Kessiena Majemite is the Managing Partner at CeedCap and drives innovation and strategy execution, fundraising strategy, and venture building knowledge transfer. CEEDCAP is Africa’s startup studio that is disrupting the traditional ways of building companies and investing in them, with the objective of unlocking the potential of founders who advance the world. CEEDCAP take on vetted ideas and transform them into well-run digital companies that have a proven path to profitability with experienced founders using its startup assembly system (SAbS)®.
My roles involve leading the venture management initiatives and strategy execution at CEEDCAP. The entire process mostly involves taking the ideas and transforming them into well-run digital companies. Africa is blessed with human and intellectual capital ready for harvesting. This large entrepreneurial population needs experienced based support and guidance as they solve big human problems.
At CeedCap, we’re focused on unlocking the potential of African founders who advance the world. We’re looking to identify the potential frontliners of the ongoing digital transformation campaign across the entire landscape and provide them with the resources to start and scale.
Daily, I spend a lot of time refining strategy executions. This is because execution excellence is what it takes for a company to outcompete and thrive in the marketplace. We’re constantly going over their strategies and tweaking them into more realistic, practicable and predictable.
Our startup studio also provides entrepreneurs with access to the right network, partners and guidelines, thereby reducing their experimentation and improving efficiency.
The Start of The Journey
I’m a very curious person. I guess because curiosity is the mother of invention. I spend a considerable amount of time understanding how things work and applying this knowledge to solving problems that creates opportunities. This has been the driving force on my journey as an entrepreneur.
I started out as a technology and media entrepreneur before going into the venture capital industry. What birthed CeedCap was the simple fact that you need money as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Nigeria, and Africa at large has such huge potential in it’s human and intellectual capital but without execution capital (financial and strategy) it is difficult to materialize your ideas, build products or even enhance talent. CEEDCAP exists to bridge the gap between efficient capital allocation and strategy execution for early stage companies.
Creating Value For Entrepreneurs
We have to keep creating value as human needs constantly evolve. Working with several organizations puts us in a position to understand different processes across different businesses. A lot of leading businesses don’t innovate and move as fast as the economic trends and the story never ends well for such businesses. I learned this lesson while I was still working on a project with BlackBerry. When businesses fail to evolve they will most certainly die. This is where most startups have the advantage, the ability to move and build fast for consumers changing habits.
So, it’s not just about being a leader in your industry but always positioning yourself to be relevant by helping people save time, increase productivity and efficiency in processes.
At CeedCap, we’ve created a platform for people to build their next big ideas. But as the future keeps changing, it can get tricky to predict. This is why I advise to never plan for the future with a rigid approach. This philosophy helps us inform early stage entrepreneurs on the importance of being realistic with their ideas whilst being innovative.
Ultimately, we want to advance people from one socioeconomic class or pyramid to the next. That’s generally how we measure the value we provide for our founders and the businesses we build. This is possible because across different ages – from industrialized age to the information age – humans have moved and innovated through different time-cycles. We believe we are in a position to observe, predict and create these changes in the world as they occur and help businesses navigate through them.
My Biggest Challenges And Lessons Learned
We don’t celebrate failure enough in this part of the world, and failure is a very important component of any entrepreneur’s journey. There are several thesis and frameworks you can come across but there’s no actual blueprint for entrepreneurship. Many aspects of entrepreneurship are based on a self discovery process. Most successful entrepreneurs will agree with me that entrepreneurship is learned the hard way.
In the very earlier days of my career I entered the tech scenes as a web programmer. I’ve had apps I built that never saw the market. The hard truth is that your ideas have to be useful to people before they can download or subscribe to them. In terms of challenges, I’ve also learned that past successes are not a guarantee for future successes. You could be successful at 10 things and fail at the 11th one.
