Tomi Bamgbelu, Creative Director and Founder, Spazio Ideale
Nigeria’s technology sector has grown exponentially in recent years, and nothing exemplifies this growth more than the speed with which companies like Flutterwave hit major landmarks.
For context, Flutterwave’s pre-exit valuation of over $1 billion makes the five-year-old company more valuable than all but a couple of Nigeria’s most prominent and oldest banks. Over the past decade, Nigerian startups have gotten increasingly bigger pieces of the venture capital pie, with $600 million received from the over $1 billion that came to Africa in 2019.
Of the many tech companies springing up in various sub-sectors of the economy, the fintech space is the most developed. Companies in payments and remittances are ahead, while those in savings, lending, and investments are close behind.
With this divergence, it stands to reason that these companies have different visions and work cultures. For many startups focused on building their brands and differentiators, a few things confer credibility quickly: its board, investors, executive team, fund-raise and valuations, and, to some extent, office space.
The office space as a melting pot for multiple generations
More than anything else, a company’s office space symbolises its culture. From the entrance, visitors can see its ambitions as it is immediately evident what market demographic it serves, its growth goals, position on transparency, and approach to employee satisfaction.
Quite the opposite of traditional cubicles, with an office space, it is easy to identify the fun office, Gen Z’s preferred melting pot, Millennials, and baby boomers.
The paintings, structure, and design of an office further remind employees — present and future — customers, visitors, and the media of what it stands for.
Some Nigerian companies have realised the important role an office’s space plays and are helping Nigerian startups and even more established companies create offices that typify their vision.
The rise of tech startups with unique office spaces has somewhat started a trend among large corporations in Nigeria, and one company is responsible for this movement.
Spazio Ideale as a creator of experiential, engaging and creative work spaces
Founded by Ibilola Bamgbelu in 2015, Spazio Ideale has been giving visually appealing life to various company’s visions, some of which have become iconic in Nigeria’s tech space.
Spazio’s work, however, cuts across different sectors. In its six years of existence, it has completed over 50 projects for 30 commercial clients.
The company’s vision is to enhance a company’s work culture, which can easily be passed down across different generations of employees.
It currently transforms offices with seemingly trivial issues like lighting to more complex aspirations like telling captivating stories with each piece of design.
The outcome is usually an excellent and experiential office space that is engaging, fosters creativity and productivity, and gives an overall sense of belonging and comfort.
According to Tomi, the Spazio team always tries to figure out why a company approaches them and then focuses on executing that vision.
Spazio Ideale has helped tech companies create some of the most iconic spaces in Nigeria.
Iconic tech spaces designed by Spazio Ideale
Kuda — the self-styled bank of the free — is a digital-only bank seeking to take over market share from traditional banks in Nigeria.
So far, its strategy has been aggressive marketing and exciting incentives like free transfers to renew people’s faith in Nigeria’s banking sector.
“We came from frustration with excessive bank charges (for inconsistent services), now we’re here,” the company states.
uLesson: uLesson is a Nigeria-based edtech startup that sells digital curricula to students through SD cards — a low bandwidth way to deliver educational content. Founded by serial entrepreneur and Founder of Konga, Sim Shagaya, uLesson recently raised $7.5 million in Series A funding.
Paystack – It doesn’t get more iconic than Paystack when it comes to Nigerian tech companies. Since it was founded by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi in 2016, Paystack has helped launch a new era for the technology revolution in Nigeria’s financial sector.
The company helps thousands of businesses and merchants receive payments online, and it has been building a community of enthusiasts with its Decode Fintech newsletter.
Upon entering Paystack’s office, you’ll be greeted with a wall graffiti that says “Welcome” in several languages. This was likely designed to capture Paystack’s mission as a global company regarding employees, clients, and overall reach.
It has an open lobby exemplifying its vision of transparency, an ideation room aptly called the Naira Conference Room, and a quiet room for serious work.
However, it’s not all seriousness, as the office lives up to its geeks’ paradise name with a bathtub and other exciting recreational fittings.
Paystack’s office has undoubtedly played a major role in helping the company achieve its ambitions. It has also spurred new startup players across Africa to launch office transformation initiatives.
The workspace designer behind the most iconic startup spaces
Meet Tomi Bamgbelu, the workspace designer for some of Africa’s brightest startups including Paystack, Kuda and many others.
Heritage Bank – Heritage Bank is a leading Nigeria Bank envisioned to deliver banking experience beyond the traditional to customers, by consistently providing outstanding service and future-proof financial solutions. With the slogan ‘your timeless wealth partner’. Heritage Bank is committed to serving the growth of the Nigerian, with initiatives that evolve along with the way people bank and make interactions with their money. Heritage Bank now sports a new office