To stay in school or to drop-out? With entrepreneurial dropouts like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Tumblr’s David Karp having launched hugely successful start-ups, that is the question facing more and more young entrepreneurs.
Yet, Social Media Weeks Lagos contributor and Nigerian entrepreneur Nubi Kay seems to have decided that a good education is still valuable. Having received his bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering at Eastern Mediterranean University in Turkey, the 24-year-old Lagos native is currently pursuing his masters at the University College Dublin, Smurfit School of Business.
Not only has Kay embarked on a rigorous post-graduate academic career, but he also serves as the Chief Operating Officer of OTEKBITS and has co-founded Easy Appetite–Nigeria’s first online takeaway site–and Wild Ripples–a new media outlet–in the process.
We recently spoke with Kay to discuss his thoughts on studying abroad, the benefits of being an entrepreneur from Nigeria and the advantages of gaining an education both in and out of the classroom.
Social Media Week Lagos: Tell us in a nutshell about your graduate school program, iBusiness: Innovation Through Technology
Nubi Kay: i-Business is a really new course at graduate business school and it is meant for people that want to build a career at the overlap of business and technology. So you’ve got folks with strong technical background looking to build business and management skills, and others with business background trying to build technical skills. You also have people like me – entrepreneurs just looking to get the best of both worlds, moving on to start-ups and consulting.
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Kay: Studying abroad for me was simply for the exposure and network that comes with it. There are other reasons like unavailability of such a course in Nigeria, or better odds for employment but for me it was simply the exposure. Exposure to a more matured knowledge economy, culture and opportunities at a global level. I definitely did not choose to study abroad for the weather.
What unique perspective and advantages have your Nigerian background granted you in the classroom and Dublin’s ICT field?
Kay: I always look forward to every class discussion at business school, especially those that consider the variable of culture, and that’s almost every discussion. Having covered the Nigerian technology space for more than two years as a blogger at OTEKBITS, I get to bring a different perspective to the classroom. A good example would be the subject of mobile technology, as this sees a varying adoption rate of feature and smartphones across different continents. Another is how business is done in different cultures, especially in the bounds of law and ethics.
What innovations have you begun to work on thus far and are they applicable to the future work you hope to do in the digital space?
Kay: Having recently exited Easy Appetite, I am back to the drawing board in testing out a number of ideas for different markets. For some reasons I’m getting pulled into the business of online content for different niche such as sports, culture and music. I’m also working with a number of people on lifestyle app ideas in the areas of fashion and entertainment. However, with me back in student mode, I’m doing a good amount of learning, so it’s all lean startup for me now, but will keep you posted of any developments. Ultimately, the aim at business school is to develop the skills and get the knowledge required to be a better internet entrepreneur and consultant–or better yet, a solution provider.
What advice would you give to Nigerian youth passionate about pursuing an education in digital entrepreneurism?
Kay: Well, for one, being Nigerian-based should not be seen as any form of limitation, but rather an opportunity as you know the fact and reality on ground–the challenges and problems that need to be solved. Papa says the future is one of manufacturing and knowledge economy, and that does make sense. So, get the knowledge and skill required to build that solution for yourself or other people; and never forget that education, especially for an entrepreneur, happens both in and out of the classroom, so strike the balance and make things happen.
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