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Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by kaysy(m): 7:37am On Sep 25, 2012
Wande Adalemo dropped out of the Olabisi Onabanjo University to actualise his dream of building an Internet service company, which is now worth N1bn. He tells DAYO OKETOLA how it all started and what other young Nigerian entrepreneurs can learn from his journey.

The Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Oxygen Broadband Networks, Nigeria’s first metro WiFi network, Mr. Wande Adalemo, is a young man who aspired to be a university graduate and get a job. But an event in 1998 changed the course of his life and he decided to pursue his dream of building an Internet company.

Today, he sits atop a N1bn broadband network company, which has just rolled out a WiFi network at the popular Computer Village in Lagos.

He said his greatest challenge was funding, but the driving force had been the passion to ensure that all Nigerians have access to affordable Internet access through WiFi technology.

From the ground zero in 2005, dropping out of school along the line, Adalemo said he overcome the challenge and was able to attract investors, who believed in his dream and invested in the business.

Adalemo said the company started with a $2m investment and as at today, had invested N1bn with a network infrastructure already in place and duly licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

“As we speak, we are currently at the Computer Village in Lagos, where we have our pilot network. In the last two months since we started, we have had over 20,000 connections sitting on our network,” he said

In view of this, he said the company had laid out an expansion plan, which would see it invest another N200m in rolling out services in six locations across Lagos State before the end of 2012.

“We are doing another N200m investment and we are going to six new locations by December 2012. We are partnering with malls on the Island, Surulere, and high traffic restaurants. We already have agreements with all of these people,” he said.

The expansion, Adalemo said, would see Oxygen Networks expand to 20 locations in March 2013, and 100 locations in Lagos by 2015; and then Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, thereafter.

“Of the N200m needed to roll out services by December 2012, we have attained N75m equity investment to date, which means that we are really set to move to these new locations,” he said.

According to him, the company currently operates with 100 per cent private equity fund from the board of directors and “they are putting in more funds to see us expand.”

He said the company had already attracted institutional investors such as Google and Main One Cable Company, which were interested in investing in it and help boost broadband access in the country.

While the start-up appears to be on the right track, the Oxygen Broadband Network boss said the beginning was very rough.

In an interview with our correspondent on how it all started, he said, “I never saw a computer until 1998. I was with my cousin Femi Adalemo, who was the Chairman of the Nigerian Internet Exchange Committee at some points. So, I went to his office and he said he wanted to send a mail to someone in the United States. Five minutes after, the person in the US had responded to the mail and that surprised me.

“I couldn’t sleep that night, and in the morning, I went back to him and asked him to teach me how to develop something that will make Nigerians send and receive e-mails easily. I told him I wanted to do something that would make it easier for every Nigerian to send email.

“He told me it was networking and that was how it started. So, as I grew in my knowledge of what the Internet access and broadband were, it became more of a passion. Getting the technology was one thing, putting it together was another, and getting funding took a while. Between 2005 and now, you can see it has been seven years, it has not been easy.”

On how he got the first investor, who later became a co-founder of the company, Adalemo, said, “We had spoken with a thousand of individuals to put their money in the business and the answer we kept getting was no. Eventually, we found someone and it was an interesting story. We met the first investor, who later became a co-founder of the company, in 2005. I didn’t have a penny that day and then a friend of mine called and said there was someone that ‘is interested in this crazy idea of yours, let’s go and see him.’

“I had to trek from Iponrin to Ajose Adeogun to meet him. He was the managing director of a bank then. Meanwhile, I had met several potential investors who had discouraged me but I did not give up. So, when I got there, he told me; ‘If you cannot convince me in two minutes, I cannot invest in this because an idea that cannot hit someone in two minutes is no good idea.’ Well, I think I was able to hit him in two minutes and the next question he asked was how do we move?

“The first thing we did was to go around the world to see where WiMax was failing because my own idea was that WiMax will not work but WiFi will. So how do we get WiFi to work? And from there, he got some of his friends involved in the business.”

