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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

CEO Foodstantly Uche Ariolu - Think Outside The Box and Never Give Up

Meet Nigeria's Uche Ariolu, he is the CEO of Foodstantly, an online marketplace for food. He calls it the online version of any of the major markets in Nigeria. He shared some thoughts on his journey as an entrepreneur with Whoot Africa. Read excerpts below:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Foodstantly as a brand you represent?
I am Uche Ariolu, professionally I am a Lawyer but, at heart I am an Entrepreneur. I love building businesses and creating jobs. I have set up a series of small businesses from my secondary school days. I worked for a while in the food and hospitality industry and gained a lot of knowledge about the industry; as well as the ICT outsourcing industry as a freelancer for 10 Years. Just before I set up Foodstantly, I set up “TicketMyPal” an event discovery and online ticket sales platform for shows, events, seminars and entertainment.

Foodstantly is an online marketplace for food. It provides the technology and business solution for farmers, restaurants, fast-food, foodtraders, frozen food dealers and food producers to set up shop online, display their products, accept payments, sell and also deliver directly to consumers. Foodstantly solves the problems of difficulty in accessing food. It’s your online version of the Yaba market, Ajah market, Mile 1 market, Oniru market, Oil mill market, Watt market etc. It’s also an online platform for you to buy from restaurants and fast food outlets. It brings the market to your door step. All the hassles, inconvenience and time wastage experienced from going to the market to shop for fresh food produce or driving to fast-food outlets to pick up ready meals during peak time are solved by Foodstantly.

How did you get started in business and what did it take for you to get to where you are today?
I started in business right from secondary school while we were doing several things to supplement money given to us by our parents and guardians. It took courage, perseverance, focus, self-discipline and a lot of delayed gratification to get to where I am today.

What was the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Using all the money I saved for university in 1999/2000 to set up a roasted food (Roastalls) outlet, which was planned to grow into a nationwide chain, the business failed due to lack of funding, divided attention and other factors. I lost it all, but the fortunate thing is I was able to work my way through school and graduated (didn't do the drop out thing. Laughs). Also, taking the path of entrepreneurship, I had a lot of opportunities to make quick and easy money) instead I chose this path. I’d rather create a business that outlives me and adds value to people and the society than just making a living.

What do you love most about your business and life as an entrepreneur? At what point did you decide Foodstantly was it for you?
I love the fact that we as entrepreneurs are able to build from the scratch and make products that impacts people’s life and make their life easier. I love that as an entrepreneur it’s easier for you to think outside the box than be caged by organizational limitations. I love the fact that I am able to create jobs. I knew Foodstantly was for me long ago. I have conceived the business idea long ago, but knew it wasn't ripe enough, due to low adoption of internet and low IT awareness. We started operation though skeletally and what I will call beta testing late January 2014.Our main focus till now has been to build the marketplace/community.

What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
Discipline, focus, perseverance, flexibility and empathy.

What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the worlds’ greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
University is good but it doesn't make you successful, it only broadens your view. I feel our university curricula are broken and antiquated, they need to be fixed. The most creative years of our lives are spent in university, but our universities don’t teach you to create or build, it doesn't teach you to be independent or innovate it teaches you what has been laid down by men in the past. 

Where is the room for you to express yourself and your drive? While I advise every kid to attempt or attend one. I don’t think it’s compulsory, if you feel you can add more value to society by not going to university then follow your calling, if you do so well, one day you will be employing PhD holders.

What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why?Think, work smart, think outside the box, and never give up. Nothing beats and nothing is more satisfying than building a business, even if it fails it’s not an easy feat to do something as wonderful as that.

What is the best advice you have ever received, from whom and how has it impacted your life till date as a businessperson and individual?

Don’t let anyone stop you from your vision. It’s your vision not theirs.They can caution you based on their experience, but you conceived that vision and only you can make it happen.

1 comment:

  1. Visionary and smart, wish you success.