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Chika Nwaogu

Not many people can be serial entrepreneurs in Nigeria. While many music artists are only good at music, very few do things that are also hot like programming. We met Chika Nwaogu twin brother of Chidi Nwaogu, a gospel artist who is also Guinness World Record holder for “the longest officially released song” and also a change maker. InterviewStories had an interview with Chika Nwaogu and he talked about Playfre, Africa’s first real answer to Spotify that can bring over 45 million songs to Africans at no charge.

Can we meet you?

I am Chika Nwaogu and I am an internet entrepreneur, computer programmer, gospel singer, record producer, Guinness World Record holder for “the longest officially released song”, Keynote speaker at the IT leaders West African summit, Wazobia gospel artiste of the week, and a Top Naija music awards nominee.

You are well known as a programmer, what else do you do?

Actually I will say that isn’t entirely true. A good number of people don’t even know I am a geek, they only know me as that gospel singer that broke the Guinness world record last year. To answer your question, apart from being a computer programmer, I am a singer, a songwriter and a record producer.

Playfre CEO Chika Nwaogu
Chika Nwaogu A Gospel Singer

How long have you been an entrepreneur?

Since the age of 16, so I will say 13 years ago. I began building internet companies at 16 with the creation of my now-defunct video game company; 9ja Boi Interactive, which I co-founded with my twin brother.

Can you tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey.

It first began with developing video games. The first video game I developed was with my twin, and it was titled “Save the Admiral”. It was a 2D space shooter adventure game. After that we develop a couple of more game under the outfit 9ja Boi interactive; this was before our days at the University of Lagos.

Chika Nwaogu
Meet Chika Nwaogu CEO of Playfre

Getting to Unilag, our interest changed; it was here we created. LAGbook — a social network initially created for students of the University of Lagos. It grew faster than we expected and in no time, we expanded to include the youth demographics in Africa. LAGbook gre to a million registered users in 3 years and we subsequently sold it to a Canadian tech company in 2013. Since then, my twin and I have successfully created, grown and sold two successful internet companies.

You just launched a new project, “Playfre”, what was the motivation behind the project?

Spotify and many other big music streaming platforms have not yet opened their doors to most African countries because of the weak intellectual property laws in these parts of the world, thus making these awesome apps unavailable to the African demographic. Those who have opened their doors to us, still charge monthly to stream unlimited music. Because of this, I embarked on developing what will become Africa’s first real answer to Spotify, that will bring the over 45 million songs on Spotify to Africans at no charge, with the same Spotify experience.

Chika Nwaogu
Chika Nwaogu a graduate of University of Lagos

Is this your first public project?

No this isn’t. But it will be my first public project alone.

Tell us a little about your previous projects.

Like I have already mentioned before, it all started with game development (9ja Boi Interactive), then to social networking (LAGbook), music and book publishing (Publiseer), and now music streaming (Playfre).

What are some challenges that you faced while working on your previous projects?

Electricity was a major setback in our first project, because we were 16 and had no money to get power on whenever we wanted. So we basically waited for electricity to work on our games. It was a really difficult time, but then it also taught so time management. While running LAGbook we knew little or nothing about business, so it was difficult turning our traffic into real money; this at some point forced us to sell. Eventually we had to learn the business side of a tech company, because at first all we knew was the technical know-how and nothing about the business aspect. So it taught us a lot of what we know about running a successful tech business today.

This project seems to be done by only you. Was there no input from your twin-brother unlike the previous ones?

Yeah this is my sole project, though Chidi have been very supportive in my journey so far with Playfre. In 2017, I took time off Publiseer in its early stages to work on my music. I am a music person and it was only naturally I created Playfre for music lovers such as myself. That same year I got the idea to create Playfre and I nurtured that idea ever since. When my music felt like it was beginning to pay off, I felt it was time to launch Playfre.

What challenges did you face working on Playfre?

They weren’t much challenges as I have already been involved with a lot of internet companies and already know my stuff very well. So unlike other internet companies in the past, Playfre was more like a walk in the park. It was fun all the way.