Adalemo reiterated that the company would continue to expand because he believed WiFi technology would play a major role in boosting Internet access in Nigeria.

He said, “Because we believe that everybody should be on the Internet and we are restricted by regulations as to how to expand (we cannot cover wide area), we decided to take the Internet to where everybody is going?

“Oxygen believes that your Internet should be wherever you are going and instead of carrying your modem or dongle around, if you know that Oxygen is present at the place you are going to such as the cinema, restaurant, clubs and malls, among others; then, it becomes a better option for you.”

According to him, the second phase of the company’s expansion will be the ASPANDA Market at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Alaba and Oke Arin markets.

“For or us at Oxygen, we are taking our WiFi network to a point where we have a hots pot in virtually every major street in Lagos. It begins to tell us where we need to start focusing our attention in Nigeria. It also begins to tell us where we need to start building broadband ecosystems. We need to start looking at solutions that will enable people to just plug and deliver broadband services to everybody,” Adalemo explained.

He disclosed that the company had sealed a partnership with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc to provide its WiFi network for PoS connectivity at the Computer Village, adding that this was the driving force behind its planned extension into the Oke Arin Market.

“Due to our partnership with NIBSS, we are providing WiFi for the purpose of PoS terminals alone at Oke Arin Market. These are some of the plans that Google is excited about,” he said

Adalemo encouraged young Nigerian entrepreneurs not to be deterred by challenges surrounding them, while assuring them of success if they remained focused.

He said this was what made him drop out of school when he found out that academic works were disturbing his entrepreneurial drive.

“I will say that I am also a proud school dropout because at some point, I realised that pursuing academic excellence was interfering with my passion for this dream. May be Oxygen would have become a dream earlier but for exams in school,” he said

When our correspondent took him up on this, he said, “I am not saying it is good to drop out of school, but I am saying it is good to think outside the box. The emphasis on paper qualification in our society has not helped us. If school will limit you as an entrepreneur, get out; and if it will enhance you, stay with it.”

“I encourage people to go to school, but once you find that dream, that passion that you can pursue and it is a good idea, you will succeed. Once you are dedicated, you will get there. It is not about everyone leaving school, it is about understanding what will work for you.”

http://www.punchng.com/news/from-university-dropout-to-billionaire-entrepreneur/

13 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by mymadam(m): 8:18am On Sep 25, 2012
kaysy: Wande Adalemo dropped out of the Olabisi Onabanjo University to actualise his dream of building an Internet service company, which is now worth N1bn. He tells DAYO OKETOLA how it all started and what other young Nigerian entrepreneurs can learn from his journey.

The Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Oxygen Broadband Networks, Nigeria’s first metro WiFi network, Mr. Wande Adalemo, is a young man who aspired to be a university graduate and get a job. But an event in 1998 changed the course of his life and he decided to pursue his dream of building an Internet company.

Today, he sits atop a N1bn broadband network company, which has just rolled out a WiFi network at the popular Computer Village in Lagos...

...When our correspondent took him up on this, he said, “I am not saying it is good to drop out of school, but I am saying it is good to think outside the box. The emphasis on paper qualification in our society has not helped us. If school will limit you as an entrepreneur, get out; and if it will enhance you, stay with it.”

“I encourage people to go to school, but once you find that dream, that passion that you can pursue and it is a good idea, you will succeed. Once you are dedicated, you will get there. It is not about everyone leaving school, it is about understanding what will work for you.”


http://www.punchng.com/news/from-university-dropout-to-billionaire-entrepreneur/

A breath of fresh air indeed! This should motivate the Nigerian youth. Moderator, front page please. God bless Nigeria.

2 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by ojotask: 9:44am On Sep 25, 2012
So inspiring, and he looks so simple . . .

