Thomas Okache is a pastor, entrepreneur and law student. All roll into one. The Cross Rivers State-born Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Genius Generation, in this interview with FLORENCE OLUGBODI, speaks on his foray into business and why emphasis should not be placed on paper qualification.
How did you come about the idea for your business?
I am a kind of person that runs with ideas daily, but specifically on Genius Generation, I was on my bed when I received a call from someone requesting for something and I look at it that I can source it and connect the person for a fee. I actually started for free. But overtime, I discovered that more people began making request one after the other. Thereafter, I converted it to a business, and that was how we started connecting buyers to sellers, which is where Genius Generation started from and eventually evolved from there.
Everyday, I tried to solve problems with my mind and spend a lot of time thinking, and by solving problems, you make profit. However the hallmark of business is that you are solving problems, creating and adding values and making profits
What is Genius Generation all about?
It is one of the simplest business ideas I have ever seen. My mentor will always say business is not anything complex but simple ideas that offer solutions. In a layman’s language, what we do at Genius Generation is that we connect buyers to sellers and vice versa. But in a big language, we are E-marketers. We market products and services. But presently we are diversifying, trying to integrate other unique aspects. But the basic concept that birthed Genius Generation is just the simple idea of connecting buyers to sellers.
The name Genius Generation sounds unique. How did you come about it?
You are taking me to the memory lane. I was taking some friends of mine on tutorials back then during our school days, and from there friends started calling me “genius” and gradually the appellation stuck. So, when I started, after thinking through the best name to use, I decided to use my nickname which is “Genius” and then I felt “Genius” alone will not make the catch so I did my research and there was no company called “Genius Generation”, which means we are in the genius era where we do things with ease and different way.
So I just added “Generation” to my nickname. Entrepreneurs require unique identity that can really stand them out. That business name alone has given us edge a lot of times.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up in a family of five with me being the first. Growing up, I knew my parents as traders, although with no branding. So, I got the skill from them and then I grow up with the concept that no matter my qualification, I would not work under anybody. My driving force is to beat poverty. So, each time I see children suffering, it is humanity suffering, I then tell myself, I must be successful. It is not just the money force, when I see humanity suffer, I think that I can make money to help them out and that is my driving force.
I feel touched seeing people suffer. So, I believe in solving problems, one is contributing one’s quota in making the world a better place.
How did you raise fund for your business?
Raising funds for business has always been a challenge. I started my business with zero naira. Honestly, I have started many businesses that collapsed due to paucity of fund. So, when I started out, I decided to offer service for free since Genius Generation is a business I can run from home with my phone. So there was not much expenses attached to it. I get businesses subscribed to me, put their business out and get my pay. Genius Generation however generated the fund needed for expansion by itself.
How were you able to build a successful customer base?
This is a very important question. Customer base is one of the key requirements of a business. I started by being honest with my clients; I leveraged on social media and sourced for my customers. I went online, talked with them got their contacts and bring them to WhatsApp since it is a direct message system and I supply them information about Genius Generation daily. I try to convince them if they reject me I will still go back. I will keep on pushing.
Another thing I do is calling them on their birthdays. I don’t forget any of my customer’s birthday. And I also offer them free trainings.
How do you market your business and which tactic has been most successful?
For marketing, I have been using social media platforms, although I am working on having our own website, but one of the best marketing strategies that I have done that worked more for me is using WhatsApp platform. So I will say that Genius Generation has worked more on WhatsApp, direct messaging to people. I also discovered that online is working more perfectly for me than offline.
Do you subscribe to the belief in pattern or formula to become successful entrepreneur?
I don’t believe in that. Just be true to yourself, know what you want to do, be determined. Every pattern was developed by someone. The only thing you must really pay attention to is your market idea; how good is your idea; which problem is it solving. Once you are able to do this, just be honest and be willing to grow and change. There is no ABC to it, develop your own pattern, do what works best for you.
What is your greatest fear and how do you manage it?
I don’t have fears, but I have concerns and how I manage those concerns is that I follow biblical principles and I try to see the prospects. I tried more time to see my business into the future. I am also setting up more businesses that complement one another.
Any challenge so far that makes you want to quit?
I have challenges and it’s not having enough time and getting people to volunteer for Genius Generation when we start. Although I love to pay people for their work, but we also need people that we can grow the business together, which is not easy to get. Human resources and funding are the major challenges so far as we are trying to grow.
So what has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I can’t forget this. I had a client that requested for data. He asked for my account details and he sent me a huge amount of money. The highest data I have sold then was N4,000, but surprisingly this man sent millions of naira to me to supply him unlimited data and that changed my business for good. That was the most satisfying moment in my business so far.
Where did you see Genius Generation in the next five years?
Currently I am repositioning Genius Generation with a glorious future. We are trying to set up an app where you can get anything you want, just search and you will get it. We are also going into training of entrepreneurs on how to take advantage of the value chain and make money. In the next five years, I see us going further, global and international.
What advice can you offer upcoming entrepreneurs and youths out there?
i dont really talk about my educational background. Many people believe in certificate but education can’t make you creative. Knowledge is no longer power. Only knowledge applied that is power and it is only creative knowledge that can be applied. There are three levels of knowledge, there is accumulation of fact, arrangement of fact in order of application and wisdom which is the application of what you understand/fact.
My advice to youths in the country is to work on their creative ability and stop waiting on one uncle or aunt. And for entrepreneurs, don’t stop thinking, be daring and learn to communicate your ideas effectively. However, we need more entrepreneurs in Nigeria than pastors and politicians. I mean people that solve problems, solving problems is what is meant to be an entrepreneur. I encourage everybody to use their mind and think outside of the box.