What are your projections for Playfre in a year?

We are already the Largest music streaming service in Africa in terms of music catalogue. Though I project it having over 100,000 registered users, and at least 10,000,000 streams; that is 100 streams per user. I project it being the one stop destination for any music lover in Africa.

Chika Nwaogu of Playfre
CEO of Playfre Chika Nwaogu

You broke a world record for the longest released track. Tell us about it.

That was in 2018, around May. My gospel music career was less than a year old then and I wanted to do something extraordinary that will distinguish me from the other gospel artist who were up and coming. I wanted to attempt the impossible and I eventually did. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life. I had to write over 60 verses and record a song that was 4hr plus long; a feat that seemed impossible at first. All my hard work paid off and I was the talk of the media; both print and television. That was how I got my little break in the gospel music scene.

Having been involved in a number of successful projects, what are the peculiar problems facing businesses (especially tech businesses) in Nigeria?

The biggest problem tech entrepreneurs face today is the lack of passion for what they are doing. Many of them venture into a certain niche because it is the niche that currently receives a bulk of the investments. For example I remember back then when ecommerce was the thing, everyone was doing it until it no longer became the thing—and then fintech and agro-tech became the new ecommerce and everyone wanted to be part of this booming niche.

Many of them weren’t passionate about their startup, they were only interested in the money they can get from investors. Eventually when this money isn’t coming as fast as they wanted, they make their exit. This is one of the major causes of failed internet startups in Nigeria today. The idea was right, but the passion was wrong.

In your own opinion which is more important to a young entrepreneur: Mentorship or Funding?

I will say mentorship. A good mentorship can bring about funding, I mean a person can be mentored on how to create a great business that attracts investors. Funding is just money and anyone can give you money, but not anyone can mentor you. You need the right kind of mentorship for the right kind of business. Someone who is a well established banker cannot mentor a budding internet entrepreneur. Not anyone can mentor you, but anyone with money can fund you. So mentorship over funding.

So what should we expect next from Chika Nwaogu?

For now it is Playfre. How to make Playfre better and a leader in the music streaming industry in Africa. I want to change the way Africans listen and consume music and I am going to do it!

Any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Stay focused, energetic, and motivated. Energy rightly applied can accomplish anything!

Damilola Soladoye CEO of Cycles

Damilola Soladoye is an Accounting graduate from Covenant University in Nigeria. He is an entrepreneur. Damilola is the Chief Executive Officer of Cycles, a smart mobility startup. Damilola uses technology to solve societal problems.

InterviewStories interviewed Damilola Soladoye tells InterviewStories about himself and what Cycles is all about.

Who is Damilola Soladoye?

Damilola Soladoye is the Co-founder and CEO of Cycles, A smart mobility startup, changing the way short to medium commutes are made in communities (such as estates and Universities) across Nigeria through smart shared bicycles.

He is a graduate of accounting from Covenant University, Nigeria, a passionate business developer and entrepreneur using technology to solve societal problems.

What was growing up like?

Growing up was quite interesting, owing to my father’s place of work, my entire family was privileged to live and migrate between 3 different environments both at home and abroad.

This exposed me early enough to foreign cultures, developing technology and people and basically shaped how I see life.

Did you enjoy cycling when you were young?

I had various cycling experiences while I was young but much that I can remember was with my bicycle between the ages of 4 – 6. My parents had just gotten a bicycle for my elder brother and me. Most of my commutes during this stage of my life, especially around my neighbourhood were filled with bicycle fun moments.

Cycles Smart Bike
Cycles Smart Bike

What problem did you see at your university that you wanted to solve?

In the university, the available shuttle services were not efficient enough to cater to the large population and also get individuals to their final destination.

What skills were you able to acquire personally that you got while still at school?

I learnt how to pitch, speak publicly and present by attending Public speaking classes.

