Oluyomi Ojo founded his company, Printivo to make printing be less revolting for Nigerian SMEs, Corporations and the general public. Theirs is a platform that puts the power to design in the hand of everyone.
In this interview with Diary of a Naija Girl, he chronicles his journey so far and gives some tips budding entrepreneurs can learn from.
DANG: TELL US ABOUT GROWING UP
MR. OLU: I think, I’ve been distinct as a kid. I happen to be the last born of the family and we were raised by single mum, we were all very close to her and she has always a goal driven person, whatever she sets her mind to do, she gets it done and never get distracted. And in one way, that added to our personalities but on top of that, I was that kid who wanted to be free, who wanted to do his own thing, who wanted to be different. For example, all my siblings went to the same secondary school and university, but I didn’t go with them because I didn’t want to do what everybody was doing, I just wanted to be different. I think it was actually one of the things that dawned on me to take another path.
DANG: ON LOANING 300 NAIRA FROM MY MUM TO START A BUSINESS
MR OLU: So, the interesting part was that, there was no question raised. I was young, I was out of secondary school, making stuff like handmade cards and those things were huge at the time before technology took over. My mum encouraged us to find way to make money as kids. For example, in my house while growing up, when you’re done with secondary school, before and when you got to go the university; you don’t stay at home, you just have to get busy, you can’t sit around, that was a rule that wasn’t spoken about, but it was a rule.
And for me, making handmade cards was a way for me to get busy and even when I was in University, I dabbled into T-shirts business although it didn’t survive long and the greeting cards business closed in 2002/2003 when GSM went mainstream. I stopped the card business because I sensed that soon, everyone would embrace phones and this led to my T-shirts business which I foresaw would be relevant in years to come especially graphics design.
So, I saved up and bought my first computer in 300 level as an undergrad and in 400 level, I got to intern with a media agency for like a year, which was a fantastic learning period for me and by the time I graduated, I started a company.
DANG: HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
MR. OLU: So, the first thing I’ve learnt about entrepreneurship is that, everything that surrounds it isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. Suddenly, you come to realise that the journey will be filled with too many ups and downs moments. But from all of those events/ times you have something you’re learning, something you are taking away from those moments. And then you realised all these is just a journey, and a journey will definitely have its own destination but all along, you need to make a conscious effort to enjoy the journey as against always having your eyes on the destination which is not a bad idea but, enjoy the journey and it was when I got to that point that I said, “Let’s just ride along”
DANG: TELL US ABOUT GROWING YOUR BUSINESS
MR. OLU: First, I started my first business straight out of the university. I literally started from nothing and we were able to grow. I had just one employee, no money in the bank, zero connection, no clients in the books, but somehow, we were able to grow by turning those things around and by committing to it. So, now when we’re committed to bigger things and we are seeing a few of those challenges coming up or something similar, we definitely know how to work our way around it. We’ve got to that point we just focus. It’s a continuum, it’s a journey and I’m beginning to learn how to enjoy the journey as against the destination. And even when you don’t end up getting to the destination, you will learn enough from the experience that will get you to probably somewhere better.
Sincerely, my internship opened my eyes. It showed how to manage a design business which I didn’t know until I did my internship program and it taught me on how to build a design business.
DANG: ON GOING INTO PRINTING BUSINESS?
MR. OLU: We started the company from a small garage in Ikeja and branded it. And one of the biggest challenges we always face is working with printers. When you do your designs putting together the date and time, the printers wouldn’t deliver on time and then we have to micromanage and all. So, we decided to start our own printing business and go all in; that was how the idea of Printivo was born and along the line we discovered many companies are doing digital market and they are skilled.
DANG: DOES PRINTING STILL MAKE MONEY.
MR. OLU: Yes, printing still makes money. It’s hard but it still makes money. Prints is the oldest communication technology and at every point in time, every new form of technology has been predicted to extinct prints from radio, to TV, and the internet. The point is this, prints won’t change, it is what we print that will change and how we print. As a matter of fact, the technology that will kill prints, will actually help prints scale.
