Aderonke Ajose-Adeyemi is the chief executive officer and founder of Losode, an e-commerce company that provides platform for fashion entrepreneurs to excel giving them an opportunity to sharing and selling their ideas globally. In this interview, she shares why e-commerce struggles in Nigeria and why it is important for youths to stay true to their calling.
Why do you think young entrepreneurs should focus on solutions rather than profiteering?
In my experience, service is critical. Money follows service. It’s all about service. Every business should want to be profitable. And if you understand that you’re providing a service, then I think that’s a starting point. If you’re solving a need, then it’s just inevitable that money will follow. If you can focus on a need, that will drive revenue, income and profitability.
What initial hurdles did you face starting Losode?
We’ve had situations where we thought it was over. I’ve had to build capacity, learn, and study as an entrepreneur. I will tell you that Nigeria is tough to do any business in. There is very little structure in place. Any entrepreneur that succeeds in these environments, is an entrepreneur that should be looked at a bit more closely in terms of an amazing job done.
It’s extremely tough, I’m not going to dispute that. But we’ve had our challenges, we’ve run out of money. I’ve had to learn to build skills that I would never have considered I would need as an entrepreneur. I am a mom, and building a business is way harder than training any child. It can test your mental strength and mental health but it is rewarding.
How do you manage competition in the fashion business?
I came up with innovative dynamics. And essentially, it means that you’re constantly studying and listening to your market to understand what the market needs. That is why it’s important that it is the people’s company. So, I think two things, foresight needs to be there, understanding where the world is going and who is leading that trajectory. But beyond that, also just really listening to the market, and listening to what people want and need as opposed to what you think is the best solution.
What makes your venture distinct from other similar ventures?
It is that perfection, we apply to everything we do. It’s our level of excellence. Our design processes are intense. The reality I think people need to understand is that when we’re building one page on the platform, it can take two weeks because we are looking at all the different scenarios. We do the infrastructure. It’s like a factory, you need to know what happens at every single point in time. That’s the excellence we apply to every element of Losode.
Why do you think people give up running their business, halfway?
It’s tough. This is the secret; technology doesn’t do anything new. If you are not a process-driven person, you can’t pursue technology. If you do understand how technology behaves, you’ve not created anything new, you’ve just made processes better and they can now be used across geographical boundaries. There is no limitation, which is the advantage technology gives.
Nigerian youths to learn from the Losode story?
I think I don’t want to give you a standard answer like everyone else because the truth is, if you don’t have a strong enough proposition when the challenging time comes, you will just switch. And a lot of entrepreneurs do that. So, it’s beyond keeping going, it is genuinely believing in the fact that you have what it takes to impact your generation and generation beyond you. I think that the foundation of our beliefs is very important. That’s what keeps me going. A few powerful, influential people have told me to switch to fintech. That’s where the money is but I rejected it staying true to the fact that I’ve seen the potential of e-commerce. I have seen it work and it worked really well. The fact that we haven’t really practised it in Nigeria yet doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.