How TEF Alumni, Mario Egie, secured $240,000 funding for his start-up
Mario Egie is a blockchain enthusiast and entrepreneur, who believes in the future of Africa, and that only Africans can help themselves with powerful collaborations across the world. While Mario started working on a Blockchain payment solution to service the unbanked and make cryptocurrency expendable since October 1st, 2018, it wasn’t until 2021 that he was able to secure funding from a Silicon Valley-based venture. The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kite Financial takes us through his inspiring journey.
How thorough was the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme application process and how did it prepare you for this opportunity?
The application process during my year 2019, was very direct and I completed it in a day. I was also lucky to be among the 3,000+ out of 216,000 applicants who were selected for the grant and free mentorship and later for the TEF forum that occurred in Abuja, Nigeria.
How useful was the training component in helping you better understand your business, market, and financials?
It was very useful. I can gladly say that going through the process diligently gives one a solid beginner entrepreneurship foundation that they can build on. The weekly tasks are as intentional as they can be, giving an overall polishing to the mind of the entrepreneurs. This is especially useful for entrepreneurs like myself coming from a scientific background.
How did you find the TEF mentoring process and what guidance, direction did the TEF Mentor give you and your business?
I had a huge boost by my mentor who gave me that moral support to think to myself: well, I can do it! And sometimes that is the most difficult step: believing that you can.
Following receipt of $5,000 from TEF, you have now secured funding of $240,000 from a VC based in Silicon Valley. Using your own personal experience, what practical steps do you recommend for entrepreneurs seeking funding?
Know your business, have the passion for it, and know why you do what you do. Investors want to be sure you can make money, so you must make your business model as clear as possible, and you must have a good team to work on the vision and goals. The team as well as how you plan to achieve your goals, is as important as the vision!
On celebrating international day of the youth, what policies do you think should be in place for Youth advancement on the continent?
In the past couple of years, we have seen what Nigerian youths are capable of doing, most especially in the Tech industry, the traction has been globally celebrated. To foster more growth, I believe focus should be on policies that can create an enabling environment for investors, most especially, early-stage investors, and for start-ups to thrive, knowing they have the backing of the government to go out there and succeed. In areas where ambiguity is high, e.g., crypto and blockchain, a board between the leading youths in the space and the government should be setup so both can work hand in hand to establish favorable regulations to both the economy and the startups making effort to foster the economy.
What advice will you give to your 2021 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme cohort?
Simple: learn, not because you want the grant at the end, but because this is an important stage in your entrepreneurship journey, and you can easily build the initial foundation you need to go out into the world from here. Always think long-term, and it is fine to change business, to rebrand, ideas aren’t written on stones, what is not okay, is to quit!
Read more about Mario’s Seed Funding journey here.