Dust Off the CV or Dive Deeper? The Typical Paths of African Tech Founders After Startup Failure

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A record number of African startups have failed this year. The tumultuous moment when a founder realizes they are tired can be unsettling. How have African startup founders handled this situation in the past, and what is the likelihood that they will follow similar paths as others? In this special report, we delve into the strategies adopted by African founders who have faced startup failure, as they navigate their new realities. Will they update their CVs, or confront the challenges of their new stations in life? Here’s what we found about African founders’ experiences with startup failure and their paths forward.

High transition to employment and high rate of corporate integration

A significant number of African founders (45.2%) transition to employment, indicating a preference for stability and security after the uncertainty of running a startup. Founders often find roles in relevant industries, leveraging the skills and experience gained from their startup ventures. This also suggests that many African founders possess valuable skills and experience that are highly sought after by larger corporations. Their entrepreneurial background makes them attractive candidates for leadership and innovation roles. In most cases, they head the innovation units of these bigger, established businesses.

Resilience and continued entrepreneurship

Nearly 33.9%of African founders immediately start new ventures when their startups fail, demonstrating resilience and a strong entrepreneurial drive. This pattern highlights a willingness to learn from past failures and continue pursuing innovative ideas. Again, many of the new ventures are closely related to the founders’ previous experiences, suggesting they apply lessons learned to new opportunities.

Significant preference for consulting

When an African startup fails, a notable percentage (6.5%) of founders immediately move into private consulting, indicating a desire to remain in control of their professional lives while sharing their expertise with other businesses. Consulting offers flexibility and independence, which might be appealing to founders who are used to the autonomy of running a startup.

Limited career breaks

Only a small fraction (4.8%) of African startup founders take career breaks, suggesting that most founders prefer to stay active in their professional lives even after a significant setback. The limited number of career breaks may also indicate mental resilience or a need to quickly regain financial stability. Career breaks could offer a period of rest and reflection after the intense experience of running a startup, or a opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge before re-entering the entrepreneurial or corporate world.

But only about 31.7% of African founders ever launch again after experiencing failure

The analysis also shows that once an African founder faces failure, a majority (68.3%) never return to pursue new ventures throughout their career history. Only a resilient 31.7% demonstrated an unwavering entrepreneurial spirit by founding new startups. This highlights a notable trend of perseverance within the African startup ecosystem, where a significant portion of founders leverage their learnings and experiences to navigate new entrepreneurial paths despite previous setbacks.

What specific factors influence African startup founders when making their transitions post-startup failure?

Industry Relevance: African founders often move to roles or start ventures within the same or related industries as their failed startups. This pattern shows a strategic use of their domain knowledge and networks.

High-Tech and Fintech Focus: Many new ventures and employment roles are in high-tech and fintech sectors, reflecting the founders’ inclination toward innovative and emerging industries.

Geographical Mobility: Some founders African founders move to roles or start ventures in different countries, indicating a willingness to relocate for better opportunities and the global nature of the startup ecosystem.

It is common to find African founders in leadership and advisory roles in major companies post-failure

  • Leveraging Leadership Experience: Several founders take on leadership or advisory roles in new organizations, utilizing their entrepreneurial leadership experience to contribute to other businesses or startups.
  • Mentorship and Influence: By joining advisory boards or becoming managing directors in accelerator programs, these founders continue to influence the startup ecosystem and mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs.

