Entrepreneurs in their 20s:The Phonepreneur story
My name is Ife Grace. I’m a storyteller, an author, screenwriter, transformation coach and ministry gift. It is my delight and privilege to interview one of the owners of the Phonepreneur company. If there is anything beautiful about this tech sales start-up, it is the unity among the brothers who founded this business in their early twenties. Their collaborative effort in starting the company from ground zero paid off.
Let’s get right into the interview session as I engage Emmanuel Ashibuogwue a.k.a Salt, the first of the three young partners of Phonepreneur.
Ife Grace: Let me shoot this quick question. Can we meet the brain behind the Phonepreneur?
Salt: Victor Ashibuogwu. He is the third of the three boys in my family and at the time, he had just clocked twenty.
Ife Grace: That’s interesting. I never would have guessed that right. I might likely have picked the first child of the family. My mind would have quickly gone to the first child of the family. Alright, let me ask you this. What prompted the birthing of Phonepreneur? I mean, for every business, there is an inside story. Where did the dream for this business emanate from?
Salt: The vision for Phonepreneur started on a certain day when my brother, Victor, was on his way out of the house to repair his damaged phone. Before he stepped out, my mother asked him why he couldn’t learn how to repair phones. At this time, he was still waiting to get into the tertiary institution. Mum didn’t stop there, she shared her thoughts with my younger brother that evening.
Mum still did not stop there. The following day, she spoke to someone about getting a phone repairer who could train Victor on phone repairs. That was the beginning of a path that’d lead to a greater income base and a fulfilling life.
Victor commenced his work as an apprentice and became really good at the repairs. His boss was generous enough to show him the ropes not just on the repairs of phone but on the nitty-gritty required in navigating the phone business. It was from this point that the idea to start a phone business began which has become a full blown organization.
Ife Grace: Wow! Aren’t we blessed with great mothers? I have a question and I think it is the foundation for the next set of conversations we would have in this interview session. What’s the vision and mission of Phonepreneur? Can you walk us briefly through this?
Salt: Phonepreneur has one primary aim which is reflected in the type of work we do. We want to sell extraordinary gadgets to creative minds, entrepreneurs, students and everyone in general to help them keep up with their day-to-day activities. We also provide a platform for the purchase of high quality pre-owned gadgets at affordable prices and with warranty. We also offer repairs, advisory and after sale services. Our vision is to be the best advanced technological platform on innovative smartphones buy-back solutions.
Ife Grace: What products and services does Phonepreneur offer to their customers?
Salt: We run sales, swap, repairs and importation of gadgets
Ife Grace: I must confess that the first time I heard the name, Phonepreneur, I was fascinated. My mind quickly connected to two words: Phone and Entrepreneur. What prompted the choice of your company name?
Salt: Initially, the name of company was IphonePreneur and we did that because we wanted to be identified as a business focused on iphones. However, at the point of registering with the CAC, my brothers and I decided to remove the I so that we could give room for expansion. But the name came from the inspiration that we were entrepreneurs and we sold phones. The combination gave us, Phonepreneur.
Ife Grace: I have a question that might help young adults desiring to step into the business of phone sales and distribution. What challenges and roadblocks did you encounter in the process of kicking off the business and how were you able to overcome them?
Salt: The major challenge was getting the best available price in order to make profit while still offering affordable prices to our customers. Another was connecting with trusted suppliers for reliable products. We overcame these issues by asking questions from those who were in the industry before us and also walking closely with those who had proven record of success without any incriminating records.
Ife Grace: I have enjoyed using your products and one of the reasons I will love to make further purchases is the emphatic way you relate to your customers. How have you been able to hold up this value among the teeming customers that show up at your office space?
Salt: Thank you so much for that warm review. it touched my heart. Mehn! It’s not been an easy ride. Sometimes you get customers who understand you, other times, you don’t. But the baseline is to treat everyone like you would treat your family member. That’s why we work together like a family in our company.
Ife Grace: I agree with you on that one. That warm spirit must really run through your veins. Let’s get down to the operations of Phonepreneur. Can you describe a typical day in the supply chain of Phonepreneur’s products and services?
Salt: Our staff resume by 9am to get the store ready for the day’s business. Afterwards, pending items are sent to the assigned dispatch rider. Then we attend to customers as they began to flood into the store. We usually would attend to customers till around 6/7pm.
A huge percentage of our sales come from our customers who reach us via our IG page. When orders are made online, we promptly show them what we have and as soon as payments are made, the products are delivered to them. For customers who desire to come to our store, we send our address and immediately attend to their requests when they come.
Ife Grace: What should we be expecting to see from Phonepreneur in the next decade?
Salt: A plaza run by Phonepreneur in Computer Village, Ikeja and our store located within or close to every tertiary institution in Nigeria, along side a branch of the store in Canada and the United States of America.
Ife Grace: That’s some great dreams there! My final question. What key factors should young people look out for when starting a tech-related business venture?
Salt: I believe young people should be led by God as to which area of tech to focus on. Once they are sure, they need to follow models, I mean people who are already succeeding in those paths. Also they must learn to ask questions and be patient because good things take time. Finally, they should not be afraid to test the waters but in all their testing, they must make sure they have God’s guiding voice.
Ife Grace: This has indeed been an enlightening session. Thank you for your time.
Salt: You are welcome ma’am.