For a decade or more, the world has been experiencing rapid technological revolution and the enabling qualities of technology is increasingly employed in practically every facet of life. Temitope Ogunsemo, the MD/CEO of Krystal Digital Network Solutions Limited, has been able to leverage the technological space to create a fast-growing Ed-Tech Company, which specializes in the development, research, deployment and creation of bespoke and service-oriented software applications.
Temitope holds a Masters in Information Systems Management from the University of Salford and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Ibadan. Having attended various local and international specialist and executive development courses, he is a member of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Nigerian Internet Group (NIG), British Computer Society (BCS), a three-time delegate at the Young CEOs Business Summit, a delegate at the 6th High Level Dialogue held in South Africa and a member of the Crans Montana Forum – New Leaders of Tomorrow 2019, Selection Committee Class of 2019.
The Birth of Krystal Digital
Krystal Digital was birthed from the frustrations he encountered in a bid to secure his academic transcript. Instead of deterring him, this instigated the need for the digitization of education and triggered a burning desire to achieve this.
“I foresaw a potential to develop a School Information Management System that would not only improve the storage and retrieval of academic records but also position the students on a platform that enables them to reap the dividends of digitization from a global standpoint. The need to integrate technology to drive our learning processes with the primary aim of collapsing educational boundaries, improving the sector and proffering bespoke solutions to organizations in need of database solutions were at the helm of my inspiration at the time.”
About funding, Krystal Digital was born on the footstool of determination and desire, without a need to source for external funds at any point.
“In 2010, we saw the potential to develop a school information system that would not only improve the storage, preservation and retrieval of academic records to effectively position these schools at the epicenter of digitization. We built an excellent educational solution “Myskool” portal (which was at the time the profit centre of the business) and thereafter experienced growth from a vertical standpoint, by introducing new products and solutions such as the Krystal/Microsoft Imagine Academy to complement our core value proposition.”
Convincing school owners and stakeholders in government of the importance of introducing technology into education seems like an herculean task but for Temitope, he achieved it by avoiding the mistakes he opines a lot of entrepreneurs make.
“The mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make when they think about working with the government is first thinking of who they need to cajole to get the job done. For me, instead of starting from the top of the pyramid, I developed a solid value proposition and convinced stakeholders at the bottom of the pyramid by meeting their needs through our solutions and offerings. I identified the beneficiaries of this product and channeled all energy towards them. With time, it was easier to partner with the government.”
“Armed with the statistics of the number of Federal Unity Colleges (FUC), we started with my alma mater – Kings’ College, Lagos. I was aware of the challenges the school experienced in managing her database especially that of the alumni body. We took advantage of these shortcomings and offered our solution at no cost for the period of one year. We ensured that our services were best in class. After about a year of offering these services, the management of Kings’ College having experienced the ease and efficiency of our services advocated our cause to other federal colleges which propelled our growth, thus, increasing our clientele base in the unity colleges.
“Today, Krystal Digital is the pioneer in this sector as proud collaborators with the Federal Government as far as education in the basic and secondary sub-sector in Nigeria is concerned.”
When asked about the challenges he experienced when starting up, he started by saying, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a group commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.”
“For me, my biggest challenge was not getting capital to start up rather, it was sourcing the right team onboard Krystal’s vision. Putting together a team that understood the essence of directing individual accomplishments towards organizational objectives was the greatest challenge.
When I started in 2010, I encountered the same challenges with most of the people I had on board. Many sought after money instead of clearly understanding the idea and long-term goal of the company, thus, there were constant conflicts which hampered our growth.
Today, I have learnt to embrace and reward people who are thirsty for the vision and in turn willing to make huge sacrifices that would benefit the company immensely.”
Temitope believes strategic partnership is essential for the growth and success of any business organization. It also broadens the relevance, marketability, customer benefits, strengths and offerings of an organization as it exposes one to new perspectives and expertise.
In the words of Schnurr; he stated that “The main objective of partnerships is the true synergy of one plus one equals five instead of two”.
