Oluyomi Ojo is the CEO and Co founder of Printivo, a platform he founded alongside two other great minds Ayodeji Adeogun and Ibukun Oloyede to make printing easier for Nigerian SMEs, Corporations and the general public, allowing customers to create their own printing materials on our system or upload their own files.
He shares his journey on entrepreneurship.
I will call myself a design entrepreneur because everything I have ever done in my life that earned me money has been something around Graphic Design and Print Production. I studied Applied Mathematics at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho. People often wonder how I transited from Applied Mathematics to Advertising and then Print Production. But I saw a niche – a market that wasn’t being catered for. That was the SMEs and that’s basically why I decided that we – my Co-Founders Ayodeji Adeogun, Ibukun Oloyede and I – should setup Printivo. It was supposed to be a side project, a print production arm of the business, for us at the agency. But right when we were about to start, it dawned on us how huge it was. So we decided to handle it as a separate business on its own.
I took an unpaid internship when I was in 400 level. I worked in an ad agency as a graphic artist. I was supposed to run for 6 months but thanks to an ASUU strike at the time, it extended for 1 year. It was in that time I really understood what it was like to build a design business.
While in college, I started printing and design. Back then, I would call myself a Print Broker – we create the designs and outsource to print firms. This had me shuttling between Lagos and Ogbomosho almost every week. It was just a student hustle for me. Immediately I left college, I started a Design and Advertising firm called Urbanbaze. It was my sole business. We did quite a number of projects working with brands like Etisalat, Honda and First Bank.
Our biggest motivation is watching customers grow. It is really amazing working with SMEs. You actually get to see first-hand the real core of the economy. Things that you never knew could be monetized, you see customers in that segment ordering marketing materials. And within months, this person that started with just a pack of 100 business cards for herself, will order for an increasing number of employees. Soon she is ordering for materials to open her official office. We are seeing our customers grow. You see the real effect of SMEs at work. It is something we see every now and then. It is part of the things that motivates us.
I see people seeking funding first before starting up. Just start. From day one of your business, think of how you are going to get revenue.
The best person that can keep your business afloat is your customer. Nigerian startups focus too much on investors money. Then months after the Startup is dead. Why? Because there are no customers to pay. If you focused on customers from day one, one thing will happen. You will stay in business till investors eventually come. And when they come, they will find paying customers, which is what investors are looking for.
In short, focus on customers money from day one. Not just that, deliver results and value. If you do that, you will stay in business, no matter how bad things get, till when investors eventually come so you can expand. But if you focus on investors money from day one, you may not get customers. You may not even get investors and if you’re not careful, you will be out of business.
Three lessons he learnt from starting his first business at 18.
He started his first business at 18
1. Starting small is one of the best things that can happen to you.
For an entrepreneur, the elevator is not the best way up, the staircase is way better. The lessons, the mistakes, the people, the losses and those moments you feel like quiting are the most important moments of your entrepreneurial journey. Missing your steps, falling over and start again prepares you the tough times ahead.
2. You can never get it right at first
There’s absolutely nothing wrong if you suck as a starter, entrepreneurship is a journey, one you should try and enjoy as you grow and learn new things. Look at Google today and compare it to Google of 2001. Suck your way to greatness. Most of the worlds best businesses sucked when they first started.
3. If you don’t understand people, you can’t understand business
In 2002 when I started hand-made cards and was selling them in UNILAG, little did I know I will be founding a startup in 2014 with one of my best customers back then. As entrepreneur, we will meet people as we build our businesses and some of them will matter to us in the future. Learning to build good relationships with everyone we meet will go along way in helping us achieve our goals. Everything about business is about people, except if you are selling to Aliens in Mars.