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After Raising $300k Pre-Seed, TalentQL CEO Talks About its Chances and Learning from Andela’s Mistake

TalentQL is the latest company to join the already burgeoning talent development and outsourcing sector in Nigeria. Founded by former Techpoint publisher, Adewale Yusuf, the company couldn’t have made a bigger splash upon its entry than raising an impressive $300,000 at its pre-seed stage.

The funding was led by Nigerian VC firm, Zedcrest Capital and supported by angel investors like Venture Platform’s Kola Aina and former Andela Executive, Prosper Otemuyiwa. While this isn’t the largest pre-seed funding you have ever seen, it nonetheless gives a clear picture of just how much trust investors have invested in the fledgeling startup.

“It is a no brainer to be betting on the team behind the TalentQL; They are entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses, and we have no doubt they will replicate the same success here.”

Adedayo Amzat, CEO Zedcrest Capital

Launched in November 2020 by Adewale Yusuf, Opeyemi Awoyemi and Akintunde Sultan, TalentQL is looking to build a pipeline of quality talents for African companies. It will also be sourcing and managing top local talents for leading international companies right from Nigeria.

TalentQL

The company’s model includes building talent campuses in less crowded African cities with proximity to top tertiary institutions which combine to provide a fertile environment for talent development.

Founder and CEO, Adewale Yusuf is without a doubt that what the startup aims to achieve will change the African talent landscape.

“We believe that talent is Africa’s greatest export and as such needs to be developed and refined. With over 60% of the Nigerian population being under the age of 25, there is no better place than this country to begin building a home for Africa’s top talent.”

Adewale Yusuf

In a chat with Technext, the CEO elaborated more about what TalentQL is about, what stands it out from other talent development and outsourcing platforms, its plan for talent campuses, possible locations, and of course how the startup intends to avoid the pitfalls made by some of older players in the same space.

Standing a chance….

TalentQL is debuting into a sector with already established names like Andela, WeJapa etc. So what exactly is different about this new player? What would it do differently?

Adewale Yusuf hints at more focus on collaboration over competition in the space:

“60% of the African population are under the age of 25, so we need as many hands as possible to refine that and give the continent a chance in the digital economy. These guys that you listed are doing great and I believe we have a chance as well, especially with our talent pipeline model,” he said.

Talent campuses

On talent campuses, the CEO says these are basically quiet locations in cities where talents in the company’s pipeline will be expected to work and possibly live in. For now, its first campus dubbed ‘Campus-One’ is in Ile-Ife.

“For now, Campus 1 is in Ile-Ife, we are looking at Enugu for the second one shortly. Talent’s availabilities will drive our campus location,” he said.

Because these talent campuses will be located close to tertiary institutions, one might think this would translate to some form of relationship between TalentQL and those institutions. Acknowledging the need for that kind of association, Adewale says the startup hasn’t quite established one yet but is, however, open to discussing it.

He also revealed that TalentQL is strictly focused on developing talents in the tech field for now. However, the talent pool might become diversified in the future depending on how the talent landscape changes.

On Andela and the problem with developing talents

Andela, a major player in this sector adopted a strategy of developing talents before hiring them out to companies. Somewhere along the line, the model became unsustainable as there was increasing demand for experienced senior engineers and lesser demand for junior ones. This forced Andela to discard that model, letting go of hundreds of developers in the process.

TalentQL appears to be approaching the space with the same model. What would it do to make sure it doesn’t get to that bridge or if it gets there, how will it cross it?

TalentQL CEO Adewale Yusuf Talks Talent Campuses and Learning from Andela’s Mistake

Adewale said his company has learned from Andela and have put strategies in place to avoid finding itself in a similar situation.

“We have learned from Andela’s mistake, that’s why we are decentralising the development through our talent pipeline model. African companies must inevitably invest in African talent, and that’s what we are facilitating.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) are the technologies fuelling the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Sadly, Africa and Nigeria are in very short supply of these talents. There’s therefore a huge gap and prospective talent pool of next generation engineers in these fields.

The CEO assured that the startup is definitely looking to explore those special skills.

“That’s why our campuses are away from the noise,” he said.

And just in case you’re wondering what the QL in TalentQL means, wonder no more. It simply means a ‘Quiet Location’.


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