A typical example is, the mass media (newspapers, magazines, journals etc) received a very huge blow when we moved from prints to digital and that’s basically because it’s not about those things, it’s about the contents. So, when the content was moved elsewhere, people’s attention changed as well. The reason we bought newspapers and magazines in the first place was because of the content, the moment the contents were moved elsewhere. Branded T-shirts are still in business that can’t be transferred, business cards are still sought after, in other words, print is always going to be here, it is what we print and how we print that will change. Technology is transforming how we print., bringing prints to the feet of everyone.
DANG: WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY?
MR.OLU: So, there are patterns out there that tells you where people want to go, what people want to do in 5-10years from now and there are certain things we can’t walk away from. For example, there is a future where people won’t probably pay with the money we spend in these days. Recently, we launched a product called ‘Creative Marketplace’, It empowers people, and literally moved us from being a printing company to be a print platform.
And today, Printivo doesn’t make all the money, designers now make money as well, by creating templates for Printivo Prints and every time a customer uses your templates, you earn 15% of that money. A marketplace of designers scattered across Nigeria building their own prints shop on that platform. Because we learnt that, people tend to buy from people they know.
So, if I am selling prints I’ll probably be able to sell to my friends, the power of community is the reason why we all want to be on social media and everything is driven by friends/ friend’s recommendation because of the power in association. People do things most times on recommendation of the people they know. For example; Nigerians still trust to ask fellow human’s directions than use goggle maps and that isn’t changing anytime soon.
DANG: HOW DO PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MARKETPLACE?
MR. OLU: It’s quite easy. For example, if you are a graphics designer, just go on a graphic design website and click on create a shop, it takes you where to fill your stuff, fill in your information, your store goes live in 5 mins and you can start adding your graphics. So, every time a client visit creative.com or even the main website and they click on the product, your template is part of what they see and every time customers use the template, you’ve earned 15% of the value of that order. So, if a thousand customers use that template, you receive 15% on all orders.
DANG: IS THIS YOUR COMPANY’S CSR OR A BUSINESS STRATEGY?
MR. OLU: It’s a business strategy but we’ve seen that it is adding impacts. So far, graphics designers can earn from it a side hustle. For us, it’s not a CSR but it’s adding value.
DANG: HOW DOES KNOWING THAT NOTHING LASTS FOREVER MOTIVATE YOU?
MR. OLU: It helps you to want to make continuous effort to make good things better and it also helps you to understand that bad things will pass by. Because you’ll understand that, no matter how good this thing is, it’s going to expire someday. So, you need to keep working extra hours to keep it to getting better and then, when things are extremely bad for you, you definitely understand that it’s a phase and it will surely pass.
DANG: WHAT ADVANTAGE DOES PRINTVO HAVE ABOVE ALL OTHER PRINTING COMPANIES?
MR. OLU: First of all, I think it’s important to note that Printivo has been able to move from just a printing company to a printing platform. I believe so much in the people we have even when we lose everything, as long as we are able to keep our people; that okay for me and that’s our major advantage and our clients as well. I make sure to let people around me know never to ignore the competition and never lose your focus and let that focus be your customer and still be ahead of the competition.
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DANG: WHAT IS THE WORST MYTH THAT NIGERIANS HAVE ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
MR. OLU: One major myth on entrepreneurship is that, it is the most glorious thing you can do. Don’t let anyone box your thinking into the fact that you have to be an entrepreneur to be fulfilled. That’s the biggest lie ever told to anyone. You can be a 9-5 job and have a happy and fulfilled life and still earn more than entrepreneurs. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur, not everybody can take the hassle that comes with it. The most important thing is, you need to find your path and then choose the one which works for you.
DANG: ANY ADVICE FOR BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS?
MR. OLU: The first thing I will say to anyone that wants to start any business in this country, is to first be sure to know what you really want, what you really want to do. As yourself these questions: “can what you have really start what you want to do, can I start small?” You need to be able to figure out your business requirements, what you have and don’t have and that should determine how you want to try and thrive. My mentor told me this sometimes ago, “Fear game is the lie the weak tell themselves to make the strong feel bad” You need to understand the phase you are at and the phase you want to be.