Meet Tope Ogunsemo, the Nigerian entrepreneur who runs a $3m edtech startup

Tope Ogunsemo

33-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur, Temitope Ogunsemo is the founder of Krystal Digital, an educational technology company that develops and deploys customised and service oriented software applications as well as IT training for educational institutions in Nigeria.

With annual revenue of more than US$3m and over 150 employees, Krystal Digital’s goal is to drive growth in the education sector by building a leading sub-Saharan IT company.

Mfonobong Nsehe recently had the opportunity to speak with Ogunsemo in Lagos on Krystal Digital’s ambitions and future plans.

Tell us about Krystal Digital’s origin and the vision behind its operations?

The idea to establish Krystal Digital in 2010 spawned from a difficult experience I had when I attempted to secure my academic transcript. It was then I saw the potential to develop a school information management system that would not only improve the storage and retrieval of academic records but would also position these schools to harness the benefits of digitisation.

Krystal Digital is well-known for its flagship service, MySkool Portal, what are the various services provided by your company and who are its clients?

Our products and services currently span across 48% of the federal government colleges in Nigeria. The MySkool Portal platform runs in 50 federal government colleges across the country and has more than 65,000 active student users. We also have projects catering to the academic and technological needs of Nigerian students.

Our business model is structured to support the needs of our clients and how they would rather be served. This basically has three inputs: our people, our operations and innovation. We rely on the ability of our people to innovate and collaborate with each other and our customers to develop value-adding solutions. We are also committed to conducting our business transparently and ethically by managing our business process towards ensuring a positive impact on the society.

What significant role does technology play in the development of the education sector and how is Krystal Digital involved in this evolution?

To prepare the talent needed for the digital economy, education must adapt as fast as the demand for IT skills is growing and evolving. To achieve this goal, it is our responsibility to ensure that we invest in technologies that are effective in improving learning outcomes. We believe that accelerating the adoption of technologies in the classrooms will empower teachers to improve education outcomes, help bridge the digital divide and, most importantly, provide students with the education they need to transition into jobs in the knowledge economy. We have deployed a tripartite strategy to successfully implement this programme in various partner institutions, training, infrastructure deployment and mentorship.

We have a partnership with Microsoft Imagine Academy which provides us with quality education training resources on Microsoft technologies to help institutions, faculty and staff (educators) and its enrolled students obtain the skills needed to reach their academic and career potential. It would also prepare students and educators to earn Microsoft certification credentials. Our IT training programme have already commenced in 24 unity schools.

In providing these solutions, what challenges has Digital Krystal faced in closing the digital gap in Nigeria’s education sector?

The cost of running a technology company in Nigeria is too high. Besides, poor perception of ICT and lack of solid implementations of technology, basically because of the lack of education about the potential of technology, is a major constraint. This reduces our productivity by 40%, and the probability of us releasing any technological hits.

Despite these challenges, how do you see Krystal Digital’s solutions evolving with its growth potential in the next few years?

The opportunity ahead for Krystal Digital is vast. To seize it, we must focus clearly, move decisively and continue to transform. We are constantly rethinking how we envision and deliver our solutions. We are very much in touch with the pace of innovation globally and where we are not leading new ideas and disruptions, we would be certain to be in touch with the trail. With no plans of slowing down, we would be reaching more Nigerian students and improving on the technology, platforms and our people’s capacity and expertise. We will also bolster the economy through job creation, existing and new investments in education technology.