L5 Lab: Investing in Africa’s Future ⎜IPEye


Lagos-based venture capital firm L5 Lab is investing in Africa’s future, and it’s doing so through a series of investments in businesses operating in Africa. Its approach is manifold, as L5 Lab engages in venture capital and creation endeavors, regional expansion partnerships and growth fundraising. Its portfolio is expanding and amidst the ventures backed by L5 Lab are: Jobberman, an online job vacancy website that helps companies find talent and jobseekers find vacancies; Cheki, an online marketplace where all of Nigeria’s leading car dealers, importers and private sellers post their cars for sale in Nigeria;  and, Oya, a bus ticketing agent that provides bus ticketing solutions for inter-city bus companies in Nigeria.

In the latest installment of our Global Innovation Series, we get to press pause on our exploration of tech hubs and incubators and view innovation through the lens of investors.  To learn more about L5 Labs and its ventures, keep on reading:

What was the inspiration/motivation behind L5Lab?

L5 is on a mission to build new products in Africa, for Africa. What I enjoyed most about my first entrepreneurial adventure was the product development and leadership development so I decided to turn this into a business

How would you differentiate your firm from others in the region and do you interact with other investment firms in the region?

L5 is different because it takes a different perspective to business creation. For instance, there is the ongoing accelerator programme – 440.ng, which L5 is in partnership with and also 88mph, another Africa seed investment company.
There are also regional partnerships that bring other firms domiciled outside Nigeria within Africa like Cheki.com.ng, which started in Kenya and now exists in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and Rwanda.

When it comes to funding and investments, are investors willing to take risks?

Investors are definitely willing to take risks by virtue of the fact that since these tech startups are scalable using technology, they grow easily and very rapidly. Hence, most of the time within tech businesses, you find that businesses can have multi-million valuations very easily within a one to five year period.

 Who owns the intellectual property in successful startup projects? Does ownership change according to projects, or do you have a standard structure, by contract?

The founders/ ‘brains behind the idea own their intellectual property. We simply have an equity share in each start-up

How do you see technology and innovation developing in Nigeria in the next five years? Where do you see L5Lab 10 years from now?

Technology and innovation are going to become a more significant part of our culture and daily lives. We see L5 being a major part of this change in landscape. We intend to keep growing and expanding to more African countries, and creating businesses that leverage on gaps that are scalable using technology

What is the most rewarding aspect of the work you perform?

Being able to mentor younger people with brilliant ideas who have a strong desire to work hard and have successful ventures

What would be the most important piece of advice you would give to entrepreneurs and start-ups?

Learn as much as you can about your business idea, glean from the experience of those who have done similar work and don’t rest on your oars.

What advice would you give to innovation hubs to help streamline the innovation and commercialization processes for entrepreneurs/ start-ups?

Be open in your dealings with these entrepreneurs. Ensure that what you intend to give them and gain from them is clearly communicated.

Keep up with all of L5 Lab’s activities on twitter: @L5Lab

Don’t forget to keep up with us on twitter @IPEyeBlog, and Facebook @IPEyeBlog!

About: Tracy Ayodele

Tracy Ayodele is a Canadian lawyer, called to the Bar of Ontario, and a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. She has a keen interest in IP policy, social innovation and the intersection of technology, development and start-up culture in emerging economies. She is a spirited legal researcher and writer, and co-authored “Hot-tubbing in Canadian Patent Litigation: A Preliminary Assessment” published in the Intellectual Property Journal.

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