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How Ikechukwu Nweze Is Building Tech Solutions in Asaba

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Ikechukwu Nweze, is who you would call a tech bro. He is the Founder of Vent International and Also the Founder and CEO of OliliFoods, the pioneer food delivery company in Delta state, who describes himself as a compulsive problem solver.

How Ikechukwu Nweze Is Building Tech Solutions in Asaba
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By Onyinye Okonkwo

 

Ikechukwu Nweze, is who you would call a tech bro. He is the Founder of Vent International and Also the Founder and CEO of OliliFoods, the pioneer food delivery company in Delta state, who describes himself as a compulsive problem solver.

 

This young entrepreneur has endured several failures and kept pushing with the hope of one day finding success, his patience eventually paid off with the success of the food delivery App Olili food and his crypto trading site, Vent.

 

In this interview, Nweze walks me through his journey to becoming a tech founder, the trials he has encountered and the breaking points that have led him to where he currently is.

 

EXCERPTS BELOW

 

Tells us about yourself

I am the last of 5 children, born and bred in Warri Delta state but hail from Awka south in Anambra state. My father is an accountant while my mother is a business woman.

I studied computer science at the Delta state polyphonic Ogwashi Ukwu, where I obtained my O.N.D. and later my H.N.D from Auchi Polythenic.

 

How did you get into tech?

I would say I got into tech when I started using mobile phones. When due to how expensive data was,  we would try to figure out how to work our way around it.

From phones we moved to laptops. But I was just always fascinated by things like that.

 

Did you always set out to be a tech entrepreneur?

 

I have always wanted to be self employed which is what eventually led me to tech and eventually becoming an entrepreneur.

I have only been employed once in my life and that was when I was working at a cyber cafe after secondary school .

I didn’t work there for long before I veered off on my own and began freelancing, creating websites on already existing templates, got big into blogging and I actually made good money from google Adsense and building and managing websites.

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But my passion for tech really went next level at ogwash poly where I met other tech enthusiasts and I began learning how to write codes, programming, developing softwares etc.

In 2016 I registered my first company So, I guess you could say my desire to be an entrepreneur found expression in tech and translated into reality even though the journey was filled with challenges and several failures.

 

Did your environment influence who you are today?

 

Growing up around my parents gave me a solid introduction into not only how to run a business but how to keep your records, your books and numbers which is very important in business.

I currently run several businesses easily and even I am amazed at my ability to keep great records, track the business income and expenditure and accurately balance our books even without an accountant.

This for me is one of the influences of having an accountant as a father and I must say it has tremendously helped me.

 

What are some of the challenges you have faced on your journey as a tech founder?

 

I have faced several challenges and even endured failure.

I can count at least 7 businesses that I started which all failed.

Firstly, I tried creating an email service providing product called Vmail very much like gmail and that failed, we couldn’t launch because the person I outsourced building it to didn’t build it properly.

I abandoned that and next tried building something like Netflix, it didn’t work, tried building something like Nairaland, it failed,  tried building a social network like Facebook called vent chat, tried my hands at blogging at a very professional scale,  that also didn’t work. at some point I wanted to play professional football, that didn’t work out , I even bought Gidi 360 music blog one time. Still went bust.

Remember I was spending money on all these ventures and it wasn’t easy at that point so to increase my cash inflow, I became a professional DJ.

I did that cumulatively for 8 years but began to reduce my involvement in it when my tech business began to pick up.

What made you decide to go back to tech?

I saw how the industry made steady progress from 2009-2015, I saw how the industry was constantly evolving.

How we went from using java phones to Symbian phones, to android and iPhones from using cds to play music to using laptops, from using flash drives to using xender.

I wanted to be a part of that new move because i love to proffer solutions to problem, I can identify a problem and proffer solutions as i do not like excuses or engage in blame games.

When i see a problem i just want to solve it.

Coning back into tech, I found I didn’t have that drive to write codes anymore so I thought why not become a tech entrepreneur and get into the business side of things which is what I did.

