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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.