My vision has been to create tools and platforms that will enable individuals, business owners thrive and do business effortlessly.
I nursed a dream to become a model since the day I watched Agbani Darego win Miss World in 2001. I became determined to start a career in modelling as soon as I gained admission. In 2009, I was admitted into the Nnamdi Azikiwe University to study mass communication. As I explored the school environment, I noticed a lot of young vibrant boys and girls wanted to make the most out of modelling as a niche in entertainment. It was sad to see a lot of them get exploited so I decided to create a platform that was genuinely interested in their personal growth and that was how Purple Creation was born. Purple creation was a modelling company that groomed young girls and boys to live their modelling dreams. I worked with over 40 models and created a fashion show that enabled them to learn their walks on the runway. With Purple creation, I got three awards in appreciation for the efforts towards helping the young models. These models have gone ahead to become fashion entrepreneurs and some are modelling for various brands.
After my undergraduate university education in 2013, I went further to serve my nation (National Youth Service Corps) and that was where I met a friend who introduced me to website design. I watched him build his client’s website and he built my first website as well. He taught me how to navigate the WordPress dashboard. This was how my journey into technology began. I started as a blogger and kept writing on my blog for about a year. It was also during the blogger days that I came across social media management and marketing. I would tune to a teleseminar on Thursdays to learn and later implement all I learnt. At the end of my service year in 2015, I had two skills to explore – website design and social media management/marketing.
Arnold H.GlasgowI said ‘In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.’ To start exploring my skillsets, I did a research on the kind of people who would need the two skills I had. My research showed that business owners needed social media marketing to help get their products in the faces of their ideal clients and website design for an online presence where their customers could learn more about their products and services. I reached out to a few business owners and they agreed to work with me on social media management. That was how I started helping business owners manage their online presence at a price and for those who couldn’t afford it, I set up online and physical classes for them to learn and implement by themselves. I have written three eBooks – The business of social media management, Facebook for entrepreneurs and WhatsApp profit machine for individuals who want to use these platforms to increase their sphere of influence, boost sales and make a profit. I also have an online school where these business owners go to learn about social media marketing.
Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, your uniqueness, what you stand for. To further help business owners market themselves, I created a platform to help them grow their network and businesses; a platform called iManetwork was born. With this platform, we had over 93 women who benefited from the monthly meetings and the lessons shared. Every month, we had a speaker who would come teach us on business-related topics. This grew more than it was expected because I began to see how these ladies who attended the sessions began to support themselves online. iManetwork also birthed collaborations among these ladies. I was also able to mentor 4 young women on how to start their businesses with the budget they had. 8 young people had the opportunity to intern with me to learn the business of social media management. This got me an award as the rising star of the year by SLAM Youth Heroes Award in 2016.
The key to happiness is real progress and growth, constantly working on yourself and developing something. For me, working on myself means improving the lives of those around me. I came across the opportunity to become a Facebook trainer and it was a major highlight for me. Our responsibility as trainers was to train businesses owners on how to use the Facebook family of apps to grow their businesses. Though this was sponsored by Facebook, I felt part of something positive and this gave me a sense of fulfilment. Through this platform, we trained over 5000 business owners.
It is important to note that while I spent time teaching these growing businesses, I realised that most of them had no strategies for customer acquisition, engagement and retention. At that time, I was researching on influencer marketing and how businesses could leverage it for brand awareness and profit. Creating a tool that will connect business owners to influencers was the next idea but I needed to prove that they could make a profit by leveraging someone else’s influence. So I worked with a small business in the fashion industry and advised them on how they could approach the influencer we agreed to work with. The influencer agreed to work with them and in the space of 6 months of working with the influencer, that business made 7 times their usual monthly revenue. This was a validation and so I went ahead to create Influensah; an influencer marketing platform where business owners can directly negotiate with creative influencers to help them push their brand online. The platform needed some core functionalities like dispute management (between customer and influencer). We also needed a functionality that will allow the finance platform to collect the money and release it only when the customer is satisfied with the service. We had a couple of people test the product but these core features needed to be put in place. Though the project is still a work in progress, it is at a slow pace.
One of my favourite quotes from Steve Jobs is ‘Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.’ This motivated me to come up with another tool called Remindina; a reminder platform that business owners can use to retarget customers who have previously bought from them to encourage repeat purchase. With this tool, they can easily send messages, voice notes, emails or even calls to these customers. A popular quote says it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. I went further to research and be sure this tool will be accepted when it is launched. Out of about 187 people asked, over 100 people responded positively saying they will use remindina. With remindina, business owners will be happy to practice customer retention without stress and enjoy the rewards of owning/running a business.
Technology is fast evolving and finding ways to make these tools available to make the lives of people better is my goal. There are challenges that people face in their everyday lives and I believe that with the right knowledge, team and mentorship, we can create tools and platforms that people can enjoy to be productive in their lives and businesses. To be able to create these tools effortlessly and make progress with increasing our client base, I will need mentorship in website design and business management especially in the areas of understanding the functionalities those customers will need on the website, ensuring easy navigation, designing an interface for customer experience and general business skills.
Interestingly, this career path started with self-study and little mentorship. I am aware that there are youths who are willing to learn and work but I feel disheartened knowing that there is so little I can do due to the limited resources I have.
With Toptal, I am assured that the mentorship and resources I will receive will be enough to make these dreams come true. I am confident that the knowledge that I will acquire from Toptal mentors will refine my thoughts and processes, help me to be strategically positioned, introduce me to a new network, teach me how to deal with real-life business challenges, afford me more opportunities and help me scale my business. The growth of these businesses will also have a ripple effect in the Nigerian economy.