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Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Tech Masterclass with Shola Akinlade

Shola Akinlade, CEO and Co-Founder of Paystack, who is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the African tech space shares his insights on how to build and grow a successful tech startup.

Miva Open University Masterclasses are one of the many amazing offerings that set us apart from other universities. Our Masterclasses provide students with an exceptional opportunity to learn from and engage with industry experts and accomplished professionals. These engaging and inspiring conversations bridge the gap between academic knowledge and real-life experiences, reshaping students’ perspectives and igniting a newfound motivation to excel.

Transcript

Aniekeme Umoh: This afternoon, I have with me; someone who really doesn’t need a proper introduction. I can tell by the looks of the faces here. But to do justice to him, I will go ahead and introduce him. Today we’re joined with Shola Akinlade. Shola is a luminary in the Nigerian tech space. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Paystack, the Fintech company that was acquired by Stripe for $200,000,000. Shola graduated from Babcock University with a Computer Science degree, worked at Heineken, and started a software company, which led to another before founding Paystack in 2016. Shola’s entrepreneurial pursuits continue to expand.

Last year, he founded Sporting Lagos, a football club right here in Lagos. And this year, he acquired a majority stake in a Danish football club. In recognition of his contributions to the advancement of technology in finance and business. In 2022, Shola was conferred with the Officer of the Order of the Niger – OON, by his Excellency, Former President, Muhammadu Buhari. We are so grateful and honored to have Shola as our very first expert at Masterclass at Miva. Thank you, Shola.

Shola Akinlade: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Aniekeme Umoh: Okay Shola… So, we had a chance to kind of talk through the scope of what the questions will be. I’ll have some questions for you here. Afterwards, we have some of our learners who are joining us virtually and will have some questions for you. I imagine some of our learners here will also have questions, so we want to give them an opportunity to ask those as well. But for now, I’ll start with some of the questions that I have. Okay?

Shola Akinlade: Yeah.

Aniekeme Umoh: Alright great. So as you know, Miva Open University launched in September 2023, and with us, we have our 1st cohort of learners. And knowing that you also graduated from University, with an undergraduate degree in computer science, I’d love to know what has been the greatest value for your degree.

Shola Akinlade: Wow. Okay. Good afternoon, everyone. Good to be here. I think for me, being in the same space with like-minded people was the biggest thing that happened. When I started writing software, it wasn’t just because my friends were writing software. It was because my friends were doing good things, and I was inspired by that. I think computer science is one of the things that they can’t teach you in school. You have to teach yourself. They can’t open your head and put it inside. They can only guide you. So I’d say that, but when you see people around you that are doing great things and you say, oh, this person doesn’t have 2 heads. This person has 1 head, and they’re doing this amazing stuff, and that really pushes you to bring the best out of yourself. So I’ll say personally for me, studying computer science with like-minded people was one of the biggest things that happened to me.

Aniekeme Umoh: And did you choose it because your friends were studying it?

Shola Akinlade: Oh no no no. I chose it because I had a computer. So my uncle sent me a computer, and my parents wanted me to be a doctor like everybody else, I didn’t really pass JAMB that much.

Aniekeme Umoh: Say that again?

Shola Akinlade: No. I tried. I got like 212. Well, they said to be a doctor, you need like 270 something. I’m like, ah, that’s too much. But I already started playing around with computers. I would see something on the floor, like a paper like this. I will try to recreate it. So I was just getting excited about computers.

So I thought just studying computer science was good. 

Aniekeme Umoh: Great. Well, you know, post JAMB and post Babcock, you started your 1st company not too long after you graduated. What really inspired you to start that? That was Klein Devort.

Shola Akinlade: Klein Devort. Yeah, while I was in school, I was already writing software. I was doing great projects already. We used to have something called a software exhibition. And so every year, students will show what they’ve done. And I think Ezra, actually my co-founder, that’s how we met.

In my first year, I did a very pointless project. Now it’s called Siri, but then it was a voice-activated website. And this was 2002 literally. I would have a microphone, and I’ll talk to the website, Voltage, about us and it will go to about us. In the 2nd year, I built something called a remote-activated computer. So we had 2 computers on stage, and I would use this computer to open the CD ROM.

I don’t know if you guys remember what the CD ROM was. And then the CD ROM will open and everybody would clap. So I was just doing pointless stuff, then and so after school, I had already built stuff. Someone introduced me to a company called Nextiva Tech, they were building websites for banks. And so they just asked me to come and work there, and I went to work there, and I was building stuff. So I think for me, starting Klein Devort, the inspiration was there. Surprisingly, this building used to be, GT Assurance.

I don’t know if you got it. And so I used to come and work; I was doing something for them in this building. Well yeah, It’s very strange. And so they just paid us 150k or something like that then. And they were like, you know what? This money can last us for 6 months. And so we said we’re not going to build software for anybody again. We’re just gonna sit down at home, and we will build something like Dropbox. And so my friend and I, we just locked ourselves in a house, and we were just building software. We built it and realized we had to sell it. We said  “ We can’t sell this thing”, so we said let’s make it open source. Again, I was young and stupid. It doesn’t matter again.

But we made it open source. And then people were just asking us, can we pay you? because some companies don’t like free stuff. And so that’s how we just started. So for us, we were just trying to make stuff, but eventually, I think it worked out.

Aniekeme Umoh: So how did it go from that to founding Paystack?

Shola Akinlade: Exactly. So that same journey, by doing that, I think that was 2006. Like I said I got to Babcock in 2002, and I finished in 2006. I was building stuff already. So I started planning it about 2006 – 2007. And then I just kept doing it. And the thing is, once people know you, once you have a good reputation, people just keep bringing more things to you. So I did that journey for a long time.

And then at some point, some banks were asking me to come build software for them. And I was just trying to figure that stuff out, and I realized that these payments that we’ve been figuring out since I might be able to figure it out. You know, I was able to charge a card from my computer, my local host. And so I pressed it, and it worked. I started calling my friends; guys bring your card, they put their cards on my computer. I’ll press F5, they will get a debit. And I thought, wow.

So it was like a party trick, until I showed one of my friends, and he was like ‘yo! Guy this is a company. This is not like, no. This is not a trick. This is like you can build stuff on it”. And when he told me that, I’m like, okay this makes sense. And it took another year to figure that out. I started talking to people who were building companies like PushCV and some of the other people. And surprisingly, everybody was excited about it.

Like, I told my lawyer, I want to register a company. I told them it was a payments company. They were excited. They were like, oh, we want to do it. We want people to be able to open companies, digitally. So we are your customers. So everybody I met wanted it, and so it was very clear that there was something here. And, yeah, we just started Paystack.

