Throughout April, we will be hosting a series of chats with Nigerian entrepreneurs who are building successful businesses in the country.
Recently we had a quick chat with Oreoluwa Shonibare, co-founder and CEO of WiiCreate, to learn more about him, his business and what it means to be an entrepreneur in Nigeria.
Here’s what he had to share:
Tell us about WiiCreate?
Wii are a company that leverages technology to meet print and merchandise needs for both individuals and businesses. Wii started as a t-shirt customization brand in 2017 on Twitter and evolved into a print-on-demand startup over the years.
Why did you decide to go into designing and printing merchandise?
My reason was expression. Poetry led me to design, and design, to merchandise. I needed to design covers for my poems in university. A lot of people loved it and then I thought of printing them on t-shirts and selling them to people that were interested in buying them.
What are your 3 biggest lessons in entrepreneurship?
My biggest lesson would be Patience. Building @wiicreate taught me patience – for anything to grow it takes a level of mastery and that takes time.
The second would be Commitment, it takes a lot to build anything worthwhile, if you are building – give it all it takes.
The last lesson would be Focus, this took me a while to get, I’m happy I got it. Map out a plan, and focus on making progress. These are the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the years on my journey.
As an entrepreneur, what is the smartest decision you’ve ever made for yourself?
The smartest decision I’ve made for myself is definitely delaying gratification. I remember the first design application I paid for, it was my first ‘investment’ in my development. Saving and investing literally made starting @wiicreate a possibility.
When it came to launching your business, what kind of support system did you have in place?
My biggest support was/is my partner/babe, she supported me from the first meeting to date. I can’t imagine going through this journey without her. In terms of financial support, I and @donaldselfa started on our savings, we were still students when Wii launched.
How did you handle adversity and doubt?
First of all, I would say trusting God to guide me, and I had a really good support system in my relationship and community. I also had the opportunity to talk to some entrepreneurs that inspire me during the tough patches (special s/o to @ibkakinola & @razaqahmed1).
What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of having their own business?
Start and focus on learning. Learning as much as possible as early as possible will lead you to sustainable growth and development. Also, get your hands dirty, do the work that is needed.
In your opinion, what ways can Nigeria better support entrepreneurs?
I think many things can be done to support entrepreneurs, but we need to start from the basics. One would be creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, this ranges from constant electricity to basic infrastructure.
Another would be ending policies that are set to end businesses or stunt their growth. Entrepreneurs should be able to sleep with both eyes knowing that tomorrow they can go to work and focus on growing their businesses and not fighting regulations.
The government needs to partner with Entrepreneurs as with other segments of the economy to grow the economy – a thriving economy is not stumbled upon like oil, it is built. We have way too much potential to not be paying serious attention to our small businesses.
If you knew what you know now before starting your business, what would you have done differently?
This is a tough one. I would eat a lot more, I could do with more weight. On a serious note, I would have paid attention to building better structures for business processes. Having clear processes and structure aids growth and I didn’t know this until later on.