David Lanre Messan -Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The First Founders Inc and Trogge Urban Limited

David Lanre Messan, founder and chief executive officer, The First Founders Inc and TroggeUrban Limited, is originally an idea strategist, then evolved into becoming a digital enterprise strategist, serial entrepreneur, startup advisor and angel investor. He heads a business incubation centre committed to accelerating tech start-ups that serve the retail and consumer sector through the application of social capital and technology.

His key interests are in start-ups, music, fashion and technology. He is presently focused on helping people and businesses around the world develop digital enterprise models, raise funds and drive growth.“I have built a robust network with some of the brightest minds across the world and I am happy that I am recognised as one of the go-to-persons in Africa whenever international people want to do stuff in Africa”, he said.

Messan is grounded in the knowledge and experience needed to shape up entrepreneurs’ businesses and craft the most suitable solutions possible. He has over 10 years of experience in entrepreneurship, business planning, ideas and strategy development, branding, marketing, operations, leadership and decision analysis. He has over 12 years’ experience in communications, marketing and executive business presentations in the private and public sectors.

He has spoken in over 50 conferences on key economic and social topics, major amongst them are the Grow Africa Forum, World Economic Forum on Africa, SHAPE Africa, etc. He has developed more than 100 thriving business ideas for companies, governments and corporations.

Messan has a solid academic background that has equipped him to run his talent management, digital marketing and business project management company. He studied mass communications at Lagos State Polytechnic. He also studied business marketing strategy at Nexford University, disruptive strategy at Harvard Business School and entrepreneurship and innovation at Scalabl Global Academy.

Messan had an upbringing that helped him to become conceptually insight-driven, which is a cardinal characteristic of an idea strategist. He was taught to be contented but work hard – which exposed him to the power of curiosity and exploration from an early age.

“I developed myself to become an idea strategist by investing over 13,000 hours in the course of three years or so”, he said. He did more than the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell said will make one an expert in anything. “I learned the art of entrepreneurship from my mum and the science behind intelligence and application of knowledge from my father. These values have shaped me a great deal”, he said.

Messan’s career development journey was one of weathering the storm to the top. It has been for him a journey of trials and errors, learning, unlearning and relearning. But he knew what he wanted – self-development, which he quite understood to be the only way out of an unwanted background. He did everything possible to seek knowledge; he read most of his father’s books, including ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill.

He took to hawking gala in traffic and later teaching in order to raise money to buy internet night browsing time at cybercafés. His purpose was to explore the new world of information and opportunities, to understand leadership and to become an idea strategist.

He started out with a social project in secondary schools named Lifeguard Youth Concerns where he worked to inculcate the principles of abstinence, entrepreneurship and leadership in senior students. He enrolled for LEAP Africa Youth Leadership Programme in 2006 which also helped him to focus on his goal and pursue his dreams.

Messan was selected by MTV/Staying Alive Foundation in 2005 as a finalist and was rated one of the 100 best authors by the World Bank in 2006 out of 1,900 authors in the world for sharing his ideas on how he planned to solve community problems.

In 2007, he founded Green Yaggy, a project under his first company, Infinite Impact, aimed at helping to democratise the process of starting a business and access technology opportunities. Through the project, he impacted the lives of over 250 youth directly and another 5,000 indirectly – an accomplishment that earned him a recognition as African Business Leaders Forum (ABLF) 101 Young African Leader in 2007. In 2008, he won the LEAP Africa Nokia Top 10 Youth Leadership Award.

In 2011, he was selected as a pioneer global shaper of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and grew to become the community’s curator in Lagos and a contributor at various programmes of the World Economic Forum and Grow Africa.

He has raised over $7 million for small businesses in Nigeria and Africa and has provided strategy for growth for over 250 businesses and start-ups in Nigeria. He has researched on digital enterprise integration for international magazines and has facilitated on strategy, fund raising, digital and business growth at various international platforms across several countries.

In Nigeria, he has spoken on various enterprise topics at over 200 top workshops. He has been appointed communications consultant to Lagos State Public Service Staff Development Centre. He has worked with top politicians, providing technology strategy and grassroots insights. He also worked briefly as senator with the World Business Angels Forum.

He presently serves as international partner for Nigeria with World Business Angels Investors Forum (WBAF), Turkey; scalable global ambassador for Africa and a community organiser for Harvard Business School Online. He has explored the business world, the entertainment industry, the political space and more and has come to focus on helping people and businesses go digital.

Messan is not only calling on Nigeria to build an enterprising nation; he has his hands on deck to bring about an economy where young people will learn skills needed at the workplace or in the community as entrepreneurs. “If you are a young person looking for a job, do not apply only with your CV but apply with an outcome of what you can do directly to benefit the employer.

“I have had my fingers burnt many times. I have lost money. I have been bankrupt and in debt. I have had failed businesses. I have been betrayed. It is all part of the journey. One thing that never left me was the template to make another million”, he said.