Whenever I have the opportunity to scroll through my facebook, there are just a few people I look forward to reading from. I look forward to reading from them because they share valuable content and understand the power of social media. Chinonso Ogbogu is one of them.
Late last year, someone walked into our reception (ReDahlia Workspaces) and he said to the client service manager, “I have an appointment with Funke Preghafi, She has a booking here”. Funke is another power lady I respect (We will be reading her story soon here). My office has a good view where I get a good view of what happens.
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The young man looked too familiar. I battled within me whether I should go talk to him or not. Of course, my confidence level is over flowing, lol, I walked up to him and I asked “Are you Chinonso Ogbogu”? “Yes I am Chinonso Ogbogu” he replied. That was the first time I met Chinonso Ogbogu and we have since then gone on to have a mutually beneficial relationship.
In May, I decided to attend TheIncubators Academy business training course. Believe me when I say it was worth my time and money. Chinonso Ogbogu is one entrepreneur who is passionate about what he does. He is not only passionate, he also puts in “real work” into what he is building.
Chinonso Ogbogu is that African entrepreneur whose mission is to help other young African entrepreneurs succeed. We are privileged to have him talk to us about the businesses he is building and how he is building them.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Chinonso Ogbogu.
Background Of Chinonso Ogbogu
Chinonso Ogbogu grew up in the city of Lagos, Nigeria and also had his primary and secondary school education in Lagos.
He is a graduate of Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State located in the Eastern part of Nigeria, where he graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Banking and Finance. Chinonso Ogbogu also has a post graduate degree from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
After completing the one year mandatory youth service programme in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, with Hynergy Consulting Limited, Chinonso Ogbogu moved to Enugu, South East Nigeria to work with Skillap Limited, a training company for two years.
On October 1st, 2014, Chinonso Ogbogu moved to Lagos to set up his own company, SM Solutions & Services. SM Solutions & Services was a learning experience for him as the business did not pull through eventually. The experiences gained and lessons learned from that failure birthed TheIncubators Africa.
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Why Chinonso Ogbogu Chose His Current Field
I have always loved being an entrepreneur and working with young entrepreneurs; and that is because I believe strongly that young entrepreneurs hold the key to unlocking Africa’s much-needed transformation.
So for me, choosing to be that entrepreneur who helps other entrepreneur succeed is strategic – a decision rooted on me wanting to play a critical role in building the Africa of my dream. I am deeply passionate about what I do and that’s because of the impact it brings to people’s lives, many of whom I have never met.
So the way I hope to measure my success in all of this, is by how I am able to contribute to Africa’s success by not only building my own businesses and creating quality jobs for others, but also empowering other young entrepreneurs like me to do the same.
Influence Of Family On Chinonso Ogbogu
Being an entrepreneur is a career path I found and chose for myself.
I remember the night I broke the news to my parents that I wasn’t going to pursue a career in banking and finance, which was what I studied for four years in college, they were shocked!
I had completed my ND and HND programme in Banking and Finance, and in that meeting, with their eyes staring at mine, I informed them that I was not going to pursue a career in banking and finance. Like I said, they were stunned but then, as parents, they acknowledged I was responsible for my own destiny and they were not going to force me to do anything that I didn’t want to.
That night, they gave me their blessings and promised to be there for me all the way. So I can honestly say that my dad and mum influenced and contributed immensely to my current career path. After all, if they did not invest so much in my education and give me all the support and prayers I needed, I probably would not be where I am today.
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Do You Have Any Mentors?
I have a lot of great people I look up to; people who have tutored me at different points in my life’s learning curve. Some are close and some are afar. But in all, I am a product of the tutelage and help of a lot of people.
Whether I choose to call them mentors or not, is not important. What is important and works for me is actually maintaining a healthy, close, ethical, and mutually beneficial relationship with all of these great people that I have only been privileged to have God bring my way.
Tell Us About TheIncubators Africa
TheIncubators Africa is an entrepreneurship solution company set up to provide end-to-end enterprise services, training, tools, and support solutions to young entrepreneurs and growing businesses in Africa.
Our goal is simple – become that go-to organization for young entrepreneurs in Africa seeking solutions to help their businesses grow.
TheIncubators Africa is fully registered and regulatory compliant. It was registered with the government in December 2016, but commenced operations as an entity in June 2017.
In October 2017, we launched our own business learning institute known as TheIncubators Academy. It is where young entrepreneurs are groomed with the right business knowledge and skills. Knowledge they need to start, manage, and grow a profitable and impactful business.
In less than one year, we have made a difference in the businesses of a number of young entrepreneurs who have enrolled for our courses.