We applied for Y Combinator. And again we didn’t think we were going to get in, so Y Combinator they get young people from all over the world and about 500 of them, and they picked the best. So when we got there too, we met young people. We met students actually, people were doing stuff. We met some guys that said, oh, we’re building a shirt that never gets dirty. You’re like, oh, this is harder. We met someone else who said they were building a bra that detects breast cancer. And so you wear the bra, and it has, like, a scanner, and you have an app. And so it just tells you that, oh, I’ve seen something. Then I asked us “What are you doing?” I said we are building payments in Africa. And surprisingly, everybody was excited. They were saying, oh, how many people are in Africa? Like, 1,500,000,000 people. Like, wow. If you guys figure out this problem for 1,500,000,000 people, It’s going to be massive. What? Okay. So I think it just started like that. So I think for me, my life has just been stumbling on things, and just doing what I want to do.

Aniekeme Umoh: So far it’s working out.

Shola Akinlade: I hope so.

Aniekeme Umoh: I mean, even more recently, right, with Sporting Lagos, it is of a departure from the tech space. So how did you venture into that?

Shola Akinlade: Yeah. Again, I think the same journey. I think for me, I just like to call myself a craftsperson. I’m like an artist, anything I want to paint, I paint it. You know? And I think that’s the power of technology. It allows us to just create stuff. And I think at some point in 2021, I started thinking about how else to engage with Nigeria. Nigeria is a big country, there’s so much happening, and I thought football was a good way. You know? At that point, everybody was trying to jack up and leave Nigeria. And so even me, I was like, this country is giving us so much stress, What am I going to do? But then I was like, you know what? Maybe I should just double down. Maybe I should pick an industry that can last long like football, there are so many people. It’s fun, it’s accessible, there’s a lot of corruption. We’re not maximizing opportunity. So that might be a good problem to solve for the next 50 years, and, you know, it might be good. So that’s how I started getting into football and wanted to do 3 things. The first part was, You have a 100-year vision, but you need a 1-year manifestation of that vision. And so it was like, let’s let’s create a club. Let’s win.

Let’s just do what it takes, you know, and do what it takes on the field. Right? And so that was the first part. The second part was the talent side. Let’s set up an academy. Let’s find the best young talents in Nigeria. Let’s nurture them. Let’s give them everything so that Nigeria, in the next 10 years, will be one of the top footballing nations given that we already have the ingredients, you know, and so that’s where we’re doing the academy. And then the Denmark part came because we realized that football is talent.

There’s a lot of exploitation of talent. You have a good player. Is that you now have to be begging people, oh, these guys sabi play. I don’t want to be begging anybody. Let’s think about the pipe the pathway for the players. And so we figured out that European football is a good pathway for the best players amongst other things, so that’s where Denmark came in. And then finally, we just wanted to build facilities. So that’s a very long journey. I think I’ll come back for a masterclass in 10 years’ time, and I’ll tell you about how that is going. 

Aniekeme Umoh: I’m sure it’d be great news, and we will be happy to have you back. 

Alright. Well, I guess, along those lines, right, what advice do you have for students who are interested in entrepreneurship and founding their own tech startups, particularly in the Fintech space? Now I’m bringing it back to Paystack. 

Shola Akinlade: Yeah. I think, surprisingly, entrepreneurship is like playing the piano. How many of you can play the piano here? Nobody? Plenty people. Okay good! That means you have to play rubbish first whether you like it or not. Nobody was born with do re mi fa so la ti do. You have to play rubbish and play rubbish till it starts getting better. You know? So I think going into that from that mindset is a good way to start. You just need to build stuff, And you start with the first thing you can build. And it doesn’t have to be useful. You just have to build it. And then you start again.

You start again, and you keep iterating till you get to the right space. So I’ll say the first thing is just a lot of people have so many things in their heads, it never comes out. A lot of people are scared, a lot of people think things are very complicated, and a lot of people think the first thing they have is to be rocket science. No, You can start small.

It can just be an attendance Solution for Miva University, and you just do that. And the goal is just to learn how to make stuff. If I want to give people advice, I’d say just get used to making stuff, and once you get used to making stuff when you find that stuff that you think you can make for the next 7 years or 8 years, Then you double down on it. So you don’t have to be an entrepreneur on day 1.

You just need to learn how to do stuff. And then when you start doing stuff, you will find the stuff that you’re really excited about and the stuff that your customers are excited about, And you can focus on that and just find more people. So that’s the same thing. Tied to that is also the way people think about growth. Right? You want to serve 1,000,000 people, but how will you serve 1,000,000 people when you have not served 10 people? So a lot of people also think, which is strange; I won’t tell you not to think big, but a lot of people overthink things. A lot of people want to build for too many people, whereas one thing I heard was you just need to make 5 people happy. If you build something that 5 people are excited about, trust me, you have done something well, and it will be so easy to find the next 10 people, but people start, and they want to satisfy, everybody. It is not possible; it’s very hard. So I’ll say just getting into the act of just building for a few people, making them extremely happy, and you just learning how to build stuff, I think will be really useful.

Aniekeme Umoh: I really like what you said about, non-startup, knowing how to play the piano, and you need to try and try first. Along those lines, it also goes with this idea that maybe you don’t jump immediately into entrepreneurship, and of course, as a founder yourself, you have hired a number of people, a number of employees.

So for learners who are interested in joining great companies as a training ground, what are some qualities that you look for in employees that they should be thinking about cultivating?

Shola Akinlade: I think surprisingly the same thing. You should be building stuff on your own. Like, one of my interview questions is, what have you built? What is the most impressive thing you’ve done? You should be able to answer.

Aniekeme Umoh: What has the answer to that been?

Shola Akinlade: People say different things. 1 guy told me that he built a bakery. And we literally hired him because it doesn’t have to be anything. It’s like, oh, I didn’t like the way bread in my area and I just figured that, you know what, let me organize, let me find a place, Let’s do it. So won’t you hire someone like that? So it’s just the agency to just do anything. It doesn’t have to be software. It doesn’t have to be hardware. It can be a Community. It can be anything.

But the ability for you to see a problem, to think, oh, I can solve this problem, to actually solve the problem, those are the basic requirements for working in a company. And it has nothing to do with who you are, what you know, what school you went to, and all that. So I’d say if you want to do a good job, and I also meet people on the street. I meet people everywhere, and people are trying to, like, oh, I need a job. I know. Like, what did you do? You know? It’s easier for me to push your car if it’s moving.

Then when there’s nobody in the driver’s seat. What am I going to push? Where am I going to push it to? You know? So you need to get something moving. And when you are at that point, people can either push you or tell you, you know what? This is your car, I don’t even know about this car. Come on and enter my own car, let me take you where you are going.

