I was very impressed with the work going on at onepage that I decided to have a chat with the two founders of the company, Joel Gascoigne and Oo Nwoye.
For those of you that still don’t have a clue what Onepage is, or does...let me put it this way, it is an online business card, instead of you spending money printing out thousands of business cards, you can simply just send the person your one page, that has all and more of the details that will appear on a printed business card, Yup that’s it..Simple, yet efficient!
I do really like the idea, Let me know your thoughts and enjoy the interview.
Hey Guys, How are you doing today? Welcome to YHP
Oo: I am doing great! how are you?
Joel: Hi Joseph, I'm fantastic thank you!
I’m Great you know, just glad to finally get to do this interview with you guys
Can you kindly give us some background information about yourselves?
Oo: My name is Oo Nwoye, I am Nigerian. I studied electrical engineering in Nigeria and my Masters was in eBusiness management at Warwick University. I hope to inspire a new cadre of Nigerian Internet Entrepreneurs.
Joel: I'm Joel Gascoigne, I've been playing with computers for as long as I can remember and I've been building websites since I was 12. I'm a recent graduate of Master of Engineering in Computing Systems from the University of Warwick. Coming to the end of my degree I made the decision to create my own startup rather than follow convention of further education or employment.
So what do you guys do?
Oo: I am an Internet entrepreneur. I am a co founder OnePage, an application the allows people the organise and share their contact details. I take care of the Marketing Business and Administrative issues. Once in a while I write code. I am assuming html is code.
Joel: I'm co-founder of OnePage and a web developer and entrepreneur. I deliver the product and handle all technical aspects. I also enjoy dabbling in the business and marketing side of things, and I love to find ways to meet other like-minded people whether that's attending or running events.
Explain to me like a web newbie just getting started in social media, what is one page about and how it works?
OnePage is like your business card, but online. you can access this card with your mobile phone. When you meet someone, instead of handing over a printed business card, you send the person your OnePage. That way, you save the person you are giving your contact card , having to type out your details when he/she gets home. In addition, you avoid wasting paper which is an ecological sensible thing to do.
What would you say makes onepage different other similar websites?
Our emphasis is on getting people to communicate through the cards. For instance, you can be emailled directly from your card. In addition to that your onepage can be embedded in your blog. OnePage is so many things to a lot of people.
Why decide to start a business?
Oo: To have the freedom to control my destiny. I love being in charge and that is only possible if you run your own business and answer to only yourself.
Joel: I aim to be financially and locationally independent, so that I can be anywhere and do whatever I'd like. I also aspire to be an angel investor and mentor who has been through the full process with all its ups and downs, and truly "gets" Internet business.
How and why did you guys get together to start a company?
Oo: I had always known I would start an Internet company and I wanted to launch it in UK. So when I got admitted to Warwick University, I created a Facebook group Warwick Internet Entrepreneurs. After about about 2 months the group had swelled to a grand total of 2 people. Myself and a certain Joel Gascoigne. We met up, and became friends. The rest they say is history.
How was it like starting a business whilst still at university? How did you manage your time?
Oo: We did not start as a business in Uni.We nurtured the idea while at school but it was after we graduated we turned it into a business. While in undergraduate school in Nigeria, I did some little business on the side.
Joel: Throughout my time at University I ensured I was always doing something more than just the required studies, which included freelance commercial web development, working on my own startup ideas and playing around with the technology out there. Starting the business was a natural extension of this, and it is a matter of prioritising things. In reality, my University life was a period of being very busy and sleeping very little, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
What are the benefits of starting a business at university?
Oo: There are several advantages to starting a business in Uni.
First, you have the goodwill of everybody. Staff, professors students etc. You can ask for help from anyone and be sure to get it for free! Afterall, you are only a student.
Secondly, you have a lot of university resources to use for free. The library, computers, meeting rooms and so forth.
Thirdly, you are not under financial pressure to pay your rent and earn money like it would be if you are out of school. Your finances are already taken care of because you would have made the living expenses if you were not doing any business. Therefore you practically have 0 cost in starting right fro school.
Joel: I would encourage anyone at University to take full advantage of the perfect situation they find themselves in if they think about it for a moment.
