Last week Monday, I finally was featured in the Unusual Entrepreneur Interviews on naijapreneur.com It’s a series of entrepreneurship interviews that covers the fundamental aspects of an entrepreneur’s journey into the business world and the lessons, principles and best practices they have applied along the way.
naijapreneur.com Entrepreneurship Interview
In this interview, you will learn more about my entrepreneurial journey into the business world and how the following successes and failures came to be;
- Failed over 6 times on different business ventures and yet never gave up.
- Was forced into entrepreneurship earlier than I would have wanted to because of family responsibilities.
- Have undertaken projects with zero capital and succeeded.
- Attended an entrepreneurship training program on scholarship because I didn’t allow my lack of personal funding to deter me.
- Have implemented every advice ever given to me by my mentors without fail.
- Understands the immense value of teamwork and the profound competitive advantage it brings to a startup.
- A track record of 22 100% completed construction projects out of 25 projects contracted to our company.
Part 1: How I Awakened the Spirit of business Within
How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business?
The journey started 15 years ago in my Father’s tailoring outfit (Vikky Creations Ltd) the go to shop for your tailoring need based in Lebanon Street, Ibadan, due to the quality of stitches you get. I spent four years there, managing all business operations, marketing, customer relationship, procurement of fabrics and other related input that goes into getting a finished fabric, personnel management, general finishes except tailoring itself.
All these were against my will, so I can say that was a reason I never got involved in the daunting exercise of peddling the machine. My Dad and I had diverging management approach to business, so we had a lot of arguments. It was a practical business school experience, I learnt a lot from same experience, especially reputation management, being true to your words, team management, how to calm an angry customer and make him your friend.
Unfortunately for my Dad, who had no plan B for my exit, I still feel bad I left his business the way I left, and it was because I was not seeing a future within that space.
The next phase was my foray into international business, internet marketing of gemstones. I and a few friends Tope Dixon and Musiliu Akanni without capital invited two Indians into Nigeria to buy Gemstones in the likes of Tourmaline, Garnet, Topaz, and Quartz. The venture failed, because we didn’t put in the right legal framework for their market entry, and the sly Indians capitalized on our liberality.
Then I started using my internet skills to sell industrial minerals and Gemstones for Jimmy International Merchants Ltd, but was never encouraged by the way I was priced, because I wasn’t the custodian of the minerals, so had to make do with the paltry sum handed over to me. But I learnt a lot from the industry, and also noticed the industry was too informal and unorganized. Hence, I knew I had to acquire a new skill (administrative skill).
Then I met Mr. Adebayo Olaniyan of Tons Development Ltd, he imparted so much in my life. His organization was the second real life business school I attended. I was exposed to a lot of things from procurement to building a relationship with your bankers, and business development.
During the first year of working with him, I registered ARQUS Ventures with two partners, we closed a few deals. But my engagement at Tons Development Ltd, which was becoming promising never allowed me to project the ARQUS brand, and since it was my first time working within an organized environment, I had to let go of other ambition.
So I got so involved in the organization, that I was perceived a Director in the organization. I spent six years there, before our values and needs shifted. If there was something I wish I could undo, it’s how to mend our broken relationship because of our divergent views, and also because he groomed me to be a better entrepreneur.
A lot of things would have been vague to me, without being under his tutelage, as a mentee and employee. But, what I learnt was to be constantly open to ideas from your employees, never be too far from them.
While I was gainfully employed at Tons Development Ltd, I registered Sapient Vendors Ltd in 2010. I worked for two additional years before stepping out into the fierce business environment. By October, 2015 it would have been three years full time dedication to Sapient Vendors Ltd.
Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
My experience at Vikky Creations Ltd inspired my decision. A secondary school leaver with no management experience being handed the responsibility to run a family business that feeds a family of six, pay its bills and all other sorts.
And interestingly I survived. Interestingly, I was able to capture a niche of clients for myself, when my Dad and I had divergent views on pricing. We had a few clients who couldn’t afford to pay the company’s standard pricing, I could profitably render same service to these cadres of client but he couldn’t. So I started selling same service to them, and would say I made good cash back then, it was fun and fulfilling.
Secondly, while working at Tons Development Ltd, I enrolled for entrepreneurship training at Fate Foundation (2007). Then, I couldn’t afford to pay the fees (N50, 000). I was sincere with the admission personnel, so she invited me to pitch my business idea.
I quickly went to a Cybercafe, penned, printed and submitted my idea. After review, I was a lucky recipient of Citi Bank sponsored scholarship. So I had my firsthand entrepreneurship training from Fate Foundation. The concepts taught were easy to grasp, because I could easily relate what I was being taught with my experience at my workplace.