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by otokx(m): 9:45am On Sep 25, 2012
Hope this will last?
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by wandeay: 9:51am On Sep 25, 2012
my name sake, working towards my own ICT dream but not dropping out from school, nice one, thumbs up

1 Like

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by blacksta(m): 9:51am On Sep 25, 2012
Kudos

Any idea what the speed of the broadband is?
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by otokx(m): 9:54am On Sep 25, 2012
blacksta: Kudos

Any idea what the speed of the broadband is?

your guess is as good as mine - average
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by UnitedManc: 9:56am On Sep 25, 2012
Seriously impressed and proud of you.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Nobody: 9:57am On Sep 25, 2012
The problem with Nigeria is that we are certificate crazy,anyone without a formal education is seen as a failure,whereas 90% of what been taught are irrelevant to the course studied,and not applicable in real life situation. I salute your courage,God will keep the dream alive IJN.

11 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by zeefa: 9:58am On Sep 25, 2012
According to him, he started wit $2m., where do u expect a poor boy from a nasty background get that from! The money is a lot some of money! Fine he has a gud dream but some of the youth around die wit their dreams cos they can not put it to work due to funds! Banks in nigeria r not dat friendly for loans! Well, its a job well done for him anyway! And mind u, u dnt av 2 b a graduate b4 u r ICT guru! All u nid is commitment & focus! Learn it and go 4 certification exams, then u r gud 2 go! Visit india, u wl all b surpriz wit wht young guyz are doing on ICT. Anyway! Kudos to you my real brother, thank God u didn't use ur own knowledge to scam people like those nasty YAHOO guyz! I commend u 4 a job weldone! Another Otedola of our tym...

4 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by stagger: 9:59am On Sep 25, 2012
In 1998, the opportunities were virgin so he made it. You cannot drop out of school now to do the same thing: it will backfire. Such success stories are the exception rather than the rule. I had a chance of starting an IT company as far back as 1995. It would have meant dropping out of school but I did not have the funds and there were no investors. So dropping out of school for me was not an option and I am happy I did not. In retrospect, I would have made a lot of money but then, the circumstances were not right and maybe it was not my chosen path.

I think many of us can identify with this guy's dream and life story, but all fingers are not equal.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by mymadam(m): 10:02am On Sep 25, 2012
stagger: In 1998, the opportunities were virgin so he made it. You cannot drop out of school now to do the same thing: it will backfire. Such success stories are the exception rather than the rule. I had a chance of starting an IT company as far back as 1995. It would have meant dropping out of school but I did not have the funds and there were no investors. So dropping out of school for me was not an option and I am happy I did not. In retrospect, I would have made a lot of money but then, the circumstances were not right and maybe it was not my chosen path.

I think many of us can identify with this guy's dream and life story, but all fingers are not equal.

'Food for thought'. God bless Nigeria.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by tjskii(f): 10:03am On Sep 25, 2012
Moral of story,drop out of skool tongue tongue

2 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by blacksta(m): 10:10am On Sep 25, 2012
WIfi Technology might be good alternative to digging up roads to install cables. Looking at the Nigerian situation it may be a way forward of delivering fast internet services around the country. Not as expensive as installing cables but i suspect it will have it owns disadvantages. WIFi technology is definitely not as secure (anybody with the reasonable skillset and tools can hack it) and interference from other signals will distort signals.

1 Like

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Nobody: 10:10am On Sep 25, 2012
ojotask: So inspiring, and he looks so simple . . .

The first day I saw the pix of Bill Gates when he was still young, i thought of a visually impaired disabled.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by honeric01(m): 10:14am On Sep 25, 2012
Morale, success is not achieved through certificates. it's passion and determination that matters.

1 Like

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Nobody: 10:15am On Sep 25, 2012
There is nothing taller than dreams.

Dreams are not visible but possess the greatest driving force to catapult a man into his destiny.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by flexinet: 10:17am On Sep 25, 2012
blacksta: Kudos

Any idea what the speed of the broadband is?

