Edmund Olotu is the founder and the CEO of TechAdvance, a Nigerian payment application development company that provides platforms to enable transaction processing and payment collection, aggregation and reconciliation.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
I’m a problem-solver, this led me naturally to entrepreneurship. When people or situations tell me no, I’m challenged to turn it into a ‘yes’, regardless of how much patience, creativity or iterations it may require. Hearing numerous ‘no’s is a given in business, so I count it [as] a win when I’m able to change minds and turn things around. In the rare cases when I’m not able to, I take it as a lesson and move on.
The situations I consider tough usually revolve around navigating the thin line between what is right and what is best. Often times, people want you to throw others under the bus for financial gain. You have to remind yourself to do what is right and stick with your principles.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
Co-founding my biotech company, Novira Therapeutics Inc, a novel antiviral drug discovery company which we sold to Johnson & Johnson for US$600m in 2015. I was young and naive then, and had no business doing it … but I did, and I’m glad I did.
This was my first big venture and, even though it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, it set me on a path of fearlessness. I went from being naive about what is achievable to being limitless in my pursuits. And I still believe my best and most impactful achievements are yet to come.
3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
I give away too much. I may be a little too human for this business-mogul endeavour compared to other entrepreneurs who are wildly successful.
To counter this weakness, I have a strong team around me that helps me make rational, data-driven decisions. We keep our books front and centre, and make decisions based on numbers, not sentiments.
4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
There are a lot of them. The one I’d pick right now is that, “You have to suffer to be successful or that you must lose sleep to become successful.”
I don’t agree with these beliefs anymore. I did when I was younger. Now, when I look back, I wish I didn’t sacrifice so much “living” to be here.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?
I am glad I didn’t know enough. If I knew then what I do now, I would never have started my first company.
With entrepreneurship, it’s a cliche to say, but the journey is the reward. If you are not energised and invested in solving problems and serving your clients, you will not last. If you are truly invested, you will be able to bulldoze your way through anything, and learn what you need to along the way.