Starting up a business is demanding, pulls out everything you have, exposes all your weaknesses and it can be emotionally strenuous – Marcus Oluwole CEO Transporta
This chat was held sometime last year, little after I met the passionate Marcus; the Medical Student doing great stuffs leveraging on technology – He gave an insight about Transporta, a startup he his building, we talked about the Nigerian tech ecosystem and its challenges, how he is able to combine schooling with business and so much more – Read Digest and Share.
Awetech: Welcome to Chat Fridays, can you tell us a bit about you sir?
Marcus Oluwole: I’m Marcus Oluwole,
An Ekiti born medic who now resides in Ado-Ekiti actually I’m still a medical student. I love to see people do great especially when they were not expected to do so.
Marcus Oluwole: I’m passionate about Nigeria and her people, since I see poverty everyday, I want to do all that God will help me do to eradicate it
You’re a Doctor, How did you cross path with Technology?
Marcus Oluwole: Technology:
Like you said, I am a medic, but I am more passionate about progress and innovation, I’ve always read out of my scope, I love history, arts and literature so as I read around, combining science with arts. Be it tech or not I was looking for how to improve life and how those who did great stuffs did it, that’s where I found the power of technology irresistibility; as I roam in my world of imagination, I had thought about building an app that makes contains the whole medicine curriculum as a game…even before I owned an android phone or laptop…I just knew technology can make anything happen.
Awetech: So can we safely say, you thought yourself about tech?
Marcus Oluwole: I would say I’m a tech fan who decided to take the back door into the tech family
Awetech: What inspired Transporta
Marcus Oluwole: TRANSPORTA was inspired by my addiction to progress and a myriad of other influences.
I had bought two motorcycles for commercial transportation… That gave me a real life insight into the transportation industry, I saw the motorcycle riders were not making money, the owners were bitter and angry, and the passengers were stressed. An example is whenever I needed to go out, I first walk to the roadside, that takes about 5 minutes because I live close to it, what if I lived farther away? Now by the road I wait and wave, sometimes praying before I get a bike…time always gets wasted and this was ado, what of Ibadan? And Lagos…
I started thinking, I knew technology could do a lot to solve the problem…
That’s a short glimpse into how it all started
Awetech: You’ll agree with me that starting up a tech business in Nigeria isn’t easy, what has been the story for you?
Marcus Oluwole: For me, it’s the emotional strain. Yes its demanding, pulls out everything you have and expose all your weaknesses.
I had to acknowledge them and am seeking ways to reduce its negative impact…
It’s also kind of lonely because most people cannot just understand you, its either they think you’re now a billionaire or they think you’re stupid. Either ways you’re still alone.
What would I say?
Starting a business in Nigeria and then in Ekiti and then as a medical student is not cake.
Awetech: So how have you been measuring growth?
Marcus Oluwole: For now we are still testing the market and building our product, so I measure growth based on the metrics of product readiness, creating Awareness and customer acquisition.
So I have four metric points.
1. How many people know that we exist?
2. How many people love us?
3. How many of them know how to use our platform and what to expect from us
4. How many of them use our platform and how many come back.
We are taking it one step after the other…the last month we achieved a good one on the first.
This month we are focusing on the second.
I’m not sure these are the metrics most entrepreneurs use, but I find it just reasonable.
Awetech: Interesting. How have you been funded? Self funded or have you raised money or are you planning to raise money?
Marcus Oluwole: We’ve been using funds form personal savings and friends. That’s still self-funding at least not from outside investors.
I’m beginning to think about raising some fund, before the year runs out (2018), hopefully we get some non-equity funding but with or without outside funding we are moving
Awetech: You’re starting up a tech company in Ado Ekiti, I know people around there aren’t too techy (or maybe just coming up), how do they perceive Transporta and how does the environment (Ekiti) perceive tech inventions?
Marcus Oluwole: Seems like the community has two segments
The tech-philic and tech-phobic or tech-oblivious
We are not presenting ourselves as a tech company first we are going about as a solution to a nagging problem, while studying the environment to know how best to introduce the technology in our solution, we are letting everyone use whatever level of technology they are convenient with…even SMS.
And remember we are not building a company for Ekiti even though we are building in Ekiti.
Awetech: Wonderful so you are presenting your self as a solution
That’s how a couple of companies I know thrived. PiggyBank.ng for example ensured it was what people wanted before making moves
So do you envision going in to the other parts of Nigeria?
Marcus Oluwole: The question is going to other parts of Africa and the world
Awetech: Wonderful, where do you see Transporta in another 5 years
Marcus Oluwole: 5 years?
That’s 2023 (from 2018) the question would be how do we conquer Africa and replicate our solution for the transport industries in her nations.
That means we should have established our business firmly in Nigeria.
Awetech: So in 5 years time, you will be fully operational and expanding across other African countries. Amazing!
Marcus Oluwole: Might not work at this speed though.
Maybe plus one or two years, you know how it happens now
Awetech: How do you see the Nigerian Tech ecosystem? Do you think we are growing? Are we where we ought to be? Where do we stand compared to other Nations?
Marcus Oluwole: Let me sight an example
When we were studying the transport space and tech solutions in Africa I noted something, the Okada association of Kenya had built app similar to ours for it’s bike men, we know what our Okada association here do
That’s meant to point to the level of involvement or spread that our tech ecosystem needs to look.
Imagine it’s the primary school association or drivers association thinking about using technology to solve their problems and deliver better services…
I think that answers your question, do you?
Awetech: Awesome, recently I think Nipost went in that direction and it’s fully electronic with better services now.
Awetech: We have tech companies such as Budgit doing amazing stuffs like that…. (Using tech to show what the government is doing)
Awetech: In relation to this, do you think our Government is slow to adopt tech?
Marcus Oluwole: Government is always last to adopt anything
Its a system full of bottle necks, “ours is especially more history loving than future thinking ” that’s a sarcasm
Awetech: Lol or maybe Poetry
Marcus Oluwole: I do some poetry too sha…
Awetech: say something to
To Upcoming entrepreneurs
To People already doing great stuffs as entrepreneurs
And to the world in general
Marcus Oluwole: Maybe I say my most important guiding principle.
In 20 years time will this matter?
We should look for the weight of everything in reference to eternity that’s why I let many things go, when I see that “Nothing turns on it.”
Awetech: Awesome, brings me to my final two questions
What inspires you? What drives you? What keeps you going on low days?
Secondly which would you take as priority, money first or work first (why I’m asking this is because they only reason some people do Tech business or business in general is because of Money).
Marcus Oluwole: What inspires me.
Nothing sloths me more than solving problems maybe because of my medical training
So, to provide solutions and see people appreciate is enough to make me keep going.
Meanwhile, I punch my calculators too, the problem must be big enough to be worth my time and effort.
Marcus Oluwole: The money motivates
The work guides.
Both is needed for me to move
Awetech: One more before I sign out
Awetech: How do you combine work? As a Doctor and as an entrepreneur
Marcus Oluwole: Lol, I get this question all the time
Note, I’m a medical student.
Now combining both is more stressful only in the fact that I have to learn a whole lot of stuffs in entrepreneurship, and learn medicine at the same time.
You know few years ago I knew nothing about tech or entrepreneurship, all I knew was bone and blood, so I have to read and read and listen to tapes to make up for my ignorance,
Well if it’s reading my only constraints then its fine
Otherwise, we all have stuffs we combine with what we do, some of my friends are fellowship presidents some are student union leaders and some are in love, Lol.
Awetech: Certainly you’re very right sir
Thanks for you time Boss
Marcus Oluwole: It’s all good.
Thanks for the time