Unleashing the Power of Market Creation
Businesses that create markets instead of products have the power to unlock the greatest potential.
Almost every entrepreneur dreams of becoming a market leader. But a business’s greatest potential for success happens with market creation. Andela, led by cofounder and CEO Jeremy Johnson, did just that by unlocking access to a global labor market — for both job seekers and companies in need of great talent.
Hear Andela’s market-making journey and gain insights on this kind of disruptive innovation from Efosa Ojomo, director of Global Prosperity at the Christensen Institute and co-author of The Prosperity Paradox.
Andela began with a tightly focused mission to train software engineers to compete on a world stage. “The original problem statement,” Johnson explains, “is that brilliance is evenly distributed. Opportunity isn’t. How do we move towards a world where those things are a little bit more uniform, where someone’s potential in life has less to do with who their parents were and where they were born and more to do with the impact they’re able to create?” Andela quickly realized that the most valuable part of the business wasn’t training the talent but making it accessible. So, to connect all that brilliance with opportunities, Andela created a global talent marketplace to help companies simplify the process of hiring and working with talent from all over the world.
This “market-making innovation” — creating an ecosystem for “non-consumers” — is what Efosa Ojoma believes made all the difference to Andela’s success. In the case of Andela, he explains, “The brilliant talents in Nigeria are non-consumers of opportunity. They just happen to be born in a country that could not leverage what they would give to the world. Andela is creating an infrastructure that connects them to that opportunity so that they can add value to the world.” And they’re doing the same for companies that face barriers to recruiting the best talent. According to Ojoma, “Unlocking this double-sided non-consumption unlocks so much value, and the world becomes a better place as a result.”
While many companies suffered due to the pandemic, it actually helped Andela by reinforcing the power of remote work. In just four years, the company expanded from seven to 120 countries, and its leaders realized that the tricky part of global talent was the infrastructure, or lack thereof. So, they spent time and energy building a supply chain to make it easy for people to work together between countries, covering issues from payroll to compliance to taxes. “The primary driver of the business was companies coming to us and saying, ‘We want to be able to work with great talent. Can you help us? And can you make that easy? And because you trained them, we would like to work with you,’” Johnson explains.
Listen to Johnson and Ojoma discuss Andela’s meteoric growth, regulatory hurdles, the role of data, and how looking at your product through the lens of market creation can unlock a business’s true potential.
Grit & Growth is a podcast produced by Stanford Seed, an institute at Stanford Graduate School of Business which partners with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to build thriving enterprises that transform lives.
Hear these entrepreneurs’ stories of trial and triumph, and gain insights and guidance from Stanford University faculty and global business experts on how to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.
Jeremy Johnson: The original problem statement is that brilliance is evenly distributed, opportunity isn’t.
Darius Teter: We often talk about product market fit, but what if that market doesn’t even exist yet?
Jeremy Johnson: How do we move towards a world where those things are a little bit more uniform? Where someone’s potential in life has less to do with who their parents were and where they were born and more to do with the impact they’re able to create. We think that would lead to a more prosperous and just world, and we think work is the primary way that you can actually make it happen.
Darius Teter: Welcome to Grit & Growth from Stanford Seed, the podcast where Africa and South Asia’s intrepid entrepreneurs share their trials and triumphs, with insights from Stanford faculty and global experts on how to tackle challenges and grow your business.
For many ambitious entrepreneurs, the pinnacle of success is creating a unicorn, a private company valued at over $1 billion. There’s a reason they’re called unicorns. You don’t see them very often, especially not in Africa. To date, only seven African startups have achieved unicorn status. Our guest today wants to change that, and he would know how. Jeremy Johnson co-founded Andela, a startup worth $1.5 billion, that operates primarily on the continent. But what’s interesting about Andela isn’t their valuation, it’s the journey that got them there. Their choices reveal an unusual and ambitious vision, one with implications for businesses and people across the continent. So, saddle up! It’s time to hear how the unicorn got its horn.
Jeremy Johnson: So I’m Jeremy Johnson, cofounder and CEO of Andela.
