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Davies Okeowo, Co-founder and CEO, Enterprise Hill and Competence Africa.
 
 

Davies Okeowo, Co-founder and CEO, Enterprise Hill and Competence Africa.

Dec 07, 2021

Tell us about how you got started.

In 2010, I was in my second year in the university and I was studying accounting undergrad. That time was the first defining point in my life, which l call it Davis 1.0. So first, I'm a Christian but I met Christ in 2010 and shortly came to understand more about myself, this whole conversation around purpose and mission. Whilst I was still trying to figure it out, a friend just walked randomly to me and handed me a DVD and said to me "Davis, you're going to love to watch this". That evening I took the DVD, slotted into my computer to watch and opt came season one, episode one of The Apprentice.

For those of you who do not know the apprentice, the apprentice is a business reality TV show that was first hosted in the United Kingdom, and was hosted by none other than the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump. Immediately after I watched that very first episode, I told myself that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to build businesses, create jobs for people and be that person that creates opportunities for other people. That is where my entrepreneurial journey started. From that point, I started compulsively reading every book on entrepreneurship that I could find, watched every single episode of The Apprentice that ever existed, both the UK version and the US version. So essentially, that is the story of how I got inspired into entrepreneurship and then it has just evolved ever since. Interestingly in 2015, which was five years after that realization, I then happen to win Nigeria's version of The Apprentice.

What makes your company unique?

I have founded four active businesses. There is Enterprise Hill, where we do consulting and structure building for startups. There is Competence Africa, where we help equip people to be ready for the world of business. Then there is Novell innovations, which is going to launch its first product, an accounting software. This is for micro businesses, again, the intention is to help micro businesses across the world achieve more efficiency and give them access to the same level of data and insights that large organizations already have. Large organizations can afford to hire multiple layers of professionals to provide them this insight for micro businesses, they do not have that financial capabilities.

What we are doing is building technology that can provide those same services that they would have otherwise had to hire for but do not have the funds for. The fourth business, which was the latest one that I launched here in the UK, called Pitch hub. At Pitch Hub we help entrepreneurs, design pitch decks through which they can communicate their value proposition effectively to the audiences that matter most to their growth. By so doing, they can then grow. If you look at all the different businesses, the foundation is around the central narrative of helping businesses grow and on the one hand, they are offer service and on the other they offer training.

 

No business is without setbacks, can you tell us about a time when you faced a significant setback and how you recovered from it?

I started studying compulsively about entrepreneurship in 2010 and didn't start my first business until 2014. This is because I graduated university in 2012 and after that l did National Youth Service for a year (2013). In 2014, I started a business that was centered around field trips for schools but with a twist. The twist was that on the field trips, we would teach children or the students about core values and principles like empathy, and discipline. So it was education outside the four walls of a classroom. I ran that business for 10 months and did not make any income. The height of it for me now, to put that into context was that l was the first person in my family to graduate university. I graduated top 10 In my class and when I finished as I was finishing university, I heard my parents saying, let me talk to this friend of mine to get your job.

My HOD in my university offered me a job in his accounting firm but I declined everything because I wanted to start this entrepreneurial dream of mine and to put it into context. The day that it all changed was the day that I got stuck with a mentor of mine in traffic for three hours who helped me identify that I was pushing open the wrong door. She could sense and she knew about my passion for entrepreneurship and she knew that I studied accounting in university and I knew it quite well. She helped me identify that I could combine my passion for entrepreneurship, with my skill as an accountant to provide services to a lot of micro businesses that did not have the money to hire in house accountant neither do they have the money to hire, keep KPMG and the rest. In that traffic jam, on the 31st of October 2014, that first business died an enterprise IT was born an enterprise IT is going to be seven years old, in January. So whilst that was a very significant failure, and I happen that I'm happy that I happened first.

How do you define success and to what do you attribute your success?