Personally, I learnt the basics of design and presentation on powerpoint, Prezi and other presentation and design tools, and

I learnt the fundamentals of leadership and leading people through various leadership opportunities which came my way.

Your startup was nominated for the start-up of the year at Covenant University in 2015, tell us more about the nomination?

The nomination was part of our yearly college ball event and award night.

How does it feel being a young entrepreneur who makes important decisions for your organization?

It is a whole lot of responsibility that comes with discipline. There is always something to do and no one will do it except you and the team.

What leadership experience or lesson did you gain during your volunteering period at Teenpreneurs hub?

I learnt how to give my best in return for nothing, which I believe is the major perk of volunteering.

Do you believe what you studied contributed positively to the buildup of Cycles?

Yes, definitely it contributed positively.

From your accountancy background, which is better to invest in a treasury bill or fixed deposit account?

I will say this is subject to the type of investor and the amount of risk he/she is willing to take on. Though for me both investment options are quite conservative.

Who is a research analyst?

A research analyst is someone who researches into a particular field in order, to gather necessary data, analyze this data and assist organisations in making informed decisions towards a particular goal.

Do you ever wish to get a government job?

Wow!, I have never thought about this. I guess because my father was a civil servant and I looked up to him, there might have been moments when I wished to. But currently, I do not think I wish to, moving forward.

Tell us about Cycles?

Cycles is a smart mobility company redefining the way people commute within communities and cities in Africa.

Damilola Soladoye and other members of Cycles
Damilola Soladoye and other members of Cycles

Using an efficient, fun and healthy means of transport, we’re building better people, communities and greener earth. From one community to another, we’re making Africa a better place to live in.

What problem are you solving at Cycles?

Cycles is solving inefficiencies in last mile mobility across communities in Africa.

Why should a customer or client use Cycles?

Customers should use Cycles because it’s cost effective, convenient, healthy and green. Not to forget, it’s cool.

What makes Cycles attractive to investors?

Cycles is a sustainable and green transport solution, we believe investors are attracted by this.

What problems do you face at Cycles?

At Cycles, we do not see circumstances as problems, we see them as opportunities and tasks which we need to put more effort in to resolve.

Does government policies favour Cycles operations and expansion in Nigeria?

Currently, the policies of the government do not favour Cycles operations and expansion. This is why we are currently working on partnering with governments, governmental agencies and parastatals to collaborate in this area.

Is Cycles an NGO or is it for profit?

Cycles is a for profit company registered with CAC as Cycles Mobility Technologies LTD         RC 1563922

What do you do that makes Cycles more attractive than competitors?

If I spilt the beans it wouldn’t be a secret anymore would it? But basically, we always strive to stay ahead of the competition by being as innovative and creative as possible.

How much tech is involved in Cycles?

The tech involved in Cycles is the Software (Mobile and Web Platform) and the hardware (Smart bike).

What contributions have your mentor had since you started Cycles?

My mentors have contributed to my growth as an entrepreneur immensely, I will like to use this opportunity to appreciate them all.

What positive impart have your mentors had in your life?

In summary, I would say they have been the backbone sustaining me in the tough times as an entrepreneur, I always know I have able and capable hands to run to in these moments.

Damilola Soladoye CEO of Cycles
CEO of Cycles, Damilola Soladoye.

How will you pitch Cycles to a prospective customer?

Whether it’s to work or to class, for fun or for exercise, Cycles gets you there at any time, conveniently, fast, healthy and green. Join a Cycles bike share and get there today.

What do you think make people leave Cycles and how are you addressing this major problem?

In life, I believe we all make decisions and our decisions change with time. I do not see people leaving Cycles as an issue, I believe anyone can be replaced and I do not get offended by people who leave or will decide to leave Cycles. Though to address this I always keep the value and stability of our team as even more important than our idea at all times.

Can you sell Cycles to an investor?

Haha, yes and no.

What milestones did you set for Cycles that you have met already?