Darius Teter: This is Jeremy. He spoke to us over Zoom with a background I’ve honestly never seen before: a wall-to-wall bookcase that was completely empty. It was kind of intimidating.
Jeremy Johnson: I’m actually visiting a friend’s place. Normally I’ve got a Zoom covering, so it doesn’t really matter, but I like it. Also, I like the focus point of, “You know what? The books are all here.”
Darius Teter: Jeremy was pointing at his head.
I think it’s a huge flex. I think it’s a huge flex and he should do it always.
Jeremy is a cofounder of Andela, a company that helps businesses recruit software developers from all over the world.
Jeremy Johnson: We turned nine yesterday. Happy Andelaversary! And we are the global talent network for long-term, full-time embedded work. We help software developers all over the world prove themselves on a global stage, and in the process help companies simplify the process of hiring and working with talent all over the world.
Darius Teter: In 2021, Andela achieved the coveted status of unicorn. So what made Andela so successful? We found someone who thinks he knows the answer.
Efosa Ojomo: Great to be here with you. Name’s Efosa Ojomo. I am an accidental innovation development researcher.
Darius Teter: Efosa is the director of Global Prosperity at the Christensen Institute, which studies disruptive innovation.
Efosa Ojomo: Originally from Nigeria, came to the U.S. for college, data engineering, was working. I read The Bottom Billion, a book about the poorest 1 billion people in the world, by Paul Collier, and I just was gripped and I wanted to fix poverty. Did do the nonprofit thing and then found out that wasn’t quite working. Was very fortunate to get into Harvard Business School. I don’t know if your listeners care, but Stanford rejected me. Whatever. No hard feelings.
Darius Teter: It’s a long and honorable list of people that have been rejected by Stanford.
Efosa Ojomo: Well, there you go. Things have worked out.
Darius Teter: Efosa is also the co-author of The Prosperity Paradox, along with Karen Dillon and the late Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. The book has made waves with some pretty important people. Bob King, the donor who founded Seed, sent me your book.
Efosa Ojomo: No way.
Darius Teter: He said —
Efosa Ojomo: I’m honored.
Darius Teter: “Darius, you’ve got to read this book.” So I read it and I thought it was really interesting.
Jeremy Johnson: I’ve joked to many, many friends that if I could get everyone at the World Bank to read a book, it would be Efosa’s.
Darius Teter: The Prosperity Paradox is key to understanding Andela’s success. But before we get there, let’s rewind to the beginning.
Jeremy Johnson: I had two different groups of people that we brought together to make Andela possible. One of them was a dear friend of mine, Christina Sass, who was Rita Roy’s right hand at the MasterCard Foundation. [She] invited me out to Nairobi to give a talk in January of 2014, and the other side of it was Iyi and his team. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji was a friend and mentee who had reached out to me totally randomly trying to build an ed tech company focused on Africa, and just became a friend over the couple of years before. And I came back from this trip to speak for the MasterCard Foundation, energized about what could be possible with talent from the continent, but didn’t really have familiarity or a connection deeply other than Iyi. Iyi came back to me and was like, “We’re about to wind down this other company we were working on. What should I do next?”
And he and the other co-founders of his company joined me and Christina, and the six of us came together. So you had two people from Nigeria, one from Cameroon, two from the U.S., and one from Canada, from all over the place, came together around this concept of: How do we initially bring talent from the continent, from around Africa — and Nigeria specifically — into a global mindset and into the global tech ecosystem, and do that through education? And so we started off very much focused on that notion of cultivating talent and building out a marketplace for that talent to find jobs and to connect that talent into jobs so that they could, instead of having to pay tuition to fund that education, so it could be paid through the work that they did afterwards.
Darius Teter: And this was software development, software engineering training?
Jeremy Johnson: That’s exactly right.
Darius Teter: When we think of the most famous startups, we often think of a revolutionary product: Google’s search algorithm, Tesla’s electric cars, Uber’s ride-sharing platform. But while Andela’s training was strong, it wasn’t exactly new.
