Landing a one-on-one interview with rising entrepreneurs these days is like trying to book a date with an A-list Hollywood star. And it is understandable. They have too much to joggle at the same time. If they’re not busy trying to land their next big gig, they’re executing a current one. The cycle never ends.
Unlike many others, Ronald Nzimora, a thoroughbred Nigerian entrepreneur and digital marketing genius, was not into too much official stuff. He chose Twitter chats over email correspondence and eventually, the interview date was fixed – March 19, 2021, a Friday. The time was 11 am.
To avoid the notorious Lagos traffic, Business Elites Africa team hit the road early – at 08:48 am. Destination was Lekki. Surprisingly, the road was free and it was a good call that we took off early. However, leaving the office without confirming with Ronald if the appointment was still intact was a bad move.
We arrived at his office building at 10: 10 am. The reception area was empty and quiet but the sound emanating from our editor’s shoes as it came in contact with the tiled floor announced our presence. A lanky-looking man showed up at once. ‘Good morning’, he said. ‘Good morning, we’re here to see Ronald’, we announced. From his expression, we knew it was bad news. Ronald forgot the date.
The staff called him on the phone and passed the phone to our editor. He apologised instantly and asked if we could reschedule. Of course! We couldn’t miss the window of opportunity. We rescheduled for Monday, March 22 and this time, Ronald made up for the initial disappointment.
In this no-holds-barred interview, Ronald, a University dropout, told us how he started his first business with just N960 and a laptop, the mistake that cost him about N10 million, and how he incidentally launched his second company, Buywell properties. His two businesses – a digital marketing agency and a real estate company – now rake in tons of millions of naira in revenue.
Your early days as an entrepreneur were interesting. The odds were against you – a broke University dropout who had only N960 (less than $2 in the current exchange rate) left in his pocket. How did you build from there?
It was hard. I borrowed some money from my sister to attend a seminar. I had paid for the seminar and run my first ad which flopped. I also had to feed from that money and one morning woke up to realise that I was down to N960. I had assured myself that ‘if I finished all this money and there was nothing left, my sister would certainly not give me any more money’ and there was nobody else I can go to and ask for money. So I had to think of something.
I started thinking of what I could do with N960 and remembered that at the seminar I had attended, I saw a guy selling CDs there, and I thought to myself, I could do this. I went to a cybercafé and downloaded some e-books that I knew were going to be really interesting – private label rights (PLR) e-books, precisely because that gives you the right to resell them. After downloading these e-books, I called my sister again and this time, not to ask for money but to ask for her laptop. So I got her laptop and used it to burn the e-books from the folder onto CDs. By the time I got to CD number 38, the CD burner stopped working. It had been overworked. I packed up everything, listed out the titles of the ones I knew were catchy and I labeled them as: “These are the best marketing and sales books you’ll ever find – all in one place”.
Then I went to the next seminar venue and sold my CDs N1000 for one. On the first day, I sold 22 pieces. I sold 9 on the second day and later figured that a lot of people that bought on the first day I had duplicated the information and shared with their friends for free. I sold more on the third day – in total I sold 39 pieces. What I did for several months after that was to burn more CDs at Computer Village, Ikeja (a Lagos area bazar where all things computer, phone gadgets were traded). From there, I was attending different seminars advertised on pages of newspapers, I would target the break period when people come out for refreshments and market my CDs. I did this for two months and raised over N300,000. Basically, that kicked off everything for me…
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the full interview here. It’s on page 22 of our latest edition, ’20 Trending & Most Profitable Business Ideas in 2021′.
Click here to read our previous editions.
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