Founding and investing in a startup is a hobby for Olumide Soyombo. The Nigerian man has grown over the years to become one of the few influential investors in Nigeria and Africa. Soyombo has invested in 33 companies, including PiggyVest, Paystack, and TeamApt.
Soyombo started his entrepreneurial journey when he was only 12 years old. His first venture was selling pre-registered yahoo mail and Hotmail accounts to people. His passion for IT and engineering got him to study engineering at the University of Lagos in 2015. He proceeded to Aston University, Birmingham, to obtain a Masters in Business Information Technology.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Soyombo founded Bluechip technologies with his friend, Kazeem Tewogbade, in 2008. The firm was into providing data warehouse solutions and enterprise applications to banks, telcos, and insurance companies.
At the time when the tech space in Nigeria was in its nascent stage, Soyombo and his friend decided to start investing in startups via LeadPath. The plan was to invest at least $25,000 and run it like a Y Combinator but it did no go as they envisaged.
“In 2014, three months after we found out that there was no investor to put them in front of. So you’d have to write another check yourself,” Soyombo told TechCrunch. “We quickly saw that the accelerator model didn’t work, so we started investing individually. It’s funny how things have changed since then.”
The Nigerian entrepreneur is recognized as one of the most important figures in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, as he has access to almost all the significant deals in the market on account of his reputation as an angel investor who is always ready to help.
Over the years, Soyombo has largely used an informal approach to investment in startups that are looking to raise six figures. He now wants to make his approach formal with the launch of a fund for African startups.
The investor has launched Voltron Capital, a Pan-African venture capital firm he co-founded with Abe Choi, a U.S.-based entrepreneur and investor, Techcrunch reports. According to the report, Voltron will invest in at least 30 startups in the pre-seed and seed stage across Africa. The move is to address the lack of access to early-stage funding for African tech firms.
For instance, in 2019, tech startups in Africa raised $2 billion. However, a large chunk of it went into late-stage deals. Early-stage investors in Africa continue to struggle to raise investment compared to other regions.
With Voltron Capital, the ticket sizes will range from $20,000 to $100,000, focusing on startups in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and North Africa, according to TechCrunch.