The journey so far: Adebayo Alonge, CEO, RxAll

Adebayo Alonge, CEO of RxAll

RxAll uses artificial intelligence with the aim of building Africa’s largest digital pharmacy platform.

Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.

Running out of cash in the first quarter of 2017 and having more than 75% of the early team resign. This almost ended our start-up journey very early in Nigeria. I reached out to those who left to understand why. I used their responses to improve our recruitment and HR policies and we have had zero attrition since then.

What business achievement are you most proud of?

Running RxAll across three continents – Asia, North America and Africa – and leading a multinational team from seven different countries: China, Taiwan, South Korea, America, Brazil, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Tell us about your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.

Driving for task achievement at all costs is my greatest weakness. I have managed this weakness by supporting my team in their personal lives through personal grants and by motivational words and emails. In entrepreneurship, it is important that your start-up team sees that you are genuinely interested in their lives outside the start-up.

What popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?

I disagree with the popular notion that start-ups should focus on minimum-viable solutions that solve problems incrementally. This may serve start-ups in the West where basic problems and infrastructure are solved and available. In Africa, for quick impact, start-ups must seek to solve big problems using wholesale solutions rather than incremental ones. Young African entrepreneurs should see themselves like the Carnegies and Rockefellers of America’s 1800s, and must go on to take up huge risks and offer comprehensive solutions that fit with and solve social problems in their countries.

Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you started?

That social bias is real in the start-up fundraising scene and that visible minorities should fundraise in investor communities that understand where they are coming from. Money flows where there is an intersection of financial opportunity with social and emotional connection.

Name one business opportunity you would still like to pursue, and why?

Using AI to provide primary care to patients in Africa. Africa has too few doctors (one for every 5,000 people versus the world average of one for every 667 people). This offers a huge opportunity to make a social impact while making decent financial returns.