Bankole Cardoso is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Easy Taxi Nigeria, a round-the-clock, car-on-demand service. He was asked 15 questions on himself, his company and how to successfully start and run a business. Here are his answers:
- For the benefit of those who don’t already know you, please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Easy Taxi as a brand you represent?
My name is Bankole Cardoso and I am the Founder and CEO of Easy Taxi Nigeria. I was born and raised in Lagos before moving to the United Kingdom to attend Rugby School. I then moved on to the United States to study business management at Boston College.
I started my career with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in New York City where I was certified as a public accountant before I joined The Carlyle Group. After living and working overseas for 12 years I had a burning desire to move back home permanently to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavour where I could also make an impact in my country.
Easy Taxi is a free Smartphone application that gives users the ability to request a car on-demand at any time of the day. Easy Taxi is more than just a taxi service; our aim is to help solve Nigeria’s urban transportation challenges and also to create a trusted taxi culture in Nigeria.
- How did you get started in business and what did it take you to get to where you are today?
I have always had a strong interest in business, which is what led me to study business related courses in school. Beginning in secondary school where I was able to choose my courses, I always chose business subjects to complement the mandatory arts and science subjects. My experience in New York where I worked with clients and oversaw businesses in various industries was my first real exposure to the reality of the business world. While there, I made sure I was frequently on the lookout for potential opportunities to do something on my own.
- Did you know you were going to be an Entrepreneur all along, or did it happen by chance?
I always believed that I would start my own businesses but I did not expect to start one so soon. I gained valuable skills and experience working at big corporations but I never considered staying in the corporate world for the duration of my career. I have been buzzing with ideas for a long time, especially ones tailored to emerging markets like Nigeria’s because I am keen to support development in these regions.
- What do you love most about your life as an entrepreneur? And how do you envision Easy Taxi Nigeria in 5 years from now?
I love so many things about being an entrepreneur but the one thing I like most is the dynamic nature of the job. I love not having the same routine everyday as my schedule changes daily by the demands of the job.
My main objective for Easy Taxi is to create a lasting legacy for this business in Nigeria. I hope to change the perception of taxis and make people think twice about using their own cars. How amazing would it be to have less traffic jams in Lagos because we built a taxi culture? We also plan to expand to multiple countries across Africa.
- What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
I think the most important personal skill that any entrepreneur must have is charisma. Business is all about relationships but also transmitting your belief in your ideas to potential customers or investors. Entrepreneurs must be persuasive.
- What are some of the obstacles you have encountered in your business journey and how did you overcome them?
Opportunistic people. There is nothing more frustrating than people that offer nothing but have the sole motive of taking advantage; I am a patient person but I have learned to spot and stay clear of such people and organisations.
- How do you describe your leadership style? And how do you keep the Easy Taxi team motivated?
I am a trusting leader. I believe in giving people responsibility and encouraging them to take ownership of their tasks so they can measure the direct impact of their role. I think this style has created a healthy competition within the Easy Taxi team and keeps everybody motivated.
- Easy Taxi is one of the many businesses financed by Rocket Internet, which many small business owners and start-up describe as a “Clone Factory”. Considering the fact that they have very few original investment ideas, what are your thoughts on this widely accepted conclusion?
Rocket Internet operates a commendable business model of taking a proven model from one market and adapting it to a different market. What’s most notable is the impact these businesses have on emerging economies in terms of wealth creation, provision of jobs and contribution to the country’s growth. Easy Taxi for instance has directly and indirectly created jobs for over 300 individuals in barely 5 months of existence and has created efficiencies for taxi drivers in Lagos. The nature of our business also encourages more Nigerians to come online, which is another positive contribution to the development of the nation.
- Do you think the current league of entrepreneurs in Africa are pushing the boundaries enough or is there way too much emphasis on being entrepreneurs that people are rarely getting enough experience to sustain business growth in Africa?
I think there is a trend worldwide whereby people see entrepreneurship as the new sexy thing to do. While this is a good thing, I would definitely encourage people to gain some sort of working experience prior to jumping into the business world on their own. Work experience and education can only enhance your credibility when you walk into a meeting.
- What drives you?
I have a passion for development and I am driven by the potential to create high impact companies in emerging economies that can inspire others.
- Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
My parents have been the most influential people in my life. They have always managed to find the right balance when challenging and supporting me.
- What was the biggest risk you have ever taken, any regrets?
I think the biggest change I have made is leaving my life in New York to launch Easy Taxi in Nigeria. So far, it has been a great decision.
- 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 world’s greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
College is a lot more than purely an academic education. It is a time to also make great friends and connections and to grow as an individual. I would definitely encourage everybody to go to college before going into business. However, like you mentioned, there are some few cases where college has not been necessary but I think those are extremely rare.
- How do you envision Africa’s growth in the next decade, especially Nigeria? What do you think about the e-commerce movement in Nigeria?
Today, I believe that Africa is already the most exciting place to work in terms of the opportunities. Over the next decade, Africa is forecasted to be the fastest growing region in the world and Nigeria is set to be a central part of this boom. The exponential growth is largely due to the commodity boom across the continent but I strongly believe that the main driving factor is now and will continue to be the small and medium-sized businesses that are springing up all over the continent.
I think Nigeria’s population is our biggest asset and policies such as the Central Bank’s cashless economy and the democratization of the Internet all contribute to the e-commerce growth in the nation.
- What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why?
I would encourage young entrepreneurs to pursue their interests, but proceed with caution because the reality is that most new businesses struggle to grow and the rate of failure is quite frightening. Entrepreneurship comes with its curve balls but waiting it out and taking advantage of the right opportunities is the first step to a successful entrepreneurial endeavour.
Source: Whoot Africa