Listen Here

| |



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.


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.

Recommended Founder

Henrique Dubugras

Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Brex

Henrique Dubugras: the Story of Brex ($12 Billion+ Valuation)

Arvind Jain

CEO of Glean

Arvind Jain: the Story of Glean ($1 Billion Valuation)

Marc-Alexander Christ

Co-Founder of SumUp

Marc-Alexander Christ: the Story of SumUp ($8.5 Billion Valuation)

Tom Jermoluk

CEO of Beyond Identity

Tom “TJ” Jermoluk: The GTM Storyteller of Beyond Identity ($1.1 Billion Valuation)

Arik Shtilman

CEO of Rapyd

Arik Shtilman: the Story of Rapyd ($15 Billion Valuation)

Federico Larsen

CTO and Co-Founder of Copado

Federico Larsen: the Story of Copado ($1.2 Billion Valuation)

Abhay Parasnis

Founder and CEO of Typeface

Abhay Parasnis: the Story of Typeface ($1 Billion Valuation)

Tony Jamous

CEO of Oyster

Tony Jamous: the Story of Oyster ($1.1 Billion Valuation)

Ajay Kulkarni

CEO of Timescale

Ajay Kulkarni: the Story of Timescale ($1+ Billion Valuation)

Doron Myersdorf

CEO of StoreDot

Doron Myersdorf: the Story of StoreDot ($1.2 Billion Valuation)

Dave Wessinger

CEO and Co-Founder of PointClickCare

Dave Wessinger: the Story of PointClickCare ($5 Billion Valuation)

Jack Newton

CEO and Co-founder of Clio

Jack Newton: the Story of Clio ($100M+ in ARR)

David Blake

CEO of Degreed

David Blake: the Story of Degreed ($1.3 Billion Valuation)

Rodrigo Liang

Co-Founder and CEO of SambaNova

Rodrigo Liang: the Story of SambaNova ($5+ Billion Valuation)

Michel Tricot

Co-Founder & CEO of Airbyte

Michel Tricot: the Story of Airbyte ($1.5 Billion Valuation)

Arif Nathoo

CEO and Co-Founder of Komodo Health

Arif Nathoo: the Story of Komodo Health ($3 Billion Valuation)

Martin Mao

CEO of Chronosphere

Martin Mao: The Story of Chronosphere ($1.6 Billion Valuation))

Tomer Shiran

Founder of Dremio

Tomer Shiran: the Story of Dremio ($2 Billion Valuation)

Guy Tytunovich

CEO & Co-Founder of CHEQ

Guy Tytunovich: the Story of CHEQ ($1+ Billion Valuation)

Spike Lipkin

CEO and Co-founder of Newfront

Spike Lipkin: the GTM Story of Newfront ($2.2 Billion Valuation)

Marcelo Lebre

President of Remote

Marcelo Lebre: the Story of Remote ($3 Billion+ Valuation)

Johanna Småros

Co-Founder & Chief Sustainability Officer of RELEX Solutions

Johanna Småros: the Story of RELEX Solutions ($5.7 Billion Valuation)

Barr Moses

Co-Founder & CEO of Monte Carlo

Barr Moses: the GTM Story of Monte Carlo ($1.6 Billion Valuation)

Karl Siebrecht

Co-Founder & CEO of Flexe

Karl Siebrecht: the Story of Flexe (1+ Billion Valuation)

Michael Wax

CEO & Co-Founder of

Michael Wax: the Story of Forto ($2.1 Billion Valuation)

Gary Hoberman

CEO & Founder of Unqork

Gary Hoberman: the GTM Story of Unqork ($2B+ Valuation)

Justin Borgman

CEO and Co-Founder of Starburst

Justin Borgman: the Story of Starburst ($3+ Billion Valuation)

Joseph DeSimone

Chairman and Co-Founder of Carbon

Joseph DeSimone: the Story of Carbon ($2.5 Billion Valuation)

Kevin Busque

CEO and Founder of Guideline

Kevin Busque: the Story of Guideline ($1.1B+ Valuation)

Raj De Datta

CEO & Co-founder of Bloomreach

Raj De Datta: the GTM Story of Bloomreach ($2.2 Billion Valuation)

Michael Witte

CEO & Co-founder of Workrise

Michael Witte: Workrise: the GTM Story of Workrise ($3 Billion Valuation)

Hari Ravichandran

Hari Ravichandran: the Story of Aura ($2.5 Billion Valuation)

Harrison Rose

Co-Founder of Paddle

Harrison Rose: the Story of Paddle ($1.4 Billion Valuation)

Tom Livne

CEO & Founder of Verbit

Tom Livne: the Story of Verbit ($2 Billion Valuation)

Sean Duffy

Co-Founder & CEO of Omada Health

Sean Duffy: the Story of Omada Health ($1+ Billion Valuation)

Kyle Clark

Team Member of Beta Technologies

Kyle Clark: the Story of Beta ($1.2 Billion Valuation)

Jean Paul Chauvet

CEO of Lightspeed

Jean Paul Chauvet: the Story of Lightspeed ($2+ Billion Valuation)

Jerome Ternynck

Founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters

Jerome Ternynck: the Story of SmartRecruiter ($1.5 Billion Valuation)