Junior ogunyemi got a taste of being an entrepreneur during college, after being named social secretary, he was assigned to put together a yearbook with a budget of £0 and 2 weeks deadline, and 2 weeks later and £50, coming up with the concept of a DVD yearbook, he made £300 in his first two hours, selling the DVD to his peers for £3.
Catch up with what he has been up to after that.
Hello junior, how are you doing? Great to have you on YHP today
Well it’s great to be here, thanks for the opportunity.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m a 20 year old social entrepreneur, currently studying BSc Economics at Queen Mary University of London. My family came from Nigeria when I was only 2 years old so I guess I’m more British than I ought to be. (Laugh). I grew up with my 3 older siblings in Islington, north London.
We didn’t have the most privileged background; however I not going to sit here and complain about things I was exposed to growing up on a council estate. I can’t moan because I was surrounded by a loving family that helped instil key values, and discipline from very young. To me that’s been worth more than having £100 of pocket money a week.
At what age did you start to get involved/interested in business?
Looking back now I think I showed glimpse way back in nursery because I was fascinated by inventors. I always said to my play workers I wanted to invent something when I grew up.
The first time I started to flex my entrepreneurial muscles was at 17 when I was appointed social secretary of my college. I was given the task of putting together a yearbook with a budget of £0 and 2 weeks deadline. Instantly I had to find ways of being resourceful or risk disappointing over 1000 of my peers.
I came up with an idea of creating a video yearbook instead. So for 10 days I walked around college with my family camcorder capturing goodbye messages from students. I had a friend who was an expert at editing videos and paid him £50. I remember my brother had an old CD duplicating machine which I used to make many copies of the DVD yearbook.
At our graduation party I set up a stall and sold the DVD yearbook to students for £3. They were selling like hotcakes. In the space of 2 hours it dawned on me, not only have I made these students happy but I also manage to turn £50 into £300 in the space of just 2 hours. After that, I couldn’t stop exploring the world of business and innovation.
At what age did you start your first business, what business was it?
I was 18 when I started my first major business venture, Show Me Amazing Football. We are a coaching academy that works to motivate and develop leadership and excellence in young people. We work with children in schools and communities to create an active environment where children can express themselves and trained coached can address issues such as childhood obesity, low self-esteem and juvenile delinquency.
You got quite a few things going on at the moment? Let’s talk about show me amazing football, what inspired you to start it, what is the story behind it?
Well I was a gifted footballer when I was younger. To me football wasn’t just a hobby, it was a discipline. I never smoked certain things because I had dreams of playing premiership level. I never hung around street corners because I knew I needed to go home and rest for that cup final on the weekend.
I realised football can really be used as a vehicle to transform lives. I started coaching football from 15 years old and wanted to use my position of influence to keep the kids away from certain dangers and give them key life skills. I could spend all day training my pupils to bend a ball like Beckham, but realistically less than 5% are ever going to make it pro. I wanted to develop a style of coaching that equipped the players with more than just sporting skills, but leadership skills that they can use in any career.
How did you raise money to start the business?
I started from very humble beginnings. I knew absolutely nothing about business and literately just walked into a bank in my tracksuit and hoody. Surprisingly, I still managed to get an appointment with the business manager of the bank. I bopped in, sat down at his desk and told him to give me a loan. He laughed and explained to me it was a great idea but money doesn’t come that easy. I had to go back to being resourceful.
Thankfully I was given a car load of old equipment to use for free. I chose to employ some of my close friends, Micah Simpson and Naaman Gordon, who believed in the vision, and were willing to work for free. This was enough for us to start earning sum profit, for months we continued to work without pay as the profit was either saved or re-invested to generate even more profits.
Before long we were getting so many children joining us that we were able to pay ourselves well and still make savings and re-investments when needed. To this date we still haven’t spent a penny on marketing, everything has grown through word of mouth.
What would you say has been the most challenging part of starting a business?
Learning to turn failure into feedback is key. Taking our work into schools was surprisingly difficult at first. However, every rejection gave us a chance to go back to the drawing board and refine our product. There was a time we offered free coaching sessions to 35 local primary schools, but still did not even get one single reply.
Constantly we worked on improving the content of our sessions and our more importantly our approach. For months we worked on sharpening the sword until it was strong enough to pierce into the market and even cut any completion. Now we have a service that schools can’t resist.
You recently started a magazine called spotlight22, what is it about?
Spotlight22 is a new monthly print magazine aimed at university students. I launch it to help publish the work of up and coming writers or blogers. Readers have the opportunity to gain free publicity for their blog sites, or just freely express themselves by sending in their written work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Every month our team of editors pick their favourite entries to feature in the next issue. So it’s like a month writing competition.
So what is your plan for the magazine?
The idea is to create a platform for top London writers to be noticed. This has already gone off to a great start. The beauty of the magazine is that the topics people write about are all so random. It’s funny to hear some of the things people come out with when you give them a chance to express themselves.
You currently studying at Queens Mary University, how have you been able to balance school work and business? It must be so challenging?
Oh boy! Yh it requires loads of self-discipline. Naturally we won’t have enough time in life to do everything, but God does give us enough time to do the important things. It’s about prioritising what you want to achieve. There are periods where I needed to focus so I just hibernated for months.
My brother always told me, “Champions are willing to do what they hate in order to get what they love”. So I made many sacrifices. I’ve had to put my social life on hold many times because I was locked away grafting and birthing ideas. Seriously I haven’t been on a date for years (laughs).
What else interests you apart from starting a business, what do you do for fun?
If I’m not working mine, I’m giving free business consultancy to my friends. I think I’m obsessed. I do a bit of acting and get involved in drama workshops with my church. When I need to unwind I spend time with family or close friends. I love restaurants, working out in the gym, comedy shows, cinema… It doesn’t really matter what we do as long as I’m with those that make me happy and keep me down to earth. Church is something that I always get involved in.
What has been your most memorable moment so far?
2010 has been a great year, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some amazing people and been given special invitation to place like the mayor of London’s office and houses of parliament. I remember May 5th, that day was quite extraordinary. At 12pm I had an interview for a £10,000 award, and then rushed across town in my suit to write my final exams in Economics by 2pm. immediately after that, I whizzed back across town because I had to be on stage by 5pm to pitch for another £10,000.
This time it was front of a panel of multimillionaires, celebrities and entrepreneurs. It was like being on dragons den but with an audience of 200 people at the British library. I never forget the feeling and the rush of day, it was a great buzz. From that day onwards it seemed my business and I got launched into the limelight. Receiving these awards has opened many doors.
What tips can you give to university entrepreneurs out there starting up or struggling with their start-ups?
If you don’t believe in your work, then why should anyone else? Make sure your passionate about your cause or business, because your passion will be tested. Yes, of course there will be obstacles and brick walls in your way. Those walls are there to separate people that would like to succeed, from those that really desperately want to succeed. MAKE YOUR PASSION AN OBBSESSION.
And finally, what should we be expecting from you in the future?
Ok I don’t want to reveal too much yet, but after the magazine takes off I think the next big project will be to write my first book. I’m working on a business and personal development book. Similar to the classic, “who moved my cheese”. Over the next 2 years I want to also make time to do more public speaking.
Great speaking to you junior, hope to catch up with you soon
Thanks you, keep in touch, www.twitter.com/juniorogunyemi