarumen Osamuyi, on the environmental challenges of building sustainable media businesses and meeting the expectations of the tech ecosystem.
Connecting the Dots - Japanese Corporates and African Tech
This season we've talked about the relationship between African tech and other emerging markets across the Global South, as well as with China. In this episode, we talk about the ecosystem's relationship Japan - and in particular, the interest Japanese investors and corporates have in innovations from the continent.
1:33 - Satoshi Shinada and Rio Yamawaki on the macro situation in Japan, and why Japanese investors are interested in African tech. Satoshi and Rio are GPs at Kepple Africa Ventures, one of the most active VCs on the continent.
5:58 - The primary reason why Japanese corporates are interested in investing on the continent is to form strategic partnerships and bring African innovation back with them.
9:43 - We explore a case study - the investment in Kenyan startup PayGo Energy by Saisan, a Japanese multinational gas company. We hear from PayGo's Co-founder and CEO Nick Quintong.
14:48 - A reflective conversation between Sayo Folawiyo and Justin Norman, on the value of Kepple, not only in connecting the dots, but in seeing and knowing which dots to connect between Japan and the continent, and on the opportunity for technology export.
Telcos, PalmPay, and the Future of Mobile Financial Services
In this episode, we explore the evolution of mobile financial services and the opportunity to deepen financial inclusion in African markets. This opportunity exists for mobile network operators, as well fintechs like PalmPay, backed by hardware manufacturer Transsion, whose smartphone brands - Tecno, Itel, and Infinix - account for over 50% of smartphone devices on the continent.
1:55 - We explore the evolution from USSD-led Mobile Money 1.0 to smartphone-led Mobile Money 2.0, with Hover's Wiza Jalakasi.
5:11 - Chris Williamson, the Head of M-Pesa at Vodacom Group, describes the future of M-Pesa and mobile financial services, and the role M-Pesa wishes to play to broaden the use cases and lay the rails for others in the ecosystem to build on top of.
10:27 - We also hear from Ramatoulaye Adama Diallo, the CEO of Orange Money Senegal, on Orange's approach to increasing the utilization of mobile financial services, and their role in the development of the tech ecosystem.
14:24 - While telcos have an outsize advantage from a distribution and customer perspective, so too does Transsion. We speak to PalmPay's Sofia Zab on how the fintech is leveraging their strategic investment from Transsion to integrate financial services into the hardware, and on the work they are doing to build out the digital use cases for its users.
20:16 - Where are there opportunities for startups to partner with MNOs or manufacturers, and how do they go about developing said partnerships? We hear from two emerging market fintech veterans - Adia Sowho and Hayden Simmons.
26:05 - As always, a reflective discussion between Sayo Folawiyo and Justin Norman - this week, on the differences between and opportunities for telco-led versus hardware-led mobile financial services.
Building for Purpose - China-Africa Tech
This week, we explore a hypothesis - that the lessons and models from Chinese tech companies have merit in African markets, given certain similarities between China’s development and the current conditions on the continent.
2:06 - DFS Lab's Stephen Deng on the experience of Chinese entrepreneurs and investors, and the lessons from leapfrogs in China that may have merit in Africa.
5:37 - We hear from Laura Li, VP of Investments of Future Hub, an early-stage investor and accelerator backed by Transsion, the number one cell phone manufacturer on the continenet, and parent company to Tecno, Itel and Infinix.
7:43 - A discussion with Vincent Li, the CEO of Future Hub, and Laura on the opportunities they see on the continent, in ecommerce, logistics, social media, and more.
14:50 - Another Transsion-backed company, PalmPay, is also leveraging Transsion's distribution and insights from China to grow in Nigeria and beyond. We hear from Sofia Zab, PalmPay's Global Head of Commercial & Marketing.
20:27 - As always, a reflective conversation between Justin Norman and Sayo Folawiyo, on social commerce and superapps.
24:37 - Part two with Justin and Sayo, on mobile money-enabled business models.
A Fintech Exit - Inside the MFS Africa Acquisition of Beyonic
Last episode, we went on a hypothetical startup journey from idea to exit. In this episode, we go on a real one.
In June of 2020, MFS Africa announced the acquisition of Beyonic. Together, the combined company of 95 employees now enables mobile money interoperability between markets and mobile network operators, and offers a suite of tools for SMEs, in 30-plus African markets. We go inside the acquisition - how it came together, why it makes sense, and what it means - both for the two companies and their stakeholders and for the ecosystem as a whole.
2:27 - Introducing some of the main players in the deal - Dare Okoudjou, the Founder & CEO of MFS Africa, Luke Kyohere, Founder of Beyonic, Carina Rumberger, CEO of Beyonic and Rachel Balsham, Deputy CEO of MFS Africa.
3:43 - We go back to 2009, when Dare left MTN to start MFS Africa. What was it like running the business in those early days building the foundation and infrastructure for mobile money usage across the continent?
7:55 - Luke takes us back to the beginning of Beyonic, where he saw an opportunity to build out tools for SMEs using mobile money.
11:22 - In 2018, after a sizeable fundraise, MFS Africa set out to scale. Two of their strategies included a) exploring tools for SMEs, and b) making minority investments in other complementary fintech startups across the continent. As these two strategies converged, Dare and Luke re-connected to talk fundraise.
16:11 - The discussions minority investment quickly became a majority investment and then a full acquisition. Dare, Rachel, Luke and Carina recount their respective thoughts on strategy, and how and why a full acquisition became the deal they pursued together.
19:39 - We get into the weeds a bit on tactics - what was the sell-in process like to each respective company's employees, shareholders and customers?
26:09 - On integration - of the teams and of the products.
30:07 - What does this deal - fintech consolidation, an African fintech acquiring another African fintech - mean not only for the newly combined company but for the African tech ecosystem as a whole?