Paschal Offordum is a law graduate from the University of Ibadan. He helped establish TEDxUI while in the University and has contributed to the University society while at school. The selfless services he rendered at school helped him to establish his business Brandgroom. Brandgroom is a digital agency whose services range from social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content creation and marketing, graphics, personal branding and other PR services. InterviewStories presents Paschal Offordum’s words with us and how he started his journey.
Who is Paschal Offordum?
Well, I like to think of myself as a passion-driven entrepreneur charged with the mission to help humanity achieve her best by maximizing and managing the resources we have been given by God without consuming negatively affecting others. I have come to understand that almost all the problems we face on earth revolve around resources whether under-utilization, over-utilization, non-utilization or greediness in the utilization. So I help individuals and businesses on their bid to attain their potentials or mission. Apart from that, I recently signed up with a Fintech firm to learn more about the financial market and the future algo-trading. I hope to share my experiences through my blog and social media posts. You see I have great interest in tech too. So in a nutshell, you can say I am a blend of media, tech and entrepreneurshipWhat does your company Brandgroom do?
As the name reads ‘Brand-groom.’ The grooming of brands. Brandgroom is a full-scale digital agency charged with the mission to help other businesses and social enterprises achieve their mission by providing them with the necessary contents and tools to tell compelling stories. So our services for now range from social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content creation and marketing, graphics, personal branding and other PR services. You could visit our site to know more.
Tell us your experience setting up this digital media firm?
It was an interesting experience, of course with the challenges that comes with starting a business. Brandgroom started off as a more practical follow up of TEDxUI. After the first TEDxUI we organised, It was discovered that the event inspired a lot people and there were positive feedbacks, one of which was the increase of the students in active citizenship through starting up non-profits to solve problems. However, it was discovered that the non-profit model is not very sustainable in this part of the world if one really has to go far since many of them depended on donations and shut down after months of not getting any. So we came up with the idea to help these early-stage organisations and others, to develop sustainable business models at the best affordable cost while we worked closely with them.How does what you studied in the University help in the running of Brandgroom?
Having a legal background I think is an advantage as I think differently and analytically before making some crucial decisions. Though one would not expect me to say that studying law actually made me embrace the beauty of knowing of the rules before breaking them.
At Brandgroom Media, we are bridging the resources gap that exists when starting up a new business especially in Africa. In line with the SDG 17, we help businesses to create and effectively utilize digital resources and contents to increase their revenueDo you consider yourself a leader or a manager at Brandgroom?
I have always seen myself as a leader whose heart resides with the people I serveHave you made decisions that you regretted making as the CEO of Brandgroom?
Well, I have always made decisions and always made mistakes. At least that’s one of the ways we learn. However, I do not think I have really made a regrettable mistake as I have always seen our mistakes as avenues to learn and iterate where necessary.
Who is Paschal to Brandgroom staff?
Staff? Lol… I do not think we have staff here. I think of our people as a tribe of great minds with a common purpose, one culture and a passion to create solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Using terms like staff and the likes makes business look like a war against your competitors. But that’s not what we are here for. We are here to provide the utmost value by providing the best services to our customers. We are here to make our mark and put a dent on the Universe.Who is more important to you as the CEO of Brandgroom your staff or your customers?
My team is more important. I see them as part of a whole. It’s just like asking if I will add value to myself before offering value to my customers. Its always a YES as I cannot offer a value I do not have. I believe that If we are able to get things right inwards and they feel great being part of the Brandgroom story and culture, then we will have better value to offer to our customers
What milestone(s) have you achieved at Brandgroom since you started in 2018?
Well, we are still a startup and hope to keep that startup mindset all through. Though we have won a lot of local and international recognition including the Youwin competition by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Next 100 startups of Africa sponsored by the current AU Chairman and President of Egypt; H.E Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Within this period, we have also registered our business with the Corporate Affairs Commission. We are also working on a major product launch but I choose not to mention it.
How has pioneering the TEDxUI Club affected your life positively?
Hmmm…TEDxUI. I think it was the first major project I started from the scratch. So it exposed me to the skills of hiring, motivating, creative strategy, firing and a lot of other skills. The most important is that i learnt a lot about working with people. And through hands-on experience i learnt the difference between a leader and a manager. It taught me how to think globally. It was in one of our event that i heard the concept ‘global common’ and a lot of other global issues.
What motivated you to establish the TEDxUI Club?
Motivation? I cannot exactly say there was a specific reason but I know I was uncomfortable with how our youths lived a sort of programmed life; school to church and back to hostel. And of course parties and stuffs like which I believed doesn’t draw us close to the pace of technological revolution happening in today’s world. I bowed out of Student Union politics around 300 level for some reasons but then i knew i have to find a way to be useful to the University. Though I was an executive member of Sigma Club. But then i still felt i could offer more to my community. I just needed more meaning to life which was actually why i left the seminary.
In my thirst to do more, i came across the TED platform. Though i was very doubtful if i will be offered the license but then i got it. It should be mentioned that we borrowed and levied ourselves to hold the first TEDxUI conference. Forward to this day, i am proud that what started with some elements of doubt and lot of challenges, has now turned into a strong institution in her third year of leadership. Having a lady as the current leader is also significant.
Can you tell us difficult decisions you had to make as a student leader while in the University?
