In this interview with Oscar Obiora, the CEO and co-founder of EduPoint, the young entrepreneur shares his previous experience and gives some tips that have helped him as an entrepreneur.
He said something that caught my attention.
The moment an entrepreneur solves a challenge, he creates another problem.
Abigael Ibikunle of amazingreveal: Can we meet you, sir?
Oscar Obiora: My name is Oscar Obiora Udebonna. I am the CEO and co-founder of EduPoint.
AI: Please tell us something about your background
OO: I have been passionate about teaching since I was 15 years old. When I finished my secondary school, I had to teach first. Prior to my admission to the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, I taught at the University of Benin at a secondary school. My four years on campus were really impressive. I was the Unilever campus ambassador and that opened up many opportunities for me. I realized that I got so much more than I thought. I have participated in several projects in the school.
Those were the things that have sharpened my business skills today. After graduating from the University of Benin in 2015, I was called to passion. Previously, however, I had a career in the FCMG top such as Unilever and Guinness. The truth, however, was that I had to rekindle my passion for teaching. While I was at school with my co-founder Lilian, we taught as a means of survival at school. We basically did it to survive. We taught the children of the doctors because they were always very busy. We have addressed busy parents. The place was not open, so we focused on the teaching hospital. The doctors were always on call and had little or no time for their wards. That was our strategy.
We have gained some customers and also hired our fellow students. Our mistake back then was that we did not do it like a business. We only did it to survive. When we finished school, the business stopped. There were teachers at the school who took our clients with us because we were just naive at the time. We never saw a deal in it. We just wanted to make ends meet to defend ourselves. Since then, when I finished my program and returned to Lagos, I started my first business in agriculture. It grew to the point where it could manage itself. I returned to Lagos properly in 2018, which was last year, and then we launched EduPoint on February 1st.
AI: Before starting your business, you would have discovered a gap or identified a need that inspired your start-up business. What gap has inspired you to start your business?
OO: I went to a public school, one of the poorest in my area. I lived in Ajegunle and it is a slum. In my school we had over 200 students in one class. When our results were released in SS3, just under 10% of us had 5 credits. People like us who could give out these loans thought us wise and good. By the time we arrived at the university, we realized that our results were even among the worst. That was an eye-opener for me. I realized that the tutor-learner engagement was very bad. It was against the standard of the United Nations, which was a ratio of 1 to 25 students. But we see 1-50, 1-100, 1-200.
My co-founder, Lilian, also had this question of computational power when she was much younger. However, she was able to overcome the arithmetic problem because her aunt happened to be her tutor. Therefore, I realized that increasing the engagement of learners and teachers is of the utmost importance. There was a need for a peep peer engagement involving the one-man, one-man team. This was our role model for us. We wanted to revolutionize learning engagement by focusing on the peer-peer style. We believe that this will help identify the gaps. We have seen two problems. While solving the problem of learners, there was also an employment problem. The teachers had no platform to connect with the people they can offer these services to.
Basically, we have tried to solve two problems, namely the involvement of the learners and the empowerment of young professionals who normally can not access these platforms.
AI: How was the raising of capital for you?
OO: Opening a deal in Nigeria is difficult. I'm a serial entrepreneur because I'm always looking for the next business I want to build. You do not need a lot of capital for a service-oriented company like EduPoint. All you need is a strategy and the right team. The truth is that you do not have to pay overheads.
For us at EduPoint, the core of our business is to hire the kind of teachers who can impact that knowledge and share it. The expectations, the ratings and the referral of our students are the key for us. The start was difficult, we had to stop flyers, advertisements, marketers and all these things. We have focused on keeping our spending tight. We knew what we wanted to get the website up and running. We believe that this would be an integral part of the system.
The next was that we have tutors on board. We did not even hurry to get the parents first. A portal for tutors was opened to apply and then we started the exam. The website for parents did not have to be started. We went to the parents and asked them important critical questions about what they wanted. And we found that nine out of ten complained that classroom instruction was not enough; The teacher's attention was distributed to everyone in the class. And if they could get a well-studied and safe caregiver for their wards, they would be willing to pay a premium. So we saw a sense of urgency and knocked on it. That's how we started.
AI: How long have you been managing this business and what was the experience?
OO: We have been running the business for 1 year and 5 months and will be 2 years old by February next year. To be honest, it was a journey. We had a deliberate attitude. We would not pay ourselves and reinvest the profit. We were our first teachers.
When we started, we literally shared the responsibilities among us. I could remember that our first customer did not know that I am the owner of the company. We wanted to test the platform first because there is no reason to ask people what you have not tried yet. After two or three months, we left and started to put these teachers there.
By the time they arrived, parents did not have to ask questions about trust. We had already created this atmosphere of trust and credibility. The business has been amazing so far. Not only did we streamline the business over normal peer-peer learning, but we also completed business business contracts with schools.
We helped schools recruit teachers, even though this is not our core business. Many parents had referred us to schools for our credibility. We also helped schools design curricula. We also offer session courses and courses for standardized exams like IELTS, SAT. Over time, customers give us reasons to optimize our business. However, our main focus is on children, and that is because of the sustainability of the company. We want to help parents look after their children from start to finish.
AI: Some business owners tend to diversify or expand their goals as the business progresses. Has your goal remained the same since your statement?