What I’m curious about already with that initial idea is, business process outsourcing was already 25 years in India, and so this seems to be a well-trodden path in other places. What made you think that there was a market for junior software developers that you would train in Nigeria?
Jeremy Johnson: You’re missing a core assumption, or there’s a core assumption that’s off. Of the first cohort, we ended up with, looking for 20 people, 2,500 applications. Of those 2,500, 42 were in the top 2 percent aptitude and problem solving of all humans on the planet, applying to a program and a job with a company that had no website, just for the chance to prove themselves and to advance their lot in life. What you’re missing is that, when you work with business process outsourcing, what you’re primarily doing is outsourcing simple, fairly rote tasks, and it gets very, very expensive to bring in and work with people that you’d think, “I would love just to sit next to this person shoulder-to-shoulder and actually think with them.” That change? You go to Stanford to hire those people, you go to elite institutions, and those people are expensive. But if I could find those people and train those people in Lagos, Nigeria, I could change how you think about talent and we could get a lot done in the process.
Darius Teter: In under a decade, this assumption would drive Andela’s remarkable growth. And here’s where Efosa comes in. He thinks Andela’s success isn’t about their technology or their training, but the market they created.
Efosa Ojomo: I am intrigued by this idea of the process of market creation. You’re not plugging into an existing ecosystem, you are building and creating the ecosystem. You are literally creating the market.
Darius Teter: Efosa is passionate about market creation.
Efosa Ojomo: It is, not even arguably, I think easily the most beautiful activity that humanity has ever engaged in, and will continue to engage in. You have a huge swath of non-consumption, a lot of people don’t have access. Something magical happens and then all of a sudden, very many people, millions of people, most people have access and we cannot imagine our lives without access to whatever it is, whether it’s phones, whether it’s the internet, whether it’s indoor plumbing, whatever it is. It’s very similar to what we talked about Mo Ibrahim in the book and when he was talking about building cell towers and so on, people laughed at him, said he was crazy, that “we thought you were smart.” This is what his peers were saying. But today, on the continent, the mobile telco revolution is worth a couple of hundred billion dollars. That’s the power of market creation, which we see the knock-on effects.
Darius Teter: To him, there’s a huge difference between a good product and a market-making innovation. And it all starts with what he calls non-consumers, people who aren’t in the market for your product or service because they lack specific skills, sufficient wealth, physical or technical access, or time. They represent pent-up demand that no one is even trying to satisfy. I was thinking about, in the book The Prosperity Paradox, one of the things, Efosa, that you and Clay talk about are market-making innovations. And one of the criteria for that is that there’s a non-consumer out there who’s facing barriers to consumption. So I was thinking about brilliant talent in Nigeria being the non-consumer of jobs that they would qualify for. Is that a good way of applying the framework? That actually if you think of these really brilliant people, they’re the non-consumers and the product they’re not able to consume is a career that they should qualify for?
Efosa Ojomo: Darius, 200 percent, that’s exactly right. And there’s even more. These are non-consumers of opportunity. They just happen to be born in a country that could not leverage what they would give to the world, and Andela is creating an infrastructure that connects them to that opportunity so that they can add value to the world. But on the other hand, on the other hand, there’s also the non-consumption on the other side of this talent. To Jeremy’s point, how many organizations, even in the United States, can go to Stanford, recruit from there, get the best talent? How many organizations can keep that talent, keep them happy, excited? And so we’re missing so much. And this is this double-sided non-consumption, that once you unlock it, organizations that are doing that, whether it’s Airbnb or the others, you can see how it unlocks so much value and the world becomes a better place as a result.
Darius Teter: Andela was built to address these non-consumers right from the very beginning.
Jeremy, what’s the original problem statement that led to the founding of Andela?
Jeremy Johnson: The original problem statement is that brilliance is evenly distributed, opportunity isn’t. How do we move towards a world where those things are a little bit more uniform, where someone’s potential in life has less to do with who their parents were and where they were born, and more to do with the impact they’re able to create. We think that would lead to a more prosperous and just world. And we think work is the primary way that you can actually make it happen.
Darius Teter: As Andela expanded, they searched for other pools of untapped talent.
