Leach | Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, NG
Fanayajo’s business is for entrepreneurs just like him
Entrepreneurship is Fanayajo Oluwasegun’s passion, which may sound familiar, but for him, it’s not just about being an entrepreneur. It’s also about helping other entrepreneurs. That’s what his company Leach is all about.
“I was convinced I existed to create jobs and not be looking for jobs.”
When he was growing up in Nigeria, both of Fanayajo’s parents had good jobs so he was perceived as being upper class. The truth was more complicated. Fanayajo’s father didn’t share his income with the family so it was up to his mother to support him and his four younger brothers and sisters. When Fanayajo got to college, he didn’t want to rely on his mom for money anymore. He knew his younger siblings needed her support more. So he started a business to make some income while he studied civil and environmental engineering. It was a delivery service. He reached out to students who were selling physical goods and provided a bicycle delivery partner to get their goods to their buyers. That was his first foray into both entrepreneurship and job creation, twin passions that would eventually inform his post-university pursuits as well.
As a Nigerian entrepreneur, Fanayajo is acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities Sub Saharan African entrepreneurs experience. He describes it this way: “What happens is they have an idea, they get money from investors and build a product they think customers want and thus they fail, wasting time, money and effort.” He used to believe it was all about the lack of money, but now he knows it’s more complicated than that. He identifies “access to the right information” as the primary factor affecting entrepreneurs like him. The other two components missing from Nigerian entrepreneurs’ resources are: “Money to fund the right tools ([including] laptop, internet) and a network of like minds and interests like what Sky's the Limit is doing.”
After his college delivery company, Fanayajo’s next business step was to develop a tool for HR and recruiting professionals to find Africa-based job candidates, but he struggled to find early adopters in order to get feedback on his idea. He didn’t want to invest significant time and money into something he wasn’t even sure would work, and he knew other entrepreneurs faced that same challenge. Therefore, he pivoted his business model to meet this need instead.
“I don't think it makes sense to make people go through valuation hoops when they don't even know yet how things will work.”
His current company, Leach, is aimed at helping African entrepreneurs and startups at the “idea validation stage.” “The goal is to build a product hunt-like model for African startups to test and get feedback that will help them iterate and build market fit products,” Fanayajo explains. He envisions Leach being a product design company that contributes to “a design thinking culture for Africans,” and he hopes to build a sustainable company that will be able to scale and thus help more and more entrepreneurs as it grows.
“Sky’s the Limit is doing great work. I can say that for real because over here in Nigeria it’s very hard to get a mentor who will selflessly make time for you, guide you, and save you time in starting your businesses by learning from his/her mistakes. [When I first started working with my mentors], it used to be about business, but we are more like friends now. We check up on each other, talk about music, challenges, and relationships... It's fun. Sky's the Limit is a blessing and I wanna scream this out loud.”
At Sky’s the Limit, Fanayajo has connected with two mentors who share his passion for entrepreneurship– Pearl Brian-Esema, Consulting Digital Analyst, and Brian Coombs, an Advanced Application Engineering Analyst, both at Accenture. Fanayajo says, “Pearl Brian-Esema and Brian Coombs have been very instrumental to my growth and business endeavours. After I worked through my milestone to raising my first crowdfund with Pearl Brain-Esema, I started working with Brian Coombs. Coombs never misses our meeting. He documented my brand identity (not that I asked him), he just proactively did. He also taught me how to find and talk to a co-founder. I put what he said into practice and it worked like magic! I didn't even think I could make my co-founder join me because he's a well sought after digital marketing professional.”
Brian Coombs echos that enthusiasm, “Fanayajo or Dare, as he goes by, has been a supremely hard-working entrepreneur who has impressed me at every turn. Comparing our experiences in entrepreneurship and discussing his goals for his product design consultancy firm, has been a privilege and a weekly highlight. He’s done a great job studying product design and data science to up-skill himself, finding a co-founder, and planning out his company’s trajectory!”