Keeping in line with our values: Inspiring Africans to reach their highest potential and to mentor young Africans all over the world, we reached out to one of the most driven young African business men in Vancouver,BC,Canada to see if he could share some tips. Beauty of Africa had the opportunity to showcase at a very inspiring two day event right in the heart of downtown Vancouver, The African Descent Festival, directed by Mr Fatoba and a team he helped put together.
After sitting with him for an interview we realize there is more to his vision than a well attended Festival that brings African culture alive in North America. He is an inspiration to many Africans in Business and in the media industry! Read this motivated African man’s view on startups and overcoming business related challenges below!
Q: Tells us a little bit about your company. What inspired the idea and what are your goals?
A: Skynation is a trusted brand intersecting media technology and entertainment. We bring a wealth of knowledge, resources and connection to our projects, clients and businesses. We build websites, applications, events, designs and wide range of other elements within this spectrum. With a focus on the African diaspora, our company is using our resources to empower, and improve this community while working to improve our operations to stay competitive. Myself and CoFounder Jerry Agudogo, were inspired to start this company when we noticed how much people are overcharged for IT solutions. While Jerry was a programmer, I was passionate about social planning. I had planned, concerts, conferences, tournaments and built range of organizations. I saw my event experience as a potential benefit, and thus we brought IT and Events together. This would begin the journey of myself, and Jerry discovering what our company was and our capabilities. Securing the contract for the African Entertainment Awards gave us confidence, that there was a need for our services, and with a focus on understanding our MVP, we constantly pivoted our understanding of the resources we could offer.
Q: What advice would you give to any Africans who would like to start up a business, do any project or excel at their current jobs in North America?
A: I believe business is about finding solutions and chasing value. We are currently at a stage where we, unfortunately, cannot say yes to all the valuable ideas that are being referred to us any longer, because we as a company need to start valuing our services within an affordable industry standard. For clients that see their business as a source of livelihood, they are starting to take notice of Skynation and our quality.
However, in the beginning, it wasn’t like this at all. Our first client, YPAD was one of the greatest learning opportunities for the startup, and with each problem came an opportunity to grow and refine our operation. Within learning it has become my belief that Africans, while marginalized, need to reach out to the larger community for support. Often times when I attend Board of Trade networking events, I ask myself why there are not more Entrepreneurs in the room of African Descent? We have relatives who ship vehicles back home, but do not see the value in registering his venture as an actual business, and establishing this project as something legitimate. While some might say they do not understand the legal infrastructure associated with their business model, reaching out to business centers, and really participating in growing our understanding can help increase our potential for success. The ideas we have, while they might be great, require resources that might not often be available within our communities and so, my first advice would be to value networking outside of our immediate communities. The other would be to value customer service, with a client focused mentality. I believe while clients may want to support startups because of their affordability; the compromised risk associated with the transaction is something they overlook due to the lifecycle of the startup, but this does not mean they cannot take their business elsewhere. Providing great customer service has allowed us to retain a number of our clients, and gain references to others while working to improve our operations and focus on our internal platform. Sometimes, I’ll go to an African restaurant and be treated as though my business did not matter, and there’s this mentality that because I’m of African Descent, I should be OK with mediocre service, but these type of business relationships reduce the potential for return clients. As Africans starting businesses overseas, it’s vital that we produce companies that are at the standard of the target population we’re looking to establish ourselves in. The third is marketing and branding, which Skynation is working to provide quality branding solutions at an affordable cost. African entrepreneurs looking to partake in international commerce should understand the business community they occupy, and the brand associated with that community. With branding comes the need to prioritize design, in many instances clients have come to us with novel ideas that aren’t gaining traction because of their brand, while the immediate networks of the business person might support their venture, by not prioritizing the need to present the company professionally limits its potential for growth.
Skynation became the Top 5 emerging startups in BC according to Small Business BC in 2016, simply because we put ourselves out and really committed ourselves to making sure we were community driven.
Q: What challenges have you come across (if any) and how have you overcome them?
A:We have really had to learn about our business model and the value we provide; this has not been easy. As a startup we’re now seeing our company’s mission more vividly, as creating jobs with a focus on rebranding Africa, and it took us a while to get to this destination. We took on clients that had no money, this was extremely challenging as it often led to our team working tirelessly with no revenue. While we could have complained, we saw it all as a learning opportunity and a way to enhance our skills as individuals and as a company.
With this, it became really important for us to focus on the business model and operations so we could prioritize research of our service library to continue our internal efficiency and our client satisfaction at an optimal level. Skynation has had many of our talents go on to be acquired by companies like Google, Facebook, and more but we understand this is the nature of startups and we have never let is slow us down. This only allowed room for new talents to join who saw the vision and wanted to grow with us. Currently we are in the stages of completing our internal technology for launch in 2018, and one cannot help but look back and know we could not have made it this far as a startup if we had given up, or let the transition of talents into larger firms keep us down.
Q: What can people do to support you and your business?
A: We welcome referrals from anyone who knows traditional businesses looking to promote, and optimize their business model through the use of technology, or just people within the event space interested in using media and technology to enhance their events.
Q: Are there any Africans in your field or any field you admire?
A: My professional field of study is health care, as I graduated with a degree in Public Health; however, working within the tech, media and entertainment industry has enhanced my understanding to the vast range of work that goes on behind the scenes, and I’m continuously improving myself everyday. I look up to entrepreneurs like, Jason Njoku of IrokoTV who has used media technology to evolve the film industry of Nigeria. One of my mentors Olumide Adewumi is definitely within this growing demand of technology innovation within the area of African Development. When I read about successful entrepreneurs like Mike Adenuga, what I see as a constant admiration of these individuals is a focus on being solution oriented. While I’m honored that my startup has been able to support the development of a number of platforms for the community, and with many more projects in the pipeline, my passion for entrepreneurship could not be more certain
We’ll keep you updated on Mr. Fatoba’s mission to make Africa more visible in North America! We’re excited to see what he has planned next!
Enjoy a newly released music video from Skynation below: