In the past few decades, Africa has witnessed a linear growth in its technology space. Digital agencies are fast positioning themselves to solve the critical challenges encountered by emerging businesses across the continent by proffering tech-enabled solutions. These solutions range from software development, building mobile-based businesses, to product designs and development, illustrations, and digital advertising – which is constantly evolving with different metrics day after day.
But there’s still a wide market gap between supply and demand. Two young entrepreneurs are attempting to fill that void with their newly launched digital agency, Sprinble. They set out earlier this year in the hope that Sprinble will be an answer to many technical problems faced by emerging businesses operating in the same economic terrain.
But before diving straight into the bigger picture, let’s take a walk down the memory lane.
Goodness Kayode, the pioneer of Sprinble takes us through how it all began for him.
Having finished from one of the prestigious tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), as a graduate of English Language and Literary Studies, Goodness is a young plump man in his early twenties.
If you are wondering what connection there is between English and the digital space, well, we had the same wonder. But we’d get to that.
In his first year at OAU, Goodness came across coding for the first time. His encounter grew into a passion and unquenchable thirst to know more. In his third level at the University, he became more seriously involved with programming.
According to him, coding became an important aspect of his life and has made him very active in the developer community since then, that he soon began writing technical articles.
Coding made me feel like a superhuman because if I think of an idea, I can always create it without having to pay anyone and it has always exposed me to a lot of things”
Fortunately, Goodness skipped the job-hunt dilemma many graduates pass through, after graduating in 2017. He immediately secured a job as a Software Developer at Accounteer, an accounting firm for SMEs in Nigeria. This, he attributes to his dynamism.
Accounteer is a Belgium company, so getting a job in it was based on me being able to spread my tentacles – learn different things, writing articles, volunteering and, joining a tech hub, iLab, where I was the only non-tech person. Though I was really disadvantaged because I was studying English and never knew about coding throughout my secondary school in Ibadan, I had to spread my tentacles, always sought to learn and engaged in tech activities. These paid off big time”
Prior to that, he was a mentor at CodeMentor for over a year. His passion for ecosystem engagement and community development propelled him to launch CodeBag, a platform that trains and pays young designers and programmers.
CodeBag was about building talents and grooming people. I put out some pieces about the need for technical people – people who were already coding”
Of course, CodeBag wasn’t a profitable venture because the goal at the onset wasn’t for profit-making, but on the flip side, money is needed to make as much impact as Goodness desired.
At some points, I had to pause and start looking at where I want to be and the impact I want to make 5 years from now – especially since the course I studied was far different from my interest.”
This was when he realised that there’s more to passion than fun. The business side of what passion births must be explored.
The Sprint to Sprinble
Goodness left Accounteer in March 2018 to officially launch Sprinble. Lots of factors fueled Goodness’ desire to found a company of his own – the passion to explore other areas beyond accounting, the desire to impart the world, the zeal to conquer his space, and of course, the need to make money (lots of it) in the value creation process.
My parents suggested that I work for an uncle for a while, but my plan was beyond that. I do not want to be in a situation where I won’t be able to spread my tentacles. I learnt a lot while working at Accounteer, especially from the team. Working in a startup is a learning ground since they are always working to iterate and kill things that do not work. I encourage people to work with startups. However, when it dawned that I’d be leaving my job where salary rolls in monthly for the unknown, the thought wasn’t quite easy to bear. But then, there’s a much bigger picture”
Goodness’ entrepreneurial race didn’t begin with Sprinble. During his school days, he dabbled into several things. One of them was a carwash startup he co-founded with a couple of friends.
Even while in school, the entrepreneurial zeal was still in me. We started a carwash startup called Luxury Bubbles, had a few clients and made some hundreds of thousands of Naira. But then, things don’t always go as one plans, does it?”
Again, the picture was the need to do something different, basically to expand his “tentacles”.
Like I mentioned, Sprinble was birthed out of my desire to imagine a possibility and create it. Accounteer was focused on accounting, so everything we did have centered around that space. It was quite limiting because I was thinking beyond accounting. I was thinking about building solutions that will help businesses, and sectors like the health, finance. So I decided to start out something. To prove my seriousness, I registered a company. This showed my readiness.”
Despite his zeal to impact and “build things”, Goodness understood that venturing into business is neither a light task nor a one-man’s affair. He beckoned Olamide Olayinka, an old-time friend and alumnus of his Alma mater to join him on Sprinble with his business development skills.
Seeing that Sprinble presents an opportunity which aligns with his personal goals and aspirations to impact as well as being involved in the technology and entrepreneurial space, Olamide Olayinka joined Goodness as the Business Development Lead in March 2018.
The founding duo share a number of things in common – neither has a background in tech and both studied highly contrasting courses to their domains at the OAU. Olamide graduated as a Psychologist but developed interest early enough in business development. His undying passion for tech and how it could be leveraged to drive development in the society proved enough driving force to get on the Sprinble sprint with Goodness.
I’ve always been interested about entrepreneurship, technology and other sectors such as fashion. I started being curious about tech in 200 level. My parents would always want for us to go to school, become a doctor, or even a Reverend father. But still, I had passion for tech –especially how stuffs work. After school, I started a hub for fashion entrepreneurs which ran for about 3 years. But believing you have to be all in or nothing, I decided to move onto something bigger. So, when the idea came to put in everything in Sprinble, it all blended.
