7 Business Lessons from Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave Co-founder
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African CEOs - March 11, 2022

7 Business Lessons from Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave Co-founder

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with a population of over 200 million and a $432.3 billion GDP as of 2020, according to the World Bank. Nigeria is also home to some of Africa’s most vibrant and thriving Fintech startups, one of which is Flutterwave, a unicorn led by Olugbenga Agboola.  

With most of the companies initially focused on payments processing, Fintech revenues are forecast to reach an estimated $543 million by 2022 and that is being driven by increasing smartphone penetration and its unbanked population, according to PEVCA.

Olugbenga Agboola, co-founder and CEO of Lagos-based Flutterwave, created the Flutterwave to meet the needs of the unbanked population and save Africa’s fintech ecosystem.

Since Flutterwave was founded, which is one of the strongest competitors in the African market, it has helped to grow businesses across the continent while positioning itself as the easiest and most reliable payments solution for businesses anywhere in the world.

Who then is Olugbenga Agboola?

Olugbenga Agboola aka GB as most of his colleagues and team members call him,  was born in 1985 in Lagos Nigeria. He had his early education in Nigeria before moving to the United States.

In the United States, he gained an  MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge.

Driven by his passion for tech-driven solutions, Agboola went on to acquire a master’s degree in information technology security and behavioural engineering. He got a standard IT security certification from EC-Council University, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

He then received his Project Management and Advanced Computing degree from the University of Westminster in London, England.

According to reports, Olugbenga Agboola mastered several programming languages and development tools across retail banking and IT security. He is also a Microsoft certified system engineer.

Having equipped himself for the tech industry, Agboola launched his career as an application developer with the British Telecom Professional Services in 2003. Over the years he has driven several tech-based innovations across Paypal, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Google Wallet.

ALSO READ: How We Attained Unicorn Status – Flutterwave Speaks on $1bn Valuation

The Birth of Flutterwave – African Unicorn

Flutterwave was founded in 2016 and since then it has changed Africa’s fintech ecosystem and positioned Africa to be the envy of other continents. 

Flutterwave’s groundbreaking valuation follows a series of funding that started in 2018 with a $10 million Series A and a  $35 million Series B in 2020. 

Later in 2021,  a $170 million Series C and most recently, in February, the company raised an additional $250 million in a Series D round, making it the most valuable startup in the African continent.

According to Olugbenga Agboola, the company’s revenue grew by 100% during the pandemic and it also served as a boost to the company’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 226% from 2018. 

Agboola states that Flutterwave will continue to ride on the growth of these sectors, and the company’s swift response in launching the Flutterwave Store for merchants during pandemic-induced lockdown speaks to this resolve. 

Reports have it that, its e-commerce store currently serves over 20,000 merchants across 15 African countries.

Business lessons from Olugbenga Agboola

Flutterwave Co-founder & CEO, Olugbenga Agboola. Photo: Forbes Africa.

With the many successes Agboola has recorded with Flutterwave, it is obvious he has some principles or strategies that have kept him and the company moving. 

Business Elite Africa dives into some lessons that have helped him in the last six years in business.  

Clients/Customers must be valued

There have been reports that some start-ups or even large companies are rude with poor customer service.

According to Olugnebga Agboola, customers must be respected and valued.

“Our customers are our backbone and the reason why we’re in business. We build and innovate on our solutions based on their feedback, and find ways to make it easier for them to say ‘yes’ to us,” said the CEO in an interview with Endeavor.

The place of mentors cannot be overstressed

Young business owners or entrepreneurs have been advised to get a mentor to help them navigate into life, especially mentors that have proven track records.

Acknowledging the role of mentors in his life and business, the Flutterwave boss said: 

“Mentors taught me in different ways that building a billion-dollar company is the easy part. Maintaining that growth is where the hard work begins. This lesson was a huge motivation for my company and me as we started to scale the business.”

Teamwork always makes the dream-work

In a note to his team, Agboola acknowledged that he is surrounded by superstars and he cannot wait to unveil the rest of the team to the world.

“Anyone can be a leader but being a great leader is no easy feat; so, when I think about the team, I start the day with fresh confidence and excitement,” he said

While praising his former partner at every chance he got, Olugbenga Agboola continually established that the company is where it is because of the collective efforts of its 70-man team.

“They are the ones who build the infrastructure, some are managing our customers, maintaining everything we have done so far. So it’s a company of 70 people, not one person,” he said in an interview with TechPoint.

Be sure you are solving problems

The story of  Agboola is of a man that saw an opportunity to solve a problem and jumped on it. He saw that the African payments system was broken and fragmented and he set in to solve that problem.

“We needed to make Africa feel like one country. Someone had to ensure seamless payments between businesses and our nations,” said Agboola. 

Years back, It took Agboola two days to receive payment settlements from the bank, but when it comes to international money transfers to friends and families, it takes two weeks. That was the beginning of the birth of Flutterwave.

Being clear about your goal

It is one thing to have a goal and another to have a clear picture of what you want to do and how to go about it. Olugbenga Agboola had a clear goal when he started.

“We have always been clear about our goals at Flutterwave, we want to make it easy for a customer in Nairobi to pay a business in Lagos seamlessly,”  he explained.

“So this achievement is dedicated to the 900,000+ businesses and millions of individuals who trust us and keep us going.”

Don’t be complacent 

The achievement of the company shows that they still have great plans for the Fintech Ecosystem in Africa and beyond. They kept setting new goals and spreading their nets to other African countries. That’s the spirit of an organisation that is not complacent and is ready to keep pushing to do more. 

In a chat with one of Flutterwave interns, he said there is no way you will be in the organisation and not be inspired to do more. 

Maintain a healthy work-life

Just as the popular saying goes, all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. The Flutterwave CEO also take time out to relax and have fun and even watch some of his favourite games. 

“I like to watch Formula 1 and soccer but right now all I do is work. Going forward, I will work on creating time to do other things”. 

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