[INTERVIEW] WHY I ABANDONED JOB AND SCHOLARSHIP FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP~ UGWUOKE NNAMDI VALBOSCO, CEO, CODEXTREME PROGRAMMING LIMITED
Upon graduation, he was given an employment on account of his competence. He later got a scholarship to further his studies but he abandoned it to start his business. In this interview with BROJID.COM EDITOR, JOSEPH DINWOKE, the CEO of CodeXtreme Programming Limited, UGWUOKE NNAMDI VALBOSCO reveals why he turned down such juicy opportunities to start his business, how he raised his starting capital and how he has been running codeXtreme. Sit back and enjoy this conversation with Brojid.com BizPeople for this week.
Please let’s get to know you.
I am Ugwuoke Nnamdi Valbosco, the CEO of CodeXtreme Programming limited. I studied Electronic Engineering. I do much of coding and have many international certificates in programming that I acquired abroad. I am into both mobile and web application and designing portals. I also train people in programming languages.
What inspired your starting this business?
I believe that everybody should be a programmer and programming makes people to think. When I see some people, I have pity on them because they cannot do little works in programming.
My ambition has always been to help humanity. That’s why I am also a strong member of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering), who is building standard for humanity. I programme for humanity. I want to make Nigeria and mankind better. I don’t want Nigerians to think that they are less human being or that they cannot do what people do abroad. So, I want people, even people in remote areas to be able to programme.
Programming is doing what human beings would do. I have the passion to make life easy for people and that’s why I am into programming. I also want to train others to make life easy for their community.
CodeXtreme has started. You have to rent an office space, buy equipment to work. All of these cost money. How did you raise your startup capital?
As I told you before, I am a programmer and I used to work. Initially, I started working online. People would pay me and I would do the work. When I was an undergraduate, because I programme for people and design websites for people, they pay me a lot and sometimes, you can also do work for international organization. You I also have sponsors. I have also won many things from MTN Nigeria. There are other people that have supported me like Rev. Fr. Paul Obayi. He supported me a lot. So, my start-up capital was gotten from sponsors and people that like my work.
How did you convince your first clients to do business with you?
Most times, I don’t need to convince people. People come to me based on the quality of work I have done. I didn’t need to convince 90% of them. They had to see some of my work. In life, everything is not about convincing. There is what we call skills and talents and once you have it people will look for you. You need not to convince them. Some may just come and ask you if you can do this for them and I believe that everything can be done. So, I will just do it and if it works out, they will like it and they will refer other people to me.
Sometimes, I also do adverts. I convince people by doing adverts and they come me by themselves. If they come and see people’s work, they will like it. How I got my first employment at Abuja is this: I showed them my previous works, they liked it and the next day, they gave me automatic employment. Since, I still have passion in developing human being. I have to leave the work to see another means of helping humanity.
So, you mean you left your job to start up CodeXtreme?
Yes of course.
Nawoo! Did you not consider the risk you were taking that you left a well paying job when you are sure of salary to start a business which is essentially a risk particularly in Nigeria where the power supply is epileptic?
In life, everything is a risk and if you don’t take risks, you cannot achieve anything. For me to start codeXtreme, I knew that it was a risk. Even the equipment, power source, buying inverters and solar panels, all these things are risks. You are not sure, especially in Nsukka.
Let me tell you the importance of coding. It can make someone to be self employed. You know if you are employed, you can be gaining up to N150, 000. You will be so called well paid if you are paid up to N250, 000 in Nigeria, for a start. Sometimes, you can even do a work of two days and you can get N250, 000.
I think self employment is the best. I also got scholarship abroad to study but I left it to start codeXtreme.
Do you have any platform of training and teaching people under the platform of codeXtreme?
Yes. For someone to have knowledge you must train the person or the person does self research. So at codeXtreme, we encourage both practical training and self-research.
