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How I went from earning ₦8k to tech founder earning millions — John Adebayo

John Adebayo shares the lows and highs of his journey into tech.

John Adebayo is the CEO of Scnip

I understood that staying back was not an option for a boy with big dreams—bigger than my current environment. My options were between Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. I chose Abuja.

Abuja was a sharp contrast from what I was familiar with in Oyo. Life here was fast, and the standard of living was even higher. The biting cost of accommodation was the first reality to hit me. I started applying for jobs in companies and organisations.

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I had no qualifications for high-paying jobs, so I was just looking for something to cover my basic bills, but I also needed somewhere I could learn new things fast. That prompted my decision to apply to a cyber café named Namek Solutions as a café attendant in 2010 with a salary of just ₦8,000.

I taught myself everything I could learn about the internet, networking, and how to use a computer better while simultaneously performing the duties I was employed for.

After a year of learning and building valuable relationships, some of which led me to the next chapter of my life, and a good number of those relationships I still have today, I knew it was time to move on.

I bid the cyber café goodbye and got a job at a law firm in 2011. The pay was ₦20,000 per month—my first five-figure salary in life. I was ecstatic!

2012 started as a tough year for a lot of people in Nigeria. The aftermath of fuel subsidy removal was taking its toll on the economy, and though my salary of ₦20,000 was increased to ₦25,000 at the law firm, it was still barely enough to sustain me. I knew I had to move again.

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One thing I learned earlier in life was that you’re only worth as much as your perceived value. For me to be paid more, I understood I had to be worth more. I knew I needed to stack up my skills: coding, typing, and programming, among others. This time, I ventured into network security mostly because of the love I had for the field.

My idea was to build software that enables systems to communicate locally without the internet and chat with one another offline within the organisation's networks. It was a novel idea, and it was way beyond my capacity at the time of birth, so I approached some friends who were already experts in the field, but their price tags were too high for me.

The refusal of my friends to back my project idea led me to throw my full weight into learning software development. I hit the internet, surfing through piles of materials in a bid to learn to program. My research led me to the conclusion that VB.net is the thing to test first. Once I got a grasp of the language (VB.net), I started building all sorts of network apps, chat tools, and many others.

My employment at the law firm provided me with numerous chances to learn, one of which was complimentary internet access.

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If you're reading this article in a developed country, you might find it amusing that I'm rejoicing over having free internet access. However, if you're a young person in Nigeria trying to navigate life, you'll grasp the incredible value of the resource I had. In Nigeria at that time, having internet access was a privilege, as telecommunication companies were thriving.

There were occasions when I had no choice but to spend the night at the office, and I continued to do so for more than half a year.

After a while, my boss at the office noticed that the internet bundle subscription at the office got exhausted a lot faster than he anticipated, so he stopped subscribing to the office wifi. It was all man to himself at this point. Cutting off the office internet was a devastating blow to my learning. I couldn’t afford to pay my internet bills, but I had no choice. I allocated one-third of my salary from the firm to subscribe to my internet bundle.

As I kept striving for mastery, I explored more complex languages like C#, PHP, Java, C, C++, and even Assembly when I thought of building operating systems at some point, and a lot more.

In the course of putting my new software language skills to the test, I began to create desktop software that could lock systems, such that one time I got locked out of my system to the point where I had to reinstall the operating system.

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Towards the end of 2013, I got my first website development gig for Marasata Soccer Academy, a soccer academy in Abuja and this was where I picked some traction in the software programming world.

At the end of 2013, I knew it was time to move on from the law firm job, so I tendered my resignation and applied for a job as an IT officer in a microfinance bank, even though there wasn’t much difference in the salary.

I wasn’t in it for the money; I was in it for the exposure it would afford me and the experience. This particular opportunity promised me both. So I didn’t care much about the salary.

Working in the Microfinance Bank as an IT officer afforded me the exposure and experience I needed to scale my skills, and in 2014, I decided it was time to move again. I resigned from my job at the microfinance bank and started focusing on developing my software development skills.

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Starting as a software developer can be very challenging, especially when you’re not yet fully grounded.

You will fail at many things because you’re trying them out for the first time, but it will all make sense in the end if you don’t quit. The key is to never quit.

The first thing I built was an inventory management system, but I was only able to sell one unit of it.

I later got a job with Global Sentinel, which, even though it was short-lived, was greatly impactful to my growth journey. I made some vital connections while I was at Global Sentinel.

I met Shawn, Ifedolapo, and Zainab, and we started up a project called Wesabi, an online service network platform where individuals and companies can easily find trusted, certified, verified, and skilled artisans, which won VC funding at the African Entrepreneurship Summit, Morocco in 2016 with a cash prize of $50,000. That same year, Wesabi was accepted into incubation at Ventures Platform and has gotten more funding from CC Hub, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, ARM's DAAYTA programme, and many more.

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After moving on from Global Sentinel, I also had an easy hiring experience when one of my friends referred me to fill a vacancy at Nigerco Industries.

After stint at Nigerco Industries and Wesabi, I founded Scnip in 2018, realising my dream of a world-class technology firm. It didn't stop there; lead roles at Zabira Technologies and Geeks for Growth showcased my growth.

My achievements extend beyond financial gains; they reflect the impact I've made. Leading teams and scaling Scnip attest to the compound effort and growth. My company Scnip, has evolved from a sole proprietorship into a fully functioning enterprise employing well over 20 team members. We have collaborated with clients across the globe, crafting top-notch, user-friendly, scalable, and intuitive software solutions for both businesses and individuals.

Now married to the love of my life - a significant achievement, I don’t take for granted. I am grateful for opportunities in my life; my focus is on guiding young developers to hold a mentorship programme to assist aspiring learners, contributing to a thriving tech community.

I never want back to the university but I am able to keep building the life I want by being a ferocious learner.

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I’m only just beginning, and ultimately, my long-term goal is to make Scnip a world-class technology company known for innovative products second to none in Africa.

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