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by jobaskia(m): 10:18am On Sep 25, 2012
Inspiration make us to get to our altitudes. Creativity is the key any time anyday. ICT is very innovative and competitive, one has to be on his to achieve a set target.
Wishing him the best for better things to come.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by tunapawizzy: 10:18am On Sep 25, 2012
tjskii: Moral of story,drop out of skool tongue tongue
NO....... moral of d story: don't follow the multitude....follow ur heart, and follow it passionately

7 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Godmann(m): 10:18am On Sep 25, 2012
No comment. There is still a lot missing in this story.

Why would a guy who could raise 2mm drop out of school Was it purely to pursue his investment ambition

I have serious doubtssss
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by executinal(m): 10:18am On Sep 25, 2012
Nigeria BILL GATES in making. Thump up guy wink
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by hbrednic: 10:21am On Sep 25, 2012
who did the valuation?
you can add more zeros to the numbers to make it a trillion cheesy
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Nobody: 10:21am On Sep 25, 2012
I know wande very well while I was in unilag then. This guy was a close friend of mine and share the same christian faith with me.

He was always a jovial fellow and very humble! He was a damn broke ass nigger and was always puting on same native dress daily but he was contented.

He was also a freak but got strong desires and was seriously in love with one ISL chap then and I do accompany him then to see d chap then.lol

Its funny though, remember when I and him with abimeal use to eat iya pato at jaja hall complex back then when he was squating with us at ozolua boys quaters then on campus.

Wande is a success story and I'm so happy this dude has made a name for himself through perseverance and hard work.

I didn't know he was gonna be this huge now.

Pls, u all shld be optimistic and remain positive while engaging urslvs in productive endearvours surely your time will come.

Wande, I'm so happy for u and wish u more giant strides ahead. Byrron

11 Likes

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by chucky234(m): 10:22am On Sep 25, 2012
As humans we are uniquely made to dream dreams and that's to say everyone of us has one unique dream or another but how do you accomplish those dreams without capital,in the absence of money dreams are nothing.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Esejojo: 10:23am On Sep 25, 2012
.
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by lagerwhenindoubt(m): 10:23am On Sep 25, 2012
FemoPov Adalemo is indeed a mentor by any standard... it is no wonder his cousin got good guidance from him

1 Like

Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Callotti: 10:24am On Sep 25, 2012
The man never talk true. . .we shall soon find out.
Gbese GMILLIONAIRES. . . Part 2! grin
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by emsquare(m): 10:24am On Sep 25, 2012
Nyc one!
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Mrchippychappy(m): 10:25am On Sep 25, 2012
I'm happy for him but how did he get the $2million start up capital ?
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by Hezzymania(m): 10:25am On Sep 25, 2012
Yomieluv: The problem with Nigeria is that we are certificate crazy,anyone without a formal education is seen as a failure,whereas 90% of what been taught are irrelevant to the course studied,and not applicable in real life situation. I salute your courage,God will keep the dream alive IJN.
ur damn right bro?
Re: Wande Adalemo - From University Dropout To ICT Millionaire by sylve11: 10:27am On Sep 25, 2012
stagger: In 1998, the opportunities were virgin so he made it. You cannot drop out of school now to do the same thing: it will backfire. Such success stories are the exception rather than the rule. I had a chance of starting an IT company as far back as 1995. It would have meant dropping out of school but I did not have the funds and there were no investors. So dropping out of school for me was not an option and I am happy I did not. In retrospect, I would have made a lot of money but then, the circumstances were not right and maybe it was not my chosen path.

I think many of us can identify with this guy's dream and life story, but all fingers are not equal.

No need to preach, he said it here: cool


kaysy:

When our correspondent took him up on this, he said, “I am not saying it is good to drop out of school, but I am saying it is good to think outside the box. The emphasis on paper qualification in our society has not helped us. If school will limit you as an entrepreneur, get out; and if it will enhance you, stay with it.”

“I encourage people to go to school, but once you find that dream, that passion that you can pursue and it is a good idea, you will succeed. Once you are dedicated, you will get there. It is not about everyone leaving school, it is about understanding what will work for you.”

http://www.punchng.com/news/from-university-dropout-to-billionaire-entrepreneur/

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