Success happens outside our comfort zone. And on this other side usually lies great success. The recognition that you have to do things differently or do different things is the first step to going from mediocre or good to great. And this is what differentiates high achievers to others who settle for less. Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.
This is the case of Evans Akanno, the phenomenal, creative and success-driven person who never saw pitfalls or roadblocks on his way to success as obstacles, but rather used them as stepping stones and opportunities to build a successful business.
Who Is Akanno Evans?
Evans Akanno is a serial entrepreneur who, between 2013 and 2015, co-founded three startups: Zegist, Farmkart Foods, and Cregital. He is currently the CEO of Cregital, a digital agency based in Lagos, Nigeria and was recently recognized by Forbes Africa in its 30 Under 30 yearly awards.
Early Life Of Akanno Evans
Evans Akanno, born in Nigeria to Mr and Mrs Akanno, started being the best early in life. He came out tops in his high school, Innocent Comprehensive High School, Surulere, Lagos, in 2005, where he graduated as the overall best graduating student, before going on to attain his B.Sc in Industrial Chemistry at the Imo State University.
After graduation, Evans Akanno was motivated to learn graphics designing, which he learnt from videos and articles on the internet. After which he leveraged this knowledge to build startup a freelancing career in 2010..
His Early Career
It wasn’t always an easy ride for Evans Akanno, as what is now a successful start-up began as a passion that started with an internship at the Nigerian Petroleum Exchange (NipeX) in 2008.
In 2010, he ventured into graphics design as a freelance designer, which he learned online by watching videos. He maintained this position for two years before launching out full time as a brand and social media strategist with Jumia Nigeria, then moved on to Konga.com where he worked as a Creative Strategist in 2013.
The Start Of His Entrepreneurial Ventures
In 2014, while still under paid employment, Evans Akanno set up Zegist, a lifestyle community “for open conversations on anything and everything.” Targeted at everyone, especially youths between the ages of 16-40, Zegist gives room for individual user interaction which helps facilitate networking and communication amongst everyone.
Evans Akanno eventually left paid employment to establish Cregital Agency on the 20th of April, 2015, with a small team of four, comprising a project manager, web developer, graphic designer and creative lead (himself).
Cregital is a team of creative people driven by the synergy of design and technology, and they specialize majorly in branding, web design, web development, digital marketing, photography, videography, graphics design, and software building.
After a series of successful years, in 2019, Evans Akanno founded another tech platform called Farmkart, which enables people to invest in agriculture and increase local food production. In the same year, he also launched Acts of Random Kindness (ARK), Cregital’s CSR initiative to give back to the community.
Evans Akanno and his team have been able to make noteworthy achievements in the tech and creative space in Nigeria and Cregital remains one of the most thriving startups in Nigeria.
How Everything Happened
When Evans Akanno, graduated from Imo State University in 2010, he had no knowledge of graphic design software. But as he put it, the design bug bit him at this time and he began to be very curious about how to create amazing graphic images.
Google became Akanno’s friend as he began to use the search engine to search for different websites to learn how to design.
On his learning adventures, he took up freelance design gigs and started to build a portfolio. As he said then, his designs were at best, simple and basic. He was creating designs for people who wanted to update their display pictures on the Blackberry Messenger (BBM).
Evans Akanno charged as little as ₦400 for each design and clients would make payment through airtime when they were satisfied with his work.
But Evans Akanno’s entrepreneurial journey did not start at this point. After graduation, he began Pc-2-upgrade, an IT servicing company with a friend during his compulsory one year of service. They fixed computers and provided networking solutions to a few clients. However, this venture was short-lived as Evans’ business partner and friend secured a job outside Lagos, leaving him to solely run it. Evans Akanno could not keep up with this responsibility and eventually had to close down the business.
In 2011, he registered his new business, “Precision meets Design” and began to take on more serious gigs such as brochures, flyers, logos, and magazine design projects. The business’ pricing model was based on what he thought was appropriate for his skill level.
Evans Akanno was not alone in his business. On his staff were Franklin Akanno (his brother) and Genesis Anangor.
DSTV was Evans Akanno’s biggest client at the time.
Later in 2012, Evans Akanno got his first job at Jumia Nigeria, as a graphic designer, and was later promoted to the position of a social media strategist. In 2013, he joined Konga.com as their media strategist.
In 2014, Evans Akanno created Zegist, an online community for open conversations on anything and everything. At this time, Evans resigned from working with Konga.
With less than ₦1 million secured from his savings, Akanno launched Cregital on the 20th of April, 2015. The majority of the funds were used to rent an office space, while the remainder was directed towards buying office furniture. The team began with four staff members comprised of Evans Akanno as the Creative Director, Rufus Oyemade (web developer), Precious Madubuike (graphics designer), and Nneka Ngene (project manager).
In the space of one year, the team grew to a size of ten.
It was not an easy ride for Evans and his new company, as they had to face the high cost of generating power, cost of the internet and the running cost of their new office space. It was also tough to meet up with the payment of salaries at the start. Because of their small size as a startup, they had to work twice as hard to get new clients with an edge in delivering better results at a fast turnaround time.
Today, Cregital is one of the top thriving web development, design, and digital marketing startups in Nigeria.
Recognitions and Awards
In October 2016, Cregital was awarded Best Website Development Company of the Year by the Nigeria Technology Awards.
Evans Akanno also won the Creative Professional of the Year award at the 2016 edition of The Future Awards Africa, and the Tech Young Achiever of the Year award at the 2018 Nigeria Technology Awards.
He was recently recognized by Forbes Africa on their 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs to watch list.
To Sum It Up
The story of Akanno Evans shows that you are never too young to make a difference and stand out in life. It also proves that challenges are usually just another opportunity to build something great.