On our personality feature this week, Mr. Adeyemi Aderinto, the founder of SQI ICT Academy shared priceless, inspiring principles of entrepreneurial success as we interviewed him concerning his journey to be a tech-founder.
1. Tell us about yourself (name, age, academic background).
I am Adeyemi C. Aderinto. I was born in 1985 at Mushin Lagos, where I had my primary school education. I came to Ogbomoso in the mid-90s for my secondary school education due to some challenges in Lagos. In 2004, I returned to Lagos to study Computer Electronics and Technology before returning back to Ogbomoso to begin SQI.
2. What inspired you to go into tech?
In 2002, I was troubled about which career path to take. I was plagued with the question, what do I really need to do? One of the ways the mind works, when you trouble the mind for something, you find a solution to the problem. In the midst of this trouble, I had a very vivid dream which by interpretation made me know that I was supposed to be in a career that will oversee all other careers. That career is ICT, which as at 2008 was not a popular career in Nigeria not to speak of Ogbomoso.
3. How did you start SQI?
Well, when I started out in 2008, I didn’t have anything like a business plan, I only had a clear vision and a laptop- and that was enough! Though the laptop was given to me by my sister, I used it to offer free training to people who were willing to learn, I found just two. There was no funding to do any big marketing; I just offered value to those two people, SQI grew naturally and got rooted that way. You can allow things to grow naturally by just planting the seed and supplying everything that is needed for the seed to grow.
4. How did you come about the name SQI?
SQI means Soft Quest Incorporated. It started as a software company, which is way cheaper to start compared to hardware. The logo for SQI came during a moment of meditation in church, when the logo was formed in my mind.
5. Funding is often a challenge for many about starting their businesses; how did you source for funds to start sqi?
Funding will make things faster, just like a catalyst, but it’s not funding that establishes an organization. The truth is, those who will fund you will first want to see something happen before they can release their money. SQI has never been funded by anybody; we only invest in what is important. As of now, the customers bring the money and we are not under pressure. Offer value first, do your best, the funds will definitely come.
6. Of all places to run a business like this why Ogbomoso? What are the unique advantages and disadvantages to running a business in Ogbomoso
Well, I just had an attraction to this environment. I had a goal to raise tech-giants, and I believe that if I raise them in Ogbomoso, then I can raise them anywhere in the world. If I had to make something happen, then it has to be a place like Ogbomoso. Also, in Ogbomoso, it’s very possible for you to start with nothing here and grow because the cost of living is low. There is peace and low-security threats in this environment.
However, one major disadvantage of this environment is the low purchasing power of the indigenes. Regardless, our vibes have reached out, and we have clients coming beyond the borders of this land to partake in our training.
7. As an entrepreneur, what qualities would you say distinguishes you as a successful entrepreneur?
Hmmm…I don’t think I should be the one to say that. However, to be a successful entrepreneur; you need to be laser-focused on what you want to do. Remain where you should be and continue to grow. Focus, dedication, commitment and giving all are distinguishing qualities of every successful entrepreneur.
Sometimes, you need to fall back on other ‘currencies’ apart from money. Currencies like integrity, relationships etc. which are very important in trying times. There are moments when these other currencies have paid huge dividends for me.
8. How did you handle ‘non-supporters’ of your vision to be a tech-founder?
Good question. Non-supporters, especially loved ones are hard to convince to support you because of care and past experiences. It’s advisable you stop trying to convince them because they can’t see your vision. If you are independent of them for survival, then be independent with your ideas too. Non-supporters won’t support you until they see results, and when they do, they will be your biggest fan.
Don’t get your mind broken by their negative concerns. Don’t promise them anything, just keep on growing, and they will see.
However, to start SQI, I have a friend named Tenumah George who believed in the vision. He was a huge support to encourage me and build SQI.
9. Do you have personal development goals? Can you share them with us?
Well, in ICT, I can only keep developing and staying up-to-date with recent trends. On a personal level, I want to be happy with my family and spend more time with them. I really want to grow and be better.
10. Seizing opportunities are very crucial to the growth of tech start-ups, tell us about one of such opportunities you have secured and how you maximized it?
In SQI, we are not slack with opportunities. However, instead of seeking for opportunities, we prepare for it. We prepare by being observant of problems arising and grab the opportunity that presents itself to solve it. When people are complaining of a problem around you, that’s a sign of opportunity.
11. Would you encourage a graduate to stay back in a city like Ogbomoso?
Yes, I can. However, that will depend on if I have work for the graduate to do or if the graduate has an idea I believe Ogbomoso is the best place for the vision to thrive. Also, I advise people to be the pioneer of something great, make something happen and develop this town. It can be you!
12. What do you think is the future for the tech ecosystem in Ogbomoso
I believe that with what SQI is doing, we will soon be the reason an airport will be built in this town. Ogbomoso will keep having brain drains to cities. The tech ecosystem in Ogbomoso will grow so large to tend tech needs in other nations remotely.
13. On a lighter note now, how do you balance your social interactions with your busy schedule as an entrepreneur?
Concerning that I am getting better, it used to be difficult. Having quality social interactions is highly necessary. Thanks to tech, I can free up my brain now by saving my appointments for the day, so I can better interact with others.
14. In conclusion, what advice would you give to intending young tech founders?
It doesn’t happen fast. You just need to be sure of what you are doing and keep doing it. Stay true to the vision. Success is not external, it is internal. Be fully driven within.