So I’d say, putting the power in your hands, finding the right problem at your own scope. Like I told you, even for me, I’ve done so much crazy stuff, but there were just stuff I could do around my scope. If you go to a church, for example, You do something for your church. If you live in a house, and you are in your family WhatsApp group, do something there. Just do something in your scope, And then the scope keeps getting bigger. So that’s awesome.

Aniekeme Umoh: Okay. So now switching gears from the employee side to, like leadership and management. This also ties to what learners can start thinking about. So what leadership and management strategies have you found effective in leading a Fintech company? And how can some of our learners are already working professional students, how can they start thinking about building those leadership and management competencies?

Shola Akinlade: I’ll keep it maybe 3. I’ll say the first one, just listening. You’ll be surprised by how much progress you can make by just listening to people, your customers, just listening generally. And most leaders feel like the leader is the person that comes with all the ideas and everything. Well, really, the leader is just the person that listens to everybody.

So I’ll say one of the biggest leadership strategies for me is listening. Primarily listening to my people, and asking them very simple questions. What do you like about the company? What don’t you like? If you were the CEO, what would you do differently? When have you been upset about working with this company? When you wake up on Mondays, are you happy or sad? Why? What can we do differently? By listening, and am I asking different questions that point you in that direction? I think you get to a good place where you can start designing the right company. So I’d say sending with customers to what problems you have. How can I help you? So I’ll say just a lot of it in listening. The next part I would call is incremental progress. It’s just thinking about this as a long-term game. You’re gonna have to do this for 7 years, 8 years, 9 years.

And so it’s just no shortcuts. Just having a very pure approach to what you’re trying to do, you know, a kid. What progress are we making today? What progress should we make tomorrow? Let’s not try to do everything today. Let’s let’s just move step by step. And, again, a lot of companies don’t realize that you don’t have to be 100% on day 1. You just have to start 5%, 10%, 15%. And the other person that starts, like, 70%, very quickly, you catch them, and you get better than them. So I’ll say, as a leader, just understanding the concept of progress and the right kind of progress, I think, is important.

So I think the 1st part is just, like, listening. Number 2, just understanding the concept of progress. And then number 3, I would say maybe courage. A lot of people don’t realize that and this is very opposite of what I said earlier. A lot of people don’t realize that people are looking forward to you to help them solve a big problem. And sometimes we might not be courageous enough, and we start doing things in small ways. We start doing things that don’t make a difference. And so I’d say as a leader, you have to be courageous enough to try new things.

You have to be courageous enough to follow bold ideas. You need to be courageous enough to pick big problems, you have to be courageous enough to say no to random stuff. Like, when I started Paystack, people were like, oh, the way to make money in payments is just go and meet the government like, FIRS give you one contract. Like, I cannot go and beg FIRS for tax, F IRS is tax authority. Why would I do that when I have young founders who need a payment company?

I know those guys are doing small, but I don’t want that. And so that courage to just say, you know what, this is what I want. And maybe that is tied to its clarity, but this is the company I want to build, this is the kind of leader I want to be. Some people are like, oh, this is very counterintuitive, but the best leaders are supposed to be reading books every day. I’m like, I’m not gonna be reading books. I’ll do my work.

Don’t follow. It’s strange how people get distracted, especially if you’re on the Internet. There’s so much advice. 1st of all, someone will say do this, someone will say don’t do this. Which one am I going to do? So I’d say that it takes courage and clarity to just pick 1 part. If you combine it with good listening, if you make a mistake, you can course correct it.

If you’re not making progress, you can tell yourself, this thing is not making progress. So I think if you combine just being clear and courageous in what you’re trying to do, you’re focused on making progress, and just listening to everything around you, I think you’ll be very formidable.

Aniekeme Umoh: I think that our learners are having a good time with this conversation so far. I know some people are taking notes. I would love to switch gears. As you know, this is a masterclass. We wanted to also be a bit technical and, informative from an academic perspective. So I just have some questions relating to technology and product development, and I would love for you to shed some light on them.

Shola Akinlade: Okay.

Aniekeme Umoh: So what technologies and programming languages are commonly used In fintech development, and how important is technical expertise in the industry?

Shola Akinlade: A lot. I don’t know if you guys know the back-end, front-end, and all these things. So I think I can try to explain it. I think the general principle is a request and a response.

So a customer makes a request from the client, we call the client side, the server side. And then the server processes the request and makes a response. So when you’re building technical solutions, you need to think about the clients. How will I receive the request? Is it by mobile app? Is it a web app? Is it an API? Is it all that? And then at the back, how do I process the request? That’s my back end. Do I connect to a database? Do I do this? Do I do that? And so I think thinking of it in that structure, there’s something called full-stack. I’m sure you guys have heard full stack engineer – I can do everything. I used to be a full-stack engineer.

So I would say that in terms of how you think about it, I think at the front end, It’s mostly React, JavaScript, and all that. At the back end, surprisingly, also JavaScript, Hypescript, Node. Js, PHP, which is very popular, and stuff like that. And then you have your databases, like, there’s also Python at the back end. So I will say as individuals, you just have to pick what you like. If you are on the creative side, then mostly want to do others you want to deal with on the front end. You’ll either be a designer or a front-end Engineer. If you’re on the analytical side, then you want to do the back end because that’s where a lot of the processing happens.

So for Fintech, specifically, I think you now need to figure out how to interact with payment systems. So is it transfers? Is it card collections? Is it crypto? Is it anywhere? You know? But then, I guess, it just depends. So I don’t know if I’m answering the question directly, but I think it’s just generally just knowing where you want to play. Does technical knowledge help? I think a lot. I think as software engineers, we as problem solvers. And I think that’s that approach to just being a problem solver. The way you tell a computer what to do is the way you tell everything what to do.

So I think your technical knowledge, your ability to just be a problem solver helps you be a better person.

Aniekeme Umoh: Yes. That did answer the question. This is more like a mini case study. And is essentially wanting to be able to visualize or see what the product development process is like for Fintech products from ideation to implementation. So something like the paystack products page, which I think everyone here is familiar with.

Shola Akinlade: I think it always starts with just understanding the requirements. So requirements definition. You’re just like, what are we trying to do? And there are different models around that. Someone wants to design the biggest, most complex thing, while some people like to design the smallest, most simple thing. I feel like I prefer simple. I feel like simple requirements can get complex later.

But with complex requirements, it’s hard to make it simple. So usually start simplifying the requirements. I think once you have clear requirements, you start thinking about what you need to build it. Sometimes because it’s payments, there are a lot of partnerships that are required. We need to get this bank to give us this money together, and so you can start activating the partnership’s leg. There’s also compliance that is required and risk. If I build this, what problem am I going to have? Who’s going to look for me? Who’s going to defraud me? And so for some of it, I like the product manager to be one thinking about everything, but using specialists to solve it. So I could say, oh, I’m trying to do this.