First of all, whatever success it is that I've achieved those four attribute first to God. I believe that God gives every single one of us the wisdom and the direction to do the things that we do. Secondly, I attribute to myself, but not just to me the beam, but the part of me that is responsible for daily discipline. If you're going to achieve success in anything, you have to continuously plant the seeds for that success. Your job is not to create the growth for the seeds, your job is to understand the laws of the universe, the mechanisms of the universe, the laws of demand and supply, the laws of reciprocity, the laws, the laws of planting, and, and growth and habits.

These are just universal laws, your job is to understand those laws and just keep planting. Just keep planting, regardless of the situation. When I say planting, what do I mean? Just put in the work? Right! I thank God for how far I've come but there's so many more to do but the principles that I've learned gives me the confidence that it's going to be smooth sailing all the way well not smooth sailing in the sense that they're not going to be challenges for smooth sailing in the sense that come rain come shine come discrimination come challenges come problem come new environment. I will keep planting, I will keep shining my light, and success will come as a result. Success is not the goal. The goal is to build the planting habits, the planting process. If you do that, and you're able to maintain that discipline, success is just an aftereffect.

What's next for your business, what will it look like in 5 years?

My businesses are still young. There's a lot, right that's coming from this quarter. So watch the space, one of the one of the good ways you could do that is to just be attention to, to the work that I put out. LinkedIn is a very good place to find me. And there's a lot of interesting things happening over the next 10 years. My interests are firmly entrenched in in helping continue my work in terms of helping startups grow and things of that nature, but also developing startup ecosystems. I am currently based in Birmingham, United Kingdom, where I'm working extensively to, to build my businesses whilst also contributing to the startup ecosystem here. And then the goal is to down the road take all of those this experience that I'm going to have over this next 10 years and come back home and try to try to make things better using the he was the gold makes the rules principle.

What do you think the future holds for Africa-focused entrepreneurs and advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

For those that are starting out, keep planting. If you look at the our development, as Africans, generally speaking, and I know that Africa as a continent, as developed, to varying degrees, country by country, but if I were to take an overall look at it, if you look at how we've grown, we always grow in multiples, right? The difference between the average American entrepreneur and the average African entrepreneur is that the average African entrepreneur is thinking of how do I solve a problem for my local community? The average American entrepreneur is thinking of how do I solve a problem for the world? Yes, I understand the importance of solving local problems. But we also must begin to think global at scale. So if you're an entrepreneur on the beautiful continent of Africa, where we all call home, and you're just starting out my message to use quite simple, the future's bright, but it's going to be tough to get that keep planting, it's going to require your personal discipline to get there. Because ultimately, the enterprise is the entrepreneur and the entrepreneur is the enterprise very much.

Owning a business while balancing a personal life can be challenging; how do you take care of yourself?

First of all, I don't. I don't think we would ever achieve a balance. Because work is an essential part of life. So, there's no work life balance. In terms of how do I balance me, I've come to a point in my life where I understand my body, I understand myself, and I understand the routines that work for me, I know how many hours I need to sleep, I know how many, I don't want to have to wake up, there's a time that I go to sleep, there's a time that I wake up. Then there are set things that I do as a matter of routine on a daily basis before, you know, the rest of the day begins where everybody begins to make demands of your time.

So one of the things that I that I have done and and mastered and I would would advise anybody to do is let there be at least a two hour or worst case scenario, or one hour section of your day, you've got 24 that there'll be at least a one hour section of your day, that is completely devoted to you. There are some days that I then wake up and I just don't feel like it. Every time I have those. I take it as my body telling me that it's time to take a do rest. And then I just shove off whatever it is that I've got planned for that day, and then I rest. I am lucky enough that I'm able to do this right now, because I don't have wife and kids yet. Again, the reason why I work this hard right now is that when they come around, I'm probably going to be working just three hours a week. We'll see what happens..

What is your favorite quote or mantra?  What keeps you going?

Well, the ones that I use most often, keep planting is one and another one is, it doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be done.

What is your favorite app or a business tool that you can't live without

My phone