Jeremy Johnson: For the first few years, the first five years, we approximately opened country by country. So Nigeria, and Kenya, and Uganda, and Ghana, Egypt, Rwanda, and built out infrastructure in many cases with campuses in most of those countries. That all obviously became both complicated in some ways with the pandemic, but it also opened up a pretty extraordinary opportunity to become much broader.
Efosa Ojomo: After discovery happens, then distribution now has to happen. And distribution takes the world from one to many.
Darius Teter: Distribution presents plenty of obstacles, and chief among them is infrastructure — or, more specifically, lack of infrastructure
Efosa Ojomo: Because it is in distribution that you really start to solve the thorny issues for the average person in society. That’s where you’re building the infrastructure of society. Virtually every market-creating innovation we’ve studied, you go in to fix one thing and you find yourself building out the infrastructure that supports the easy transaction of that thing that you’ve said you want to go fix.
Darius Teter: It reminds me of the example in the book about Indomie noodles in Nigeria, where they realize that, I think he said something like, “I’m in the food business, but I know more about power generation.” Because in order to build … And then, now I have the noodles, how do I get them in front of customers? So now I need a logistics operation, and none of that existed. I think that’s what you and Clay call the pull factors, the innovation [that] unlocks the non-consumers, brings them into the consumption market, but now you have to solve all these other problems to actually make the business model work. As Andela expanded, it found that the tricky part of creating a global talent marketplace wasn’t necessarily the training or the talent search. It was everything else. What other constraints are you solving for? Payroll, compliance, tax, all that other stuff as well? These are all things that kept this pool of people out of gainful employment in these global firms.
Jeremy Johnson: That’s exactly right. One of the great lessons learned over this journey has been just how fundamentally broken the global hiring market has been throughout this period. I think we came into it with the assumption that those were “nice-to-haves.” They were going to make things a little bit easier, as opposed to understanding that actually those were the barriers and the world ultimately needed infrastructure, needed a supply chain built to make it easy for people to work together between countries. And ultimately, that’s what we’ve had to spend a lot of time and energy building out.
Efosa Ojomo: You go in to solve one problem, you go in to give opportunity to these incredibly brilliant people around the world. I’m just going to train them, some hard skills, some soft skills and connect them to these companies. And then all of a sudden Jeremy and team are talking about, “Let’s figure out labor laws. How do they get paid? Where do they pay taxes? How do they do this? And does the company expense this? Is this under balance?” You just want to give these amazing people, brilliant people, opportunity, not as a charity gig, but connect them to a company where they can create value. But then all of a sudden you’re solving all these other infrastructural problems.
Darius Teter: That’s consistent with a lot of market-creating innovations, which take something complex or expensive and make it available to more people. So when Andela needed to pivot, they focused on making talent and opportunities accessible.
Jeremy Johnson: The economic driver of the business was not, and it still is not, the training side of it. It was still clear that that was useful for the world, that it was creating heat maps of talent for us, but the primary driver of the business was companies coming to us and saying, “We want to be able to work with great talent. Can you help us, and can you make that easy?” And that was a function of all the infrastructure we’d built to make that easy for them. And so they weren’t coming to us and saying, “Because you trained them, we would like to work with you.” They were saying, “We just need you to solve this problem for us.” We went fully remote with the pandemic and that enabled us to go from seven countries represented to now 120 countries approximately four years later.
Darius Teter: But growth is a double-edged sword. When markets reach a certain size, you have to deal with governments.
Efosa Ojomo: Ultimately, casualties happen when many people start consuming something, because mass consumption happens and then the government tends to step in. Mass regulation now starts to happen. And the government wraps their arms around it and says, “We should do this. We shouldn’t do this. This is how we regulate roads. This is how we regulate traffic. This is how we regulate food.”
Darius Teter: If you want to become a unicorn, eventually you’re going to have to deal with regulators. But even if that’s not your goal, there’s still plenty to learn from Andela’s approach. Jeremy talks about regulation as an opportunity. Just listen to his vision.