I talk to a risk person what are the problems I’m going to solve, but I’m the one leading it. I’m not asking them to come and solve it for me. I solved the problem with people. So, again, I think all that, you bucket it into, the requirements definition and what we call grooming. So grooming is when I’m just talking to people. I’m refining it. Once it has been fully groomed, I think they start developing what they call the tech specs, which is a technical specs specification.

So how will it work? What is going to talk to what? What database is going to do what? And so putting the text specs in writing also allows you to get feedback from people, you know. So other engineers can look at it and say, oh, this is a mistake. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. So the output of the requirements definition stage is what we call a PRD, a Product Requirements Document. And then at the output of the grooming stage is what we call, like, a tech spec. And then once you have the PRD, you have the tech spec.

They start building, and, I think the product manager just starts talking to users and just that’s helping everybody. Again, just start that journey. And then at the end of that journey, hopefully, it’s a very short journey, you start testing. And then just go through the testing phase, and start a pilot. So testing is about testing. Pilots we try it with a few people because in reality, no matter how you test it, once it goes into the wild, There’ll be new problems. And so you don’t want to expose those problems to everybody.

You just want to expose it to a few people. And so you pilot it with a few people. Once the pilot is successful, you can roll it out completely. So, we try to keep it simple. So you define your requirements, you groom it, You build it, you test it, you pilot it, and roll it out. Is that simple enough?

Aniekeme Umoh: I think so, Is that simple enough?

Shola Akinlade: Alright.

Aniekeme Umoh: You mentioned something that I actually would want to go a little bit deeper into, and this is security and compliance, you know, specifically with respect to the Fintech industry, so you’re handling sensitive financial data and personal data. What are some considerations that are involved in that?

Shola Akinlade: I think the good news is that there are standards and so there’s like, the PCI DSS, payment card industry data security standards. There’s ISO. There’s just a bunch of standards. I think the first thing is you just understand the standards and know that you are not cutting corners. So I’d say a very good understanding of all the security standards is a good place to start.

And then tied to that is, what we call an audit. So you actually have to get auditors as they call QSAs, qualified security assessors, to audit your systems. And now we also know what they’re looking for. And then there’s testing. It’s it’s called penetration testing. So they try to see you try to get people that want try to get into your systems, too. There’s also vulnerability testing. They’re just trying to see, Oh, what is missing? What can we exploit? And all that.

So I would say a combination of you just following the standards, and auditing yourself, and doing all the right tests, I think it’s good enough. And just using all the tools. There’s a lot of firewalls. There are just enough standards already. Most times It’s when people really cut corners that they get in trouble, you know, and so just try not to get caught corners. Just do everything in the right way, and most times you’ll be fine.

Aniekeme Umoh: I’m actually curious, about these standards and testers that are available today, was that also the case way back when you started Paystack, or how has that changed over the years?

Shola Akinlade: Yes. It’s always been like that. The thing about the testing is that it is what they call self-assessment. I think if you’re starting small, you can do a self-assessment. So you don’t need to bring somebody to come and test you. You just go through a checklist. You test yourself. And so we did a lot of self-assessments in the end days.

And then once we grew, we realized we had to start bringing, auditors in.

Aniekeme Umoh: Alright. Very curious to know, what are some strategies for building trust with users and maintaining a strong customer-centric focus? You had mentioned making 5 people very happy.

Shola Akinlade: Exactly.

Aniekeme Umoh: What are some strategies for doing that?

Shola Akinlade: Well, I think customer intimacy is one of the biggest things that people can do to make themselves successful. If you’re building for people, you have to know them. You have to understand them. You have to listen to them. You have to be their friend. And I think for us and for me specifically, that’s how the journey has always been. You know, we try to just start small. We find customers, and from there, we just learn together.

In fact, the first Paystack customer was a company called Jinger Box. We had to build our websites for them because their developer was delaying them. So that’s the level of custom. And till today, we have relationship managers. We solve non-payment problems. We just try to get to know you. We just try to know what you’re focused on. Now the ones we can help, we try to help. So I would say that the first part is just thinking of it as a requirement to being successful. I want to know who I’m building for. I want to know their priorities. I want to know what they like. I want to know what they don’t like, and I just want to learn from them. That’s the basics. And then once you start building, once you start learning, you just want to be accessible. You want to be able to have them reach out to you.

You know, one of the early days I’m sure you guys know there’s a lot of competition in Fintech. If somebody else is trying to sell to them, you want them to come and meet you and tell you, and say this thing, do you have it? Do you not have it? So it all comes back to just building the right level of relationship for your customer. And I think that’s it. And your customers know too when you care about someone, they know. When you are trying to use them, they know. You know. And so I’d say just demonstrating care. Like, personally, if  I don’t care about a set of users, I don’t build for them. I don’t want to do it, I don’t care about it. So why am I doing it? For anything I do, I care about it. I care about their business. I want them to be successful, And that care shows. The customers know that you care about them, and it’s fine.

Aniekeme Umoh: Well, it’s fantastic to be speaking to you now after the successful exit of Paystack and several years of operations, but I can imagine the journey to this point.

Shola Akinlade: Exactly.

Aniekeme Umoh: Wasn’t a straight line. Right?

Shola Akinlade: Till now, I’m still hustling. Yeah.

Aniekeme Umoh: Still hustling! I’m curious. Can you share with us some mistakes that you made that you are now using and driving you forward that we can take back with us as lessons?

Shola Akinlade: I think for the context here, I think some of the big mistakes are just hiring. Sometimes you make compromises, because you think you need to do something very, very quickly, And you make compromises. And then you made the compromise, but the compromise stays with you. And so I would say that, generally, not trying to make compromises. Like, if you have a standard, if you have high standards, just maintaining the standards is good. Tied to that, even on the customer side. I’m glad I didn’t make some of those mistakes.

Someone is like, oh, I want to use Paystack. I’m selling private jets. I’m going to give you the money. I’m like I don’t know if I want to Support your private jet business. Personally, you don’t even look like you have a private jet business. But more importantly, I don’t know if I’m ready. So not being greedy is surprising me. So I’d say that every time I have tried not to be greedy, I’ve been vindicated. Like you said, we’ve been doing this for 8 years. So imagine all the mistakes if I try to do some crazy stuff in 2017. It will come and bite me now. Literally, and then where will I run to? So I would say knowing just being consistent, not being greedy, and not making compromises is a big bucket of mistakes that you make in different forms.

