Having the opportunity to sit with him recently for an interview in between his busy schedules was quite an honour; an interesting and exciting experience as well. As I walked towards him to take a seat, I could not help but wonder in my mind ‘how did this guy make it this far’?
While still pondering on this question, we exchanged pleasantries and moved on to the business of the day – the interview.
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is an entrepreneur, co-founder of Andela – a platform that recruits and trains software developers as well as connecting them with employers; and Flutterwave – a payment API that makes it easier for banks and businesses to process payments across Africa.
Iyinoluwa completed his Secondary School education at Loyola Jesuit College and graduated from Columbia International College with degrees in International Development, Legal Studies and Economics. He also has a degree in Legal Studies from the University of Waterloo.
Still in his twenties, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji has managed to create a great impact in the business of technology not just in Africa but also in the global economy.
Technology As Empowerment
The tech space is fast becoming very popular in Nigeria and some of the greatest achievements that have been recorded recently have been linked to technology and technological advancements and no one should be left out.
Technology could be used as a source of empowerment and could be used in reaching out to a very large and diverse community of potential clients for tech start-ups.
Flutterwave was birth out of the belief that business infrastructures are one of the key holders for connecting Africa to the global economy, and they have been able to do a great job of building payment infrastructures that enable Africans accept payment from customers all over the world, explore new ways of payment and prosperity that could essentially change our economy and participation in the global economy.
For an individual, who as a teenager, founded Bookneto – an online learning platform while studying in Canada and have it acquired by the Canadian Innovation Centre at a time when most of his peers in Nigeria where probably thinking about passing their WAEC, NECO, JAMB, or Post UTME examinations and gaining admission into the University, one would be totally wrong to think that Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is all work and no play.
Iyinoluwa likes to hang out with the guys and play golf. He also enjoys spending time on social media, watching movies and expressing his ideas with like minds to explore different views.
As a kid, Iyinoluwa was very good with comics and this helped improve and develop his creativity and ultimately inspire his interest in technology. He had a short stint with a technical company as a style engineer. It was at that point in his life that he realized that technology was not just something that one could consume but it was also something that could be created as well and the tools of that creation have been democratized, thereby making it possible for more people to be part of that creation process.
In over ten years of his business life in the tech space, Iyinoluwa has become more aware of the fact that technology could be used as a tool to reach out to a very large audience and create great impact.
“Although Flutterwave has not done too badly in that we have processed close to tens of millions of transactions and are rapidly growing, there is still a lot of work to be done by Flutterwave.” However, dedication has been Iyinoluwa’s watchword as he is driven by the belief that when one delivers a very good job, they will do well for themselves as well.
Iyinoluwa believes one of the challenges start-ups face is raising capital. However, the Flutterwave boss did not really have to put up with that as he leveraged on relationships from ANDELA and was lucky to have been working with an amazing team.
So many youth out there have beautiful ideas but do not know how to turn them into great business. “Well, you have to be very dedicated and work very hard” says Iyinoluwa. “You has to create an enabling environment in which you are surrounded by creative minds.”
“Whilst age is a barrier to success, it is not one of the biggest barriers. Having an early start helps as it allows you time to make mistakes and learn from them. If you are young, you have to be twice as competent as you will be evaluated based on your results most of the time. Just make sure you are a performer.”
Spanning over 10 years in business, Iyinoluwa has learnt that it is important to search for problems big enough to solve. Avoid taking up small problems and always select your team carefully.
“Always work with a team that has like minds who will be willing to put in as much efforts as you. Do not compromise or cut corners in terms of competence and character. If you are out there thinking of starting up a business, you must move swiftly and find a client as soon as possible because that is exactly how you grow your business.”
Most Common Mistakes In The Tech Space
There are lots of mistakes made in the technology industry in Nigeria. These days, everybody wants to go into one form of business or the other. With a good idea or two, you could easily think that it’s an easy chew, however we have learnt from Iyinoluwa that it is not just enough to have an idea, business is not just what people want, people need businesses. “It is businesses that are funded and not just ideas, anyone who doesn’t have the appropriate networking skills to turn their ideas into good businesses are basically sitting on a ticking time bomb.”
“These days, more and more people are becoming more aware of technological advancements and their empowerment abilities thereby leading to a stronger growth of technology in Nigeria. Nigeria is a country with huge demographics and that’s why businesses like Flutterwave are here to help.”
The business of technology should not be seen solely as an avenue for making profit, Nigerian entrepreneurs in the technology industry will profit more to get as close as possible to their customers, understand their needs and offer good services as a means of building trust with their clients.Iyinoluwa really looks forward to witnessing Africa develop as a bedrock of technology in the next five years. “There will be a lot of tech start ups and it would be really interesting to see how things work out in the future.”
Sharon has about a decade of experience in content marketing, editorial and communications roles with experience in developing compelling content that easily sells across multiple media platforms. She develops and implements successful communication strategies that employ traditional and digital channels to engage stakeholders, meet business objectives and improve business performance.