A techie igwe of Africa
African countries are usually in the news for bad reasons; it could be Boko Haram in Nigeria, Xenophobia in South Africa or failed coup attempt in Burundi. Is there any good to talk about Africa? Is technology an import from the west that is used here as mere conduit to transmit African scandals?
The story about one techie igwe of Africa, Chinedu Echeruo is perhaps a detergent that washes the African dirty perception in the eyes of the west.
Born and raised in Eastern Nigeria, Chinedu attended Kings College before enrolling for a Bachelor of Science degree at Syracuse University in the USA. The young man then found his way into the prestigious Harvard Business School where he earned an MBA.
The young Nigerian remained in the USA where he eventually worked as a systems analyst in the Mergers, Acquisitions and Leverage Finance group of JP Morgan. Chinedu did not just concentrate on his computer technology work; he watched how financing and acquisition transactions were being negotiated. That knowledge installed the spirit of serial entrepreneurship in the young ambitious African.
Echeruo raised US$8 million and started his two US based internet companies; Tripology.com and HopStop.com. Tripology is a story for another day, but suffice to say that it was soon acquired by American travel and navigation information company, Rand McNally and Chinedu was named Black Enterprise magazine’s innovator of the year and listed in the Top 40 under 40.
HopStop is an automation of a city guide. Imagine an app on our mobile phone that turns into a guide that tells you the directions of the nearest bus stop, hotel, and if you are an alcoholic unlike me, the nearest bar. HopStop can even calculate how many calories that you can save by using a certain path other than another.
This online city transit guide offers maps and directions for 140 cities around the world using website application or as an app for iPhone and formerly Android and Windows Phone.
Started in 2005, HopStop was named one of the top 100 fastest growing software companies in the United States in 2011. Around the same time, Apple departed from use of Google Maps on its systems and introduced its own Apple Maps. Unlike Google Maps, Apple Maps did not have its own transit maps but relied on third party services out of which HopStop was chief.
In July 2013, Apple Inc. acquired HopStop for a record price of one billion dollars. Chinedu Echeruo was made chairman of board of directors for HopStop.
Now that Chinedu has made the money, his heart has turned back to Africa with “crowd Sourced business in a box”. This is an online business plan template that can win funding focused for small businesses in Africa.
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