Hey guys, have you heard of a serial entrepreneur? This one is smart, dogged and excellent. It’s Mercy Omoregie on BeInspired Show, meet Mr Stephen Osawaru on the Show…
Tell us about you and what you do?
For me, I’m an enthusiastic passionate entrepreneur, I founded Dynat Future Solution a few years back while I was in school. And that was when I hit my first 1million in 300 level. I’m also the founder of Ignite Startups. And very recently founded 24/7 Medic, a tele medicine App where you can chat and connect with a doctor instead of spending eight hours to see a doctor for eight minutes. That’s what an average Nigerian spends to see a doctor. I also consult for both the state and federal government. I’m a technology specialist, I have about nine certification as well. Presently I do some work as a Contractor and as a Consultant.
What inspired you to journey into the entrepreneurial world?
I’m a bit emotional when I talk about my story, but I will try. At age 11, my parents separated, my mum was 8 months pregnant, there was need for help and I needed to assist. So I dropped out of school for two years to push wheelbarrow at Uselu market Benin. And so it started more like an Assistant and then I got use to it. I got use to money, solving problems, I got use to just doing things on my own. I decided to start up something. I started with an audio shop, I remember selling CDs after buying them from Lagos. Then I went to computer school, opened a computer centre, but later sold everything just to go get certification in Lagos. By the time I came back, I realized it was time for me to start. I was already in 300level. I got a place, and got investors. I already learnt how to write proposals and business plan. I had something big in my head going on, but just couldn’t make it happen at that time. But I really wanted to achieve bigger things. I started Krome Technologies while I was in school. I remember the first month in Uniben, we hit 1.2 million plus and it was wow for us. I wasn’t the sole owner of Krome Technology. Soon my Investors pulled out and gave me what I needed to Start up on my own. That was how I started.
What are some unique factors about you as a person?
I think one of the things people say about me is that I’m a goal getter and not easily distracted. Especially when I decide to do something. I set milestones for myself and I try to achieve them, and then shift the goal post. I remember when I entered university at 24, I wanted to be a millionaire at 27, I wanted to own properties and the likes. So one of the things that I think set me apart from my peers is that I’m a goal getter and I’m passionate about what I do. I try to exceed people’s expectations of me. Like I usually tell members of my staff and friends. If you do more than it’s expected of you, you will be paid more than it’s expected. I also consider myself a problem solver. And it works for me.
In your perspective how has the Nigeria economy affected or contributed to your entrepreneurial journey?
It’s been tough and challenging for almost every entrepreneur in this country. Except you want to cut corners, then you can have it all rosy. Sometime, there was a policy when you couldn’t get dollars and you know most of us as entrepreneurs, we depend on importation. So when you have spending limits and you can’t purchase, it becomes difficult. As a Nigerian trying to deal with people outside the country, integrity issue is there. They first think you are a fraudster. And then issues within Nigeria. Power is a big challenge for every entrepreneur, skilled labour is another big challenge we face.
If you want somebody in robotics as we speak today, trust me, you are not going to get them from the universities. We have unemployment, we have graduates who just left school and then they cannot really deliver both in terms of hardwares and softwares, embedded systems and all the areas where I have need for skilled workers. So generally in Nigeria, entrepreneurship is challenging. It seem easier if you were a white skin man doing business in Nigeria. Notwithstanding, I think Nigeria has enormous opportunity, if well harnessed will yield great result. Young people should also look at some of these challenges and see the opportunities in them, that’s what I try to do too. God has also helped me, and I can say it’s by the Grace of God we are where we are today.
How have you been able to sort out some of these challenges?
I’m not just another entrepreneur, I try to solve my problems innovatively. In doing that I realized that there are many other Nigerians who have the same problems. Let me tell you a story; One of those days, I just got married, I got home, there was no water, no electricity, and there was no gas. I looked at all of them and thought of which one I can solve immediately, one of it was that I could design a robot that can calibrate my tank and know when the water is on low level and automatically pumbs and when there is no light, it sends me a text message that water is on critical level; you need to find an alternative power supply. And when the tank is full, it pulls off automatically. That was around 2014. I also thought I could have done a smart prepaid meter that knows where voltage is coming from, and automatically changes within splint seconds without human interference. I did all that which earned me a few National and International awards that also put money in my bank account.
I would say one of the ways I have mitigated some of these problems is mainly by looking inward; which of them can you do?
That’s awesome! What did you study in School, how did you get to learn AI and designing Robotics?
I think it’s a matter of interest. I studied Mathematics in my first degree, then Business Administration in my second degree, but before my 300level, I’ve done a few International certifications in the line of technology. I’m a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional. And also Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. I have interest in a lot of things and I develop myself in that line.
I also believe whatever it is you want to do, you need people, people are the most important resource that you have. So I connect and network with people, the best of guys, we conceptualize and design ideas and put up some of these things. Personally, I don’t do embedded systems and micro control programs, but I have staffs and people who do, so I just bring us together and we start to design some of these product. I do not think it’s about what you read in school, if you are a Nigeria, you know how it is today. And I think we have Google, one of the best things that has happened to us. So whatever it is you have interest in, you can learn. There is edx, udemy and all of them. I buy courses I have interest in and learn.
Doing a lot of things at the same time, how do you manage your finance, making sure they are in check and not missed up?
I think that’s getting me in the hot seat. I like to say that I’m not a very well organize person, but I think being a leader entails employing smart people who will tell you what to do and help you do the best of things that you cannot do. I’m not the kind of persons that consider myself know it all. In the regard of finance, I contracted an accounting firm to help me with the accounting aspect of what I do. Making sure that my tax clearance and all the things I have to do as it relates to the government is in check. I don’t think that’s a difficult thing to do. My wife also help a lot in that regard, managing finance and accounting is one of the things she is really good at.
Where do you see yourself, your brand five years from now?
It’s in my vision to be the best brand for the training aspect of what we do. We want to be the training institute of choice in Africa. We want to be the number one telemedicine company also in Africa. I have so much passion for telemedicine as it is today, I’ve invested so much, and I’m doing so much in that line. We see ourselves as one of the best telemedicine company, developing rural, medicine, programs and outreaches.
How would you advice young and promising entrepreneurs out there?
It’s in my nature to advice people because that’s what sometimes I’m paid to do. And I hope they are going to look for me and pay me for this advice. Lol… I tell people; think big, start small and change the narrative. I don’t think you need everything just to start. Go change your world. Big dreams have changed how we do things today, from Microsoft to Apple. Bill Gate said his dream is to put personal computers in every home. And I think that’s where it starts. Then you start from where you are. Any young man with internet connection today is seating on a global cooperation. We all have level playing field with the help of the internet, so start from where you are. And then, be innovative, that’s what I mean by changing the narrative, start to do something that everybody is not willing to do nor pay the price for. Pay the price, because for every prize, there is a price. Only that most young persons are not willing to pay the price, they want overnight success, they want to wear brands and label and all that. But I think you can cut all of that and invest more in your dream and what you really want to achieve.
One of the things that I did in my early days was selling six of my computers and everything I had just to get certification. But that was where everything else changed and began to fall into place for me. So, invest in your dreams.
Ok people, it’s been an awe-inspiring session with Mr Stephen Osawaru. If he can do it, despite the odds, living his dream and making tremendous impact, then you can too. It’s Mercy Omoregie on BeInspired Show, see you next week Monday.
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