We recently set a milestone to build our beta prototype and we are glad to announce that we completed that milestone and we are set to launch soonest

Cycles To The World
Cycles on a phone and Cycles Smart Bike

Where do you see Cycles in five years time?

I see Cycles as a key player in the mobility space in Africa.

Have Cycles been nominated for awards before?

We have been nominated for some awards and we have won one before.

Cycles Mobile App

When was your happiest moment since you have started Cycles?

My happiest moment was when we got accepted into the Fbstart accelerator from Facebook.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs that are just starting?

Keep pushing until something happens. Though push wisely.

What do you think of students being an entrepreneur while in school?

One of the beautiful things about entrepreneurship is the freedom to be an entrepreneur at any age. I strongly believe that entrepreneurship while being a student is a great time to learn, grow and make mistakes where necessary.

The school environment, if properly managed with other academic responsibilities is a wonderful period to combine academics and business/entrepreneurial learning.

How can students get access to funds for their business to expand while still in school?

I will advise students looking for funds for their businesses to look from friends and family members as this comes with little to no risk.

What changes can the government make to improve the education system in Nigeria?

I believe increased investments in this sector will go a long way to improve our educational system.

What mistakes did you make as an entrepreneur that you will advise other entrepreneurs not to make?

Truthfully, though I did make some mistakes, I will like to say that mistakes are what have made and grown me to my current position as an entrepreneur. My advice to entrepreneurs will be, not to be afraid of making mistakes but to learn and act appropriately when you do.

One of my biggest mistakes though is my inability to wait, sometimes patience is all you need and I feel I fell short of this virtue in my early entrepreneurial days.

How can we contact Damilola Soladoye?

I can be followed and contacted on the following platforms.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sholzd , Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/damilolasoladoye/ ,Email – Dami@cycles.com.ng

Adeshina Adewumi,COO for Proville

Adeshina Adewumi is a serial entrepreneur who sees opportunity in every problem and has a strong passion to help businesses grow.Adeshina commitment is to inspire, build and coach young entrepreneurs to build profitable sustainable ventures. He is a highly sought after leader, author, speaker and business consultant. He is the author of “Giving Back”; a book that emphasis the need to have a balanced social, business and academic life while in the university.

Adeshina Adewumi is a first class graduate of Accounting from Bowen University,Osun State. He is a Fellow Royal Society of Arts (UK) and member; Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Information System Audit and Control Association (ISACA), Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Network). He is a strong promoter of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

InterviewStories conducted an interview for Adeshina Adewumi. You can also read about Chidi Nwaogu.

Who Is Adeshina Adewumi?

Adeshina Adewumi is an entrepreneur who reflects the virtues of every African entrepreneur willing to make an impact within their community. An entrepreneur and management consultant with over 7 years experience working with multinational companies and also building solutions for Africa and global communities.

“I love to call myself the business doctor who is always ready to help identify solutions to makes ideas and businesses scale.”

I’m currently the Chief Operating Officer for Proville and have had the privilege to Cofound several businesses among but not limited to Regina La Meilleur Limited, Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited and One Kiosk Africa. Each of these companies have received  several local and international recognition, awards and shortlistings among which include but not limited to Top 100 fastest growing SMEs in Nigeria (Award by Business Day Media and Bossman Nigeria), 100 African Startup Initiative (Program by International Finance Corporation- World Bank Group and MICC Egypt), Y Combinator Startup School Batch 2018, Pitch and Win by Sterling Bank and EDC, Lagos Business School (First batch 2019), 6 Top African Startup by Africa Com 2018, Top 30 African Tech Startup by Accenture 2018 and Future of Work Awards (Flexible Working Category by Royal Society of Arts UK).

How has your university degree helped your businesses?

My background as an accountant having studied Accounting during my undergraduate degree has contributed meaningfully to my business. One of the key metrics of measuring business success aside social impact is profitability (revenue, users etc). This has a lot to do with numbers and the survival of every business lies in her ability to make effective decisions with the numbers. Accounting as a first degree has helped a great deal even though I rarely practice now on a commercial scale.

