BY ADEOLU ADESANYA||
“Sometimes in business you just have to go it alone.”– CreativityTurf
We at CreativityTurf met with Lekan Ajayi, founder of StreadIT — the only authorized SAP B1 cloud partner in West Africa and the youngest SAP Channel partner.
About 2 years ago, Lekan Ajayi decided to start a strategic IT solutions firm in Nigeria. Everything seemed stable, he had secured the backing of SAP and had envisioned a firm owned by him and a few friends to be the number one ERP solutions provider to small and mid-sized businesses in Nigeria. However there was a problem, Lekan just couldn’t find the right co-founder.
After he spoke with his friends in the UK, US and in Nigeria; a few signified interest but when push got to shove, Lekan was at it alone!
“we would setup meeting times and they just wouldn’t turn-up. After so many disappointments from my friends, it was obvious they didn’t share the same passion for the business, and that very moment I decided to go it alone.” Lekan explained.
When asked why he needed a business partner, Lekan responded “I’m quiet good at the IT side of things, I only needed a partner because I wanted to have a more strategic business thinker who compliment my efforts. I wanted someone who was more familiar with the business end of things, like marketing strategy, business structure and stuffs like that.”
With the resolve to go it alone and with some of his savings, Lekan registered his business in Nigeria and the UAE (where he was based). Not long afterwards, Lekan moved back to Nigeria and got an office space.“One thing was certain, I knew what I wanted to do and what were necessary to be done and as soon as I acquired my office space, I knew there was no turning back”.
With that sorted Lekan began to recruit employees for the business. He went as far as poaching staff from established companies in the industry and even decided to pay them more (a move Lekan advises start-ups or one-man businesses against) “Imagine a one-man business which was just starting up deciding to poach staff from respected and established IT firms and even then deciding to pay more.” Lekan explained that this action brought a few challenges, one of which was getting and keeping these particular employees motivated.
A few months into business, Lekan became slightly concerned as his staff were not doing enough to generate income. Lekan then saw the need for a strategically business inclined partner and after a thorough research, he employed the services of P&D Allianz.
When asked whether he faced any other challenges, Lekan raised the issue of the company name. “Competition is stiff out there and you wouldn’t want a would-be-client confusing your name with a competitior” to this end, he rebranded from TechAlliance to StreadIT.
How then did StreadIT make it past its first year? Lekan explained “We intensified follow-up on our leads, attended a few fairs and all of a sudden the clients started streaming in. Our first few clients were impressed with our work and they kept telling other people about us and that’s how our clients base grew”.
With just over 2 years in operation, StreadIT has been rated by technology magazines as a top firm for IT solutions for small and mid-sized businesses and recently got nominated for “Boutique IT Solution Firm of The Year.
We have been in operation for 2 years now, and there are some months I choose not to pay myself salary, even when I do, most of my staff earn way more than me. But my joy is to see StreadIT grow, and then I will be able to pay myself handsomely.
Are we where we want to be in terms of client base? That is a big NO! But I know we are getting there. We recently got a nomination for an award in the category “Boutique IT Solution Firm of The Year”, we have been rated by technology magazines as a top firm for IT solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. Also a couple of months ago we had an offer for acquisition negotiated by P&D Allianz, the total package was going into some serious millions of naira. I chose to turn it down with the believe that in two years, and with our current expansion plans in Nigeria and UAE, we would easily make that figure.
Lekan Ajayi, the brain behind StreadIT is only just getting started! With his current expansion plans, in 2 years, he sees his company being West Africa’s No 1 ERP solutions provider.