Another common peculiarity between Goodness and Olamide is their motivation. Both founders want to build a business around their skills, delve into more areas they believe would impact their world, and of course, make some good money while at it.
What really is Sprinble? “The word”
“Perhaps, my course in English played out in a way of choosing the name ‘SPRINBLE’” was Goodness’ response when asked how he came about the business name — a very unusual word.
I was checking out words and playing my hands on different stuff. Sprinble came out quite magically. Mostly from the words ‘SPRINT’ and ‘DRIBBLE’”
Sprint is a technical term in agile software development that has to do with a timeline in finishing a particular task. Dribble, a hub for designers. The team says their core is blending tech and design with “SPRIN – BLE”
Sprinble’s Value Proposition
The slogan Sprinble has is a particular keyword “Masterpiece”. In the midst of many digital agencies, the startup seeks to differ with the quality of services and products they offer.
We do not want to dissatisfy our clients, so we try as much as possible to deliver. If we can’t handle it, we get more hands to handle it. We are about 4months+, started with interns, and could work semi-remotely”
The Funding Dilemma
One of the most prevalent challenges associated with starting a business is finance. Goodness mentions that Sprinble has been fully bootstrapped since inception. Moreover, he didn’t really have a choice. It turns out his space isn’t really a scene that often woos investors.
It’s very hard to get an investor for digital agencies. They expect you to have a product that they can invest in, not directly in a digital agency. I started with my personal money which I raised from side gigs, outsourcing, income as a mentor on CodeMentor, and writing as well. Money was coming from different places at the time I needed.”
Money is very important, and it’s enough motivation for entrepreneurs to work. There’s a general syndrome of passion-relapse associated with its unavailability. The cofounders didn’t shy away from this. According to them, the motivation to work disappears when the business account isn’t as rich as needed.
Sometimes when there isn’t money in the business account, you really aren’t motivated to work. But then you just have to ensure you do. But because clients are on your neck and you have to gain composure to deliver. You got to push yourself into the right frame of mind.”
Goodness narrates how they’ve been coping since launch.
I first started running Sprinble for a month. After attending the F8 conference, sponsored by Facebook, I came back to my office and we pushed for a co-working space. From there, expenses increased and we had to run a semi-remote style. We got a space in Yaba that charges less where team members could work from. One thing I learnt is, I have to let everybody around me know what I was doing. At a particular point, we had no money in the account, but we kept pushing.
Till date, Sprinble thrives on personal funds and revenue invested back into the business.
Coping with the early-stage fever
A big problem for startups and starters is credibility and track records. Olamide hints on this challenge.
Getting that first client is really hard cos you wouldn’t be able to show your track records. Telling people you can deliver on the job is hard since nobody would really want to entrust you with their projects, or give you the chance to use it as a first case. But you just got to stick your leg in the waters and convince them you are the best guy for the job — Olamide
Goodness equally tells of their encounter with Sprible’s very first official client. According to him, he had just stumbled on a website, analysed it and inferred that it would never convert since the UI/UX was quite bad. Someone then prompted the motion of him reaching out and offering for a total overhauling of the website.
She was more concerned about the digital marketing, but I pushed the value of having her website revamped! Despite that she still hesitated, I kept my business acumen up and we went ahead to build the site and she loved it! We won her heart, then got referrals for her.”
But convincing her they were worth the try was the very first obstacle they had to surmount. Well, they did, and it paid off. If anything at all, they proved the truism in this phrase “persistence beats resistance!”
The Network Edge
The importance of having a sound network when starting a business can never be overemphasised. Goodness stressed the need for exposure if an entrepreneur really wants to make an impact – you need the right networks and connections to gain traction, or otherwise, investment.
The first thing I do is maximise the people around me. I let everyone know what I am doing. The harsh reality is, nobody cares about you. If you don’t step out of your house 7am in the morning to do what you are supposed to do, and relate with people as much as you need to, you wouldn’t really make an impact. This explains why Founders who study abroad have an edge – the network”
Now a Marathon
What began as a sprint is tending towards a marathon. Despite the small start, team Sprinble has a lot cooking up already.
First, it intends taking on bigger projects:
Now, we are open to bigger projects from bigger companies and of course bigger funds. One thing I’ve come to learn about business is it’s not about the number of clients you have. You don’t have to have 100 clients. If you could have 5 clients that pay you very well and you give them your all, you’re mostly set for life”
Sprinble’s eyes are already set on expansion:
We look forward to the company expanding. We are building a kind of business that lets us have offices everywhere. It’s a bigger goal actually and expansion is very key for us.”
Then pulling others to the sprint:
However, we are still very much open to startups and SMEs. If I see you have a very great idea, we can work on it for you, but we must see you have a plan to make money. So if you need MVP and already have a realistic business plan, we could help you build.”
A note for budding entrepreneurs
Thankfully, Olamide and Goodness each left a final note for budding entrepreneurs. You’d find them as striking and valuable.
Well, I’d say follow your dreams but ensure you are doing the right thing – what you believe in. If you do not have money, or streams of income, the tenacity or vision to persist, consider getting a job. Otherwise, just ensure you have people you can fall back on whenever you need to. Mind you, even family and friends are no longer sentimental. They want to know what’s in for them. So it’s more or less up to you” – Goodness Kayode
I believe money is fickle, but value is stable. Invest in value, relationship and impact. We are in a season where everyone wants to do their own thing without adequate connect or know-how, A lot of persons will do well in a 9-5 rather than waste away at something that may never really fly,” – Olamide Olayinka