An interview with Davies Iyiegbu, Author of Foreignpreneur on the dependencies behind starting a successful business as a foreign entrepreneur. What makes or breaks a foreign entrepreneur in business?
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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Davies Iyiegbu, Founder & CEO of Study in Europe mobile app, Author of the Foreignpreneur. I was born in Nigeria, from Nnewi South LGA in Anambra state to a family of four. I am married with a daughter. Growing up was a bit of a roller coaster ride, navigating the deep emotional spheres of family, and having a dream in a communal society where everyone has a say in what you become or what you can achieve.
How did you get started in your career?
I started my first company, Goziex Technologies Limited with less than fifty euros from the savings I had from the mandatory national youth service of my country, Nigeria.
I developed an idea at the time to display third-party advertising on mobile recharge cards and this was the genesis of my career.
Did you always know what you wanted to do?
Well, I did have a paradox of choice, my dream while growing up was to be an aeronautical engineer, which is ironic because I realized as an adult that I never really liked flying.
I switched to becoming a computer scientist when the university of choice did not offer Aeronautical engineering courses; one of the best decisions of my life, I would say, because it became the bedrock to the development of the Study in Europe App.
However, I didn’t always find myself attached to just computers, I loved sport and played soccer. It was a talent that I explored to the boundaries of playing as a semi-professional in Europe. Had the opportunity to play in Slovakia and Hungary, and participate in the Hungarian FA CUP.
Figuring out what you want to become in life is as hard as becoming what you want to be in life; I am glad that I found focus in becoming a software developer and grateful for the opportunity to own a business in wine and advertising industry. I would say, I figured it out late but it was worth the wait.
What skills contributed to your career/business?
Communication, programming, and interpersonal skills. I am an internal advocate of mental health for software developers. I think that the creativity and mental stress that goes into identifying real-life problems and translating them into codes, which brings positive change in millions of lives, is underestimated in today’s world.
I was not born a developer; I learned from tutorials available on the internet on websites like Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, Pluralsight. The tutorials available on the internet aren’t a luxury but a choice that many overlook coupled with what I learned in the lecture halls. After acquiring skills as a software developer, I realized that in order to share my ideas I needed to communicate effectively.
I learned the hard way that effective communication is a skill that every aspiring entrepreneur needs to have in their rapture of accolades. The need for this skill never occurred to me until business discussions I had started with partners got lost in arguments and misunderstandings. In other to be equipped with the right skill to communicate clearly and market my brand, I applied for a Masters in communications and media studies degree at Budapest metropolitan university.
What challenges did you encounter in creating your business?
Quite a lot I must say, I could talk for hours about my challenges but I will narrow them to the major ones; choosing a business idea, funding, partnership, regulations, friends & family.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I learned to adapt by adopting the slogan “New challenges? New strategy.” First, I started to solve my funding issues through savings and cutting down of third-party tools that did not add value to my business. I then paid less attention to investors, conferences and focused more on listening to my customers. This bridged the gap between me and my customers. Their feedbacks led me to build a more advanced product that solved admission and travel problems for thousands of students.
Are there any podcasts, books, resources that helped you in your journey as an entrepreneur?
I have a few favorite books that added a great deal of value to me;
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- Beyond Mars and Venus by John Gray
- Power Questions by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas.
What lessons did you learn in your journey as a foreign entrepreneur?
There are so many lessons my journey as a foreign entrepreneur has taught me. One key lesson was that having a business idea is not the most significant accolade of an entrepreneur. In fact, I had an avalanche of ideas that never came to life but became prisoners of my mind.
I understood that no matter how much I dream, without funding or capital, I will never be able to actualize the dream to scale my idea. More significantly, I realized that most “Dorm to Dollars” stories of how to build a business, are mostly flawed and don’t pinpoint the real-life struggles of an entrepreneur and how hard it is to build a business.
However, in all my experiences, those that I did not wish for; friendship and family in business were the ones that did hurt the most, perhaps because of the emotional disadvantages of either losing friends or finding it difficult to convince friends about your ground-breaking idea. I learned through failure not to hire friends and to manage my expectations.
As an author of the Foreignpreneur: The 9 Dependencies of Success… What’s the story behind your book?
Foriegnpreneur is focused on sharing a real-life story, struggles behind starting and building a business contrary to the “Get rich quick syndrome” or “Success in a minute” that most aspiring entrepreneurs are accustomed to. Today, aspiring entrepreneurs are flooded with resources, models, and sophisticated techniques that do not reflect the unique challenges that entrepreneurs face on a daily basis.
I approached the book from an inclusion and diversity perspective by sharing stories drawn from my personal experiences as a foreign entrepreneur and the nine dependencies behind the success of a foreign entrepreneur and what you need to start a small or international business.
Why was it important to share your story with the world?
There is a need to tell genuine stories of entrepreneurs for aspiring entrepreneurs to understand the struggles in starting a business and face reality rather than live in fantasies. This I believe will enable society to have more long-lasting economic growth through jobs and wealth creation.
When young entrepreneurs are aspiring to get to unattainable heights and standards set by untrue stories of rag to riches — what that creates; is an “Avalanche of depressed CEOs, society-inflicted chaos of mental issues for failed entrepreneurs.”
For more stories on the nine dependencies behind a foreign entrepreneur, read the Foreignpreneur.
Where can people connect, and learn more about you?
I am easily reachable on my social media handles;
Facebook: fb.com/daviesiyiegbu, Foreignpreneur page – facebook.com/foreignpreneur
Personal Instagram handle: @officialmartinsdavies