Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Eghosa Omoigui was recorded in May 2019.
Eghosa Omoigui is Managing Partner at EchoVC Partners, a firm focused on the African market. This is a fascinating discussion about African startups and venture capital.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s get to know each other. Tell us about EchoVC. Tell us about yourself.
Eghosa Omoigui: I’m the Managing Partner and Founder of EchoVC. We are a seed and early-stage venture capital firm focused on making technology and technology-enabled investments. The primary focus is Africa. We’ve done investments in different geographies, but the primary theme would be Africa. We finance Africa-focused entrepreneurial initiatives.
Sramana Mitra: How big is the fund?
Eghosa Omoigui: We are on our second fund now. Our first fund, which was five years ago, had $16.5 million in initial commitments. That was focused on seed and early stage.
Halfway through the last five years, we entered into a strategic partnership with TBT Group. We manage their African small-check platform, which essentially gives us the ability to write much bigger checks.
Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. How did you get into this business? What path did you follow in your career?
Eghosa Omoigui: I had a somewhat non-traditional career. If anyone tells you that you have to wear denim shirts and have a Stanford MBA, I’m precisely the counterpoint to that.
I was raised in Nigeria. I graduated as a lawyer. I started out my career as an oil and gas lawyer and then moved to the US to go to school. I did a degree in Corporate Law & Finance. I did a whole bunch of different things. I worked with a startup. I worked as a consultant. I worked at a law firm and ended up at Intel Capital. It was, then, the largest capital venture firm in the world. I was fortunate enough to be there for about 10 years. I did a variety of roles that have contributed to everything I am today.
I did everything from venture capital legal, portfolio management legal, IP purchasing as well as investing. I also led the investing activity that covered the umbrella of visual intelligence and machine learning. I left Intel in 2010 and I started EchoVC a year after that.
Sramana Mitra: I’m deeply interested in Africa and what’s happening in Africa. I would like to ask you some broad trends on what are entrepreneurs doing in Africa. What kinds of businesses are they building? Which of those are attracting investments?
Eghosa Omoigui: Intel Capital was operating in about 35 countries and had several hundred people supporting their activities. What I learned from being part of that group was that innovation happened everywhere.
It was broadly distributed, but it could be localized. I left Intel Capital with a hypothesis that the next generation of investing activities will occur in underserved and emerging markets.