I once developed a platform for automated website creation for small businesses in Africa. Something similar to what Wix is doing now. We had a few users at first but it proved to be unsustainable in the long run. However, the experience taught me a few important lessons. Some ideas arrive too early in the market and you can only move as fast as the particular market you operate in. The market has to adopt your ideas. Even at CEEDCAP, on different occasions we had to archive projects that don’t have sustainable metrics for the future or permanently.
The lessiona from my past ventures have also better informed my investment and advisory decisions today while working at CeedCap. Capital preservation and sustainability are very important when deciding to invest in a business. It’s not just about providing the funds but allocating capital efficiently and guiding the entrepreneurs to use it to achieve set goals successfully. At CeedCap, we’re also very hands-on in the life cycle of the entrepreneurs we work with.
Accomplishments And The Risks Behind Them
I don’t consider myself an accomplished person because I think there are still bigger problems and challenges to solve for Africa; I’m very hungry and energized to do more. Almost a year ago, we embarked on a mission to understand personal finance and build a product that will help the average Nigerian make informed financial decisions. We launched Evesting late 2020 to address financial inclusion and literacy in Nigeria and across Africa. The platform provides access to find and compare unfiltered financial products from insurance, pension plans, savings products, investment products, and banking products offered by several financial and non-financial institutions to help them make informed decisions for their financial future.
I’m also proud about the fact that we’ve been able to refine our Startup Assembly System which I founded with the purpose of increasing the launch rate for founders to execute their ideas; it allows us to increase the scale at which we launch new companies. The idea behind this is to reduce the time it takes to work with founders in getting their companies to market so they can validate and experiment as much as possible. This has helped us demystify the process it takes to build a company from the ground up to prepare them for scale. We’ve been able to adapt the same assembly line concept into the startup venture building process. This reduces the time and cost for moving from idea to market.
At CeedCap, our main mission is not only that we want to contribute to Africa’s last-mile prosperity vision through investment in digital transformation and innovation but we want to unlock the potential of African founders who advance the world. This is something I most dearly want to accomplish as an entrepreneur. Getting closer to that mission everyday makes me excited.
We’re using our access to the global community to provide better information and resources to the businesses that work with us. For me, it’s not about the many wins but I choose to measure our progress against the backdrop of how far we need to go. There is still a lot to be done but we’re on the right track.
On Risk And Reward
In terms of risk, I believe every opportunity forgone is a risk foregone; however the risk of doing and not doing are the same with proportionally different upsides. In my work I have to always analyze the value at risk for every decision. Our job generally involves a lot of risk mitigation and decision making. I would say the biggest risk I have taken so far in my life – what people call risk – was deciding to build CEEDCAP; we created our blueprint of the Africa we want to see in the next thirty (30) years and as with most innovative companies we rely on intellectual capital, our focused approach and execution excellence to advance this mission. I’m a few years into that journey and I’m confident that the value of this risk is more than worth it.
For the companies that we build or fund we have to decide using certain metrics, which ones make bold bets on. We literally back founders/builders who demonstrate resilience, clarity and propose a viable execution strategy of their ideas and models. What we do at CEEDCAP is to refine the execution strategy, provide support, partnership and working capital investment to validate and get a product market fit. We bet on the businesses that have the potential to shape the future of Africa’s digital economy and we support them to reach that potential.
My Advice To African Founders
“In the great expanse of time we’re all dead” – this very quote is one of my favourites because it gets me going. It formulates my thought process when making decisions. The implication of this quote is that when we will all die eventually, the only thing we can leave behind is the collection of our experiences, failures, how many things we tried to do and the ones that we did that served humanity (some will call this a legacy); hence your best ideas can either die with you or you start building them today.
For African founders, do not hesitate to revisit your strategies and make a u-turn if they are not working. You can compound time by improving and building new systems to be efficient. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel but improve on the existing solutions. Transformational leaders are known to improve processes. This way, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself, develop your cognitive ability, process information, and make smart decisions fast. Always find new ways to look at problems and legacy solutions.