[Podcast] Episode 006 Rob Withagen, Asoko Insight, Why data and machine learning will unlock massive opportunities in Africa.


One of the major challenges for doing business in Africa is the lack of data. It’s hard to get information about private businesses on the continent. There are lots of consultants and researchers scouting around the continent for every bit of data they can get on businesses.

Rob Withagen used to be one of those researchers. Until he got stuck in traffic in a sweaty taxi on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. And then he had the aha moment.

How about building a data platform that provides trackable research and analysis of thousand privately held companies in Africa?

Rob shared his idea with his colleague, Greg Cohen and Asoko Insight was born.

Asoko Insight is a platform that provides data and analysis on African companies to global corporates, investors, governments and potential partners. Basically they provide visibility and transparency needed for doing business in Africa.

They’ve raised more than $1.3m seed capital from investors such as CRE Venture Capital, Singularity Investments, North Base Media, Emergo Partners amongst others

I met Rob in 2015 when I was working as a Venture Partner at Potential VC. I find his business fascinating and I am convinced it’s going to do a lot of good for so many companies in Africa. But more importantly, I find Rob interesting?.and we’ve been good friends since then.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to move from ‘aha’ idea moment to building an MVP for your business
  • Why it is important to recruit a CTO as early as possible for tech startup; and how you can do so as non-technical founder even when you can’t afford to pay them. The key is to have a compelling vision
  • Why it is important to leave your employers in good terms, because they may support you in your venture
  • How Asoko Insight is run by a team across several countries and 3 continents
  • What is technical (code) debt and how to avoid one in your startup
  • How you can make money with services that can’t scale on your way to building a scalable product.
  • How to segment your target customers by geography and annual revenue turnover.
  • The future of data in Africa is machine learning?.there is a big opportunity for those who can provide the talent

Selected Links from this Episode

  1. Greg Cohen
  2. Oxford Business Group
  3. Zawya
  4. Thompson Reuters.
  5. Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme
  6. German Development Bank
  7. Jonathan Berman
  8. Jason Alcock
  9. Flutterwave  
  10. Grow intelligence
  11. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

This episode is brought to you by

The Longe Practice is a legal firm that specialises in working with early-stage startups in Africa. They understand the peculiarities of business as a startup. They are trusted by many other startups including the likes of paystack, callbase, pass.ng, techcabal, printivo, wecyclers, and many others. To get a free consultation as a listener of this podcast? fill out the form on podcast.thelongepractice.com

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