So, the mode of training we have in codeXtreme is that we train and give our students videos. That is after teaching you in the class, you go to your house, and you keep on watching the videos. So that when you watch the video, you can remember what you are being taught in class and that makes learning faster.
You created a platform to teach people. Is it free teaching class? Or does one need to pay to be a part of it?
Yes, you need to pay. Why we charge people. The payment we charge is so small compared to what we are offering but we still need to maintain the office. That is why for you to learn program, you bring a stipend. And that is not the cost abroad. It also makes you to be serious. Once you are committed, will work hard to get value for your money. You will feel a sense of compulsion to get the value of what you have paid for. And most of the students here pay more after they have finished their classes because they know that what they paid is nothing compared to what they got. As an appreciation, they will give us extra money.
Programming has so many facets to it. There are many languages in programming. There are many things to program about. So, which of these programming languages do you treat at codeXtreme?
As I said, we treat both mobile and web application and we treat languages that have a link that you can use it to create a real life application. So, we begin from the basics of java because we believe that once you know java, C and C++ must develop from java. And we also treat people based on special demand on C and C++ but basically, we start with java and if you have interest in Microsoft applications, we also train people in C sharp but based on web designing and web development, we are in the current text html which is html 5. That does not mean that we do not treat the initial version of html. All the html tag and the CSS for the appearance of the website. We also go into database.
We treat languages that will make you to know how to work with database. You can work with oracle database, X2 database. We also teach android application programming. We also teach and create websites that teach and integrate payment card so that you can receive payment.
Do you have staff members?
Concerning your staff strength, how do you manage your human resources?
I tried a lot to see that my staff is happy especially if they work. I believe that if you work, you should get the reward. I have staff strength of than twenty guys and the work are specific. So, you should know your work and once you do your work, you will surely be paid and most times, it is not based on salary. I pay it as wages. You work, you get your money, instantly or maybe on agreement, you can still get it at the end of the month.
There have been many cases of skilled people that lack the capacity to start and run a business. Are there things you did to prepared yourself to become a business man and not just a skill programmer?
I will say that you can have knowledge and you can do a business. I started from giving free tutorials when I was in school. Like I am the chairman of IEEE. I am also a computer ambassador of computer society Europe, Africa and Middle East. So, I do online tutorials for both people here in Nigeria and Abroad. Teaching has been part of me. All those things are part of preparations to start my own business.
There are Nigerian youths in Katsina, the other person is in Uyo who are killed like you but have not started their own businesses. You can’t be there to run codextreme. They are reluctant about starting. Do you have anything to tell them?
There is an adage that said fear fear unless fear will kill you. So, there is no need of being afraid to start anything that you know that you can do well. If you know that you don’t have the knowledge, I will advise you to go and seek the knowledge first without starting because, if you start without the knowledge, it is a must you are going to fail.
But starting is a step which is the most difficult but once you start, you see that that the things you think is hard, is very simple. If you are delaying to do anything, just start it and once you start it, I assure you that you can never go back. Forward ever, backward never and the problem with a lot of Nigerians is that they talk too much. We make a lot of noise. You should stop making noise and start. Start doing something that will benefit you and the people around you and the community.
For Mark Zuckerberg, it is the passion for the community that made him to be outstanding. Facebook was launched in 2003. That time, it was not perfect. So, if you are waiting for a perfect time to start, you can never start. So, once you know something and you know that this is what you want to start and you are looking for a perfect time, I can assure you, the perfect time will never arrive until you die! So, once you have a dream to start it, just start it.
Where do you see codeXtreme in the future?
In our future development, we want codeXtreme to go online in the sense that you receive your lectures in your home. You need not to come to the office to take lectures. So, initially, we are using online platform to teach and that if you learn with your own laptop what. The system has not really worked. If you still have internet in your house, you need not to come to codeXtreme. You can just register and receive your lectures from the confort of your home.
Editor’s Note: You have the privilege of learning more from VALBOSCO when you call him on 0810 391 8286 or CodeXtreme Website: codextreme.org