“For us at Krystal Digital, we are certified partners of Microsoft. Initially, we started out with our vision and afterwards saw the need to broaden our presence in the educational sub-sector in Nigeria. Our partnership with Microsoft has been rewarded with numerous benefits which includes Microsoft Certified Partners Recognition, the development of a more robust curriculum in terms of equipping the young minds with a vast knowledge of career-related skills as well as IT Knowledge. Today, the synergy between us has undoubtedly broadened the span of the business and empowered the team to remain relevant in terms of new technologies, mind-share, trainings and efficiency overtime.”
Building a Team
“As a business owner or team lead, your team is what guarantees how well you can sleep at night and leaders often tend to ponder on the performance and relationship of their teams,” he pointed out.
“I believe that the most effective teams are built on trust and loyalty. When I started to build my team, one of the biggest lessons I learnt was the understanding of sieving out those who did not buy into the visions and goals of the organization. I realized these individuals created a cultural misfit and overtime transferred these nonchalant attitudes to other members of the workforce.”
“I took these lessons and channelled it into building a team that will be able to complement me both professionally (in the workplace) as well as personally (in everyday life issues). Today, I can confidently say I have a team that can take over the world.”
Doing Things Differently
Confidently, he asserts he wouldn’t do anything differently if he had to start all over again. “This is because, the future of technology lies in the benefits the Fourth and Fifth revolution herald. In the coming years, Data Science and Analytics would rule the world, even in the educational sector.”
Data science would aid problem-solving for strategic growth because “He who has data would be King”. Data scientists would conduct businesses differently as Big Data, Algorithm Economics, IoT and Cloud would continue to become mainstream across global enterprises, businesses will continue to adapt the latest strategies to stay ahead of the curve through automation and delivery of instantaneous analytics solutions.”
“Notably, a Forbes’ article on Data Science Trends in 2018 predicts that Big Data, Al, Block chain, Serverless Computing, Edge Computing and Digital Twins which sums up Gartner’s “Intelligent Digital Mesh’’ will be widespread.”
“I am happy to be a beacon of change in the educational sector in Nigeria.”
Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make
Advising young entrepreneurs, the entrepreneur said, “Young entrepreneurs are many times fraught with typical mistakes and challenges such as starting from the top of the pyramid. Young entrepreneurs should embrace their season of failure, learning and capacity building that they may encounter as it arms them with imbibes life learning skills for the future. As the saying goes “Rome was not built in a day’’.
“Hence, young entrepreneurs need to keep pushing the envelope for there are no limits, only plateaus, you must not stay there, you must exceed them. To map out a course of action and follow through requires courage and persistence. “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unproductive talent Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence, courage and determination alone are omnipotent.”
The Role of the Government
The techpreneur had a lot to say about how government can leverage on the huge role digital technology has to play in the future of education.
“The world is currently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) also referred to as the cyber-physical system. This revolution is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in several fields including Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology, Quantum Computing, Biotechnology, the Internet of things, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Decentralized consensus, Fifth generation wireless technologies (5G) Additive Manufacturing/3D printing and fully automated Vehicles. Mastery of the Fourth revolution would drastically improve the efficiency of business and organizations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management.”
“A cursory look at our educational system in Nigeria reveals our slow-paced growth amongst the trends in other jurisdictions. Nigeria is light years behind in the scheme of affairs. It is unhealthy to know that a country like ours lacks the clear-cut idea of the past trends – The First, Second, Third and Fourth Revolution, needless to say that we are gradually tilting towards the Fifth revolution. Our leaders need to realize the current revolution to enable our youth to compete favourably with their counterparts across the world.”
“We are at the basement of a new world full of imagination, creativity, innovation and digital wisdom. To align with the future, we need to spark a radical shift from the traditional ways of intentionally infusing IT skills in today’s curriculum and learning processes to create the education of the future. We live in a tech-driven age where youths run the risk of becoming stale, by clutching to the straws of the past, as demented by unsavory ways of the present. We need an educational ecosystem that exposes our minds and intellect to endless possibilities, which are only possible when we begin to ideate, create and innovate. This is what Krystal stands for.”
“Gainsaying, I must applaud the Lagos state Government for its innovation and exemplary leadership to train a million people on coding from 2030. It must however, continuously push the envelope in this regard as the rising generation of millennials needs more inclusion in shaping policies and designing systems to accommodate growth.”