News

November 27, 2019

Kevin Eze: Techpreneur promoting African delicacies

Kevin Eze:  Techpreneur  promoting African delicacies

•Kevin Eze

•Kevin Eze

By HENRY OJELU

Like many young Nigerians, Kevin Eze loves food. From local delicacies to foreign cuisines, Kevin has tasted it all. Aside tantalising his taste buds , the young food tech entrepreneur is also making cool money promoting the continent’s best delicacies.

When your diet works against you(Opens in a new browser tab)

In this interview, the young CEO of African Food Network, one of the biggest African food online recipe store  and co-founder of Beta Socials, a top digital marketing firm, shares the inspiring story of how he turned his love for food into a thriving business.

How did your entrepreneurship journey start?

I have always had the passion for computers and internets, so I started at an early age to learn to how to code, tweak things on the computer till I became the popular tech kid in my block.  Back then, most of my friends come to me to help them fix or build one thing or the other. While growing up, the entrepreneurship spirit kicked in and I started working on my brands even before venturing into entertainment blogging, which really brought me into limelight. I have investments in both the entertainment, food and tech industries.

Who would you say have had the most influence in your life and career?

I’ll say my mum. She taught me almost everything I know in my entrepreneurship world. As a successful businesswoman with chains of stores, I watched her carefully while growing up. I co-managed one of the stores for her from the tender age of 11. The business principles and techniques I use today in my business are mostly what I learnt from her.

What are your guiding principles in life?

My major guiding principle in life is never to forget God. We get so distracted with the daily activities of life especially in this internet age that we tend not to remember to give thanks and spend quality time with him (God). My second guiding principle is to always be intentional at all time. At this present time of conscious thinking, it’s best we apply intentional approach to everything we do. This gave birth to the law and usage of strategic positioning.

Tell us about some of your business start ups

I co-owned the defunct top entertainment website “NaijaXclusive” with my friend. It became one of the fastest growing websites in the year 2013 because of its ability to make news go viral, which exposed us to many creative people then because they wanted us to feature them on the platform. Unfortunately, it was shut down in 2015.

Why did you shut down the platform if it was popular then?

Well, it’s a long story. My friend and I had a couple of issues back then in school. Managing the website and staff was a daunting task and it was having negative effect on our personal lives and academics. So, it slowly declined and my colleague decided to shut it down. It was a painful decision.

You are also the promoter of African Food Network, What is it about?

African Food Network is an online African recipe directory with recipes sourced from different authors and chefs within Africa and beyond, with the sole aim of positively promoting our cuisines to the global community. The concept behind it is to fill in the information gap of African food online and also fix the poorly publicized image of African cuisines to the world. You just never can tell, this could be one of our biggest exports and that is why we’re bent on redefining the world’s view of African cuisines.

How successful would you say the platform has been since its launch?

The platform is doing really well though it took a while for people to understand the vision. We currently have one of the largest social media fan base for an African food platform and it’s encouraging.

What does success mean to you?

Success for me is the ability to set a goal and achieve it with valuable lessons. When evaluated, it could be to graduate from a university, live healthy, get on Forbes list or buy a mansion. Success is success.

As a young entrepreneur, how has the experience been for you?

Running a business in Nigeria is really very challenging. I believe the Nigerian economic system wasn’t built for young start-ups to thrive. It’s more like the survival of the fittest and if you don’t have backup financially, you might be set to fail regardless of the business strategies you try to put together. I have faced challenges such as excessive spending on power and internet, bad roads/traffic for networking, the default Nigerian’s buyer mentality, government heavy taxes and charges, forex among others.

How did you address those challenges?

My immediate solution was to switch my focus to the international market.  Earlier this year, we almost shutdown operations in Nigeria to focus on the international market with my international partners but I had to adjust by looking for ways to adapt. I started looking for the ideal customer (even if they’re few) using the “porter five forces,” a business strategy tool, which tests your level of flexibility to a competitive market or environment. One of the things I did was to come up with a subsidized fee for Nigerians. I call it the “Nigerian Price” and focused more on an indirect way of marketing to the ideal customer personally generated by my team. This made it a little bit easier to generate revenue.

What would you say are the biggest hindrances to entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

The government is a major hindrance. They have all it takes to create policies that would favour young entrepreneur who just joined the start-up race by making sure that an enabling environment is set for the businesses to thrive. But the government is just not doing this. Until these things are addressed, we will continue to be in a toxic relationship with our country. I can’t tell if it is deliberate, but the policies they adopt these days can kill an infant business before it even starts growing.

Do we (Nigeria) compare favourably with other emerging markets in terms of Ease of Doing Business?

It depends on the emerging markets but globally, I doubt that. We still have a lot to do and fix to get there.

Have you ever thought of giving up?

Every day, I feel like giving up and going to a more enabling environment to continue my business. But I believe not everyone is destined to leave this country, so i’m just going with the flow. Africa is an amazing continent with dozens of opportunities and encouraging economies. I may not say much about Nigeria but let’s see how it goes.

Any regrets?

Well, I have a lot of them, but I am glad I did not allow those regrets stop me because they keep me in good shape for the future through the learning curves.

Your advice for young entrepreneurs

AfCFTA veritable platform for Africa’s industrialization agenda — UNIDO(Opens in a new browser tab)

Don’t give up. There are plenty of rewards at the top but remember it would get tougher and tougher, especially if you’re struggling to survive. Time and money are two interchangeable variables in the entrepreneurship journey, make sure you use them wisely.

Lastly, your level of persistence and endurance would be tested. So, learn to patiently work hard until you begin to see your results.

Vanguard