Of course, we have a lot of grounds to cover but we are pretty confident that with a clear vision, dedication, and commitment to excellence, we would help democratize premium business education in Africa and make it accessible and affordable to the average young entrepreneur on the street.
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The Principles That Guide TheIncubators Africa (Like a business secret)
I am glad you added business secret at the end, which means it’s not to be exposed, right?
Anyway, our culture as a company is firmly rooted on our Core Values known as PACE IT.
PACE IT is a 6-element, philosophical commitment that defines who we are as a company, what shapes our outlook, and how we work as a team. PACE IT stands for Passion, Action, Consistency, Excellence, Intelligence+Integrity, and Team Work.
We try to maintain a very solid work ethics as a team, and this has been demonstrated in the commitment we bring to our work. If you have a poor work ethics, it is almost certain that you won’t work or stay with us. At some point, we just have to let you go, because that’s one aspect of us that stands on solid rock.
In terms of branding, we believe it is more than just fine logo, beautiful shirts, nice office space, clean stationeries, and all that stuff. Yeah, I am not saying that those things are not essential, but then branding for us is much more than those. For us, it is about keeping to our words. It is about truly serving our clients, the society, our shareholders, and honouring our team the best way possible. It is about adding value consistently across board in the most ethical and sustainable way.
If we are able to achieve those, then we are being truly authentic and our business would stand out. That’s real branding for us.
TheIncubators Africa In 5 years
We have a clear vision of the kind of organization we want to build for the next 5 year.
First, my team and I are particularly focused on building a company that attracts smart, talented, happy people who believe that they are part of something meaningful. We want people to feel that rare vibe and vivacity whenever they work with our team or walk into our space.
We want to attract the right people not people who are only after the glitz or pay check. People who love to show up and make a difference.We want to build a company that naturally attracts people, irrespective of colour and religion. Of course, we want to make money and grow our bottom-line, but we also want to ace at our top-line. We want to build an organization that makes a huge difference for our clients, teams, shareholders, and African.
Our vision is to build a solid structure that is driven by quality and corporate governance. We also want to invest and incubate at least 10 lean start-ups. These start-ups will provide quality jobs to at least 100 persons in Africa.
It was a joy to see our first set of students enroll and graduate from TheIncubators Academy. Today, we have successfully graduated four sets. For the next 5 years, we will grow that number and make TheIncubators Academy the go-to hub for quality business education for young African entrepreneurs. Our target is to be able to groom at least 5000 young African entrepreneurs by the year 2025.
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How Long I plan To Run TheIncubators Africa
I can’t say how long I would be leading TheIncubators Africa for now, because the future can swing either way. However, I really do want to build the company to be completely independent of me. I want it to be able to run with or without me. The truth is, TheIncubators Africa is a separate entity from Chinonso Ogbogu. I only happen to be privileged to be leading the firm; but I am not the firm.
As we grow further, I will gladly hand over if a better leader surface. Now, this is not me trying to be humble or modest. I am only telling you nothing but what I believe is true for me. That said, for now, I am still around the block and I have a lot of work to do. Smiles.
Role Of Technology In Your Business.
Technology has really helped our business process.
For example, our entire accounting process is fully automated and cloud-based. Today, my team does not have to stress itself about paperwork, inputting numbers manually, keeping proper records, or racking their brains to figure out our financial position on any accounting head category. If I want to ascertain our financial position right now, I really don’t have to do much paperwork. Instantly, the person in charge can pull that out in a well-organized format.
With various open source technologies, we have also been able to cut down our staffing, marketing, administration, and branding costs, as most of our designs, email marketing, and admin work are done using most of the free open source platforms.
However, there are other areas of our business we are currently working on integrating better technology into – areas like product development, content distribution, and payment processing. I am very sure we will fix that, just like we have fixed the rest.
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One of the major challenges I was confronted with in building TheIncubators Africa was building structure and being able to piece things together in their proper permutations.
At the beginning, everything looked so overwhelming and unorganized for me. Of course, I knew what I wanted to create, I had lovely ideas for young entrepreneurs, but putting the right structure in place to drive them in a viable, organized, and repeatable manner was one area that I struggled with at the beginning of the company.
Eventually, I was able to get hold of things and started putting proper structure in place. Today, I am incredibly pleased by the remarkable structure we have designed for our company and how things are flowing.
When I knew I really needed to fix my structure problem, I had to just step back and ask myself certain fundamental questions.
One Of The Questions I Asked Myself
“Chinonso Ogbogu, what kind of business do you want to build?”
That question was a wake-up call for me; it served as the turn-key needed to begin the hard process of organizing my business better. Today I am very excited of the progress we have made and what we have built.