Some of them, you can salvage it. Some of them, you can’t, but I think there’s just been a lot of that. So I’d say that’s 1 bucket of mistakes. The other bucket aside from the people bucket is maybe courage. It’s, oh, I want to do something. I don’t know if I should do it. You start dancing around, and then somebody else does it. I should have done this oh. So I’ll say just being courageous, you know, if you think you want to do something, maybe be more decisive. So both of them are tied to each other. So I guess that’s why it’s difficult. It’s just knowing where to be decisive and where to leave it alone.

Aniekeme Umoh: It’s tricky.

It’s all about judgment, and that’s why this whole masterclass thing.  You cannot teach someone how to make good judgments. It’s all about good judgment, and you will learn to calibrate yourself. You will learn to know what kind of judgments and calls you should be making, and you should take as people take ownership of your judgment calls. This is the decision I made. This is why I made it. This is the lesson I learned. Oh, I made the wrong decision. Next time, you will never catch me making this decision anymore. You know? So just being very, very decisive and just being a good person. I think that’s important.

Aniekeme Umoh: These responses, what you’re sharing are really helpful even though there are some things that require experience to learn. To hear it from someone like yourself just puts it at the back of your mind and kind of calibrates how you’re approaching life. So I think that our learners definitely appreciate it, so thank you. I have a few more questions, and then we’ll go to questions from the audience and questions from our folks who are joining us online. So kind of wrapping up on this, like, illustrious career that you’ve had already, what’s next for you, and what are you looking forward to accomplishing?

Shola Akinlade: I think a lot of my work is still at Paystack. I think the problem we wanted to solve 8 years ago, we haven’t solved it. I believe we solved it, but, you know, like every problem, it shows up in new ways. So I think we’ve largely solved online payments. If you’re a developer trying to start a business online, you can sign up for Paystack. It can work. But I think there are still some fundamental problems around in-person payments. If they’re asking, is your POS working? There’s a bunch of international payments that are still broken. There’s a bunch of expanding Paystack to other markets. So I would say that payments and merchants are still not empowered enough as far as I’m concerned. A lot of our work was to just make it easy for people to start and scale businesses in Africa. Africa has 17% of the world’s population, but just 2% of other people participate in digital commerce. So there’s a big gap.

We’ve made progress. Today, Paystack does more than Forty times what Nigeria was doing in online payments before we launched. So we’ve made a lot of progress, but we are also not at the destination yet. So for me, personally, I’m incentivized, and I’m driven by just creating great stuff for my community. Every time you fly from maybe London, and then you land in Nigeria, you just see differences in the airports. And while I can’t solve those ones, you’ll be surprised there are a lot of “why” in payments too. And a lot of my work in the last 7 years is just one of the problems we solve. ‘Why is it that if you charge me, it’s one day, one second, but to refund is 7 to 21 days? Why?’ And now today, about 80% of our refunds are instant. So it’s just understanding, asking the whys, and just fixing it. And I think we and I personally haven’t gotten to the end of that “why” journey. And I think over the next few years, just figuring out how we can accelerate digital commerce is what I’m excited about.

Aniekeme Umoh: Some big things to be excited about, even the numbers that you shared.

Shola Akinlade: And because you can unlock a lot of opportunities. I think We have so many people. We have creative people. But if you compare outside Nigeria here, if someone in America likes it, when you buy stuff on Amazon, you don’t know where the person who created it is. You don’t even know who they are. You don’t know where they are. You don’t know what they do, And that person is just delivering it. But here you will need to know somebody. When you buy on Instagram, you would want to know what colour of shirts, and what size. And that process cannot scale, for me and for us, we know that if we have a world where people are building stuff and people are buying it, that friction is being reduced. There’s a lot of value we can create, and that’s how we become a better, continent.

Aniekeme Umoh: I love your vision, for real. What a better continent would look like! I want to save my last question till after we’ve had questions from the audience and people who are online.

Shola Akinlade: Okay, c ool.

Aniekeme Umoh: All right. So do we have any questions here?

Mustapha (Miva Student): My name is Mustapha. Hi, everyone. So my first question is when you employ someone, you would, you would pick some qualities that make them good at that thing. What makes you or what makes someone an expert CEO? What are the qualities you would look for to say this person is good at being a CEO and incrementally improving over time?

That’s 1. 2, based on today’s Nigeria versus 8 years ago’s Nigeria, what would you do differently today if you’re starting Paystack?

Shola Akinlade: Mhmm! I think the first one, what makes you a good CEO? I think the first part is vision. Where are you going to? And it’s not about the size of the vision. It’s about the clarity of the vision. Do you know where you’re going to? Do you know why you are going there? You know, I guess it’s as simple as that. I think that is the first part. The second part, which is very interesting, call it resourcefulness.

If there’s a problem now, how can you solve it? What can you do? You’re trying to look for someone or something. How can you find it? What do you know? How do you know? How can you use the things around you to find the solution to a problem? And I think those are the 2 big things I would look for. A. Just a clarity of your vision, and B. the resourcefulness, your ability to find solutions to problems. Because most people think they have to be the solution to the problem. But as a CEO, as a good leader, you don’t have to be the solution. In fact, if you are the solution to all our problems, then you are restricted by your capacity. But your resourcefulness and your ability to find the solution is something that’s extremely important to the company.

And then the 2nd question, 8 years ago, what would we have done differently? I feel like in many ways, things have changed and things are the same, you know, which is very strange. I suspect that there’s more people doing stuff now, so I don’t even know if we’ll be able to do this again 8 years ago. It’s gonna be harder. I think that’s the first part just because there’s just a lot more, which I think is good. I also feel like in terms of what we would do differently is the same. I think it’s mostly the same, to be honest. I wouldn’t do much. I think the Paystack journey has been a very good journey because we’ve just tried to go at the right pace. And some of the mistakes I thought we made, we were able to course correct quick enough. So I’d say it’s very hard for me to pick a specific thing I would do differently. It’s very, very hard. Sorry.

Aniekeme Umoh: Alright. We have another question here.

Winner (Miva Student): Hi. So I’m Winner. So I wanted to ask, if we were to go back to let’s say we go back to 2017 when you started. And at that point, you’re just starting a company, so you don’t know you’re not making, enough revenue to hire a lot of people and the kind of people that have big skills that you need. So how did you make the decision, or how did you handle recruiting at that very early stage of the start-up?

Shola Akinlade: Well, that was one of the things I think we did very well. I think we didn’t fall for the pressure of this is the ideal person. I think when we started, it was like marketing. We’re like, oh, go and bring someone from Coca-Cola. Like, For Coca-Cola people just put up billboards. I don’t know if that’s the kind of market that I was looking for. So I’d say that in many ways, there was a lot of pressure to hire. Like what are you looking for? But in many ways also, we were very clear that we just wanted people who wanted to figure it out with us. And in many roles, I was just looking for someone that has enough, just the right level of experience, and how can we figure it out together. I mean, Dean is our CEO, she’s sitting beside you there; she used to work as an investor.

