Opeyemi Awoyemi is the co-founder of Jobberman.com, an online portal dedicated to online jobs application launched in August 2009. In this interview with Adeola Ogunlade, the 29-year old graduate of Computer Science from Obafemi Awolowo University shares his experience on growing a start-up which currently has an asset base of $12million. A conversation with Opeyemi Awoyemi:
What inspired Jobberman.com?
I had someone who was my cousin, Dapo Lawal, he was a source of inspiration to me. He was young and at 23, he was the youngest landlord in Victoria Garden City, Lagos, and managing a range of businesses in Nigeria. More so, I had been an entrepreneur since I was 16 years. I registered my first business at 16 years. My first year in college, I started out with website and graphics design business which still exist Whogohost.com. It is the first indigenous web service provider in Nigeria.
In 2009, I moved on to Jobberman Limited Trading. All my life has been technology business and it’s been a good ride so far.
Jobberman was a product of an industrial attachment project in my third year in OAU which I discussed extensively with my friends. We created the web site jokingly. Though, it was not running at that time, but we knew one day this idea would fly. In my final year in school, and I and my two friends decided to team up to start up jobberman.com.
Launched in 2009 coupled with the fact that the idea already existed and our feasibility studies on the market helped with unemployment on the high and graduate finding it hard to get information about the available jobs out there. Most graduates out there have to buy a copy of The Guardian newspaper to look for job vacancies.
We could not afford to buy the newspaper then, thus, we felt that something had to be done to address it and we also could see what was happening in India at hugo.com- an online job site providing job opportunities for over 1 billion people. We saw the similarity in Nigeria and we felt this is the right thing to do and make something out of it. We saw a huge vacuum that could be filled with the tools provided by technology and that was it.
Why did you choose the name?
Jobberman is a solution to the problem of job search. It’s an internet business which provides the widest pool of talent available in Nigeria to employers. Four years ago, if you needed a job, you had to go around physically to offices dropping your CVs, or buy a physical newspaper to see the jobs available in town. Jobberman is at the forefront of making jobs info available as well as making job applications as simple as possible.
Today, Jobberman is the platform (print and online combined) with the highest number of jobs and job seekers in West Africa.
As for the name, a friend suggested the name and it sounded cool and we decided to use it.
How were you able to tackle the challenge of funding to grow the business?
When you are starting a business, what is important is that you should start and not just to start worry about finance which most times is not the major problem. Finance is not always the major problem. If you want to start fashion designing, you should ask yourself what do I need which includes sewing machine, thread and other basic requirements. Find a way to create the brand first and it might involve money and it might not involve money then find a way to sell it. Money is one of the things that might be needed but it is not everything.
For us, we started with no money, though, we were consulting for people and got paid about N10-N20,000. But talking seriously, for me, every single business I have done, I have started with virtually nothing. I don’t believe in telling stories that I started with 50kobo. When I first started with web designing, I will go and meet people and tell them that I can build a website and that they should bring money.
So, I can tell you in a sense, money is not necessarily needed to start a business, what is necessary is something valuable that you want to offer. For instance, like trade, when you buy and sell, you will need money but still you have to cut your clothe according to your material.
What is the current value of jobberman.com?
People have different variations, but based on what we see, our capital based is worth $12million now.
How is the site funded?
Funding came at first from our stipends, money from family and friends and other pools of other fund. In December 2009, Chika Nwobi of L5Lab approached the team and we finally met in January 2010 after which we entered into a strategic equity partnership.
In August 2010, after about a year of starting the company, Tiger Global (portfolio includes LinkedIn and Facebook) invested a million dollars in the business.
What’s your staff strength?
We have staff strength of about 60 people in Nigeria and Ghana.
You operate mainly in Ghana and Nigeria. Is there any plan to expand to other parts of the continent and how do you manage the existing ones?
Yes, we do have plans for expansion into other parts of the continent but it takes time and lot of planning if you really want to win. We do have offices in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana where operations for the countries are managed. Technology is however centralised – from Lagos, Nigeria.
Approximately, how many companies do you liaise with to get applications posted on your website?
More than 7000 companies at the moment, and we have not peaked yet. This keeps growing every day.
How many people visit your website and the successes recorded in the last five years of existence?
Over 600, 000 unique visitors come to jobberman.com to search for jobs and every single day, we have 6,000 jobs posted on our website and 5,000 people gets jobs through our platform every month at least on a bad month.