Startup Notes

J. Allie Morse on building Africa’s first unicorn for Rocket Internet and working in Silicon Valley

December 27, 2017

J. Allie Morse is a seasoned entrepreneur who has lived and worked in Sierra Leone, Singapore, Nigeria and San Francisco with close ties to the European startup scene. She was the founder and former CEO of Jumia House (formerly Lamudi) in West Africa, which is an online real estate market place backed by German tech giant Rocket Internet and belongs to its Africa division Jumia (formerly known as Africa Internet Group). In 2016, Jumia became Africa's first unicorn startup valued at over $1 billion. Most recently, Allie joined San Francisco-based startup Postmates as Head of Expansion. Being originally from Canada, she is a McGill University alumnus and also graduated with a Master’s degree in Global Politics and Gender Studies from Oxford University.

Postmates was founded by German entrepreneur Bastian Lehmann and is an on-demand logistics company. It is one of Silicon Valley's fastest growing startups and is transforming the way goods move around cities by enabling anyone to have anything speedily and inexpensively delivered on-demand. The startup’s Urban Logistics platform connects customers with local couriers who can deliver anything from any store or restaurant in minutes. Like this, Postmates empowers communities to shop local with no waiting, and also empowers businesses through its API to offer delivery. In total, 65,000 couriers work for Postmates in 44 cities across the US. By the end of 2016, the startup raised $140m in its latest funding round at a $600m valuation.

In this episode, we are talking to Allie about how she made her way into the startup world without a business degree, what it’s like to build a company under extremely challenging conditions like in Africa, and making the jump to Silicon Valley.

Here is the full list of topics that we discussed with hands-on startup builder J. Allie Morse who is not afraid to be a tech pioneer in challenging markets like Africa:

[01:27 – 02:51] Introduction of Allie and how she made her way into the startup world

[02:52 – 03:52] Allie’s favorite things to do besides building startups

[03:53 – 09:14] How Allie figured out that entrepreneurship is what she wants to do in life

[09:15 – 11:36] Why not having attended a business class is not a disadvantage for building companies

[11:37 – 15:12] On the challenging times of setting up Lamudi in Nigeria

[15:13 – 16:21] The most important skills to have as a founder

[16:22 – 18:12] Why building a startup in emerging markets like Africa is a big opportunity

[18:13 – 20:03] The reasons for Allie joining Postmates in the Silicon Valley

[20:04 – 22:06] How the experiences gained in Africa benefit Allie for working in the Valley

[22:07 – 24:54] Why Allie is passionate about evolving markets and what to do when you want to expand into new markets with your startup

[24:55 – 26:54] The reasons for Postmates being successful

[26:55 – 30:25] On Silicon Valley being the special place for tech innovation that it is

[30:26 – 32:18] How to make the jump from Europe to Silicon Valley

[32:19 – 33:58] Allie’s best piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs   [33:59 – 35:34] The industry and location that Allie would found a company in nowadays

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