Chika Nwobi (born August 31, 1978), is a Nigerian technology entrepreneur, investor, and company builder. He is on the board of directors of Unilever Nigeria, a partner at Rise Capital, and the CEO and Founder of L5Lab, a holding company focused on incubation, growth capital, and seed investments. He is credited as the leading co-founder and former Group CEO of MTech Communications PLC, Nigeria's first mobile technology firm and the pioneer of value-added services in the country.
He is also the founding director of the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of Nigeria (WASPAN), established to prioritize the development and use of local ICT content, including the use of local software and hardware in the country.
In 2018, he was selected as one of the People of African Descent as part of the United Nations General Assembly's Global Top 100 Under 40.
Chika Nonso Nwobi was born on August 31, 1978 in Lagos, Nigeria to an entrepreneur, Eric Nwobi, and a civil servant, Edna Nwobi. His father is the founder of Tranex Plc (formerly Choice Courier), one of Nigeria's earliest courier companies. His mother transitioned into entrepreneurship after a successful career as a public servant.
Nwobi grew up in Lagos where he attended the prestigious Corona Primary School in Gbagada, Lagos, from 1983-1988. He attended junior secondary school at Model College in Badore, Lagos, Nigeria from 1989-1992 and senior secondary school at Atlantic Hall from 1992-1994. In 1996, he completed his A-levels at St. Augustines School in London, United Kingdom.
Nwobi enrolled in East Tennessee State University in 1996, where he graduated with honors and received a BSc in Computer Science and a BA in Economics. From 2009-2010, he enrolled in a joint executive MBA program at Tsinghua University and INSEAD, taking courses in Corporate Finance, Financial Accounting, and Corporate Strategy.
Career: Entrepreneurship, Investment, Company Building
Nwobi began his career in the technology industry in 1999. While udergoing his Bachelor's degree, he began working at phoneonline.com, a mobile internet startup in Knoxville, Tennessee. In an interveiw with ynaija, he described how fulfilling his time was working in the US at the height of the dot-com boom saying, "It was a great time. The Vice President of AT&T would call me!"
At the same time, the period of military rule was coming to a close in Nigeria and democracatic governance was about to take shape. In 2000, he moved back to Nigeria after hearing about the new development of telecommunications in Nigeria from former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He described his decision to move back to Nigeria as an uncommon practice at the time, but explained that he was inspired by a family friend, Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, after she decided to move back to take an executive role at the FATE Foundation.
At 22 years old, he received $300,000 in seed capital and gathered a group of 10 graduates from Obafemi Awolowo University to found MTech Communications PLC. He led MTech to becoming the leading mobile content company in Africa, serving clients such as MTN, GLO, Zain, Vigrin Nigeria, Pepsi, Nigerian Breweries, and Nokia with operations in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ivory Coast. In response to his impact on the telecommunications industry, Jason Njoku claimed, "Chika is the god of this whole thing (Nigerian mobile and internet business).”
In 2010, Nwobi founded L5Lab. He explained his reason for leaving MTech, saying, "After running my first company, MTech in the mobile content and app space for 8 years, I found I was most passionate about the leadership development and new product development aspects of that experience...Basically, through L5Lab, I want to be able to help develop teams of outstanding tech entrepreneurs and companies based on impactful products.
L5Lab is responsible for building companies such as Jobberman, one of the largest job search engines in Africa, and Cheki, the number one online marketplace for buying and selling cars in Nigeria. Cheki has expanded its operations to Kenya, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
He is presently the Founder and CEO of L5Lab.
In 2014, L5Lab launched a joint venture with 88mph to establish 440.ng, an accelerator program aimed at investing in Nigerian startups. 440.ng invested in nine startups during its first year, most of which were e-commerce platforms. The accelerator provided participating startups with seed funding of up to $2 million and also strategy, product development, matchmaking, and mentorship.
In 2015, the accelerator was dropped in place of a Deal Weekend, allowing at least one participating startup to receive an investment "deal" between $100,000 and $250,000 within 24 hours. DavtonLearn was the only company that secured an investment.
In 2017, L5Lab announced its partnership with the Presidential Enabling Environment Business Council (PEBEC) on an initiative to use technology to hold the Federal Government of Nigeria accountable through its various ministries, agencies, and departments. As described by the chairman of PEBEC, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo, the #PebecHack is “bringing together techies in a Hackathon to develop a solution for tracking reforms and getting public feedback and for enabling the public to complain directly about government agencies that are making doing business difficult.”
L5Lab was selected to implement the winning solution, which went live on October 1, 2017.
Nwobi has expressed that he follows the teachings and ideas presented in The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. He said: "If I had been exposed to these ideas 12 years ago, when I started my first company I would have saved myself, my investors, and my staff a lot of time and money."
- "Terms of Service Violation". https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=247164889.
- "WASPAN seeks holistic approach to sub-sector's regulation". https://guardian.ng/technology/waspan-seeks-holistic-approach-to-sub-sectors-regulation/.
- "Terms of Service Violation". https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=145663136&privcapId=247164889.
- "Chika Nwobi - Founder and CEO @ L5lab - Crunchbase". https://www.crunchbase.com/person/chika-nwobi#section-overview.
- "Unilever appoints Nwobi as non-executive director". https://punchng.com/unilever-appoints-nwobi-as-non-executive-director/.
- "Delisting: Investors Lose N9.5bn In 4 Companies — Leadership Newspaper". https://leadership.ng/2017/05/09/delisting-investors-lose-n9-5bn-in-4-companies/.
- "L5Lab to partner FG on forthcoming #PEBECHack". https://guardian.ng/technology/l5lab-to-partner-fg-on-forthcoming-pebechack/.
- "Presidency picks preferred vendor for PEBEC tech". 10 August 2017. https://www.tribuneonlineng.com/106248/.
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- Mtech Communications PLC
- Presidential Enabling Business Council