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In an emotional interview, Yusuf Odukoya openly discusses his background, struggles, and how he’s been able to stay afloat with KC Onwuka of Nigeria Profiles.
ℹ️ This article first appeared on Nigeria Profiles
Let’s get to meet you.
My name is Yusuf Odukoya. I am a digital entrepreneur, brand consultant, writer, and founder of Branditechture Design Agency — the disruptive full-service branding agency based in Lekki Peninsula, Lagos, Nigeria. I have been in the design industry since 2006; that’s a decade and a half (or 15 years). However, I didn’t start offering professional services until 2011.
I dove fully into design entrepreneurship in 2014. I am a Nigerian by birth. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. My state of Origin is Ogun. Both my parents originated from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
I studied Parasitic Zoology (A.K.A Parasitology) at the prestigious University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria.
How did the idea for your business come about?
Growing up, I was a very intelligent kid who would pass exams without having to cram class notes. I took this same idea with me to the university, but I was met with a different reality. It dawned upon me that I wouldn’t be getting away with a First-Class degree. “Why would I give up?” I said to myself. “There is more to life than the four walls of the university and its entire system.”
I cried at different points during my undergraduate years at UNILAG, but two years into my degree program, I said “you know what? Let me try something else with what I already have”, referring to my graphic design skills and business acumen. That was how I founded Schwartz Bacher Systems in November 2014.
In January 2020, Schwartz Bacher Systems underwent a complete rebrand to become Branditechture Design Agency, which was immediately registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria. Thankfully, the drastic change has brought about much more success ever since.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
I did not like where and how I grew up. A lot of things went the wrong way financially for my parents. My dad, all he had was plans for me, but he managed to turn only a few into reality. Such a great man. He threw himself up and down for me until he had nothing left to spend.
My mum too was no different. She’s a well-known Fashion Designer in her area. I miss when people call me “Omo Kalat” as a kid (Kalat is her business name). I think I got all my entrepreneurial tendencies and ginger from her. She made a lot of sacrifices. She saved up enough from her meager income to get me my first and second laptops.
Luckily for me, despite my parents’ socioeconomic status, I went to the best schools around, and they also managed to enroll me in a computer school at a very young age. That is how I came about Design, which effectively set me on the path to becoming the design entrepreneur that I am today.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
Branditechture was actually a mashup of three words; Branding, Tech, and Architecture.
It took approximately two months of both active and passive brainstorming to get the name. Really, it was a tough one because it would be a name that I would never change, ever! It is a name I was willing to cast on stone.
The revelation finally came in a rather odd place — the toilet. You know, that Eureka feeling.
The next thing I did was to quickly check all major social media platforms to see if the name has already been taken by someone else, but it hadn’t. I also checked if the .com domain TLD is available for me, and it was. Even a Gmail username was also available. That was when I knew that this is the new name for my business.
How did you raise funding for your venture?
My business is self-funded. I self-raised the funding capital after many months of working as a full-time in-house graphic and web designer, freelancer, tech support staff, and training facilitator.
The funding capital majorly went into the purchase of space, furniture, equipment, and software subscriptions.
It didn’t require much liquid cash to maintain and grow because it is what I do, eat and wear. It has been so easy for me, and I still have a lot of gas to burn.
How do you build a successful customer base?
I have spent less than 50 US Dollars on paid advertisement since starting Branditechture in 2014. You will rarely ever see me post a direct advertisement anywhere on the internet and when I do, it is always as a subtle communication. We acquire customers by sharing helpful tips & resources on our website’s blog, SEO, and giving clients first-hand advice and information on how to get the best out of our services.
I also developed another website called Small Business Blog, which is aimed at helping Nigerian Small Business owners generate more revenue by providing tips that can help nurture their small business into the next big thing.
Branditechture has thrived on brand evangelism (A.K.A Word-of-mouth referrals from existing clients) to build its customer base.
How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
I do very little marketing and more brand positioning. And with world-class service delivery and customer support, I have been able to engage with my customers on a very deep level. As mentioned previously, my business website even has a blog section that is well updated with highly relevant information and helpful resources, plus a separate website called “Branditechture Client Help Center”, which is fully focused on client support.
No disrespect, but our client support and onboarding processes are lightyears ahead of most of the biggest branding agencies in Nigeria.
In summary, as of now, I do not advertise, I just position my brand as an industry leader.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
I sleep very late at night and wake up as early as 4 A.M. I have an irregular sleeping pattern so there are days I end up sleeping as late as 4 A.M. My typical day goes thus;
- Wake up, pray and log on to my laptop to check where I left off the previous day.
- Grooming and breakfast
- Back to pressing my laptop (executing some client projects, liaising with clients, browsing social media, and doing some administrative and project management tasks with my team, e.t.c.)
- Sleep off
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being an entrepreneur has given me absolute control of my time and finances. Besides being able to work from any location due to the nature of my job, I can also decide to take a day or two off and spend some time with my family. I’d say that it has affected my family life positively.
What motivates you?
People who have an insatiable hunger for success like Elon Musk, Bill Gates e.t.c motivate me a lot. They’ve also taught me not to accept mediocrity in any form. My biggest motivation comes from Elon.
How do you generate new ideas?
Apart from inspirations from real-life experiences and tech-related support requests from my clients, I do keyword research. I also use Pinterest for visual conceptions.
What is your greatest fear as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage it?
I do not have a single fear as an entrepreneur. I am rather always eager to face new challenges because I believe there’s always a reward for overcoming every single challenge that life throws at you.
What are your ideals?
Building communities with people of similar business interests, mutual respect and solidarity in the workplace, having an agile team, harnessing renewable (green) energy, the reality of uninterrupted power supply in developing countries like Nigeria, and sharing my experiences.
You might be interested in my Facebook WordPress Group, BWWWY.
How do you define success?
I measure success by the amount of positive impact someone has made in their community — both online and offline.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Yes. Consistently trying out new businesses or business strategies and comparing their outcomes until you find that your “divine core purpose”. Most of the successful entrepreneurs that I know have tried out more than two businesses in their lifetime.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The ability to take control of my schedule and finances.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Getting testimonies, 5-star reviews, and recommendations from my colleagues and clients gives me some sort of satisfying aura, but it usually doesn’t last long.
What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
Strive to work in an organization first before starting your own venture, the professional experience you will get by so doing is massive. Many people aren’t designed for the regular 9-5 but never quit your 9-5 job for being an entrepreneur if you do not have an existing client base.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently, neither do I marvel at the chance to start my career all over again. I took all the right decisions and I never made any devastating mistake. I might not be this lucky if I started my career all over again. No regrets for me, so I am very fine.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Doggedness, Interpersonal Skills, and Leadership.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
Motivating my team with words of encouragement, being realistic about what my expectations are, and planning and executing business strategies that put my brand on several levels ahead of current industry leaders.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs invest their time in?
Blogging about their journey, sharing useful resources, contributing insightful content to online communities, and spending some quality time with their family.