We had a quick catch up with 2017 Fellow from Nigeria Oladele Bakare, founder of Findworka, to discuss the how he connects professional clients with software developers, the resulting opportunities that have come from participating in the 2017/18 Startup Mentoring programme and what he learned from his mentor, Moses Acquah.
Moses, an entrepreneur himself, has over 13 years of professional experience in the tech industry and the African startup ecosystem. In addition to founding African entrepreneurship and tech conference, Afrolynk, he is also working as a technology specialist on technology strategy and development with startups, investors and global technology partners for GreenTec Capital Partners.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I went to IT and software training and then I went to university for my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Computing. I started work in 2009 giving web solutions for a company, I left that around 2012 to start business and connecting employers to jobseekers. The platform grew and had over 200,000 users before it came defunct. Worked with another company after that and moved about 3 years after to run Findworka.
Findworka builds software products and extend the engineering teams for ambitious people and companies. We have the largest pool of software developers and we have clients in Europe, the UK, and Africa. We are super excited that we are connecting people with the next generation of software developers.
How many users does Findworka have?
Currently we have about 2,500 software developers and designers on our platform.
Tell us about your business model?
Our business model is centred around helping businesses to build software products or contract developers.
As a client, you may not understand the technical tools or the language that we use in building software products, you honestly do not have to worry yourself about that. We set those standards, tools and frameworks for the software development while you can relax and focus on other aspects of your business. For extending teams, we seek, interview and provide talents for businesses looking at hiring or bringing more development hands to the table. We act as the middle man for the client and the developer.
Findworka takes part in the setting up of meetings between clients and freelancers. We also assist in the briefing, budgeting, time constraints and handover. Both parties can go through proper programming practice and project management.
Findworka has been a part of the Startup Mentoring programme, with Moses Acquah as your mentor—how did you find the process?
My initial meeting with Moses was via Skype.
I gave him information about our startup and the marketplace, how we weren’t making much money because we were relying on low-paying commission at that time.
Moses looked at every aspect of our business and started strategizing on how he could help us with the business and also with another project of ours, a hackathon called Saucecode.
We listened to him talk about how he works, how we can apply principles like “S.A.R.A.” to make sure each of our ideas and products are more “sustainable, affordable, reliable and accessible”. Moses coached us to work more efficiently with our time and the resources that we already have.
He helped us get our saucecode finalists tickets to an hackathon in Finland to meet the rest of the world and put them as finalists in the upcoming $50,000 Startup Challenge .
What was the greatest benefit of having your mentor, Moses, there in-house?
Moses already had an extensive network in Nigeria as he had lived and worked there for a while. The greatest benefit was that he connected us to a lot of professionals and potential partners, sponsors in Nigeria. He opened the door to welcome opportunities.
Did you and Moses get a chance to hang out and get to know each other? If I know Moses, he made time for fun!
A lot! I was with Moses all of the time, during the day we were always talking business and at night we would socialise with his friends, but it was basically like PR for us. Always talking business, even late at night. He was really helpful and really found a lot of opportunities for us.
You were able to attend the second startup camp in Ghana. How did you find the camp experience?
Having all of the mentors in one room was really amazing—they knew I couldn’t make it to the first camp and they [helped me catch up]. I met a lot of other people doing a lot of amazing things and it gave me hope. I was really happy to be a part of the camp.
I got along really well with everyone and it was exciting to hear what people were doing and how we could support [each others’] technology.
Can you sum up your experience of the programme in one word?
You don’t get to meet people from different parts of the world in one place all the time. I was exposed to some new ways of doing things. Most importantly, the programme provided the network of friends and mentors that could help position my business for growth and I think that is the essence of the Startup Mentoring programme. It has helped to refine my business idea and also exposing me to greater opportunities.