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  There are five unicorns in Nigeria – Opay, Flutterwave, Interswitch, Andela, and Jumia. This means these companies are worth over $1billion. The big truth about the Nigerian FinTech ecosystem is that it is very robust, healthy, promising, as well as competitive. In 2021, Nigeria’s FinTech industry got an investment of over $11billion. Experts have projected that the FinTech industry will be worth thrice the investment by the end of 2022.
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However, the big question on the minds of new and old founders is how can they be part of this growth that is ongoing in the FinTech industry? They are wondering, how they can build a startup with a unicorn status. What does it take to build a unicorn startup? It can be overwhelming and as well exciting to see contemporary startups hitting unicorn status. Moreover, studies have shown that it takes at least 6 to 8 years to build a unicorn. It might sound quite long or too short to achieve such a feat, depending on how you see it. However, companies like Andela and Flutterwave were barely eight years old when they became unicorns. Therefore, it is possible to build a unicorn startup between 6 to 8 years if you apply the right strategies. Below I highlight a few secrets to growing a unicorn startup in Nigeria.
  • Build Essential Products

Whether you are building a FinTech or a startup that is not into financials, if you are going to build a unicorn, you have to build a startup that meets the essential needs of Nigerians and businesses in Nigeria. Your product will be all about solving pressing problems like housing deficit, poor health insurance, inadequate transporting system, electricity problem, cybercrimes, food shortage, property insurance, financial management and savings, affordable healthcare and education on so much more. You simply have to look at the pain points of the Nigerian market and solve them.
  • Industry Network

Growing a unicorn startup is dependent on your network. Industry networking is very important when it comes to building a unicorn startup because you get to know the industry trends and funding opportunities and how to go about them.
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For example, funding agencies or angel investors will likely fund you if you were introduced to them by a friend or a group. Building useful connections within and outside your industry can help you access opportunities that you can’t ordinarily access on your own. The startup world thrives on connection and networking. Hence, how do you go about building useful industry connections? First, I would suggest, social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, which is the easiest way to reach out to celeb founders, investors, etc., or the most used platform of the person you would like to connect with. Another way to go about it is by positioning yourself as a valuable individual. When you are seen as a thought leader in your industry, you attract the right network to yourself. This is why you should endeavor to have a lively social media life where you are daily sharing your thoughts on industry matters. Finally, attending industry events is another space for reaching and meeting with the right set of people that can help you grow in the industry. There are a lot of founders’ events that you should attend, share knowledge, and reach out to.
  • Strong Company Culture

Successful unicorn founders have attributed the successes of their companies to strong company culture. What is company culture? In my definition, company culture is all about the company choosing to run its course. Faye Wai of Jostle, defined company culture as the collection of shared characteristics that make your business unique, like specific values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all employees. It’s the sum of your formal and informal systems and behaviors and values, all of which create an experience for your employees and customers. 
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So many successful startup founders, they stated that their company culture is centred on everyone working together as a team, pursuing one purpose, connecting and recognizing efforts, creating an office space that inspires creativity, building a sense of community, training and developing and working like people on a mission. 
  • Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling is all about sharing your vision and mission with your audience through various means such as content storytelling. Brand storytelling is not about marketing your product; it is all about offering perception and image to your audience. Brand storytelling is connecting with your audience by selling a narrative about your brand. Brand storytelling also offers your startup the opportunity to connect with customers and promote your values and beliefs without driving any sales technique. The idea is to create an identity for your company in the minds of your audience. What comes to their minds when they think or hear of your brand? 
  • Build A Startup That Empowers Other Businesses

If you want to build a startup that will attain unicorn status, it is important to build a startup that provides services to other startups. It is more profitable when your startup helps other businesses win. Like a candle, you are giving light to other candles. However, if you aren’t lighting other candles, you will burn out. 


In this article, I pointed out the secret of building a unicorn startup. It requires you to solve and meet the essential pressing needs of the market. It is not just meeting it, but providing affordable and quick service. Also, a unicorn startup is driven by strong company culture, useful networks, proper brand storytelling, and a strong team. Featured Image Source: Startup Talky
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This article was first published on 3rd June 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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