Jeremy Johnson: Darius, this is one of the reasons why I think it becomes really obvious, over time, that a talent network, and almost a walled garden for talent, is going to bring people together around the world. You need someone to navigate that complexity of global labor laws and all of the rules and regulations around it. You combine that with the need to, say someone needs to assess quality in a uniform way and then keep track of that over time so you can see how people are progressing. And all of a sudden I think it becomes really clear over time that without question this happens and it happens by virtue of a system bringing it together. Does that make sense?
Darius Teter: It does make sense, and I want to pursue that. Because one of the other things in the book is that once regulators, policy makers, realize that something is happening despite them, they start to get engaged in how to facilitate it because it results in a cultural shift in the minds of regulators. I think about in the 1980s and 1990s, countries started competing for direct foreign investment, not even talking about sub-Saharan Africa yet. They started coming up with tax breaks, export processing zones, all these different ways in which to encourage investors to come in and build infrastructure in manufacturing, and therefore create jobs. In the world that you’re describing, Jeremy, is there going to be a pull for governments to make it easier to hire their citizens remotely?
Jeremy Johnson: If I were leading a small country, the top things I would do are, one, make it really easy for people, incentivize people to be able to work remotely and bring hard currency into the country; and then, two, I would make it really easy for people to come to that country in order to work to be remote workers, but be based in that country. Those two things are in some cases happening — not nearly as much as they should, but you’ve got examples all over the world. For example, in Ukraine, two-thirds of technology workers are private entrepreneurs. It’s a tax designation, which is like a super contractor, which just means you can work in that form for as long as you want in any form that you want. It was the government’s way of being able to gain revenue and create structure around the massive number of people who were working remotely for companies around the world. And you’re seeing examples like that pop up in lots of countries, but it takes a long time. Everything involving policy and governments just takes meaningful time. But is it going to happen? Yeah, gravity is going to keep pulling it there, and ultimately I think that’s a healthy thing.
Darius Teter: Creating a vision for regulators is key. If you can show that what you’re bringing isn’t just a product or a service, it’s a market, that can open doors for you because that’s something money can’t buy.
What’s interesting about that is some governments have tried to grab that through investment directly, and there’s this great chapter in the book called “If You Build It, They May Not Come.” Botswana, God bless them, they built this enormous thing called the Botswana Innovation Hub, which is this massive building, and you go in there and it’s just empty. So it’s just this idea that you can somehow buy innovation just by building something and declaring it to be true.
Efosa Ojomo: That chapter was one of the most profound for us to write because we were essentially not so much going against the notion of “infrastructure is important” — it is important — but infrastructure is simply society’s most efficient way to store or distribute value. That’s it. What is that value? Where is it coming from? If you haven’t solved that incredibly difficult problem first, then you could build as many innovation hubs and parks and roads, but you don’t have value to move or store, that’s going to be a problem. And that’s why when Andela talks about the thorny issues they’re trying to fill, it’s not a training thing. The world’s talent issues, it’s not “let’s go train a million people.” We could do that. That’s not the issue. It’s the thorny, like, “Oh my gosh, now we have to solve this problem. Now we have to solve that.” And once you’re able to do that, then you’ve created the platform that can help people more easily transact talent.
Darius Teter: If you’re creating a market, you’re not waiting around for the perfect regulatory framework. You’ve got to be proactive.
The other example I was thinking of, for folks in Nigeria, is that thank God the Fintech got out in front of the regulators and then banded together and said, “We’re not against regulation, but we’d like to be part of the conversation about it.” You’re not like — you’re not shutting down all of these cool payment platforms and savings platforms that are allowing the unbanked to bank. Again, I think about this, you want to drag the regulators along, you don’t want them to try to be in front of you all the time.
Efosa Ojomo: Exactly. I think one of the things that helps me think about this is the theory of jobs to be done. When Jeremy was talking about this idea of a global talent workforce and how governments will really have to figure this out, you have to ask, what’s the job to be done of, say, an average government official? Obviously you want to get reelected, reappointed, but it’s to increase revenues. And so when we, as innovators, folks on the ground solving problems, can begin to talk about our solutions through the lens of what the government cares about, not necessarily in broad terms of “we’re going to solve humanity’s problems, your country’s problems, we’re going to fix all this, we’re going to make the country better.” No, it’s like you’re the ministry of finance, you care about revenues, increasing that and allocate … If we solve this problem, we’re going to get more revenues to you.
