Shark Tank Nigeria

Hello Sharks,

We all know that self-driving cars are set to be a multi trillion naira industry.

Allow me to introduce an indigenous company ready for Series A funding.

Jamiu Jolayemi Automotive Limited modifies self-driving cars for the Lagos road. Here is how we work:

When your self-driving car arrives at the Apapa port, it comes loaded with all of the features and luxuries that you expect. But is that enough, is that vehicle fit for the Nigerian road?

That is where we come in.

Faced with the Lagos traffic, your Elon Musk approved driverless car quickly becomes overwhelmed. It struggles with the manic merge techniques require at bottlenecks and toll plazas in Lagos. It cannot roll down its window to give a deserving driver a waka, and you, the passenger, are left tapping your own index finger to the side of your head to let a pedestrian know he is stupid.
Our first modification is an AI overlay installed on the existing firmware.

The Like A Danfo module replaces the docile self-driving algorithm with aggressive machine learning trained by simulating the best public transportation drivers in the city.

The AI overlay activates a verbose mode that punctuates every action and intention of your self-driving car with a blaring honk. Your car will wait one microsecond after a red light turns green before honking to let the other cars know they are being too slow. At the end of the day, your car will pull up to your house and keep its horn pressed until your security guard runs out to open the gate, his mouth full of apologies. On the express, your car will change lanes constantly to take advantage of every inch of motion, it will lurch from one end to the other into spaces you did not think it could fit into. And when all the lanes are blocked, it will take to the shoulder and drive off-road, jostling you around as pedestrians flee ahead of it.

Second. Picture this scene you face every day.
You pull up to an intersection, a man with only one arm slouches towards you thinking perhaps of snatching your phone with his good hand. Or maybe he has one leg and 70% of his body covered in burns, or maybe it’s a woman carrying two infants, or a flock of children making puppy eyes at you touching their cupped hands to their mouths in hungry sign language.
Of course, you streetwise Lagos residents know what to do, but your new self-driving car does not. We have you covered.

With our modifications, your car will automatically lock itself upon approach of any lowly types, if you could pardon my language. The system will also play the sound of the doors locking through external speakers so all the panhandlers in the area are aware.
Watch their faces fall as they hear the simultaneous click of four doors locking.
The Beggar B’Ware module will also turn on your windshield wipers and squirt the urchins with wiper fluid to let them know you don’t want window cleaning.

And finally, you are familiar with the popular criminal technique where another car will hit yours and when you get down to argue, yes? Several armed men will emerge from the other car to kidnap you.
We have devised a way of preventing this from ever happening to you.
During the day, in the event of a scratch or slight bump in a fender bender, your modified self-driving car will not stop. How can thieves rob you if they cannot get you to stop, right?
And at night, in the event of a full-on devastating collision, your car will limp on for as long as it is able to move. Our Run after Hit module (patent pending) will keep the tyres inflated and the brainbox active as it delivers you to your original destination cocooned inside the car.

Before you ask, there are no other companies in this space. We are offering the first of this type of service and giving you a chance to get in on the ground floor.

So, sharks, which one of you is ready to be driven into the future and who will be left stuck in hold-up.

We are seeking 1 million naira for 5% equity.


Make it Bun Dem

At the BRT park in Ajah, there was a short queue of about ten people. It was early morning and it had rained earlier. There was no bus yet so the people there were waiting in faith.
There is a critical queue length (CQL) which is the minimum number of people who have to be on a line for that line to appear legitimate. Once the queue has accumulated that number of people, it generates enough conviction to passers-by that those waiting are certain that a bus is coming. And like that, the line attracts even more people.
But if you asked anyone gathered there if they knew if a bus was coming, they would stare at you blankly and say something like, “Can’t you see the line?”

About five people from the start of the queue was a woman carrying a backpack.
The man behind her was playing with his hands. He shuffled to her left, he shuffled back behind her. He kept turning and looking around like he was expecting the bus to sneak up on him. Someone standing around them shouted. “Chai! Madam be careful, this boy is trying to steal your phone.” The woman swung the bag to her front and saw that the bag was unzipped. The fidgety man behind her opened his eyes wide, pointed to himself, Who me?
The person who had alerted the woman said, “It’s true! I saw you.”
More of the people on the queue got involved. “Picky pocket. That’s how they do, they will be standing on line waiting. Then they will disappear, your purse will be gone, your phone too, you won’t ever see them entering the bus.” “It happened to me like that one time.”
The woman zipped her bag up and hugged it tight in front of her. A few minutes later, the accusations died down.