I made a lot of difficult decisions which of course i learnt alot from. Being the Sigma Chief then, I must confess i had difficult times screening or sending people out of the Club. You know, its kind of hard when a night before a meeting, you were having great conversation with a Sigmite and then the next morning he commits an act that demands immediate expulsion from the Club. You have to make the decision because its your call If the tradition of the organisation must live.
I also made some tough decisions as the TEDxUI leader where i had send out some people. I think one of the toughest i made was staking my integrity to borrow a huge amount of money for the first TEDxUI event. I remember that very day when one of our staff advisers kept asking me, ‘Chief, are you sure you can afford to pay back this amount.’ Are you sure the sponsors you are expecting, will still show up? I was between staking my integrity and launching this project in UI. Luckily enough, the river didn’t swallow us.
Lol…Yes, indirectly. Because you have to vote competent leaders. But actively, no. People have passion. Let them stick with that. Both worlds are very different but similar. I have seen people who were highly successful in politics but when they entered business, it was catastrophic. Even within the business environment, there are people who will perform well as Vice or assistants but put them at the head of affairs and such organisation will collapse.
Well, personally i think your passion to solve a problem will always make you stand out. Your passion has to be contagious and evident in everything you do. Even when the going gets tough, you can change your route but not your destination.
Do you think everyone needs a mentor?
Mentorship? Well, at some point in life, we are meant to be mentors or mentees to someone whether we like it or not. Be it your son, your colleagues, friends or budding leaders. But these days, i think it has been misused to some extent. By the way, mentorship do not have to be physical. There are types of mentorship; serendipitous, hands-on and so.Do you have mentees and how have you added positively to their lives?
Hmmm…this is one of the things i run away from. I have never seen myself as a mentor as i believe i am still on the journey just like everyone else. However, I am readily available to offer any help I can, when possible.
I have mentees but as I always tell them: I don’t see myself as a mentor as I have a lot to learn. Infact, the more I learn the more I discover I have a long way to go.
Your questions are hard plenty ooh. If you mean political leaders, I think most people do not appreciate their leaders. But, i think people are beginning to appreciate leaders generally especially religious leader. Come to think of it, most people are more likely to believe their pastor who probably has no background in Economics, If he predicts a fall in devaluation of naira/a political happening than they will do, when an economist in government says soWhat do you think is the solution to Nigeria woes?
I think most of our problems in Nigeria is a mindset problem. From politics, poverty, education e.t.c Even most of our leaders have the mindsets of followers. So its just like a blind man leading another blind. You know i read somewhere that the Lion is not the king of the animal kingdom because he is the biggest, or the fastest, or the scariest, or the smartest. But because of his mindset. The Lion wakes up and sees an Antelope, and what comes to his mind is food! The Antelope sees the Lion and thinks ‘the eater!’
I hope to have helped half a billion people achieve their life’s mission, whether directly or indirectly.
What skills do you think every entrepreneur needs to acquire to successfully build their brand or businesses?
I think number one skill is perseverance. It has to be part of you to be patient to learn the ropes even when you have failed or are faced with challenges. I like to see entrepreneurship as a mindset and a way of life. So you need to learn from every process. I will be sharing my story at TEDxAjayiCrowther University on the 27th of April, 2019, I will be talking about embracing failure and adopting a growth mindset. I hope your subscribers come around if possible.
I think you know the answer to that. But to add more to that-Education came from the Latin word ‘Educo- to lead out.’’To develop or evolve from a latent or potential state.’ Formal education is just a tool to expose one to the possibilities of what we can do in life just like our first family helps introduce us to the world and teaches us the basics of mingling with human beings while we figure the rest, ourselves.
Yes, I was. I had my first business in 200l when i ran a messaging portal; saharasms.com . Its funny how time flies. I used to go round the University to paste adverts of the services i offered, with Demi; a friend of mine who now runs an online education platform; Pledre.com
How can student entrepreneurs raise capital for their businesses?
Apart from the many funding opportunities available today, I think the best way to start is to bootstrap. It gives you the opportunity to even learn how to manage funds before getting outside investors. You can also get help from family or friends if you have any. Those days of Saharasms, i borrowed laptop from my friend; Demi to offer services to my customers. Even when my laptop was stolen, i had to go back to friends again to keep using their laptops until i bought a new one, months later. One thing i learnt within that period is the value of valuable friends. If you are an entrepreneur and you have loafers as close friends, forget it, you can’t win them.
How have you given back to society?
Lol…The whole of my life and activities have always been about giving back. From pioneering the TEDxUI, leading as the Sigma scribe and Sigma Chief at Sigma Club University, Pioneering TEDxApata, Brandgroom and The African Circular Economy Forum. Each of them has been about raising/inspiring leaders that would solve problems or solving a particular problem for society. You know sometime last year, someone called to congratulate me. I was surprised because I was sure I didn’t win any lottery. I am not even a bet person. So he told me that it wasn’t about money but that the leaders that succeeded me as TEDxUI President and Sigma Chief respectively, were both nominated for the prestigious JCI FOPA award.
Yes. I mean I had to check out your site when you reached out to me for the interview and you are not doing bad. I appreciate your efforts towards ensuring that the knowledge and experiences of people are available for others to learn from. Thank you for having me.