A chat with Segun Adeyemo about SAVA and pioneering growth as a service for African startups

Godfrey Elimian
Segun Adeyemo, a young entrepreneur, began his career as a model at age 16, collaborating with renowned brands like Fayrouz and gracing runways at the Lagos Fashion Week…
A chat with growth expert, Segun Adeyemo about pioneering growth for African startups with SAVA

The rapid emergence of startups in Nigeria highlights both the opportunities and increased competition within the market. In 2022 alone, there were 217 listed financial technology (fintech) startups in Nigeria.

With so many players building in the same space and for the same market, differentiation and scalability could prove difficult. Consequently, companies need unique value propositions and effective business models to build awareness, gain users, attract funding, and ultimately survive.

According to a 2023 report by Statista, Nigeria, one of the ‘big four’ of the African tech ecosystem, recorded a startup failure rate of 33%. 

Several factors contribute to the difficulties experienced by startups and businesses in Nigeria and across Africa. These include limited access to funding and capital, flawed business models, ineffective marketing strategies, regulatory challenges, poor leadership, and a lack of market demand, among other issues. It is important to note that these challenges are not unique to startups and affect several businesses in the region.

Amidst these myriad challenges, the need for and role of effective marketing is brought into focus. This is what forms the heart of Segun Adeyemo’s mission through SAVA – to be the driving force for holistic and sustainable growth strategies for businesses across the globe, startups and enterprises alike.

Led by the growth expert and marketing engineer, SAVA has developed an ingenious technology that empowers businesses to achieve growth and sustain it in dynamic and competitive markets.

A chat with startup growth expert Segun Adeyemo, pioneering growth for African startups and businesses with SAVA

I had a chat with Segun about what he does with SAVA and he said:

“Sava Global is a growth partner for African startups and enterprise companies. We help these businesses with customer acquisition and retention, guaranteeing increased revenue. Our process begins with a thorough assessment of each prospective client’s needs, from which we develop customised strategies and conduct targeted market research.”

Read also: How Abdul Bature is using AI-driven edutech, Schoola to improve the performance of Nigerian students

Meet Segun Adeyemo, the brain behind SAVA

Segun Adeyemo, a young entrepreneur, began his career as a model at age 16, collaborating with renowned brands like Fayrouz and gracing runways at the Lagos Fashion Week. He soon became a model manager and eventually started his modelling agency, L&S Model Management. 

Focused on securing international opportunities for models through marketing, Adeyemo collaborated with luxury fashion houses like Versace, Christian Dior, Balmain, Jill Sander, and PRADA, amongst others. He successfully placed models on prestigious runways and in renowned publications like Vogue, ID Magazine, Nataal Media, and Drum Magazine.

Subsequently, Segun pivoted into fashion marketing after recognising, through his journey, his passion for engineering business growth and working with Arise Fashion Week. In time, he worked with various companies and products like Ringier, Sterling Bank’s GoMoney, and Kuda Bank, developing his skills and contributing his marketing expertise.

Talking about this phase, he says, 

“My time at Ringier showed me that I needed to find an opportunity better suited to my abilities. That chance came when Sterling Bank launched GoMoney, a promising product that ultimately lacked the proper management to reach its potential. I joined Sterling amid the COVID-19 lockdown and, despite GoMoney’s shortcomings, leveraged my expertise to deliver solutions that earned me a promotion. I also led the growth marketing team at Kuda Bank to acquire over 4 million new registered customers in one year”, he recalled. 

In his experience, Segun noticed that “despite the potential of most startups and their ability to raise significant funding, a major factor plaguing their growth was ineffective performance marketing.” This realisation solidified his commitment to addressing growth issues in business and led to the birth of SAVA.

SAVA, the 360 Growth Engine

Culled from the French word “ça va?” which means “how are you?”, SAVA portrays itself as a partner invested in the success, well-being, and longevity of the businesses it collaborates with. 

Our mission is to drive exponential growth for companies through innovative and high-impact strategies that guarantee increased revenue and profitability for businesses. We are focused on becoming a global powerhouse that contributes to the growth and success of the world’s leading companies.

