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Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Unicorn Builders. Today, our unicorn builder is Jeremy Johnson, CEO and Co-founder of Andela, the world’s largest private marketplace of on-demand skilled technical talent. Andela has made significant strides in connecting extraordinarily gifted individuals from emerging markets to global companies in need of their skills, fostering a more inclusive and diverse tech ecosystem worldwide.

Key Topics Discussed: 

  • Jeremy’s journey from a college business plan competition, to founding an edtech company, taking it public, then eventually founding Andela.
  • The vision behind Andela and its mission to connect skilled technical talent from emerging markets with global companies.
  • The evolution of Andela from focusing on Nigeria to becoming a global talent platform.
  • The impact of the pandemic on remote work and Andela’s strategic position in this new norm.
  • Andela’s approach to expanding into new markets and the significance of local compliance and labor laws.
  • The transition from a talent-focused marketing strategy to educating the market on global hiring practices.
  • Jeremy’s views on fundraising, building a sustainable business model, and the importance of aligning with investors who share your vision.
  • The challenges and rewards of being a startup founder, including personal sacrifices and the relentless pursuit of impact.

Actionable
Takeaways

Takeaway #1: Operate with Urgency and Conviction

Jeremy’s recount of the early days at Andela highlights the importance of moving quickly and decisively. The initial phase of injecting momentum into the project, despite the geographical and logistical challenges, was crucial. Founders should adopt a mindset of urgency, especially when testing new concepts and entering markets, to capitalize on opportunities and learn rapidly from the market response.

Takeaway #2: Use Early Feedback to Refine the Model

Jeremy’s story about Andela’s shift from smaller transactions to focusing on embedding talent as long-term team members showcases the importance of listening to early customer feedback. Founders should be open to pivoting or refining their business model based on real-world use cases and feedback, even if it means deviating from the original plan.

Takeaway #3: The Role of Evangelism in Category Creation

Before the pandemic, Andela had to evangelize the concept of remote work and the untapped tech talent in Africa. For founders in the process of category creation, being a vocal advocate for your vision and educating the market are indispensable strategies. This may involve speaking at relevant forums, leveraging media, and building case studies that demonstrate the value and impact of your solution.

Takeaway #4: Prioritize Customer Education in Your GTM Strategy

As Andela ventured into new territories with remote work and African tech talent, educating the market became crucial. Develop educational content and embrace your role as an industry evangelist as part of your GTM strategy to address misconceptions, highlight the value your solution brings, and create believers in your vision.

Takeaway #5: Empower Your Early Adopters

Andela’s growth was significantly fueled by early adopters who believed in their model, despite it being a novel concept at the time. Founders should identify and empower early adopters as evangelists who can help validate and spread the word about the new category you’re creating.

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