In the present world where the unthinkable happens, where even the mundane persists, there are a lot of things going on we may not be aware of. Or even if we are, the intricacies and nuances may evade us. I am of the belief that with the way the world is fast changing, conventionality is now old school. Nothing has to fit into the definition of the everyday people anymore, and no endeavor has to be in line with the expectations of people.
Most Nigerians and Africans are usually proponents of the study-hard-to-graduate-and-work-or-start-a-business ideology. Everyone wants to be done with their first degree before committing to a lifelong career or business. There is no law which spells that it should be such way. No one was stunned that the 14 out of 15 top individuals on Forbes’ 2012 list of 30 under 30s had attended or graduated from college.
In the flashback, two to three decades ago and you would discover an era where it was almost impossible for a world to be led by young disruptors and innovators. But with the advent of ICT entrepreneurship curriculum-bases institutions of learning, there is provision for the level ground for young minds to compete with the older generation. Nowadays, with a wealth of knowledge at disposal, and a lot of opportunities to be availed, young entrepreneurs are always solving problems, generating revenue and making waves from the classrooms. Without a degree to their name yet, while still burning midnight academic oils and living the campus life, these businesses owners broke the norm and started selling from higher institutions.
Jobberman has to be the most registered-on and job alert-providing site Nigerians will ever know. It was masterminded by university trio Olalekan Elude, Ayodeji Adewunmi and Opeyemi Awoyemi, with their ambitious efforts in bringing about solutions to the chaotic nature of the Nigerian labor market while they were yet students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Osun State. They used their talents to provide a match for the job-aspiring people with their dream careers, thus bringing about an innovative way to deal with the unemployment problem pervading in Nigeria. Their quest as business-inclined minds wouldn’t have come to fruition without a blessing in disguise to provide them the time – the famously dreaded ASUU strike.
In 2009, the Academic Union of Universities embarked on a prolonged strike which provided enough time for the Co-Founders to palpate and launch their idea. As of now, Jobberman is in the provision of employment opportunities for millions of people. It is also one of the largest job search portals in Nigeria. Ayodeji was a student of Medicine while Opeyemi and Olalekan were course-mates in the Computer Engineering Department. Nonetheless, all three were passionate about the internet and related entrepreneurship.
CashEnvoy was started solely by Olaoluwa Awojoodu, who was at the time an undergraduate of OAU. His entrepreneurial journey began during the apogee period of the 2002 ASUU strike. Having spent eleven months out of lecture halls and selling airtime to locals, he returned with a business mindset. He ran a weekly newspaper, a fast food outlet and an IT hardware-selling online platform. As at the time he dropped then, in 2007, he had a wealth of insight already that spurred the execution of Electronic Settlements Limited, which is the parent venture of CashEnvoy, PayPad and a collection of other companies under his umbrella. Olaoluwa has no paid employment history, and that is testament enough to his acquisition of experience from managing the small businesses back in the university. This knowledge paid off eventually and saw to the success of his apprenticeship.
In my college days, the school wasn’t all about the books. Amongst other things, we were in love with music. Guitarists, singers, rappers and music lovers would often be seen gathered in small clusters in different corners at the break of the evening. The campus would ring with well-transitioned chords and been-ten-years-in-the-industry kind of voices. If there was anything I miss about campus nightlife, it’s the music that came from my sound box and synchronized with the prodigious voice of an experienced singer. Campus and music are a duo.
The journey of MyMusic began the same way with three students from Babcock University. Having met each other in one of those random jams around the campus, there decided to form a band. Despite their strong tech background, Damola Taiwo, Dolapo Taiwo and Tolu Ogunsola, these three shared an undiluted love for music and decided to transform the shared interest into a business idea. Damola, while fingering chords on his keyboard alongside the lines of Dolapo’s bass guitar saw the trio into the money-making venture we today know as MyMusic. Sometime after throwing the graduation hat into the air, with years of hands-on experience in both, these music and tech hybrids launched their brand never stopped getting attention.
When the phrase “seven young Nigerians” is mentioned, there aren’t many factors preventing our minds from projecting Somtochukwu Ifueze, Ibukun Akinola, Joshua Chibueze, Odunayo Eweniyi, Terry Kano, Nonso Chinagorom and Ayo Akinola as the members of the winning PushCV team. Covenant University in Nigeria is from all the signs one of the few institutions in the country that has ardently emphasized ICT entrepreneurship. In its premises, the university has an ICT entrepreneurship hub which contributes immensely to the fostering of the school’s ICT position.
Perhaps, the undergraduates behind the launch of PushCV were beneficiaries of such entrepreneurship program. These seven ICT-savvy college students launched the startup in 2014 as an online platform which connects pre-screened candidates with potential employers in need of their skills and services. This startup has been consolidated into the list of subsidiaries of a parent economy – Sharphire Global – under which a plethora of other startups have sprouted.
I’m starting to think OAU is leading in this article, and it seems I am right. Quartet Seyi Ayeni, Fikayo Ogundipe, Sulaimon Balogun and Dapo Eludire were undergraduates of this university when they found a better-than-course-of-study prospective in the ToLet (now PropertyPro) idea. They launched this startup in 2011, saw it through the formative stages and have since carried the vision of the business to become a product which is now believed to be valued at more than USD 1 Mn. The founders’ diversity in educational background proved the perfect mix for the kind of presence PropertyPro is set to offer. The diversity of knowledge also formed the crux for company’s final success.
Nigerian campuses are filled with business-minded students who are hell-bent on hustling and making all possible ends meet. Spinning off from such an effort, from which an avalanche wealth of experience was secured, a student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho Oluyemi Ojo, and a co-founder of the about-to-be-said business began what we now know as Printivo. He executed a variety of different printing and design gig for customers. This hustle had him traveling back and forth between Lagos and Ogbomosho virtually all of the time.
Not long after he graduated, the experience became a foundation upon which he was to launch Urbanbaze. He had a wealth of passion for printing, and that made him find himself reliving the profession. He teamed up with co-founders, Ayedeji Adeogun and Ibukun Oloyede, with whom he realized the need to make provision for printing solutions for the unattended-to SME market. Since the idea became a platform, amongst any innovations, Printivo an easily pass as the most extensive online printing production enterprise in Nigeria.
Being in college is apparently no barrier to starting a business, running it and being successful afterward. Yes, getting a degree matters a lot, but it’s doing other productive things is paramount.
Feature image courtesy: forwardtogether.org