An alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University, where he studied Chemical Engineering, Igba started Neonatar because he saw a need to reinvent the way people read outdoor notice boards.
An alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he studied Chemical Engineering (and launched his business), Igba started Neonatar because he saw a need to reinvent the way people read outdoor notice boards.
On why he chose the name “Neonatar,” Igba, the fifth of seven children, says, “What is Android? What is Mitsubishi? What is Mazda? Neonatar is a typical non-English nomenclature of a brand.”
As any Nigerian entrepreneur will tell you, Igba did not find it easy starting off his business. At first, his family refused to accept the hustle he chose to go into. “Delving into media from Chemical engineering was like backsliding to my eldest brother,” he says.
Getting people to create the content he wanted to publish (hiring talent) was also a huge challenge. In his words: “Getting committed writers is difficult. People prefer to talk than to write. I was doing a burden of work.”
In fact, Igba was doing so much work by himself, that he had to take a leave of absence from school in his final year before returning the following session to complete his degree in Chemical Engineering.
The good thing is all that work paid off, in Ile-Ife at least. Neonatar became hugely popular in OAU barely a year after it launched highlighting an important aspect of entrepreneurship on any level: hardwork. You have to put in the work.
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Neonatar boards quickly garnered popularity and won several awards across the OAU campus, Igba says. But that was just the beginning. When the company went digital, it’s popularity skyrocketed. Crowds gathered around Neonatar boards during football matches and reality shows like Big Brother Naija.
“When we went digital, the crowd during a football match at the screens gave me butterflies in my stomach. And even the last Big Brother Naija show. I used to go home and just cry and thank God,” he says.
On how successful Igba thinks Neonatar has been so far he says, “As a local champion in Ife, I would say 9 over 10. I can boldly say that 90% of OAU graduates and students since 2013 know Neonatar. It’s a 9 for me.” Not bad, right?
Igba is not resting on his oars though. He hopes to save enough money to expand the business to more populated schools like the University of Lagos (UNILAG). He also hopes to raise funding from accelerator programs, venture capitalist, or angel investors. Anything to take Neonatar to the next level.
He also says he hopes to scale the business to reach as much as 20 universities across the country before the 2019 general elections. Talk about dreaming big and going after it.
“The location of your business matters a lot,” Igba says, when asked what advice he would like to give upcoming entrepreneurs like himself. “Had I known I would struggle with this project, I would have crossed to UNILAG by all means.”
Joshua Igba’s story is one of struggle, persistence and triumph. He is proof of the Nigerian entrepreneurial spirit and a reason to believe in the youth of this country, who are the leaders of tomorrow. Pulse wishes him the very best in his endeavors.