Could you please introduce yourself to our audience?
I am Oluwaseun David ADEPOJU. I am the founder of TECHmIT Africa, a technology and Innovation Ecosystem Advocacy organization in Ibadan Oyo state Nigeria. I am the convener of the Ibadan tech startup Meet up with the Impact Innovators team. I also convened with my awesome team, the Accelerate 1.0 and 2.0 startup programs in Ibadan Nigeria.
You are well known as one of the major influences in the tech space in Ibadan and around the globe, for how long have you been doing this and how did you achieve it?
I had always been a tech lover from my teenage days. However, I was able to pursue this tech dream fully from 2016. I would attribute feats I have achieved so far to the team I was blessed with. We moved faster because every member of the team owned the platform. We all understood the vision and we simply ran with it. I was also able to achieve so much in little time because of the networks I have built overtime. All the networks have been leveraged to accelerate the works and I am very grateful for that. We have received many questions on how we get access to places and platforms but my answers have always been “networks”. The networks we enjoy today are fruits of investments in social capital from way back and they are the best resources we have got.
For your under-graduate you studied a course that has little to do with tech, how did you find the connection?
I had a bachelor degree in Library and Information Studies but I never for once stopped being a tech enthusiast. Information science in a way has a connection to mainstream technology but it was more of a passion for me to acquire more knowledge. These days, it is not a surprise anymore that the movers and shakers in the tech world are not even those who studied anything close to technology. All that is needed to be a techie these days are your skills and your passion.
So you believe it’s possible not to study computer related courses and be successful (whether as a techpreneur or professional) in the tech field, can you elaborate on this?
My personal philosophy about this question is this. Self-discovery is the new bachelors. Self-development is the new masters and self-belief is the PhD. What determines your success in this techno-deterministic society is what you can do and not the degrees you have bagged. In a nutshell, a Yoruba Language graduate can be the best programmer in the world.
There are many tech experts in the city of Ibadan but your impact and influence has been very strong in the city, how do you do it?
I am humbled by this question. The success can be attributed to the cooperating Ibadan Tech ecosystem. I had always known that there is no shortcut to success so I put in the work, the faith and the contents. I believe the stakeholders in the Ibadan tech ecosystem needs to collaborate more to achieve a massive innovative ecosystem rather than doing individual things. Collaboration would help us so much to put resources and positive forces together to scale and become a better ecosystem.
You are the Founder of TechmIT, can you tell us about your company?
Now I am tempted to refer my readers to the organization’s website (www.techmitafrica.com) for a full grasp of what TECHmIT Africa is all about. TECHmIT started in early 2017 and the speed of growth was surprising. Basically, we are a social enterprise technology and innovation ecosystem advocacy organization. Our passion for the Nigerian tech ecosystem pushed us to invest in social capital and leveraging networks to penetrate the Nigeria Tech ecosystem with the goodwill message of Technology readiness for the fourth industrial revolution. Our portfolios, mission, vision, blogs and other needed information can be found on the website.
Starting a successful company is not easy in the country (at the moment), how have you been able to run TechmIT successfully and what are your challenges?
I started TECHmIT with my personal funds and then my team came on board. We have funded TECHmIT with personal funds from our different side gigs up till this moment. Thanks to my team members who understood the vision and owning the platform. The company needs these bootstrapped resources at this stage and it is getting all the needed support. We look forward to having more investors in the platform to be able to fast track some of our tech exchange programs and plans.
How will you describe the present state of technology in Ibadan, what are the ways forward and what does the future hold?
Ibadan is the next big bride in the Nigerian Innovation Ecosystem. We are seeing changes like never before. However, the brain drain continues as some of our best tech guys are leaving to Lagos because there are little or no opportunities for them to thrive and get paid for what they do. Technology services are poorly priced in Ibadan and it is high time we began to support our own. If not, Ibadan will only remain a brooding ground for skills and then we lose them to Lagos and other cities in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
Based on your experience in tech business would you say the industry is profitable, and will you recommend it to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I think it is one of the most lucrative industries. It is a service industry that helps other industries to grow. It is highly recommended.
What are the top three things you think anyone willing to start a tech business should consider carefully before starting out?
The first thing is to be on your “A” game. The second thing is to be able to sell values and not products only. The third thing is to have your profit plans.
You have been an advisor to various startups; Can you tell us something about the need for mentors as it relates to tech?
Most tech startups I have met are not well informed about what a mentor mean. Some of them want a mentor because they want money from the mentor. I have had situations where I had to withdraw from some mentorship relationship because the mentees are not people who want to learn to earn resources from the mentor. How do you describe a situation where somebody approaches you today to be his mentor because of his small startup and the next morning, his call came in to request money for food and upkeep? Mentorship can bring money and other resources but young startups should not mess a mentorship relationship up with incessant monetary requests. Mentorship is not adoption; it is a value exchange relationship.
Tech future is fast approaching on us, what skills do you think will be very relevant for technocrats in this fast approaching future?
The time is coming and it is fast approaching, when everyone will be a programmer.
Are you open for people to reach you for their events and conferences as facilitator?
Yes. Invitation letters can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.