OO: At the moment we started with Lagos, with only four customers. Since we operate a niche market, EduPoint is not yet every customer. And that's intentional because we want to scale very fast. The scaling is not based on numbers, but on revenue. Our first two years, as we plan them, are therefore sales-dependent. Then our first five years are to scale by numbers. So far, so good, we have moved from Lagos to about four cities. We are currently in Port Harcourt, Abuja, Ibadan and Lagos. Tutors are currently teaching here. We have not met or seen any of these tutors in person, and that's exactly what the technology has brought.
We have expanded over time thanks to the power of technology. We were able to connect and provide the learning experience. In addition, we have grown from 5 and a single digit number of customers to twice and even three times. We also managed to generate an adequate cash flow not only from our customers. This is due to our spending ideology. We spend for "Need to Have" and "Not nice to Have". We have made the living and working conditions flexible with our employees. We also tracked the feedback from our parents. Recently we also added coding to our platform.
AI: What solutions have you provided or sought for your company in the education sector?
OO: We are a secondary school. We are the beginning of the end of the school. We complement what the school does and do not complete it. We are not a school. We do not change anything. We do not say that the school is not good. That's why we see the school not as our competitor, but as our employee. We were able to support schools by expanding their activities. Basically, we're doing these three things right now: Merging, connecting and tracking. We're also working on something, an application that actually works like Uber. Previously, customers filled in and sent out a form, and then after the review, we did the merge. But now it is stress-free on the app. You can see the teacher and order his services yourself as a customer.
We can also track the progress of our teachers, feedback, and everything. We also work on video-visual audio materials. You do not need a teacher in your room to use it. And it's also helpful for the busy people who want to write professional exams but do not even have time for someone to come to their room to teach.
AI: Every company faces challenges at some point. Tell us which challenges were consistent and how you dealt with them.
OO: If I say that there are no challenges, I will lie. The start-up ecosystem is very tough and challenging. Especially if you have no investment and start from scratch. The main challenge has to do with the previous producer, the previous owners of what we do. Because we do not invent, we only innovate. If you look at the history, you find that there was a large lack of trust among customers.
Trying to integrate customers on our platform today seems difficult due to Dejavu's experience.
What has helped us so far has been parental checks and referrals and the fact that people see results. The agencies recognize what we do. There is an increasing demand for highly qualified teachers. These days we have people who go to class because it's the easiest and simplest job you can get. It's hard for us to find this dedicated, passionate teacher. We have to go through an additional review process because we do not want to get the wrong person together for the right job. So it was not easy for us. As a social entrepreneur, however, we have seen how we continuously innovate and bypass the system to make sure it works.
AI: For each company, the strategies should be continuously improved to maintain relevance. What new strategies have you introduced in your company to differentiate you from others?
OO: We do not do anything new. We just do it differently. For example, if we have a customer, it takes less than 13 minutes to find a tutor for a learner. The challenge is that there are fewer customers and many tutors. The need is urgent and we have increased the speed to meet it.
Second, we were able to track and monitor from start to finish. From the first day on which the boarding school teachers came to these houses, a file has already been created. Every day there is engagement, we receive feedback from the parents. The teachers know that they would give feedback.
Third, we have managed to make it more affordable and user-friendly for those who can pay. For us, it is the centrism that has magnified our business. We are proud of our customers. We were able to build our relationship with customers. If you want a customer to pay for a full year and stay with them for the next five years, that shows you deliver.
AI: Grants and awards serve to validate and improve existing processes. What do you have to say about that?
OO: When I apply for scholarships, I always tell people it's not money. Luckily, I get the money. The truth is, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see an application is how important these people will be to my business. Today in Nigeria, you need relationship marketing to be successful. That's why we look at the things that help us scale our business. Scholarships for me should not be the main source of income for a company in my own way. If this is the source, the company dies prematurely. Grants should be confirmation or could also be a way to improve existing policies without breaking banks.
If you use grants and money for your personal luxury; Then it's a scam.
These grants are designed to help your company find what it needs, not Nice. The role of the grant is also to help you improve the well-being of your employees. For us, it's not just about profit. they are passion-profit-people.
AI: Have you ever received scholarships or awards?
OO: Yes, we got a few. We did not receive any awards until this year. This year was like a harvest for us, we got about 7 awards and scholarships.
AI: Was there a time when your customers were dissatisfied with your service? How did you manage it?
OO: So you know a real businessman. If someone tells you that he has no competitor, you know that he does not do business. This is because there certainly has to be a competitor. If someone tells you that he has no problems or that all customers are satisfied, there is certainly a bad game. We have at least 1.2 to 1.5 percent of negative feedback. And if you go deep, it's not even your tutor. Because of the kind of niche we are dealing with, there are some types of people who are not used to hard work. The challenge is to guide the gentle people through the process.
We have tried to train our teachers in different ways in order to adapt them to the respective learning style. There were problems with the delay of the lesson, no tasks were asked. We are following all this and some customers will even say that they did not get what they paid for. We're trying to get back to our dashboard and find out how we can improve the services we provide to those customers. And for them to stay that way, it shows that they have seen an improvement. What you consider to be a problem could be the solution of another.
The moment an entrepreneur solves a challenge, he creates another problem.
At any point in time, we try to understand the KYC, which is why we run feedback trackers weekly. So we correct, repeat and change.
AI: Any advice for aspiring new entrepreneurs?
OO: There are so many possibilities, especially for women. Just look around and get involved accordingly. I would not hesitate to support aspiring entrepreneurs who come to me. I can tell you that you are inviolable if you are feminine and tech savvy.
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