And it was mostly, oh, What are you looking to do next? Are you looking to figure this out? Because when you’re starting, you meet 2 different kinds of people. There are people that they’re just looking for leadership positions. There are people that are looking for money. There are people that are looking for, you know, promotion. So more than before, when you are young, you can’t be bashing people. If you’re looking for leadership, go and be leadership somewhere else. Don’t bring your leadership problems to me. If you want to walk, if you want to hustle, If you feel like the next phase of your career is about creating good stuff, if you feel like, you know what? This is a problem I’m excited about.

Let’s talk. And Let me know the other thing I did very early was I tried to work with them before I hired them. So the advice I got was the 3 biggest problems you’re having, if you’re trying to hire a marketing person, for example, start telling them already, like, these are marketing problems I have. How will you solve it? And start getting them to work for you before they actually work for you. And they can’t solve your problem from the outside. That’s right. They will not solve it from the inside. And so I would say that those are some of the things that worked. The first 7 people at Paystack, still work at Paystack today. So I would say that that journey of looking for the right people, making sure that they can do the work, making sure that they can serve you from outside before you bring them inside, you know, is very important.

Aniekeme Umoh: We’re just going to take some of the online questions.

Shola Akinlade: Oh, okay.

Aniekeme Umoh: And then we’ll come back to the questions that I have in person. Just so the online people know we’re looking out for you guys also. Alright, so 1 question that we have was, what do you think are the most essential roles when starting your products? I think it is a good side of the question you just answered.

So, like, when you’re starting a product, what are the most essential people, and roles that you would be bringing in?

Shola Akinlade: The answer is always it depends. One of the biggest things I got was as a founder, you have to do it yourself first. And then anyone you have surprising, anyone you have figured out, then you can hire someone to, like, help you take it to the next level. And then you continue on your own journey. So even at Paystack, I did customer service. I’ve done everything. I’ve done everything. That’s, of course, at my own level, right? And so it depends on the problems you have as a company.

It depends on what you’re trying to achieve, but it is mostly the way I think about it is you pick the biggest problems you have. You try to solve it yourself or with somebody from the outside. And you solve it, and you think or you think you’ve found the right person. You bring the person in. You move to the next problem, and you continue that journey. So that feels like the 1st 2 years of every good company.

Aniekeme Umoh: So you kind of do the thing yourself first, and then as the need arises is when you’re thinking about bringing the rules.

Shola Akinlade: Yes.

Alright. Another question that we have from online is, How do you handle partnerships at the early stage of business where there’s still little trust in the business?

Shola Akinlade: That was something I think we did a good job at, which is just momentum. I got very early that if you’re trying to partner with a bigger person, you can waste your time. That’s where companies die because they are waiting for a big person to partner with them. That person doesn’t bother you. you are waiting, and then at some point, you become irrelevant as a company. So I would say that for us and for me, it was about moving. I was moving. If I tried to partner with you and you’re not ready, I’m sorry.

I’m moving to the next person. I’m reducing my vision. I’m adjusting to find the right person, but what you cannot do is to stop for anybody. And then people actually see, when they see you move, they now start coming back to you. I said, okay, we’re now ready to partner with you. So I think it’s okay to adjust your expectations. It’s okay to say, oh, if  I’m trying to partner with a commercial bank, and I wasted my time.

I mean, do a MFP. If MFP is wasting my time, let me do a lending company. Yeah. Lending company is wasting my time You need momentum. And it comes back to being resourceful, which I talked about where you still also have to be resourceful to find who can serve you, who can help you. And so it’s it’s complicated, but it’s about momentum. And if you think, oh, nobody’s ready to partner with me for this yet, you adjust your execution in a way that, can I do it without a partner.?You know, just move.

Aniekeme Umoh: Exactly. Alright. Wonderful. I know we still have some questions here. So we’ll take hers, and then we’ll take yours after.

Miva Student: Okay. Thank you. So I have 2 questions. The first one is, that I’ve been reading on  Startup lately. And it talks about experiments with your ideas to know what customers want and how they want. I wanted to find out if at Paystack,  did you guys start with an MVP or if you just went ahead to build pledged products.

Shola Akinlade: We’re still building a product now 8 years later. It’s like the longest MVP ever. No. I think 100%. What else are you going to do? Your only option is the MVP. Yeah. So I think it’s always about just what’s the simplest thing we can build, and then you just keep building from there. Yeah.

Miva Student: Okay. So secondly, a lot of, Startup African startup companies have been going on there. And some of them have product market fit. Some of them have funding like a case of Dash. What would you say is the reason for all of these things?

Shola Akinlade: If you ask me who will ask?

Miva Student What’s the secret? What kept you guys going?

Shola Akinlade: Yeah, I think part of the things I’ve talked about it already today, which is just we know where we’re going to. Genuinely, most founders get carried away, And it’s very easy to get carried away. Most people start investing in your company, giving you money. They start posting you on blogs. It’s very, very easy to get carried away. And so for us, just having a good team, to be honest, I have people at Paystack today if I want to do rubbish, I have people that won’t allow me to do it. So I’ll say, A. having a good team. B. just knowing where you’re going to. And C, like, Everybody has their ups and downs. Be open about your problems, you know. When you’re in trouble, there’s no need to hide it. There’s no need to try to you know how you lie, and then, you know, use another light to come up with a lie. There’s no need for a company that doesn’t work.

That can work in your personal life. Well, in a company, when you make mistakes, you have to just open up to the people, And you have to see how you can move up from there. So I would say that for Paystack, so far, we’ve been just very consistent in what we’re trying to do. It’s about us and our ambition and so for me, this journey is not about anybody else. It’s about what are we trying to do. How can we do it? And when there’s a lot of noise around, you know, it’s just like people are doing their own, but let me do my own. So I think from day 1, from 2016, I remember when everybody used to hail Paystack. Oh, Paystack is the best.

I was like, oh, these people are hitting me today. Tomorrow, they’ll be the people to, like drag me. So I cannot be carried away with all these haillings. It’s good sometimes, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m not here to be hailed. I’m here to build stuff. I’m here to solve problems. And I feel like once you have that clarity, it just allows you go.

Aniekeme Umoh: Alright. Thank you. Can we get the mic for the question here in front?

