I have trying to get this interview done for a while now and you would agree after reading it, that the wait was totally worth it.
Loy okezie shares some insight into his company startups nigeria and also talks about the nigeria startup community.
Hope you enjoy the interview
Hi Loy, Welcome to YHP, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi Jo, thanks for this opportunity.
No problem man, nice to finally get you on YHP
I have a background in Business Management & Strategy and upon graduation; I’ve been working on several projects with a focus on the impact of technology on media, business and entertainment.
You’re a business graduate right? What influence do you think attending University has on an entrepreneur’s life? Do you think it makes you more aware and prepared to start your own business?
Yeah, I think that University should prepare us all for the business world. Whether you have a background in IT, Business or Arts, I think that the knowledge, skills and networks you build over the years at the University should be leverage for you when starting a business.
As a result of some knowledge, skills and networks acquired while studying at the University, I started a small training outfit that helped over 100 students from different backgrounds to improve on their presentation skills.
From that experience, I learned how to deal and handle people with different abilities while improving my communication skills. Ultimately, I learned some practical lessons on managing people and running a business.
How did you get involved in technology and start-ups?
I grew up with computers and although I didn’t have my first PC until I was in the University, I developed a lot of interest in the technologies (I use every day), the companies (that innovate them), the people (behind them) as well as emerging technology developments in the new web space.
My inspiration came from several books I read on how technology companies such as Google, Yahoo and eBay started. Then, I started reading technology blogs such as TechCrunch, Mashable, VentureBeat, GigaOM and RWW, all of which provide a daily dose of Internet companies and their activities.
That said, my most inspiring entrepreneurial driving force is Sir Richard Branson, best known for his Virgin brand of over 360 companies. His adventure into space tourism with Virgin Galactic which takes paying passengers into suborbital space is the most audacious venture I’ve ever heard of.
Thus, upon returning from France in 2008 where I spent about 3 years studying, I invested a lot of my time and resources exploring web start-ups. As a result, I founded Startups Nigeria in order to showcase technology-related companies especially web 2.0 and mobile start-ups from Nigeria.
This has afforded me the opportunity to meet some of the smartest brains behind some of the best start-ups as well as some potential investors in the web and mobile space.
Tell us about Startups Nigeria?
Back in April 2008, I founded Startups Nigeria as a startups and technology news-related blog with an international focus on Nigeria. The blog eventually became very popular, influential and highly respected within the Nigerian and African technology and social media space.
Today, Startups Nigeria is a youth-driven, online community for technology enthusiasts, internet start-ups, companies, entrepreneurs, investors and students, all pioneering innovations in Nigeria’s emerging start-up eco-system and Internet economy.
With the new platform found at www.startupsnigeria.org (still in private beta), users can build their profile page, add and promote their start-ups, share their start-up stories, photos, videos, follow other start-ups, find ideal start-up partners, find technology-related jobs, find entrepreneurs and investors and lots more.
The idea of the platform is to help build Nigeria’s emerging dot-com Internet industry and contribute towards a knowledge-based economy in Nigeria by the year 2020 and beyond.
In the future, we hope to become a technology start-up incubator and help fund financially viable start-ups from Nigeria and African entrepreneurs.
What companies are you excited about in the Nigerian start up community?
Basically, I’m excited about companies that are using innovation to create value and solve problems. Thus, if there are any entrepreneurs and start-ups out there that apply this principle, I’ll be singing their praises louder and possibly backing them financially.
What change are you looking for in the Nigerian start up, changes that should be adopted to bring growth and expansion in the start-up community?
We need to see a lot of innovative thinking and approach.
We need to see new and exciting business revenue models.
We need to see collaboration with other entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa.
We need to see a vibrant technology community that fosters healthy discussions on the emerging web, mobile and Internet industry.
We need to see our Universities teaching emerging web and mobile app technologies.
We need to see web and mobile app development competitions sponsored by huge technology companies and targeted at University students.
We need to see technology incubators and angel investments.
Do you think it’s important that any internet company fully engage in social media to be successful?
Not necessarily, but it could go a long way in building a community faster and easier.
You’ve typically been ahead of the curve with tech and social trends (video blogging, social media, etc). What do you see as the “next big thing” – a technology or trend that will change the game yet again?
Location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla.
Any other words of wisdom for young entrepreneurs looking to start a new business?
Never Think Average. Never Quit.
So what’s next for you?
Building an emerging digital media brand that will change the way we live.
Thank you for your time loy, hope to speak to you soon.