All of a sudden I’m interested. Maybe I don’t want to block you. I’m like, “What are you doing?” And so understanding the job to be done and then communicating your solution in such a way that the person in front of you will be incentivized to support you is key. I think it’s important for every entrepreneur, but it’s even more important for entrepreneurs who are creating new markets and really trying to build this infrastructure that can pool a lot of other folks along. You almost can’t do it without it.
Darius Teter: Here’s the kicker. As a market grows, it creates ripple effects, well beyond the business that made it.
Efosa Ojomo: The beauty about market creation, which goes against a lot of standard, economic-type principles, is: I cannot predict what will happen next. And nobody really can. When we were all enjoying the advent of Facebook in 2000 … I think I got on the platform in 2005, or 2006, or something, and I’m just looking at friends and so on, who could have predicted that today we would be talking about how it’s impacting elections and it’s impacting democracy and the fabric of … And that’s in some ways the power of market creation, in the sense that if we’re able to just unleash it, oh my gosh, countries will start their journey towards prosperity and it’s going to be a beautiful thing.
Darius Teter: Andela has already created tremendous impact on the African business landscape.
Jeremy Johnson: When we started, in 2014, 2015, you had fewer than 50,000 people on the continent who identified as professional software developers. That number is now just over 500,000. And we’ve trained, or been directly involved with training, over 175,000 of those people. And so, we’ve had a pretty meaningful impact on the growth of software development. A lot of people, in fairness, have, especially from Nigeria, moved around the world. We’ve seen a lot of mobility of Andela engineers, but a lot of folks started their own companies. A lot of folks ended up then raising money after that. We’ve seen a lot of people come in leadership roles with local technology companies, and all of the ecosystems are continuing to grow really meaningfully. That’s been very consistent.
Darius Teter: I love that because, again, Efosa, this is like a page right out of your book, all of these knock-on effects of building an ecosystem. You planted the seeds … I’m trying to think of one of the parallel examples. I want to say the Model T, which led to roads, which led to people putting up restaurants and shops along roads, and it’s just crowded in this crazy amount of affiliated and unrelated businesses and investment.
Efosa Ojomo: When people start to think about Nigeria today, Kenya, other African countries, there are images that come to their minds, and one of those images, one of those brands, is solid tech talent. And 15, 20 years ago that didn’t exist. And so Nigeria still has a lot of issues. Africa still has a lot of problems, but you can have a serious conversation with the CEO of any of the world’s largest tech companies and say, “We’re looking for talent in Nigeria.” And they aren’t going to laugh at you. They’re going to be like, “They have a solid ecosystem.”
Darius Teter: Eventually, Andela’s impact may be felt on an even larger scale.
One of the things that you and Clay say in the book is that market-creating innovations can lead to cultural change. For many, many years, the great talents in places like Kenya, Nigeria, were actually just looking for a way to get out, because they didn’t see any opportunities in their home. And so that’s the classic phase of brain drain. Is this globalization of a low friction, seamless, high quality workforce matching technology that Andela is bringing to the world — does that directly combat brain drain?
Efosa Ojomo: It does, but it’s not going to be linear and it’s not going to be short term. Because when you think about many of the problems that an emergent market has, they transcend just being able to find employment. Security, access to electricity, so all those infrastructural issues. And so what may happen is, when I get an opportunity to engage within Andela, earn more, see that I could start having a family, I could provide better for my family, I may leave the country, but I still have ties. So remittances are going up, but over time, what you’re going to see is the investment in the larger societal infrastructural things necessary, and people are going to stop.
When you look at countries that have gone through this path of, we were poor, and then something starts happening and development is happening and we’re becoming more prosperous, what ultimately happens is, you have Korean immigrants leaving, but then they start to come back as the country can absorb the talent and pay them enough to live there and to live well. The idea is there’s not going to be a brain drain, but initially you might see people leave, but ultimately, oh my gosh, you will see them come back because there’s no place like home
Darius Teter: Andela is one piece of the puzzle in creating prosperity and opportunity in emerging markets, but there’s still so much more to do.
