How This Former Nigerian Corporate Employee Built A Multi-Million Dollar FinTech Company
Not everyone starts out directly as an entrepreneur. Some climb through the corporate ladder, build key relationships, work their ways through various white-collar positions, and eventually take a leap of faith towards their entrepreneurial dreams.
This is the success story of a man who had experienced failure severally and eventually went on to build one of the largest modern financial technology (fintech) businesses in Nigeria and in Africa.
His name is Tayo Oviosu, and he’s the founder and CEO of Paga Tech, one of Nigeria’s largest financial technology platforms for sending and receiving money from any part of the world.
Who Is Tayo Oviosu?
Tayo Oviosu is the founder and CEO of Pagatech, a finance company whose aim is to solve many of the prevalent issues present in the Nigerian financial industry, one of which is to make money more accessible and portable via mobile payment systems.
An astute businessman and one of the foremost pioneers of the mobile money system in the Nigerian financial industry, he is regarded as the king of mobile money in Nigeria, a visionary with numerous recognitions from renowned institutions from all over the world.
How Did He Do It?
Tayo Oviosu’s story is that of a man who rose above failure through hard work, patience, a strong sense of commitment and sheer tenacity.
Even though we can’t inherently deny the fact that ‘luck’ sometimes plays a part in opening up opportunities for us, we have to admit that luck without work or preparation will not last, and so, his success is very largely based on hard work and tenacity.
Tayo Oviosu took responsibility for his actions, paid his dues, and in the process, built a well-known renowned Nigerian financial technology company.
Tayo Oviosu’s Story
Tayo Oviosu was born in Lagos in 1977 to Nigerian parents. He had his early education in Nigeria before moving to the United States of America in 1994 at the age of 16 where he studied and earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California. He subsequently moved on to Stanford University where he obtained his MBA.
After his college degree, he was opportune to get a job with a startup as an engineer. Three months into the job, an error on his part led to his being sacked. This led to downtime in his life where he had to do odd jobs and depend on government welfare programs to survive.
After some time, he got another job doing database design for another startup in Los Angeles.
After bagging an MBA from one of the most prestigious business schools in the world, Stanford University, he went on to work for Deloitte Consulting, working across five different industries like high tech, telecoms, pharmacy, retail, government and healthcare where he was primarily responsible for leading technical implementation teams.
He subsequently moved on to serve as Manager, Corporate Development at Cisco Systems in San Jose, California, where he was responsible for strategy, acquisitions, and private equity investments in four technology sectors namely, Virtual computing, Application Networking, Security and Network Management. He also led Cisco’s investment expansion in Africa including the $130 million acquisition of Reactivity and investments in Aquantia and Guardium. He was also responsible for the private sale of 22% of Cisco’s South African operations to a consortium of investors in 2007.
In 2008, Oviosu took the bold step of relocating back to Nigeria. He joined Travant Capital Partners, a private equity firm within which he executed investment strategy in West Africa and also spent considerable time researching the Nigerian market, identifying opportunities in Africa’s biggest market.
After two years at the firm, he decided to venture out on his own to fill a gap he had noticed in the financial sector, with the aim of facilitating and increasing the volume of financial transactions in the country by making means of transactions and cash more accessible and portable. Armed with a wealth of experience from various fields, he founded Pagatech in 2009, with the aim of making the mobile phone the primary means of electronic transactions and sending money from one person to another from anywhere in the world.
The Start of Pagatech
Pagatech was founded in 2009, with the aim of making the mobile phone the primary means of electronic transactions. In the early days of Pagatech, precisely the first six months, the startup was bootstrapped and run in a lean manner. Tayo Oviosu ran the business primarily on his savings from his previous jobs and relied on friends and family to work in different areas of the business below market rate.
After a while, he got investments from some of his former bosses and business associates and this helped move the business along.
Pagatech’s first institutional investor was Goodell-Alitheia Capital, who came in even before the financial license required to operate Paga in Nigeria was secured. This show of faith paid off as just after two weeks after obtaining the operating license, Paga was able to close the term sheet. At this point, it was glaring how exciting the opportunity that Paga presented was and the list of investors grew to over 34.
Paga has continued to grow since inception, with over 8.2 million users that processed over 2 million transactions worth over $131 million in March 2018. Over the course of its lifetime, Paga has processed over $3 billion worth of transactions from over 48 million transactions.
Paga has won several awards since inception. In 2013, Paga was shortlisted for Accelor Mittal Boldness in business awards by the Financial Times. In the same year, they won the “Best Independent Mobile Money Operator” award by Kalahari, amongst others.
To Sum it Up
This success story of Tayo Oviosu highlights the importance of acquiring experience, meeting the right people along your professional journey and taking a leap of faith to pursue a dream that can change the lives of millions of people.
As the popular saying goes, failure to plan/prepare is in itself a plan/preparation to fail. So to the budding working-class individual out there who aims to someday become an entrepreneur, building the right skill set, meeting the right people along your journey, patience, confidence in your ability, and perseverance can give you a great foundation to navigate the path of entrepreneurship make you an astute success in the business world.
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