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You Won’t be the Next Tesla

Editor’s note – This article is written By Nel Ibuola, co-founder of rembi, a health tech startup based in Jos, Nigeria. Guests contributions are welcome. Contact us here

 

Why you shouldn’t be the next Tesla.

Digital healthcare is really seductive and deceptive, you should know.

I belong to a small group on Telegram where members talk about everything. I mean a typical day’s chat

might take off with news of MMM’s return, and by early noon the topic is women brassieres, a little of

political jokes, a bant or costly sarcasm will dash throughout the day, and you can tell that members,

although spread across diverse time zones, are away, either at offices, or in beds. Before night falls, the

conversations will soar again, maybe a member got mobbed at Ikorodu, or another member was misled

by her Google map and almost froze, out in the Amsterdam cold. Really, we talk about everything, just a

rush through the surface, and no depth. No, it’s totally uncool to dig beyond these peripheral fabrics

that say we’re all having a good life. Seriously dude, don’t dig.

 

Sadly, in a way that makes me both unhappy and irresponsible, health technology is becoming like my

Telegram group. A lot of owners, founders, see-he- owes (or whatever title that says you’re the guy in

charge of doing nothing at your company) are flagellating towards the peripheral imagery of billionaire

tech founders. I’m saying it’s good to drool, leave your mouth and salivary gland open, but we must

know about mirages too. Billionaire dreams are only the surface projection, the layers beneath aren’t

that attractive, and that’s what you should look into. Going forth into an industry as immature and

spontaneous like health tech (I’m presuming this means everybody and company writing codes to hit

the practice of medicine sideway, but I’ve been told it means something else), it is safe to know what to

expect.

 

Healthcare doesn’t like disruption

 

This is probably not what I should begin with, it is quite a wild toss, and a lot of people will differ on it.

But I was trained to be a doctor at the University of Jos, and in those lengthy yes, I might have learnt a

thing or more about how resistant to change medicine can be in the tropics. Put forwards data and

testimonies for why a medical regimen is safer and more effective, and clinicians won’t still hit your link.

It doesn’t count in medicine until it is a crime to not count (Does that make sense, well you get what I

mean), tropical medicine is orthodox, and until the pope says angelus should be said at two in the noon,

it is sacrilegious to do so.

 

So when you’re building the next big thing, remember this. Remember you’ll have to do more than your

counterparts building hotel booking webs or an e-commerce system. And please, don’t put your price in

the sky with them too, you’re selling in health tech, you’ll offer more for less pay. Remember.

Medicine has no money. Yes, there are arguments on this also, but I am serious, medicine has no money in it in the tropics. Maybe it does in Europe and some of America, but not in Africa, not in Nigeria.

Our medicine in the tropics is at its infantry, not in age, but in development. We have several key

milestones unattained, and these puts a roof on the quality and cost of our care.

 

Our choices as a people are largely poor, the government allocates too few of its budget to healthcare, and wealthy private individuals are sceptical of investing in it. We are a population with very poor health seeking behaviour,

people who don’t see the need to use a hospital until we’re haemorrhaging, or in severe pain, or our

cosmesis is threatened, in this order. So healthcare is sincerely not as important an industry to us as you

hoped it is, and you know we are only going to put our money where we see value. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

The place where your treasure is is the place you will most want to be, and end up being – Matthew 6:21.

Good aspirations are good, and even more good when they have billionaire dreams in them, but I don’t

think you’re looking to make those billions from Nigerian health tech.

 

Life is fair

 

Honestly, life is fair, and it is the beautiful thing about it.

These talks apply, but there have been exceptions, and there could always be. Even as it is not an

encouraged position to come into health tech with billionaire aspirations, you can achieve profound

success and fulfilment in many other ways. If you’ll choose the right problem to solve, be lucky enough

to have a simple solution (not I choose simple consciously) for it, and maybe, just really maybe you’re

also lucky to have the right team to help you build, you’ll be unstoppable. That’s how life is fair, GiGo.

And that’s how sincere health tech is too.

 

Do it anyway

 

How many of us are going to be actual inventors, seriously, how many of us? The answer is same as

always, none. Nobody truly ever invents anything, we are all piling up on our predecessor’s works and

knowledge to build our own things, thinking apart is what we call invention. When we can see things the

way nobody else has seen it, and we can go on to leverage established works to achieve this, we are

called inventors, how funny.

 

When I started working at www.rembi.ng, I had a steady worry, if what we were building was truly

important, if we weren’t wasting our life building crap that nobody will use, and all our pride about

paying attention to the tiniest detail, lengthy hours trying to be sure that the system is very intentional

and responsive to use, a little faster, a little to the right, I worried it might be too much effort for

nothing. It is in the middle of that that I see that life is a line, and as every line is made up of continuously

linked dots. A dot apart breaks the line, each dot must rest on the other to create the beauty

of a whole, entrepreneurs must leverage on works of their predecessors to excel, and in a similar light,

you should build strongly enough with the hope that your work will be somebody’s resting dot. Even if it

doesn’t seem like an ‘invention’ now, it is probably paving the path for the next big thing. And if you do

not carry through because it doesn’t make you feel like Nikola tesla, you’re just denying the next dot a

resting edge, and breaking the chain of humanity.

 

Whatever you do, do it anyway, and do it better. Our lives, and now yours, should be lived with a heart

filled for contribution, not invention. Contribute, and if you’re doing it very well as if it’ss your life’s work,

then you would have invented.

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