Efosa Ojomo: I’m optimistic because I think in terms of consumption and non-consumption, and just to throw out some stats, fewer than 7 percent of people globally live on more than $50 a day. Which means the vast majority of people in the world aren’t living awesome lives, don’t have access to awesome health care, don’t have access to awesome opportunities, struggle to pay rent, struggle to educate their kids, including people in America. And that 7 percent, most of them live in the U.S., Japan, Western Europe. When I think about AI and what Jeremy was talking about, the ability to create products and services easier, more efficiently, I’m thinking about non-consumption, I’m thinking about the vast majority of people who don’t have access. And then if we can tie that, the ability to create these products and services with the ability to tap into talent globally, oh my gosh.
I’m glass-half-full typically, but when I lay the advent of these technologies with just where the world is, I see a ton of opportunity. Now, if we focus these emerging new technologies, whether it’s AI, CRISPR, whatever, if we focus on the consumption economy, the markets that can already afford, quite frankly, me, you, Darius, Jeremy, then of course it’s going to kill jobs and people are going to struggle. But if we focus on non-consumption, I think we’re going to live in a very different world and we’re going to solve our environmental challenges a lot sooner than we think, because again, we’ve got these AI bots thinking with us.
Darius Teter: I want ChatGPT-5 to unlock cold fusion, preferably by December.
Of course, not all innovations will create markets, but the ones that do have an outsize impact on all of us. So as you develop your product and explore emerging technologies, don’t just think about the markets that already exist. Remember those non-consumers, the people who would be customers if the product was accessible to them. Consider the infrastructure that is required to reach these non-consumers and to broaden the market itself. When you encounter regulation, approach it collaboratively, present a vision. That’s a win-win for everybody. Just don’t expect regulators to lead the charge. You’ve got to bring them up to your speed, not wait for them to act. Market-making innovations ignite the economic engine of a society. They create opportunities for further innovation and can change the lives of entire populations. The story isn’t over yet. Efosa calls the final stage of creating a market “democratization,” taking the innovation from many to all, and that’s what lies ahead for Andela.
Jeremy Johnson: Human capital today is the most underutilized resource on the planet. If you could rework it so that people were more likely to be in roles that they were excited by and that they were able to really do well, because the reality is there’s the top 1 percent, top 2 percent thing is all BS. That’s actually not what almost ever matters. What matters is the probability of success with a given person and a given role together. That is the unit. And if you would reimagine human capital that was more closely aligned with what people’s optimal skillset and success level is going to be, you would see a very meaningful shift in how labor engaged in the world and how companies were built and problems solved.
We’re going to see over the next few years, Andela continuing to lean into the data around how people succeed or where they’re most likely to succeed, and then investing in the product and engineering work to reduce the cost of working with and hiring people around the world, until it just becomes unbelievably obvious that yes, of course, this is how companies should engage. We’re just letting companies think about their global talent strategy now, the way that they’re going to a few years from now regardless, and making that easier. And that enables us to invest in, again, just the infrastructure, the product and engineering, to automate and simplify that process to where no one has to worry about it, it just happens.
Darius Teter: I’m curious, what’s next for you, for Andela?
Jeremy Johnson: It’s whatever Efosa tells me, basically, is a simple way to look at it.
Darius Teter: I’d like to thank Jeremy Johnson and Efosa Ojomo, and I highly recommend the book, The Prosperity Paradox.
This has been Grit & Growth from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I’m your host, Darius Teter. If you liked this episode, follow us and leave a review on your favorite podcast app. Erika Amoako-Agyei and VeAnne Virgin researched and developed content for this episode. Kendra Gladych is our production coordinator, and our executive producer is Tiffany Steeves, with writing and production from Andrew Ganem and sound design and mixing by Alex Bennett at Lower Street Media. Thanks for joining us. We’ll be back soon with another episode.
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