HOPSTOP: PUTTING AFRICA ON THE MAP

“Every entrepreneur starts off thinking ‘What’s a problem I can fix?’ The problem for me was how to get from Point A to Point B in New York.” This was the simple idea that led to the beginning of a legacy. For Chinedu Echeruo, this problem led him to create HopStop.com, an online city transit guide providing door-to-door, bus directions and maps for over 150 cities around the world (excluding Africa, some parts of Asia and South America); via its website or app. Now this revolutionary app has been bought by tech giant Apple for a rumoured one billion dollars.

Analysts speculate that the move comes as Apple plans to step-up competition with the industry leader Google Maps. Let us examine the gravity of this statement for a second. An African has designed and sold an app that may change how we plan our transport roots in the near future. Echeruo was an analyst with J.P Morgan Chase and AM Investment Partners in the United States before he ventured out into business. Moreover this is not his only venture into business as he also owned Tripology, an online platform that connects travellers with global travel specialists. However this platform was recently bought by American travel and navigation company, Rand McNally in 2010. This notwithstanding Echeruo managed to use the knowledge he had picked up at Kings College in Lagos, Syracuse University and Harvard Business School to raise nearly $8 million for both companies while they were in his control.

33So how does the sale of HopStop affect the life of the average African Entrepreneur? It teaches us that the fundamental element to success is to ensure at the core of our businesses is a problem. Furthermore now that Chinedu has sold HopStop he has focused his attention on Africa. He has become a partner in a private equity firm in Accra Ghana which he will use as a platform to promote his “business in a box” idea. This will basically serve as a template for entrepreneurs looking to start a business, which they will then customize to suit their own circumstances.

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