Now the alleged thief, to prove that he wasn’t stealing, was stuck on the queue. He was waiting with everyone else, acting impatient. When the BRT official walked by, he joined the other passengers in complaining, When is the bus coming? We have been waiting for over thirty minutes.
But even when he was united with them, the people would not stop talking about his stealing past. “Look at him pretending like he has somewhere to go.” “I know, just watch and see.”
Someone said, “That’s how they always do here. And they are never just one. Once you catch them, another one will come and be supporting him.”
The group evaluated each queue member searching for who was most likely to be his accomplice. A new man joined the queue. He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt with a tie. He was carrying a file folder and the belt holding up his trousers was looped around his entire body twice.
He overheard part of the conversation and asked what happened. He listened, nodding at all the speakers and looked the thief over.
“Why you no slap am?”
“No o, you no dey beat thief, they just come back dey tiff again. You must kill them.”
The alleged thief was cleaning his fingernails, being interested in the dirt he found there.

The BRT bus pulled up and the bus assistant came down the front steps. She asked the first person for their destination and held her hand out for the passenger’s ticket.
She took the ticket and tore the stub off the end for herself. She ripped the remaining part of the ticket in half and returned it to the passenger. She did that for the next three people. The woman with the bag stepped forward, submitted her ticket and got into the bus. Then the alleged thief was at the head of the queue.
A brief look of confusion crossed his face as he stood at the entrance of the bus. He did not have a ticket in his hand. Instead, he tapped his chest three times and turned into smoke.

Someone from the back said, “See? I told you.”
The ticket collector waved her hand back and forth to dispel the mist and called up the next passenger. The passenger stepped forward, she took their ticket, and tore the stub off for herself and ripped their ticket in half and returned it to them. Then she did the same thing for the person after that, and for the person after that too because she had a long line to get through.

Rate me well

So, Mo picks me up from work on a mall run. We are five minutes away from The Palms when we get stuck in traffic. A blind man and his companion step off the sidewalk onto the road. They make their way down the line of cars. At each window, the female companion stops. The blind man leans into the window with his palms open and runs through his list of prayers and blessings.

With a signal that is imperceptible to the rest of us, the blind man lets the girl know when it is time to move on to the next car. Or maybe the girl decides herself. She stares into the distance as he speaks and when she gets tired of listening to him, she walks to the next car dragging him along.

I see them do this a few times ahead of us watching their interaction, then I turn to Mo and tell her something that happened the previous day.

I am in the same area in Victoria Island. Two blind men pass each other on the street. The girls leading them are friends so they stop to talk. The first blind man keeps his hand on his girl’s shoulder and waits as she chats with her friend. The second man does not wait. After an initial pause, he sighs and walks off leaving his guide behind. He strides away confidently, not feeling his way slowly tapping his cane every step. He is just an ordinary man in Lagos wearing a kaftan with dusty feet who happens to be holding a cane.

He walks right into the intersection. A motorbike swerves to avoid hitting him. A keke sideswipes him and pulls up in front. Cars pile up behind it. Everyone is honking. What is this blind man doing, they are saying, where is his PA. The keke driver sticks his head out and yells at him. The blind man has made it halfway across the road. Maybe he knows the place. Maybe he thinks it sounds like Adeola Odeku and he can smell the pizza dough wafting over from Domino’s. The road is divided by a raised barrier about one foot high. The blind man has to step over it or find the gap to walk through. The man is feeling the stick along the highway barrier looking for an opening. He is stuck. 

His helper finally hears the commotion, she darts into the road and takes his hand, leads him away from all the people calling her stupid girl. The entire time I don’t see them speak. I am saying this to Mo now. I am telling her, I don’t think they talk much. I say, The girl was very chatty with her friend and when the blind men are together at the foot of the bridge, they stand with their hands stretched out and talk to each other. But the men don’t talk to the girls. I say, How about that? 

Mo is thinking about it. She’s also struggling with it, thinking to herself, this is a weird conversation to be having. 

Mo says, Maybe they don’t talk because they don’t know each other.

I say, How can they not know each other, they walk together every day.

Mo says, That doesn’t mean anything, maybe they are assigned to each other. 

I scoff at her, Assigned how, like a temp agency? Are you serious?

Mo is bites her lower lip, she nods, Yes, I’m sure they have something like that.

I say, So you think the blind man wakes up in the morning, dresses, and goes to some office. There they check the database, because obviously, all these helper children would have registered earlier. The office has a man wearing glasses and a short sleeved suit behind a wooden desk with a rusty standing fan in the corner. The man pulls out today’s availability report from a file, runs his finger down the page humming to himself, Hmmm….. Aisha is free today. And then she gets assigned to him?

Mo fixes me with a frozen stare.

I say, This is what you believe, right? That there’s a whole infrastructure around it. Something where at the end of the day, the blind man can bring out his braille phone, give her one star and leave a comment: “Aisha talked throughout the day. She made me walk into traffic, I’m lucky to be alive. I will not ride with her again.”

Mo blinks. She says, You know sometimes you take these things too far.