Tayo Olufuwa is the CEO and co-founder of Jobs In Nigeria, a recruitment portal addressing the issue of unemployment in Nigeria.
In this article, he shares the story of how he was able to scale the hurdles of entrepreneurship and got funding for his startup, Jobs in Nigeria. Here is his full story in his own writing.
April 5, 2014 — my birthday. 23 years ago my mum gave birth to me, I bet she was very full of joy and happiness when I came into this world so she named me Temitayo which means ‘I am more than joyful’.
As I grow older I no longer see birthdays as a day in the year for being happy, eating and hanging out with my number one girlfriend; but I see today and other birthdays as a day for reflection, looking back over my life and hoping for a better future.
When I was 6 years old my dad left — he’s still alive by the way. I was born with a silver spoon but for some reason something happened and before you knew it I was alone with mum and my 3 wonderful siblings.
Growing up in Mushin. 2010
Life became very though growing up, especially in one of the most dangerous places in Lagos — Mushin. I grew up witnessing gruesome mob lynching, gang fights and ethnic clashes. It was a very tough childhood for me. It was a very tough childhood for me. Whenever I got the first position in class dad was never around to cheer me or say congrats to me. Even when I got admission to study at the prestigious Igbobi College Yaba.
There was nothing like going to the mall on weekends or traveling during the Christmas holidays — never. I ended up being a stubborn teen, especially between the ages of 12 — 14. I would always be in one form of trouble or the other and always give mum a reasons to be sad. I never really liked it but honestly life is tough when you don’t have your father around you and you live in one of the worst neighborhoods ever.
Growing up in Mushin might be negative but I decided to look on the bright side of things and be positive about it. I decided I would become a better person with the help of my sister Hannah Olufuwa and my Aunt Bimbo.
I completed my secondary education at the age of 14 in 2006, and was planning to study Information Technology in University as that had been my passion since I first touched Windows 95 around 1997. As fate would have it I got some bad news when I learnt that only two universities, at that time, offered Information Communications Technology and not Information Technology. My sister later got me an application form from N.I.I.T to study Software Engineering. I spent four boring years studying Software Engineering as well as Ethical Hacking and Forensics.
While studying for my Software Engineering Diploma at N.I.I.T I met Dele Bakare and we have been friends since then. Dele had worked on a Christian social network site called pandorgs.com you should check it out.
Eventually, we decided to start work on a recruitment portal to address the issue of unemployment in the country. It was a crazy attempt as I had to leave my job and then convince Dele to leave his. We both left our well paying jobs to work on a recruitment platform that would serve the Nigerian job seekers.
I remember going to White House (a local restaurant) for lunch, and ended up eating without buying water because it was 70 Naira for a bottle. I would then come back to the hub, where we were working out of, to get water from the dispenser instead.
Life was very hard for us as we had no source of income and we were not yet making revenue. It was really tough for us. We had not launched Jobs In Nigeria then and only had a private beta so people could give us their feedback. Then I got my admission letter from the University of Regina dated April 5, 2012. I had to either go to Canada or continue Jobs In Nigeria, It was tough for me but I still decided I would continue Jobs In Nigeria perhaps what also helped with the decision was the fact that I didn’t have the cash to send myself to Canada at that time anyways.
We finally launched Jobsinnigeria.com.ng to the public on the 1st of June 2012 and in 2 months we had gotten over 15,000 users on the platform. It was crazy, unanticipated growth, and we had to deal with issues such as server outages and down times as well as responding to the hundreds of emails and phone calls we were getting from our customers.
I eventually talked to Mr Bosun Tijani of Cchub about the platform and our challenges at scaling, and he gave me his advice and went one step further by bringing top HR people to also advice us on how to grow the platform. I would for ever be grateful to them,
One sunny evening, a good friend of mine Joseph Jones introduced me to an HR person who is interested in startups and early stage companies. He was very interested in us and was ready to invest for a stake in the company. We had several meetings, going back and forth and viola we signed the deal and got our first investment! Later on we got an additional 5K USD as a grant from The Tony Elumelu Foundation; and some additional financies from the African Leadership Academy.
Today Jobsinnigeria.com.ng is the flagship product of Jin Innovations Ltd and has grown to have over 200,000 users on the platform. We also have lots of success stories from employers and job seekers on the platform.
Our end goal is to reduce the level of unemployment in Africa by leveraging technology to give businesses easier access to talent and create more jobs as a result.
Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith, I didn’t write a lot about the crazier part of my childhood. I certainly didn’t have the best childhood but I am working hard to make sure my kids and future family have the best they deserve in life.
God Bless my Mum — Mrs Taiwo Olufuwa, my siblings Hannah, Ope and Tobi; and my niece Oyin)
For all that remembered my birthday without a personal reminder from me I must say I am honored to have you as a friend; and for those that didn’t remember it’s okay as you can’t be expected to know everybody’s birthday.
This article, initially posted on medium.com, was written by Tayo Olufuwa.