Benjamin (Miva Student): Good day, everyone. My name is Benjamin Ashley. So my question is relating to her second question. What was your biggest source of motivation? What has kept it going all these years? Because despite all the challenges, like, sometimes it might feel like, am I sure this is the right thing I’m doing? Can’t I do something else that at least will give me a quick result? Good things take time, but these days, most people want quick results. So what is that thing that keeps you motivated, that makes you focused on what you are doing?

Shola Akinlade: Yeah. I think it’s common sense. I think I really just know that. That’s I’d say number 1, Common sense. Number 2, having a good team around you. So I get good perspectives. There are times when I think the world is about to end, and then there’s someone around me that tells me, oh, no. This is not how it is. Like, These are the good parts. You know, so having good people around you is good. Number 3, as you said on the lean startup, Once you find product market fits, sometimes it’s hard to stop. Imagine if Facebook says I’m not doing that. You would drag me. You must do it.

Shola Akinlade:

You know, so, when you have good when you find a market and a good product, Then you also want to continue to solve that problem. You know, I think so,  I’ll say having a good team, having a good set of customers. We need 3 things that just allowed me to do. And more importantly, it’s a problem I have myself. It’s a problem I face. Events in Africa need to get better. Someone has to make it work. And so that allows me and it’s fun, to be honest.

I know that in all the movies they do, it’s not about payment. But if someone did a movie around just the journey of a payments company is fun. The problems are fun. It’s good. It’s not bad. It is all that makes it a good product and a good place to be.

Aniekeme Umoh: Alright. So I’ll just go back to the audience, that’s online. We have a question that goes back to what you mentioned about industry standards. This is for compliance, security compliance, or financial data. So are there resources to help understand these standards, and where can one find them?

Shola Akinlade: Yeah. I usually just, in fact, remember when I was starting Paystack, I went to the CBN website first and read. They have some guidelines. So I think, for me, the things that helped me, I started were from CBN guidelines on e-payments operations, and I read a lot of that. I’ve read some of the KPMG articles on payments. That was very helpful. And then I just started reading Payments 101.

I was just googling Payments 101. Anybody that has written about Payments 101, I just read about it. Yeah. So I would say, again, that comes to the resourcefulness part. Yeah. I think Paystack on our own, we’ve done some documents, we’ve been we have some resources available. We literally just wrote about agency banking, I think, yesterday. So it’s on our blog. Maybe that’s a shout-out to Paystack. We’ve also written about payment introductions before. So yeah. But, generally, I think there’s just a lot of resources online, and you just need to buy it.

Aniekeme Umoh: Thank you so much, Shola. So we’ll take 1 last audience question, and we’ll wrap up after.

Jolaoluwa Olatunji(Miva Student):  My name is Jolaoluwa Olatunji. My question is, how has Paystack been able to maintain agriculture? It’s very popular. I think it’s general knowledge that Paystack in Nigeria was, like, one of the longest, staff that stays longest. 4 years at Paystack, 5 years at Paystack, 6 years at Paysstack. When I was at your office last year, I mean, I saw this space. I saw, like, oh, people are genuinely happy to work. 

Shola Akinlade: So why did come to our office?

Jolaoluwa Olatunji(Miva Student): I am a Community Manager at Gen-Z techies. We came to your office and then the space was nice. People are genuinely happy to work. So what drives our Culture at Paystack? What makes people stay? What makes people want to work at Paystack?

Shola Akinlade: I think it’s 3 things. Just keep it simple. I think the first part is recruitment, surprisingly. I think most companies try to bring people in and then expect to change them. You know, I think for us, we start with our values. Before recruiting people, we make sure that we’re bringing in the right kind of people. And, like, that’s why I talk about not making compromises. Because once you make compromises in recruitment, very quickly the person has joined the company. The person in the company is saying, oh, I don’t like this, I don’t like that, I don’t want this. So I would say just recruitment. The 2nd part is just very clear values. We know what we want. We know what we don’t want. We’ve defined the conversations.

We’ve codified our values, and we leave those values, and I think that’s good. And then this third part, surprisingly, I don’t know how to take credit for that, but it’s just understanding that it’s the people that make the company. I think, again, most companies feel like they’re doing their employees a favor. And if I ever get to that point, then what’s the point? If I’m doing you a favor, then I’m not hiring you. I feel like it’s vice versa. I think at Paystack, most people that work for Paystack, and just from the early we’re begging them to come out work with us. And so we think that people that work at Paystack, have options. And we need to build a company that can attract and retain the best people. And you ask yourself, what do the best people want? And we think they just want to do good work.

They just want they don’t want politics. They don’t want they just want to do good work. They want to see their work deliver the right impact. It’ll they just they just fit well. You know? And so we try to do the simple things in a simple way. We give people space to work. We showcase the work. The work is good. We don’t try to do too many things, you know? And, yeah. So I’d say, Like I said, recruitment, clear values and just, focus on People. Yeah. Alright. Alright.

Aniekeme Umoh: We’ll take 1 more audience question. This will be our final question. Thank you.

Winner (Miva Student): I want to ask a question. So my question is, In this age of social media, where we are, like, you know, we have technology as a part of everyone. I want to understand your perspective on building in public because people have this idea that you must get validation from people, especially from social media. What’s your take on building public? Thank you.

Shola Akinlade: You can see, I don’t talk too much in public. I think it public depends. The answer is it depends, right? I think people are different. I think it’s always good to build for a community. Most people, I would argue that your community is where you are. But if you feel like your community is online, I think it’s okay to build that community online. But I will argue that it’s like saying I have friends online and I have friends in person. It’s harder, your online friends look like your friends but are they really your friends?  And I feel like sometimes that’s why personally, I prefer building for people physically and I think as a founder, you can use the internet to build your community, But I think it needs to quickly pass that. You know? You need to know where they are. You need to go visit them. You need to meet them in person. You need to bring them together, and all that.

So, I suspect that if people were more honest, with themselves, I’m also honest with myself. Am I doing this because I’m looking for validation? I’m doing this because it’s work. And I feel like for founders, a lot of fake work is what kills companies. And I heard that Sometimes it’s hard. You know? So to answer your question directly, if the founder can tell the difference between fake building in public and real building in public, then  I think it can be a very, very powerful asset. But I think it’s also very, very hard to know, is this tweet going to make a difference? Instead of tweeting, should I be doing something else? And that requires judgment again. So it comes back to judgment.

Aniekeme Umoh: Very fantastic. Final question.

I just want to give you, an opportunity to wrap up with a little bit of context. We talked about this backstage, that all of our learners, take A 100 level introduction to computing course. So that’s part of why we’re really excited to have you as our first masterclass expert. So what advice would you give to a 100-level learner at Miva, inaugural class with respect to school and respect to how they spend their time outside of school?

