#Borderless: How Chris is enabling young Nigerians to get connected to remote jobs globally
In our last #Borderless article, we featured Cash Madam-Bella, a Sendcash user who makes six figures monthly helping people send money through Sendcash. This month, we spent some time chatting with Chris Quintero, CEO of Stack Shift. He shares his experience working in Venture Capital, describes his biggest culture shock since moving to Nigeria and breaks down his foray into founding a company that connects talent to high-quality remote jobs.
Hi Chris! Please tell me about yourself.
Sure. My name is Chris. I spent the last seven years working in venture capital in NYC at a pre-seed / seed-stage fund. While I was there, we made about 70 investments. I recently left VC to move to Lagos. Right now, I'm transitioning back to the founder side of things.
What was your experience in VC like?
VC was a great experience. It was a hardware-focused fund, and we were pretty hands-on with our portfolio companies. There were machine shops in our offices and engineers on staff. So, it was enjoyable to see ideas come to life in physical products. One of the more successful companies is a digital home fitness company called Tonal. It was just an idea when they came to us, so it's been fun to see them grow - especially during the pandemic.
Interesting. Tell me your best and worst parts of the job.
What I liked most about it was working with founders in the portfolio - helping them with operating plans, hiring, etc. You could spend a lot of time with founders and get close to one another.
What I liked least was the initial pitch meetings. Your job is to tell almost everyone you meet "No", and it kind of sucks because you know how much work the founder has put into their company.
I can imagine how saying now would have made you feel
When did you move to Nigeria?
My wife and I moved in May. We originally planned to move last August but got delayed first due to the pandemic and then visa challenges.
Why did you decide to come to Nigeria?
My wife's American, but we met back in college working on a project in Cameroon, so West Africa has always felt familiar to us. I started travelling to Lagos in 2016 to meet with founders and was super impressed by the people I met. There's a level of entrepreneurial hustle here that you don't find so often in the US. We kept coming back every year, and after four years of this, we decided to move full-time. There's a longer article I wrote about this here.
What do you do for work now that you're in Nigeria?
I recently started working on Stack Shift. We want to build a network for experienced tech talent here in Nigeria. We're excited about remote, distributed work, but these jobs can be hard to find. Most people find their jobs through their network, but what if you're looking for a remote job? How do you connect with an employer who may be in another country?
We're developing part-time programs that aim to make finding a remote job easier. Think of us more like a startup accelerator, but for talent. Startup accelerators don't "train" you to become a founder; they focus on helping you refine your narrative and building your network. By doing this and curating a cohort of great participants, they get investors to come to founders, not the other way around. We want to do the same, attracting employers to hire from us. In the same way that Y Combinator democratized access to startup funding, we want to democratize access to distributed work.
The type of program we have in mind is kind of like On Deck fellowships but instead of charging $$$ for people to attend, we'll make money like a recruiting agency does - if there are successful placements.
How has your experience been so far since you started this?
We're just getting started. We made our first hire last week and have started running some events. It's early stage, but I'm thrilled to be here finally. We've been really comfortable and happy so far in Lagos.
Tell me about your biggest culture shock so far.
Haha, honestly, there hasn't been much culture shock. I share more in common with Nigerians in tech than the average American, so it's generally been easy to adjust. The most surprising thing recently was getting invited to the funeral of my wife's boss's grandmother. She was 99, which is amazing, so I hear it's more like a big party, but funerals are sad, intimate affairs in the US, so it was kind of surprising.
Lol. That’s Nigeria for you.
I prefer how you do it here though - better to go out with a big party!
How did you get to know about Sendcash?
Nigerian tech Twitter is an amazing (and sometimes terrifying) place. Last year, when we were planning our move to Nigeria, I wanted to hire someone to help me with market research. So, I put a job ad out on Twitter, and it got 700 applications in 2 days! This blew my mind.
I ended up hiring someone I was pleased with, but we ran into trouble when it came to paying him. He was going to lose a ton of money if we used any of the conventional money transfer services. I came across Sendcash, and it was a no brainer. We used it the whole time we worked together.
LMAO. Tell me why you think Nigerian tech twitter is scary.
Haha, Twitter, in general, is a scary place. It's so easy for people to take things out of context.
Nigerian tech twitter scares me because I'm worried that people might get the wrong impression about me as an outsider just entering this ecosystem. I'm just learning about this ecosystem, and it's scary to learn in public.
I agree that Twitter can be scary.
How has your experience been with Sendcash so far?
Sendcash has been a great experience. I think a lot of foreign employers don't know how bad the quoted exchange rates are. They google "USD to Naira", see the official rate, and don't think too much about it, but it's a big deal!
Sendcash's speed is great because if you're starting to work with someone, it builds trust. The speed is also great because you can send a test transaction and have confidence that larger transactions will also go through. Sendcash has had swift support whenever I've reached out to them, which has also built my confidence in using it.
Super happy to hear that Sendcash has served you well so far.
Yeah, it has.
What’s one thing you look forward to experiencing in Nigeria?
We'd like to travel more. We went to Ibadan by train last month and enjoyed it. I'd love to visit Kano and maybe one day Calabar.
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