What This Could Mean for Stakeholders

  • For Investors: Understanding these patterns can help investors identify resilient and experienced entrepreneurs who are likely to succeed in future ventures.
  • For Policymakers: Insights into these patterns can guide the creation of supportive environments and programs that help founders transition smoothly post-failure.
  • For Founders: Recognizing these patterns can provide reassurance and strategic guidance on possible next steps after a startup failure.
S/NName of StartupPrimary LocationFounder’s Name
Nationality
Shutdown YearPost-Liquidation PathEver Founded New Venture After Shutdown? (Name of New Startup)
1CapiterEgypti) Mahmoud Noah
ii) Ahmed Nouh
Egypt2022i) Not Available
ii) CEO, Ezz Steel Company, Egypt
i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
2WalaSouth AfricaTricia MartinezUSA2020Took up employment with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Currently: MD, Techstars AI; After Serving two years as MD, Techstars Payments
i) Not Available
3OyaPayNigeriaAbdulhamid HassanNigeria2019Proceeded to Paystack as Product Manager. Yes (Mono)
4Kloud CommerceNigeriaOlumide ‘D.O’ OlusanyaNigeria2022Returned to Cards Technology Limited, a company he founded in 2002.Not Available
554geneNigeriai) Abasi Ene-Obong
ii) Ogochukwu Francis Osifo
Nigeria2022i) Proceeded in 2023  to found Syndicate Bio, a biotech driving genomics and precision medicine initiatives. 
ii) Proceeded in 2022  to found Rayda,a startup providing businesses the infrastructure to acquire, manage, insure, track, and dispose of their fixed assets globally.
i) Yes (Syndicate Bio)
ii) Yes (Rayda)
6Kune FoodsKenyaRobin ReechtFrance2022Not AvailableNot Available
7WeFarm ShopKenyai) Kenny Ewan
ii) Claire Rhodes
i) Scotland
ii) UK
2022i) Proceeded in 2024  to start Nesta, a UK-based venture studio.
 ii) Was a Non Executive Director/Co-founder in WeFarm Shop. Has remained CEO at Producers Direct since 2009.
i) Yes (Venture Partner at UK-based VC firm, ZINC)
ii) Yes, Producers Direct. 
8BRCK Kenyai) Erik Hersman
ii) Jonathan Shuler
iii) Philip Walton
iv) Reg Orton
i) USA
ii) USA
iii) Not Available
iv) Not Available
2022i) Co-founded, in 2022,  Gridless, a distributed, hydroelectric bitcoin mining infrastructure, before shutting down BRCK. Now runs Gridless alongside Philip Walton.
 ii) Left BRCK in 2014, 8 years before it shut down.
iv) Reg Orton left BRCK to found Fresh Consulting, a Seattle-based product design and engineering consulting firm
i) Yes (Gridless)
ii)  Not available
iii) Yes (Gridless)
iv) Yes (Fresh Consulting)
9Sky-GardenKenyaMartin MajlundDenmark2022Took up employment as VP, Fleet & Roaming at Monta, a Copenhagen-based EV Charging Management Software management company.  Not available
10SendyKenyai) Evanson Biwott
ii) Don Okoth
iii) Malaika Judd
iv) Mesh Alloys
i) Kenya
ii) Kenya
iii) USA
iv) Kenya
2023i) Proceeded to co-found (alongside Don Okoth) RTM Africa, a software consulting firm, specialising in product development, product management, UX research and design.
 iii) Proceed, in 2024, to to become NDRC Accelerator – Managing Director at Dogpatch Labs. Dogpatch Labs is a startup and innovation hub located in Dublin, Ireland. 
iv) Took a 7 month career break, then proceeded to 2022 YC-backed Boya, a fintech company he founded in 2021. 
i) Yes (RTM Africa)
ii) Yes (RTM Africa)
iii) Not available
iv) Yes (Boya)
11SnaptSouth Africai) Dave Blakey
ii) Douglas Cherry
South Africa2022i) Proceeded in 2022, to join Gauteng-based October Health as CTO. 
ii) Not Available (Additional Info: Former founding partner at 4Di Capital)
i) Not available
ii) Not available
12PivoNigeriai) Nkiru Amadi-Emina
ii) Ijeoma Akwiwu
Nigeria2023i) Resumed private consulting services.
ii) Proceeded to found UK-based AI startup (stealth mode) after 
i) Not available
ii) Not available
13Passerine AircraftSouth AfricaMatthew WhalleySouth Africa2020i) After a period of self-employment in 2020, transitioned to a Renewable Energy Engineer role at Balwin Properties, and currently serves as a Director at the company.i) Not available
14Tress Ghanai) Priscilla Hazel
ii)  Esther Olatunde
iii) Cassandria Sarfo
i) Ghana
ii) Nigeria
iii) Ghana
2018i) Proceeded to take up employment with Accra-based fintech Nsano Ltd as Business Fulfilment Executive. Currently Regional Director, West and Central Africa at the company.