Shola Akinlade: Mhmm. Okay. Thanks. I think firstly, I want to say congratulations. I think you made the right choice. You made a good choice to invest in your knowledge and your future. And I think not so many people do that. Most people just like, you did have to do this, but you did it. So I’ll say congratulations first. I think that’s the first part of the journey. I think the 2nd part of the journey, if you ask for my advice is,  knowing what you want out of Miva University. I think it’s fair to say some people want just the certificates, But I think it has to be more than the certificate. I think there’s a lot of resources available. And I think these resources can include the people around you. In my case, I think that was the best thing for me, it can be the relationships you build with like-minded people. It can be your teachers. It can be the resources they give you access to and all that.

So I’d say 2nd part is just being intentional about what you want out of this experience for yourself and trying to make it past the certificates. Getting certificates is good, but just be very intentional about it. If I went back to school, Hopefully, you guys will accept me. I would want to just learn from like, even just taking questions from you, I can tell the different vibes around the room, and I think nothing is more powerful than just being with like-minded people. So I’ll say that’s the 2nd part? 

And then I’ll say the final part of it is to not judge yourself. I think there’s also a lot of comparison around in your journey, and just know that everybody has their own independent journey, you know, and think of your journey and move on your own journey at your own pace and just compete against yourself and your ambitions. And so what that means in practice is that you know where you’re going to. You have people around you. There’s a lot of distractions around you.

Figure out how to use things around you to pursue your own journey. Be inspired by people that you see around, but put in the work. You know, it’s a long journey. I personally also remember pitching to people. I used to go to IdeaHub. Even Sim I’ve been to events and I’ve just been inspired by Sim Shagaya. Like my God, I need him to see me. Please! I’m excited because my journey has also taken a long time. And I feel like all of you in a long span, in 5, 7 years will be very, very successful beyond your dreams. What? That 7 years, that journey, how you do those 7 years is what will determine how successful you will be, you know? And I just want to encourage you all to be consistent, to just focus on what matters, to keep building, Build yourself, build things, make mistakes, learn your lessons, and just, you know, just keep moving and moving and moving. You know? But the world, And specifically, Nigeria is full of talented people. And if you can just focus your energy on just making progress over a long time. There’s a lot of progress you can make. And, yeah, I’m just, again, excited that you guys have already made this decision already, and it’s just about how you use the next few years. So congratulations. It was very fun. It was good being with you. Thank you for inviting me. Yeah. Thanks, everybody.

Aniekeme Umoh: Thank you so much, Shola. Can we just give him a hand, please? Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. And so, before we let you go, just a few things. My name is Aniekeme Umoh. I did not introduce myself in the beginning because this is about Shola. I am the VP of operations at Miva. And to underscore the importance of our masterclass and of Shola being with us today, we also have our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tayo, and he’s going to give some closing remarks.

Prof. Tayo: Yeah. Thank you Aniekeme, for elegantly co-coordinating the discussion. I’m actually excited to see all of you today because this is our Maiden Masterclass. It’s good that you are here. And my duty is to appreciate everybody, people who have contributed positively, directly, and indirectly to the success of this masterclass. And the first point of call is our Masterclass presenter, Shola Akinlade. Please give him a round of applause. Thank you.

I enjoyed the discussion. It was a very compelling presentation and engaging discussion. I would quickly say some key things that he mentioned. And the first thing is that we must find a way to solve problems. And that means when you innovate, you can lead, which is very key.  We may see that, oh, Nigeria, there’s a lot of difficulties and so on. But within those difficulties, there is an abundance of opportunities and that is key to our purpose at Miva Open University, To prepare people for opportunities. To better our society. So there are so many opportunities in Nigeria. It’s just for us to open our minds, open our eyes, and see them, which our masterclass presenter has told us today And also, he also told us that we should not cut corners. It’s very important. And, also, he told us that we must be persistent. Yes, there were some opportunities that I missed because maybe I was not persistent at some point in time. So you are learning from all this. You have to be persistent in exactly what you are doing.

And also, he told us about leadership. And that leadership trait is that of listening. And when you are listening, you ask reasonable questions, and then you’ll be able to move forward. So, in the words of Adam Smith, what he said is that “if your actions can inspire people to dream more, to work more, to study more, to become better, you are a leader.” So I want to say, Shola Akinlade, you are truly a leader. Thank you. And not only a leader, just a leader to reckon with. Because most of the things you achieved, we were even looking to solve it then. So I think it’s a good thing that you succeeded and you are still succeeding in other things. And, on that note, on behalf of the chancellor, The board of trustees, the Management, the Faculty, the Staff, and the students, we want to say a very big thank you to you for coming here.

Shola Akinlade: Thank you.

Prof. Tayo: And, also, I said I want to give appreciation to everybody. At Miva University and Ulesson group, I have a very excellent team who planned this masterclass. It’s not easy planning, executing, coordinating, And the team consists of admin administrators, technologists, faculty,  marketing, a lot of people, vice presidents, senior vice presidents, the bursar, the university registrar, a lot of people. I want to say thank you for doing that, and for ensuring that this masterclass was a success. I want to thank you. And part of our goals at Miva Open University is to prepare people for opportunities Because as our presenters said, there’s an abundance of opportunities in Nigeria. And you students are very, very critical. You are a critical stakeholder In achieving that goal, so I want to say you are excellent. You are unique, and you are the best of the best.

I want to thank you for trusting us, trusting to use us as a path to your success. Please be persistent. Continue to push until you achieve your goals. It’s very, very important. You will all succeed. So, before I round up, I want to give, a big mention to our Chancellor. You know him, Sim Shagaya. He’s a cerebral, innovator, a good team player, and a democratic leader. And he has been supporting us, advice, every support we got.  So I want to say thank you, Sim, for the support you have given us. Ladies and gentlemen, before I round up, I want to make 2 announcements. The first one is that our matriculation ceremony is coming up next week Saturday at The Podium, Lekki please join us to celebrate these young men, innovative young men. And I know and not a long time, we will see a lot of excellent CEOs like Shola Akinlade. So the next thing is that the second announcement is that our 2nd masterclass is coming up in November. It promises to be exciting. I want to say thank you so much. Thank you. Have a good afternoon.

Shola Akinlade: Thank you.

Aniekeme Umoh: Great. Our master class has officially come to a close. Thank you to everyone who joined us online. Thank you so much to everyone who is here in person.

Shola Akinlade: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks, everyone.

2 Responses

  1. I am highly impressed with what I learned here.
    I am also interested in the master classes, specifically, the entrepreneurship and innovation.
    Kind regards
    Edward Sunkur

  2. MIVA Open University has raised the bar in distance learning from what I read. This institution of higher learning will add value to our educational system and produce quality graduates that will fit into emerging world order.

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