When did things begin to turn around for you?

 

I would say when I and my co founders founded Olili Foods.

That is what I would consider my first really successful business which we launched in 2019.

Prior to founding Olili, I was already involved in the tech like I said earlier building websites, writing codes and working as a developer with my business partners.

I got the idea for a food delivery business here in Asaba because as a bachelor who was always very busy working as a developer amongst other things, I often didn’t have the time nor energy to cook and I needed to eat.

This had me thinking that in a town of majorly young people, this must be a problem for many so I got the idea of building an app where people who also need to get food can order from various restaurants from the comfort of their homes, through our app.

I shared the idea with my friends and they said they had been thinking in the same direction so we teamed up and founded Olili food which has been a hit and is currently available for use in Asaba and Warri.

After the success of this, i decided to  my expand my otc business i was doing on WhatsApp by creating a platform which is Vent International.

 

Tell us about Vent International and the solution it provides.

Vent is a non-custodian,off ramp crypto to fiat platform.

This means that we do not hold your funds, we do not have a wallet system, it is basically a platform where our users can sell their crypto to cash using their own wallet via our platform.

We currently have almost 10,000 users and are currently registered in Nigeria, US and Ghana.

We are looking at scaling and expanding our operations to Ghana, SouthAfrica and other African countries so we can help more people offramp their crypto to cash.

 

What are your thoughts on developing tech communities in the South-South

 

Tech in the South-south is very possible but the truth is that Lagos state already has a national and international reputation as the tech HQ in Nigeria.

However, this does not mean that smaller tech hubs cannot spring up in other states & their cities but replicating what has been built in Lagos would require people to build hubs and believe it can be done elsewhere rather than everyone just running to Lagos which is already densely populated, it would also require a lot of government backing to make it happen.

I am one of those championing the cause that technological solutions can be built and work outside Lagos, I push that narrative because I believe it.

So, having a tech hub where techies in Asaba many of whom are just starting can gather, exchange ideas and even have access to basic things like constant electricity and a fast internet connection, would go a long way in building a strong and more vibrant tech community here.

We have a government-run innovation hub here in Asaba which is a right step in the right direction.

 

What are some of the challenges you have encountered in building tech solutions?

 

One major challenge is access to funding.

When we expanded our food delivery services to Warri, which is three times bigger than Asaba, we realized we needed to get more dispatch riders but getting funding was tough.

We are trying to raise 500k in funding but it’s not been a walk in the park.

So funding is a challenge especially if you aren’t building a fintech solution.

 

What kept you going despite all the trials & challenges?

 

What kept me going was that I saw the whole trials and failed business ventures as a building block for me.

I saw it as a phase of learning, growing, training, a phase I needed to understand that trials, challenges and seeming failures is a learning  curve and that is often the path to growth.

Without going through that process I would not have as much experience as I now do.

So just focusing on learning from the process really helped me to keep moving forward.

 

Any advice for intending entrepreneurs?

 

My advice to upcoming entrepreneurs would be do your research, before going into any business, ensure you carry out an in-depth analysis of both the business and those who are already players in that space.

No idea is unique as there are people who were already doing that before you.

So always ensure you do not just jump in without carrying out proper research and analysis.

An entrepreneur also needs to be brilliant as it takes a lot of brain work.

You have to consider environmental factors, government regulations and policies, human factor and availability of human resource and financial constraints.

While studying other businesses keep in mind that works for others in India may not work for an entrepreneur in Nigeria.

 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

 

In the next 5 years I see myself inspiring more people, I see myself bringing products that will revolutionize some sectors in the country and continent.

In 5 years, I hope to show people that when it comes to tech, there is no monopoly to success and providing solutions to societal problems through my life.

I also hope to have built one of my startups to the level of becoming a unicorn, not because I am so obsessed with the unicorn status but because I just love to build and I believe if you do it well enough, you are bound to become a global success.

I am an advocate of scalability, whatever I am building I build with the hope of being able to scale.

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