Tell us about Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited that you co-founded?

Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited was birthed in 2015, although it was officially registered in 2018 in Nigeria. Regalo Kitchen started out providing catering services for busy working professionals and corporate organisations. Between 2015 till date, they have been able to service notable companies among which include but not limited to Guaranty Trust Bank, Paystack, Paga, Stanbic IBTC and Ag Leventis Nig.

In 2018, the company decided to include a social enterprise strategy in order to contribute meaningfully towards the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria and thus help reduce unemployment and underemployment. In 2018 alone, the company was able to train over 150 candidates with various catering soft skills to launch out into entrepreneurship through her Regalo Master Class. Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited emerged top 100 fastest growing SMEs in Nigeria for 2018 (Award by Business Day Media and Bossman Nigeria).

The next milestone for Regalo Kitchen is to introduce the Uber Eat model in Nigeria in a refined way to meet the needs of the market and also expand her training facility to train 100,000 youths and women with various soft skills by year 2023.

How was it starting your first company?

Starting my first company was rough, I was poorly informed and prepared for the journey. Just fresh out of school having tested the waters of buying and selling back in school with great success. The bigger market however was a totally different base to operate. My first company was Regina La Meilleur Limited which I incorporated in 2012 with several products among which included Home Tutors Nigeria, RLM Network among others. We have gone through several stages of iterations and finally got a product market fit while some products scrapped and some up for sale with some investors

Did any experience or position you held at school made it easier to solve some problems that you have encountered since you have started?

Interesting question, I have always taken up several leadership roles where I have been privileged to serve so obviously they have all added up in helping me lead and see through project executions. For example, I could remember heading the Academic Committee in my final year for the accounting department and the impact our work had on the outcome of results produced that year. My opinion is that every opportunity to serve one way or the other adds value to you for higher responsibilities

Did you ever thought of getting a government job after school?

Well, government job never really crossed my mind but I wanted to work within a structured multinational firm in order to give me the basic knowledge and network for my entrepreneurial journey and yes I did get that opportunity with Stanbic IBTC within the short period spent with them.

How easy was the transition from the University into business?

As stated earlier, It was rough initially due to little or no solid foundation (capacity development and funding). Capacity development and funding are key ingredient that makes a difference in the life of every entrepreneur especially in Nigeria with all our uniqueness.  The average Nigerian youth or student has got great ideas that got potentials for success, however they lack the capacity and funding to see it through.

Capacity development has to do with basic solid knowledge, requirements to start and make a business succeed. The ability to get a product market fit and talk to the market to know the viability of the idea and then how to secure funding in terms of finance to run for the period of little or no revenue flow

What do you do as COO for Proville?

As the Chief Operating Officer for Proville, I saddled with three (3) tasks; effective day to  day administration and operation of the company. Maintaining our brand equity that builds opportunities for investment, collaborations and partnership and lastly drive revenue for the business through effective coordination of all stakeholders of the company. These three tasks contributes majorly to business growth and success.

What service(s) does Proville provide?

Proville from the name stands for Professional hub or Villa. Our flagship product; Proville.net connects professionals with clients who need their services. We act as a bridge to close the demand supply gap that exists within the professional or would you rather say freelance niche in Africa.

So let’s say you need a web developer for a project, all you need to do is go on proville.net and post your project and budget and wait to receive offers from our pool of professionals. The same applies to all professional services and once you are ready, you assign the project to the best fit professional freelancer with assurance that all payments are done through our escrow model (a secure payment option that avails you security and you only part with money when you are satisfied) with the service you have received.

How frequently do people use Proville?

Proville is used on a daily basis with several jobs started and completed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Some jobs or projects however takes long time frame but you can be rested assured that jobs are always ongoing.

Why is Proville better than her competitors?