– Segun Adeyemo, SAVA Global

SAVA’s growth engine—a user acquisition and retention framework that transcends industries—is key to its success. With a keen emphasis on distribution and scale, SAVA not only understands the challenges businesses face but also possesses the expertise and technology to navigate them successfully. 

“We’ve developed a model that works across industries to systematically acquire users and sustain retention. Our growth engine is our innovation; it automates critical processes to efficiently scale any business. The framework drives measurable results even when it is paused; this validates the potency of the engine itself,” Segun explains.

“At its core, this proprietary growth engine consolidates our learning into repeatable playbooks leveraging technology, data analysis, and marketing best practices.”

Not a conventional marketing agency

With a focus on developing long-term solutions for the growth-related problems that companies face today, the company sets itself apart from traditional growth marketing agencies by marketing itself as a 360-degree growth partner.

Services offered include performance marketing, strategy development, user retention, demand and revenue generation, marketing analytics, and attribution.

SAVA places a strong emphasis on staying ahead of emerging trends in growth marketing. According to Segun Adeyemo, understanding the latest marketing analytics and measurement techniques is essential for success. 

“It’s not just about generating leads or boosting short-term metrics; it’s about fostering an environment where businesses can organically grow, adapt, and become pillars of their respective industries.”

As reported in their case studies, their technology has proven that growth marketing is more than just visibility for businesses; it is a fundamental tool vital for sustainable growth.

Read also: A chat with Ugonna Ginigeme on pivoting from Vasiti to Feegor to power retail connectivity

Milestones in a challenging environment

As a pioneer in advanced marketing, SAVA’s journey has not been without hurdles. One major challenge has been shifting perceptions of the industry across the African market. SAVA initially struggled to convince hesitant businesses to embrace new approaches. 

Their innovative offerings required levels of investment that many companies were hesitant to fully commit to; this hindered their ability to land ideal partnerships in the early days. Segun details this ordeal:

We once did a program for startups with Google’s support, but despite the reasonable offer we gave them, they said it was too expensive to invest in.”

He listed other cultural challenges that the startup faced:

When I started with Sava, the idea was to be a de facto growth team for startups. However, along the way, Nigerian startup founders began to treat us like employees rather than partners, and I wasn’t fully prepared for the challenges in the tech ecosystem.

We experienced issues with founders who were unhappy that their growth was being fueled by someone else; some used our growth engagements to raise funds and dropped us afterwards, and others assumed growth marketing was just advertising.

Segun Adeyemo and SAVA team

Growth so far

Despite these challenges, SAVA has not only persevered but thrived, securing major partnerships and driving transformative growth for clients. The company was instrumental in helping Payday, a Rwandan neobank, to acquire 300,000 registered users and support their $3 million seed raise.

For FoodCourt, a food delivery app, SAVA onboarded over 50K new customers, boosting their revenue by over $2M within 8 months.

In less than a year, SAVA has rapidly emerged as a leading growth partner, consulting with over 40 startups and enterprises across Africa. They have fostered business relationships with over 15 prominent brands, including industry giants like Meta, Google, TikTok, Bolt, NetCore, and Snapchat. These alliances accentuate SAVA’s stature as a trusted marketing powerhouse for local and global businesses seeking expansion.

Our business relationship with Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, Spotify, and Twitter in Africa, provides us with unmatched scalability and ease of reach across high-growth African markets. Similarly, our business relationship with Google in the Middle East and Africa region offers flexible support for addressing specialised marketing needs”, Segun adds.

Pioneering goal for Segun Adeyemo and SAVA

The next arduous take for the SAVA team will be to seek to redefine the general mindset and approach to growth marketing. For marketers, this means returning to the basics and understanding their clients and their target audiences to ensure that they are employing effective marketing strategies.

“In the next two to three years, SAVA aims to evolve into a venture studio model. Our goal is to fund viable, high-profit businesses without valuation games. We contribute so much more than capital alone – our expertise and distribution capabilities make companies investment-ready.”

Segun Adeyemo, CEO SAVA Global

The company aims to be a collaborative partner that redefines growth marketing and prioritises practical, result-driven approaches that benefit the businesses it supports. And, that will not change soon.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!

Register for Technext Coinference 2023, the Largest blockchain and DeFi Gathering in Africa.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!