EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: “THE FIRST TIME I CAME OUT IN CLASS AND SAID, ‘WHO WILL BUY?’PEOPLE STARTED LAUGHING AT ME.” CHIMEX, A UNN MOST ENTERPRISING STUDENT.
The name, Chimex, a brand in the University of Nigeria and popular social network sites, is synonymous with providing ICT solutions to students and sending SMS alerts to students on scholarships. His entrepreneurial strides earned him the award of most enterprising student in his final year as a microbiology student. For Campus Cruise, Joseph Dinwoke, of the Brojid World, sat with Chime Chinonso Simon (Chimex), CEO of Chimex Vinlex Communications Technology, for an interview. He revealed what led him into entrepreneurship from his first year on campus, his success secrets and lessons for aspiring campunurials. He gave a revelation on his love life. Enjoy the conversation…
Please may we meet you?
I’m Chime Chinonso Simon; from Umulesha- Nkalaha in Ishielu local government of Ebonyi state; the first in a family of 4 children. My parents trained me in a godly way.
In 2013, faculty of biological science recognized you as the most enterprising student. How did you feel about it?
I felt so happy and very glad because it is what I have been hoping for. Because with all I have done in school I was hoping that I will get something for it so that when I leave here I can even show my children and family members as something I have achieved in school. I believe in solving problems and it shows that I have solved a lot of problems for them to give me that award.
What is the purpose of your entrepreneurial venture when you were on campus?
Actually, what led me into entrepreneurship is the condition I found myself but then after attending a lot of training, seminars and schools on entrepreneurship I realized that entrepreneurship is all about solving a problem in society. So, it made me develop the passion to solve the problems in society. It made me develop a lot of interest and it made develop a lot of vision for my life. Because with my experience so far, I intend to solve more problems for my society.
Were your parents entrepreneurs?
My parents are traders; let me say, they are entrepreneurs too.
You said earlier that it was a condition you found yourself that led you into entrepreneurship. Please, do you mind sharing with us what the problem was?
(laughs) Anyway, let me just put it as financial difficulties. You know sometimes when you are in trouble it makes you to think. Trouble makes you find solutions to problems especially when you know that you cannot steal or do bad things to get money. The money I made in business contributed to an extent in my education. But I want also say that if I had all I wanted financially, I would have not known what I know today in financial management
Entrepreneurial venture requires starting capital. You were in financial crises when you ventured into entrepreneurship. How were you able to get the starting capital?
Nobody gave me money to start; I just started with an idea and it just worked. It all started in my first year, there might be a course outline that will be out and people might want to get it but they won’t have the time to go and photocopy it. I just photocopied it at five Naira and sell it at ten naira. That was how money started coming. So basically, what I started with was what I had in my head. I can remember teaching private tutorials, private courses where people pay me and if you have something to offer, people will pay you high to get your services. That was how I started. There was nobody that said, “Oya chime, take this money to start.
[Tweet “Nobody gave me money to start; I just started with an idea and it just worked.”]
My parents have also tried for me to have sent me to computer school when I finished junior WAEC (JSCE). It’s helping me today because the basic knowledge I got from the training gave me the foundation for every other thing I did.
How did you get your customers to buy from you at the beginning?
Actually, as a beginner and a business man, one of the things you need is humility because if you are not humble you cannot even come out to say that you are selling something. I remember the first time I came out in class and said, “Who will buy?”. People started laughing at me. I took the courage; then some people were like if somebody can make things easier they will patronize him.
Once you relate well with your classmates, they will support you. I’m still grateful to students in microbiology and faculty of biological sciences because without them, I don’t think my business would have moved in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka when I started. So, I worked well with people no matter who they are and it helped me a lot. I respect everybody no matter who they are and it’s good in business. Once you work well with your customers, you won’t have any problem.
If you are honest in whatever you are doing, people will recommend you. That’s one of the secrets of what I do. If I treat somebody fine, he recommends me to a friend and the friends will recommend me to another friend and in that order. In Igbo we say, “Ahia mara mma n’ere onwe ya” (Good products sells itself). Be honest in whatever you are dealing; on don’t fake anything be real. People will like you for being real.
Chimex, has it been rosy starting you campus entrepreneurship in first year through your to your final year?
In life, nothing comes easy because it was really difficult but there was nothing I could do. It was difficult because it affected other parts of my life. My business made me that I don’t even talk about what doesn’t add value to my life. So, my social life was not that high though it was good. I don’t have time for unnecessary meetings. So, I had to manage my time well and if you manage your time well, you will see result.
It was not rosy at all. It even affected my academics, I must say, but I don’t regret anything because everything happens for a reason.
Having passed through the university as entrepreneur, what advice would you give a first year or any student that might be interested in campunriaship?
The advice I will give to them is that everything is possible. Number one thing you have to do is to allow God to direct you. When God directs you, you won’t have problems.
Time lost cannot be regained, so when you manage your time very well, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.
By the way, you if you know your parents are giving you money very very well and you have enough money to go to school, face your studies and read. Some of the people you see that venture into entrepreneurship gets there because of the condition they found themselves in.
You can also be good as a student as well as an entrepreneur. What you do then is that you involve yourself in businesses that don’t deter with your academic career. You can get an idea and employ people and all you do is to monitor your business and face your studies.
What are you doing at present?
You know life is in stages, I have not even reached to the top of my career. Now, I’m currently working on networking. Networking is an area in computer, where I want to specialize, especially the wireless parts of it. So, I’m temporarily with the ICT unit of University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus where I’m learning certification. I am currently preparing for CCNA which is one of the computer certification in networking. My business is still thriving because I manage my time well; I don’t have time for rubbish. So, I don’t my don’t do necessary gist, even if you see me online every time it’s either that I’m marketing my products or adverting it. I don’t just come on Facebook to chart, am always there for serious business.
Please tell us who your love is.
Ahh! Actually, I don’t have any love now because I have a target. I have focus in life and since I know that in the next four to five years I’m still on my way to my target, there is no need wasting a girls time. I have a lot of female friends but coming to be being too close to a particular lady, no no I don’t have that time now because there are many things in need to achieve first.
Are, you telling me that you don’t have crush on any girl?
(Laughs) Anyway for even if I have crush on you, I won’t tell you. I will just keep it on my own because I don’t want any distraction in my life.