Our competitors are the likes of Upwork, Freelancer, Findworka, Workdesk, Tera Work, Asuqu and several others. Proville however in Nigeria as a freelance platform has the first mover advantage as we have taken the lead in educating and sensitizing the public on the viability of freelance platforms like ours as it aligns with the Future of Smart Work across Africa. We also collaborate with the vision of International notable societies such as Royal Society of Arts (UK) towards advancing flexible working options in Nigeria and Africa.


How are you able to manage being a cofounder of 59 One Kiosk Africa Limited?

Success comes with more responsibilities and little time for self if not well managed. Time management plays a vital role here and luckily the team are very effective and organised. Also we are in project mode with launch date set for June 2019

What does 59 One Kiosk Africa Limited do?

One Kiosk Africa; onekioskafrica.com was birthed to introduce a develop model to eCommerce in Nigeria and across Africa. We are an eCommerce business with a different business model that ensures that goods and services are delivered within 59 minutes to the customers while creating employment along the e-commerce value chain. Our solutions has the potentials to create 100,000 jobs by December 2019 given our set projections.

Most of these companies are online, how important is one’s business being online in the present world?

First of all, I always love to say that any business that cannot leverage on technology one way or the other is not ready for a sustained business over the next five (5) years. Technology has to do with the net and as such every business need to align accordingly. Brick and Mortar stores would still be essential but less active compared to online channels within the next 5 years.

What problems have you encountered as an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs first major challenge is finding a product market fit for their idea. This takes quite a lot of our time and once found we then move on to the problem of scaling the business. There is also that challenge of having a work life balance as everything at the beginning seems to rover around you.

This challenges can however be shortened by talking to your target market during design, development and beta stages of your solutions. Building partnerships, collaborations and opportunities for investments and lastly delegating power or would I rather say empowering your team to work effectively with or without you

What  do you want to tell  young entrepreneurs that are just starting?

Talk to your sample market audience, do not be afraid that your idea would be stolen, I believe in the school of thought that there is nothing new under the sun. Implementation and execution makes the difference. Get mentors, do not be discouraged when you get a No, a yes is just around the corner and never give up on yourself. The world needs your idea and solution to materialise, give returns and make social impacts

Do you advise students to try their ideas or start ups in school or wait till after graduation?

Well, I would suggest they can start building capacity early enough and thus they can test their ideas while in school as long as they are able to manage their time well. Most renown business were birthed when their founders were within the university age bracket or in college. So it’s a very good time to start building capacity and test the viability of your idea or solution

Do you advise people to drop out to pursue their dream?

I would usually not support dropping out of school to pursue your dream, however my counsel would depends on various factors. A lot in changing within the educational sector and how people learn and grow, I try not to emphasize  too much of academics but education (which for me the later is continuous as we keep learning and growing). Ideas or dreams as you called it has a way of clouding your mind, it literally feels as though all your life depends on it and nothing else counts.

This feeling is what every entrepreneur goes through and that’s why you see people drop out or resign from their jobs to start that idea. This feeling must, however, be very well managed and decisions are taken objectively with the right foundation laid (Knowledge and Capacity). This question is a very broad topic that cannot be discussed in full here, those interested can reach out to book a session with me.

Do you think entrepreneurs needs mentors?

The answer to this question is quite similar to asking if a tyres need air? If you want to go far, you must have people you can inspire you and support you out of their wealth of experience. Having a mentor is not rocket science, it’s a deliberate art.

Any special skill entrepreneurs needs to be successful

Tenacity is one skill that I would suggest for all entrepreneurs, it produces patience and commitment against all odds to succeed. The entrepreneurial journey is not a straight road, anyone that tells you its a straight road either has not gone through it or is lying.  There are however principles that guide success and once applied with tenacity the result shows itself.

How can young people who will love to ask you questions be able to contact you?

This question makes it look as though I am old. I am very young in mind and age. Readers out there can however reach out to me via LinkedIn (my most active platform)- https://www.linkedin.com/in/adeshina-adewumi-john-frsa-8512b06a/ or ajadewumi on any social media platform. You can also mail me directly at ajadewumi@gmail.com , I try to respond to all my emails.