Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is the 26 year old entrepreneur who founded Andela, Bookneto, Fora and Flutterwave.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He has been in the technology space for 8 years which was when he founded Andela.
In this interview with The Spark, he talks about his experience being a leader, his love for problem solving and how he’s empowering the African continent.
TS: As an individual, what are your biggest achievements?
Iyin: Being able to build high growth companies that have achieved so much global recognition that the Facebook owner, Mark Zuckerberg decided to invest in the company.
TS: When most people look at you, all they see is the success story but we know you must have faced many challenges along the entrepreneurial ladder. What are they?
Iyin: I would say my greatest challenge has been me having to sacrifice time with family and friends as well as finding it difficult to maintain personal relationships.
TS: Your name is largely associated with leadership roles in several organisations like the UN’s World Youth Alliance, Harambe Africa and Empowerment Squared as well as Canada’s Imprint Publications where you served as President of the Board. How challenging was it for you?
Iyin: One interesting thing about being a leader is that there is no one to tell you what to do. I’ve had to invent and reinvent myself, learn lessons quickly. It’s challenging but it is a learning process.
TS: You have co-founded successful start-ups like Bookneto, Fora and Andela all in such a short time. Tell us what “ignites” your passion.
Iyin: I would say it is my love for building people, platforms and supporting policies that enable young people become the future of Africa. I believe the youths have a lot to offer so I spend a lot of my time building platforms where they can thrive, launch amazing careers and businesses.
TS: You recently left the Andela team to head your own startup, Flutterwave. What inspired that move?
Iyin: For me, I believe work should be a function of place and time and understanding your strengths. I am somebody who can handle the toughest part of building a company which is taking something from non-existent to a proper establishment. After a while, there were no longer early stage problems for me to solve in Andela so I decided to hand over to someone who would take it to the next level while I went scouting for more problems to solve around Africa.
TS: Would it be correct to say Flutterwave is one of a kind?
Iyin: I would say what makes us unique is our understanding of alternative payment systems. The card payment method is a popular means of payment but we saw an opportunity to introduce other payment methods such as Bank account payments, USSD payments and Mobile money payments and that is where Flutterwave comes in. We support and enable those types of payment methods.
TS: Where do you envision the brand to be in the next 5 years?
Iyin: Flutterwave is a global payment company focused on Africa. We would like to be known for building world class technology and infrastructure that enables payments to be a driver of prosperity for people across the continent. In the next 5 years, you should see us expanding and building our global reach enabling us to connect more Africans to global economies so seamless payment transactions can be made by anyone in any part of the world.
TS: How important has mentorship been in your rise to success?
Iyin: Mentorship has been very important to me as I have been able to make use of some quotes in the daily operation of my businesses. This makes it look like I have attained the ‘success’ status but I don’t think I am quite there yet.
TS: With the tough demands from running a company like Flutterwave, do you have time for fun, family and friends?
Iyin: I try to make time for my friends and family. I enjoy my job so I would say I have fun at work as well.
TS: Flutterwave is all about igniting a new wave of prosperity across the continent. What will the brand be willing to give to the Nigerian Youth as “The Spark” – an incentive to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs in his / her own pursuit of success?
Iyin: PayMe which is a service under Flutterwave is one that allows independent merchants on social media get paid easily from the convenience of a link. All that has to be done is link your bank accounts then create links so they can be shared with customers to get paid easily.
As a Spark incentive, PayMe is willing to empower the rookie contestants for the month with #100,000 worth of free online payment transactions.
TS: One final word for young aspiring entrepreneurs?
Iyin: We live in a very interesting time and I would say this is the time to be ambitious and to build the future because everything around you is a product of someone’s thinking and it could be you doing the thinking!