ii) Proceeded to take up employment as Product Engineer at Dublin-based Intercom. 
iii) Returned to employment. Currently, User Interface Developerat World Food Programme. 
i) Not available
ii) Not available
iii) Not available
15Greenshoe Capital Inc. (Also known as Saida)Kenyai) Ngetha Mwangi
ii) Kyale Mwendwa 
Kenya2022i) Returned to employment. Currently venture building engagement lead at Catalyst Fund, Kenya. 
ii) Not Available
i) Not available
ii) Not available
16DashGhanaPrince Boakye BoampongGhana2023Not AvailableNot available
17WhereIsMyTransportSouth Africai) Devin de VriesSouth Africa2023Currently working on a stealth venture Not available
18LazerpayNigeriai) Emmanuel Njoku
ii) Abdulfatai Sulaiman
iii)Prosper Ubi
Nigeria2023i) Employment.
ii) Proceeded to take up employment as software engineer at Paystack
iii) Employment
i) Yes (SuperMigrate)
ii) Yes, BlockradarHQ
iii) Not Available
19ZazuuAfricai) Kayode Akinwunmi
ii) Korede FaNot Availableola
iii) Tola Alade
iv) Tosin Ekolie
Nigeria2023i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
iii) Self-employment at a digital media company. 
iv) Not Available
i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
iii) Yes, Marmalade Ventures
iv) Not Available
20Bundle AfricaNigeriaYele BadamosiNigeria2023Left in 2021 before shutdown to co-found Nestcoin, a startup that builds, operates and invests in crypto-native productsYes, Nestcoin
21VibraAfricaVincent LiChina2023Continued as the founding Partner at investment firm Adaverse as well as co-founded NODO, a pan-African Web3 Discovery & News service powered by EMURGO AfricaYes (NODO; Adaverse)
22MarketForceKenyai) Mesongo Sibuti
ii) Tesh Mbaabu
Kenya2023Both co-founders left to co-found Chpter, a social commerce startup.Yes (Chpter)
23ZumiKenyai) William McCarren
ii) Mohamed Nuur
iii) Sabrina Dorman
iv) Tomas Rosales
v ) Eric Njogu
i) UK
ii) Kenya
iii) US
iv) Norway
v) Kenya
2023i) Proceeded in 2023 to co-found FARO Africa, a retail apparel and fashion startup. 
ii) Proceeded in 2024 to found Rapid Tech Insights, an IT & Software consultancy company
iii) Private Consulting
iv) Took up employment as director of global operations at Koko Networks.
v) Took up employment as chief operating officer at an international NGO, Adeso. 
i) Yes (FARO)
ii) Yes, Rapid Tech Insights
iii) Not available
iv) Not available
v) Not available
24ThePeerNigeriai) Chike Ononye
ii) Michael Okoh
Nigeria2024Not availableNot available
25Afrostream Africai) Tonjé Bakang
ii) Ludovic Bostral
i) Cameroon
ii) France
2017i) Proceeded in 2018 to become a university lecturer at Sciences Po
ii) Proceeded to take up employment as director of innovation at Pixagility. 
i) Yes (Onscale)
ii) Not available
26DealDey NigeriaSim ShagayaNigeria2019Proceeded to start uLessonYes (uLesson)
27EfritinNigeriaNils HammarSweden2017Returned to Saltside Technologies, an online marketplace which he was running concurrently with Efritin at the time.  Yes (Saltside Technologies)
28BkamBkamMahmoud Abdel-Fattah MoursyEgypt2016Took up employment as product manager at CareemYes (ZIDO)
29WabonaAfricai) Simbarashe Mabasha
ii) Simukayi Mukuna
i) Zimbabwe
ii) Zimbabwe
2015i) Returned to Afrikan Dust Media Group, which he was running concurrently with Wabona at the time.
ii) Took up employment as business development manager at WeChat Africa  
i) Yes (The Shava Group)
ii) Yes (Gallo Music Investments)
30GoMyWayNigeriaDamilola TeidiNigeria2017Took up employment as Incubation Manager at Co-creation Hub (CcHUB)Not Available
31Showroom.ngNigeriaSheriff ShittuNigeria2016Started a new venture Switch Innovation ExpressYes (Switch Innovation Express)
32Nezal EntertainmentEgyptMuhammad AliEgypt2016Took up employment as product manager at Google. Not Available
33CirqyEgypti)Kareem El-Shaffei
ii) Mostafa Talaat
Egypt2014i) Took up employment as head of business development for marketplace at Souq.com
ii) Took up employment as senior brand manager at Coca Cola
i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
34RedbirdGhanai) Patrick Beattie
ii) Andrew Quao
iii) Edward Grandstaff.
i) USA
ii) Ghana
iii) USA
2023i) Returned to private consultancy services
ii) Left before the company’s failure
iii) Took up employment as head of business applications at the  Norway-based bulking Shipping Company, Western Bulk.
i) Not available
ii) Not available
iii) Not available
35CanGo (formerly SafeMotos)DRCi) Barrett Nash
ii) Peter Kariuki
i) USA
ii) Kenya
2020i) Took up employment as partnership manager at US-based software development company Adalo.
 ii) Took up employment as senior software engineer at the London-based IT company Circulor.
i) Yes ( InfiniteUp)

ii) Not available
36iProcureKenyai)Stefano Carcoforo ii)Nicole Galletta
iii)Patrick Wanjohi
iv) Bernard Maingi
i) Italy
ii) Italy
iii) Kenya
iv) Kenya
2023i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
iii) Not Available
iv) Not Available
i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
iii) Not Available
iv) Not Available
37Pillow (Cryptocurrency)Africai) Arindam Roy
ii)  Rajath KM
iii) Kartik Mishra
India2023i) Took up employment as head of business and product at Scapia. 
ii) Career Break
iii) Career Break
i) Not Available
ii) Not Available
iii) Not Available
38OustaEgypti) Nader El-Batrawi
 ii) Omar Salah.
Egypt2017i) Returned to Jobzella, a startup he was running concurrently with Ousta
ii) Not available
Yes (Jobzella)
ii) Not available
39NefsakEgyptSherif NassarEgypt2016Not availableNot available
40ZotoNigeriaOshone IkazobohNigeria2020Embarked on a 1 year founder in residence program at Cape-town based Startupbootcamp, after which he was head, payment services company (Hydrogen) at Access Bank Plc. Not available
41CovaNigeriai) Olu’yomi Ojo
ii) Yomi Osamiluyi
Nigeria2023i) Career Break
ii) Took up employment at Canada-based Wealthsimple as security engineering manager
i) Not available
ii) Not available
42BuyCoins ProNigeriai) Timi Ajiboye
ii) Ire Aderinokun 
iii) Tomiwa Lasebikan
Nigeria2024i) Proceeded to found GandalfConnect, an SDK for getting user data from any service (i.e Amazon, YouTube, Instacart, Uber etc).
ii) Not available
iii) Not available
i) Yes (GandalfConnect) 
ii) Not available
iii) Not available
The data includes mostly externally funded startups and those published in the public domain.

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