I remember the particular day in my office when I made the bold move to finally hand over the company’s cheque book to my Head of Accounts; doing that brought a great feeling of internal pride and fulfillment to me as an entrepreneur.
Of course, building a great structure within a business is never a one-off task. You don’t do it and go to sleep. Therefore, my team and I have made a commitment to continue improving on what we currently have to support future growth and make our business procedures smooth, organized, and better.
I believe so much in organic growth than raising funds all over the place.
Bootstrapping allows me figure out the economic matrix of my business and master what needs to be mastered. By economic matrix I mean the combination of tested ways my business intends to create sustainable value and generate revenue. Many young entrepreneurs want to scale their business without first getting their economic matrix right. They simply assume that by pumping more money into the business, their economic matrix will somehow surface.
I have seen first-hand from young entrepreneurs how too much money can hurt one’s business when things are not done right. Therefore, I believe in bootstrapping to gain clarity and build the right competence to drive scale. We plough back into the business whatever revenue we make and we are focused on building more revenue generating products.
Of course, at some point, I know we would be opening up our doors to external investors or shareholders. But for now, we want to stay focused in proving growth with what we have and can create for ourselves.
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Any Mistakes We Can Learn From?
Of course, as entrepreneurs, we all make wrong decisions or mistakes in the course of building our businesses. However, I choose to see these as all part of the mix of building a great company. Sure, I have made lots and lots of mistakes, but I believe most of them are very critical to me knowing better and growing.
Do I have regrets?
If you take out all the wrong decisions, the mistakes, the failures, and the blunders in the whole philosophy and practice of entrepreneurship, what would be left is certainly going to be bland and boring. LOL!
CSR Projects By TheIncubators Africa
I think the first form of CSR any entrepreneur undertakes is helping to create good jobs. When you build your business well, you end up creating even more jobs for others. So for me, I am so thrilled and very fulfilled that I have people working with me and earning some income from the firm. And my desire is to do even more.
I also give out my time and resources in training and mentoring many young aspiring entrepreneurs. Through my social media platforms I give out a lot of quality contents and support tools on a daily basis.The tools help entrepreneurs find the clarity, roadmap, or inspiration they need to succeed.
I do not intend to speak more on personal philanthropy as I prefer to keep it private.
Other Business Interest?
Early this year, I launched what I call the Venture Incubation Programme (VIP). It is an investment-incubation approach where we invest in various lean start-ups with clear value propositions, across various verticals over a period of 5 years.
The first lean investment startup I made was on Sabi Writers.
Sabi Writers is a ghost-writing agency for entrepreneurs, professionals, leaders, and celebrities who want to tell their stories or create great word contents but cannot do so. We simply take the burden of writing off these people, handle all the writings for them, while they take all the credits.
I have also invested in a getaway experience and leisure solution startup known as Unwind.
We launched a market validation prototype around April 2018. Unwind will be launched fully in a couple of weeks. The focus is to provide busy young entrepreneurs an exclusive getaway experience. It is about creating work-life balance.
We are also currently working on our third lean investment – Musk.
Musk is a t-shirt clothing line. We will be unveiling Musk in due time. ‘T’ lovers in the house, are you ready? LOL!!!
We are strategic in our start-up investments. The aim is to provide end-to-end enterprise experience so entrepreneurs can maximise their potentials.
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Advice For Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Always seek sound knowledge, be curious to learn, and develop quality relationships that will help you get and stay better at what you do. Leave all the noise, ignore the rah-rahs, and do the real work. Develop strong work ethics and always seek the truth at all times.
Sometimes having a business idea that you are passionate about can blind you to truths. You must take control of your emotions and filtering process as you get into the world of entrepreneurship. There will always be surprises lurking around the corner. When you seek the truth and become willing to embrace that truth when you find it, you will make an interesting discovery. You will discover that you will begin to grow in the right character needed to build a great business.
Greatest Achievement So Far?
I have not won any award yet oooh!
But then, one of my greatest achievements is setting up TheIncubators Academy with my team and seeing our students doing incredible things in business after passing through our programmes. There is no feeling that fuels my passion more than seeing a young entrepreneur grow.
That’s one of my life’s purposes.
What Memorable Thing Do You Want To Be Carved On Your Tombstone?
“HE MADE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE”.
How Chinonso Ogbogu Unwind
I love travelling and I also enjoy going to spend time with my parents, just to have a time away to rest and enjoy some of my mum’s delicacies, if you know what I mean.
Country music is my thing. I also watch good movies, especially the ones that inspire critical thinking.
Then I also love to sleep.
Romantic Relationship Status Of Chinonso Ogbogu.
Right now, I am single.
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Photo Credit: TheIncubators Africa