You can turn that idea or passion into a great and thriving business even without a dime. Yes without money. That is the story of Ogunjimi Odunayo, CEO of POPFashionHub.
His journey into the world of business is another classic example of how to overcome the challenge of starting a business without capital.
It is also an example of how you can turn your passion into a money making venture taking advantage of the usually unseen but powerful opportunities in ordinary events and activities happening around you on a day to day basis.
“My name is Ogunjimi Odunayo Christopher, a graduate of the Federal University of Abeokuta, FUNAB. I studied Animal Production and Health, and I am the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of POPFashionHub“.
How it Started
“It all started when I was in 400 level, my course is actually a 5-year course, in 400 level I all of a sudden started getting interested in foot wears. Fortunately for me, during this period there was a program in school where Niyi Adesanya, one of the highest-paid business coaches and professional speakers in the nation’s knowledge industry, was invited to speak.
“In that program, before he spoke he allowed one of his proteges to speak. The protege was Biodun Folawiyo, the CEO of Shoe Speed. It was easy to connect with Mr. Folawiyo because he was in the shoe business and I was already interested in shoes. At the end of the program, while others went to meet Mr. Adesanya, I went to meet Mr. Folawiyo to know more about the shoe business.
“Fortunately for me, he was receptive, he gave me his business card. Later on, I called him and he fixed an appointment with me in Lagos.
“As a struggling student in Abeokuta, Ogun State, I had to use all the money in my account to fund the trip.
“When I got to Lagos, we spoke, he encouraged me and offered me a business proposal for me to sell his shoes for him in school. I accepted the offer and that’s how I started the business of selling shoes”.
“After accepting the proposal, Folawiyo gave me his shoes at a discounted price so that I can sell at a higher price and make my profit from it.
“So what he did, was to give me the pictures of his shoes, in order to show people and if they like it and want to buy, I would put a call through to him and he would send them to me, that’s how I started the business.
“As time went by, I met with some people in school that sells shoes too, but they got their shoes from local shoe makers around, so I partnered with them to do business alongside selling Folawiyo’s shoes.
“I partnered with the people I met in school selling shoes, because, I was in a student environment and getting them to buy the locally made shoes was easier as it was cheaper than Shoe Speed, the branded shoes of Folawiyo.
“When I started the selling of shoes, I didn’t have a brand name, I just told people that I sell shoes. Luckily for me, asides Folawiyo’s shoes, the local shoe makers that I was getting shoes from to sell weren’t branding their name on it. So what I did was to meet people, show them pictures of shoes, convince them to buy, then they pay, and I go back to the shoe makers to make the exact type for them, then pay the shoe maker lesser than the amount I collected from the customer.
“However, as I cannot expand or grow my business without a name, I initially named my business POPfootwears.
“With this name, people started knowing me, and I started outsourcing for shoes from local shoe makers, and used the opportunity to sell my brand name as I was selling the shoes. This is because I realized that you don’t just sell a product, you sell a name, and it’s only a name that is registered in the heart of people.”
Course of Study
“From the onset, I wanted to study medicine, but because it’s difficult getting a straight admission into medicine, I decided to put in for Physiology, so that I can move from there to medicine.
“But, there was no Physiology in FUNAB, so I had to put in for Biology Science. Unfortunately, I was given Animal Production and Health, but I still thank God for it”.
National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)
“During my service year, I decided to learn the art of shoe making and the shoe business in general. So, I got a local shoe maker to learn from in IMO State where I served, luckily, my PPA (Place of Primary Assignment) wasn’t too active, so I was able to utilize the time, and trust me, I gained a lot”.
“After service year, I decided to pursue my business, but I wanted it to be alongside having a job in order to gather money to fund my business.
“However, jobs were not forth coming. After waiting for 4 months, although I was still doing the shoe business, but I wasn’t fully focused on the business because I was looking for a job, I decided to quit looking for job and focus on my business with whatever I had.
“I made the decision to quit looking for job, because looking for a job did not allow me to be fully focused on my business and as a result, the business wasn’t thriving well.”
“Acting on that decision, with time, the business started growing, and as the business was growing I decided not just to sell shoes alone but also complementary products. Just as you will do well selling groundnut in addition to garri.
“So, I started selling complementary products like belts, wallets, bracelets, socks, ties and pocket-squares, because of this addition, I had to change my name from POPfootwears to POPFashionHub, because it wasn’t all about shoes again”.
Pressure From Family and Friends to Get a Job
“I didn’t really face any pressure, because I refused to get myself under unnecessary pressure. I wanted business from onset, so getting a job was just to get the fund for my business, and when it wasn’t forth coming, I faced my business.
“I have supportive siblings and parents, the only pressure I faced was from peers but I overcame because I knew what I wanted”.
“My motivation is the interest in the business I developed in school. It is not necessarily the money, the interest allowed me to dream big in that line, so the dream is also a motivating factor for me, because I have a dream of doing something massive with it. This my big dream accommodates myself, family, community and nation at large, seeing this, I am motivated to give my best and to keep moving”.
Opinion on Getting a Job as a Young Graduate
“In as much as I never got a job with my certificate, I will advice people to get a job first before starting a business, so that they can understand or have the knowledge of an organizational structure and gain experience. This will help build their own business. For me, I didn’t get a job but I’m intentional about getting that knowledge by making deliberate efforts, carrying out research, taking courses and doing personal study on different organizations”.
“I don’t see anyone as a competitor, I only want to build a niche for myself, and be the best at what I do.
SME’s as a Large Source of Revenue for the Nation
“I cannot say yet because most of the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are not well accounted for. However they have the potential of creating something massive for Nigeria by increasing it’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) under good capital, policy and infrastructure.
“I however encourage more SMEs in the country, as 50-60% of Nigerians are youths. SMEs will help out with the daily increased unemployment in the country by reducing the competition for limited jobs, and empowering them.
“However, for SMEs to be effective, government should make policies and create infrastructures that accommodate the growth of a business.”
“The major challenge of an entrepreneur is finance and knowledge. Knowledge, because most people want to start a business with little or no knowledge about the business, they just depend on their ideas, without sourcing for adequate knowledge about the business.”
Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneur
“My advice is just start, with whatever you have, I started with zero naira, just start, when you start unseen forces will act on your behalf, just start and get adequate knowledge about the business”.
POPFashionHub in the next 5 years
“I see POPFashionHub as a global brand. In the next 5 years I expect to be known throughout Africa.”