Lagos-based accelerator and investment vehicle Itanna, backed by leading Nigerian corporate the Honeywell Group, today held its inaugural Demo Day, marking the end of its four-month innovation programme for tech-enabled, for-profit African startups. Held at Itanna’s Enterprise Factory, Demo Day saw the pilot Cohort pitch to Honeywell Group’s extensive network of high net-worth investors, as they, the cohorts, vied to secure investment, corporate backing and strategic partnerships, for their companies.
A step in the journey of Honeywell Group’s reinvention through its new innovation strategy, Itanna’s Demo Day also hosted a panel of leading players in the Nigerian tech and business ecosystems, who discussed the role of corporate Nigeria in achieving win-win collaborations with tech startups. Panellists included Deji Oguntonade, Head Fintech & Innovation, Guaranty Trust Bank, Lola Ekugo, Head Digital Innovation Lab, First Bank, Obi Emetatom, Managing Director, Appzone and Seun Faluyi, Managing Director, Uraga Power Solutions.
Launched in August 2018, Itanna’s four founding Cohort companies were chosen from over 200 applications from across Africa. They included:
- Accounteer – providers of online accounting services for SMEs across Africa
- KoloPay – a cashless target savings mobile and web application
- Tradebuza – an online platform for managing and brokering commodities sourcing and outgrower scheme
- PowerCube – providers of affordable power supply using renewable energy.
Along with up to USD $25,000 each in investment from Honeywell Group, startups received training and mentorship from leading industry experts in the form of UI/UX Sessions, legal and HR workshops, classes on technology, business and marketing, reviews of revenue/pricing model and operational metrics, mentorship sessions and guest lectures from some of Nigeria’s most renowned entrepreneurs and business icons.
Obafemi Otudeko Honeywell Group’s Executive Director, says, “Our vision for Itanna was to see an accelerator that merged the best of corporate and entrepreneurial spirit in order to fulfil our mission of using enterprise to make our world better. Itanna has exceeded our expectations as we look to cement our position as a facilitator and impactor of growth in key sectors, including tech within Nigeria and across Africa”.
With plans underway for a second cohort intake in 2019, Itanna will also invest in more developed tech startups looking for growth capital with its direct investment arm, which will support investee companies in scaling, by leveraging Honeywell Group’s extensive network and industry expertise.
Tomi Otudeko, Head of Sustainability at Honeywell Group and Director of Itanna says, “Itanna is uniquely placed, as our goal continues to be bridging the gap between our tech startup ecosystem and corporate Nigeria. Over the last four months, the entire team at Itanna, along with our strategic partners and the Honeywell Group, have committed to creating a professional environment where businesses can learn from experts in their field and build innovative and dynamic businesses of the future.”
Tony Idugboe, Vice President, Head of Investments at Itanna concludes, “Our Cohort have shown true enthusiasm and entrepreneurism – which investors search for. In preparing to secure investment, they have learned to plan, be patient and show flexibility and of course, showcase phenomenal pitching skills, Demo Day has given them the confidence to embark on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. We wish them all the very best”.
Operating from the brand new Enterprise Factory located in Iganmu, Itanna is at the heart of industrial Lagos where businesses are built. The state of the art 627 square metre collaborative space boasts work spaces, offices, meeting rooms and a conference space. Trusted partners in this year’s accelerator included MEST, First Registrars, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie and Hans and Rene.