Your living costs are covered, and you have periods of time with no study to do. Combine this with the immediate market of early adopters for technology-based startup ideas, and you really are missing out if you don't at least give something a go whilst you're there.
So how is it going so far at onepage, I know you guys just recently completely opened up onepage? And also moving to another location for your business?
Oo: We moved to Birmingham because we had to be in the same place to work on OnePage. Luckily, we heard of the BSEEN program in Birmingham and applied for it. We them moved there shortly after getting it.
Joel: After graduating, me and Oo were in different locations working remotely on OnePage for a number of months. We needed to be in the same location to take the business to the next level, and we also wanted to be somewhere big enough that there would be things going on. Birmingham was the obvious choice since it was between Sheffield and Coventry where we were, and we also have proximity to London.
Why move to another city, Do you think location is key for every start-up?
Oo: Yes. According to Derik Sivers (Do read his blog) "being in the middle of things increases your chances for opportunities". It was important to be around the right people and to be in the right environment and for us bigger cities than Coventry are ideal. We wanted a place with good proximity to london without the accompanying costs. birmingham was that for us.
Joel: Location is important, but it is no excuse. Whilst there was pretty much no startup community in Sheffield, that meant I started my own events and created that community. In many ways having to do that was even better than if the community had already existed. Online communities really help with this too, and I encourage people to take their online communities offline too if possible.
What are the key ingredients that make a successful start-up?
Oo: I do not have the sapiential authority to say what makes a successful start up as i have not created one yet. But from my experience and studies, I would say ambition, determination and patience are important for success.
Joel: Get something out fast, change it lots and be open to change the idea (ensure the aim is a successful business, not succeeding with a particular idea). Also, I would say that persistence is the single most important thing. It will be nice to answer this question when we are a "successful startup" :)
What gives you that extra energy to give moving forward, especially when things gets cloudy?
Oo: My ambition to be a successful internet entrepreneur. For the journey I am on, I must follow this path. I have seen the destination, so it is so exciting
Joel: I always go back to why I am doing this, which is financial independence and being a mentor who "gets it". When I remember that, I know that the times "when things get cloudy" are actually the most important steps to overcome and look back on, since those will be the steps where others will need help the most.
Is the company self-funded or did you get outside funding?
Oo: We are self funded.
Are you guys looking to get any outside funding?
Money from the right pocket is always welcome. More important than money for us is mentorship from those that have walked the walk we are walking.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far since starting the company?
Oo: It always takes longer than you think. Secondly, it is an emotional rollercoaster. One day you feel on the top of the world, the other day, you feel defeated.
Joel: That nothing happens overnight, that is just how the books and press make it look afterwards. The important thing to do is make every day count.
How have you been going about advertising and marketing the services?
For now, we have been using social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc.). Once we launch the mobile version of our app, we will step up the ante and try getting main stream press.
What has been the biggest surprise for guys on this start-up journey?
Oo: Not many surprises though. Since I have read so many statup stories, I have been quite prepared for all I have been experiencing
Joel: How much great information and people are out there. It really is one of the best times to choose to do a startup.
What has been your most memorable moment so far?
The day we launched OnePage last year. We had a countdown and had a live feed of us. After the initial rush, we went out and got a beer :). I will always look back on that day:)
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
Oo: The right team. The product and market are so unpredictable. With the right team, you can weather any storm.
Joel: I'd also say the right team. You can pivot to a different market, and a different product, but to pivot to a different team is much more difficult. Find the right team, consisting of people who complement your skill sets and will be there to put that confidence and energy back into you when you're feeling the pressure.
What’s more for you guys at onepage?
Oo: To get ubiquitous. It will be tough but very achievable.
Finally before we go, what advice would you like to give future entrepreneurs that are looking to start their own business?
Oo: Just go for it. take the leap. most importantly, choose who you hangout with carefully. Make sure you surround yourself with people with a similar mind set with you.
Joel: Learn as you go along, don't let anything hold you back. Avoid the thoughts such as "I don't have enough experience" or "I don't have enough money". That perfect time will never come, and if you even have the slightest desire to do your own thing, then you now have to give it a go. Just do it.
Good Luck Guys and thanks for your time