Oluwaseun Kayode is an Edtech entrepreneur who founded Schoolinka through which he bridges the gap in the education sector using technology.
Kayode’s story is one of finding passion and following it through. His passion for communicating knowledge is evident in the various roles he handles. He is a TeachSDGs Global Ambassador, Empatico Fellow, Teach For Nigeria Fellow, Orange Corners Incubatee, and Speaker at the 2019 Teach For All Global Conference in Armenia.
Oluwaseun Kayode founded Schoolinka in 2018 and has received seed funding from the Kingdom of Netherlands to develop Schoolinka. He speaks with Akin Oyedokun in this brilliant interview.
Current role: Founder and CEO, Schoolinka
Location: Lagos, Nigeria
Current computer: HP
Current mobile device: iPhone 7 Plus
What you want to be remembered for: I want to be remembered for building a global ecosystem of highly skilled teachers.
Tell us how you started out and how you got to where you are today?
I started out my journey into the education sector during my National Youth Service Program in 2016. I had just rounded up a bachelor’s degree program in Accounting from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta at that time and I was posted to serve in a secondary school in Apata, Ibadan. During this time, I saw about 10 – 20 students share one book to read in some public-school classrooms. Coupled with other challenges that I see the students face every day, I concluded in my heart that quality education can not take place here. So, I decided to do something about it.
I started a project called Book Recycling Project where I collected old and reusable books from my friends and redistribute these books to the students who will make use of them. These books helped them prepare more for their examinations and also made them much more studious. During this period, I was able to recycle over 3,000 books to help more than 1,500 students. As I rounded up my service year, I knew I wanted to continue working in the education space as I had developed a strong passion for the sector.
Fortunately for me, I got two offers from a leading bank in Nigeria to join them as an executive trainee and also from Teach For Nigeria to work as a Teaching Fellow. At first, I was confused, and I had a hard time choosing between a high-paying job and a job that goes with my passion (even if it wasn’t going to pay much). In the end, I ended up choosing the latter and sacrificed two years of my life to work as a teacher in an underserved school in a low- income community.
During these two years, I saw a lot of problems that the common child faces every day in accessing education. Among these myriads of problems, the huge lack of teacher quality interested me more and I decided to solve this problem using technology and that is how I started Schoolinka, an Edtech company that designs exciting professional development opportunities for teachers. It’s been a great ride all through the years and I have no regret whatsoever for choosing to walk this path.
What time do wake up, and what time do you like to be at your desk?
I wake up around 6am and love to be at my desk by 8am as I begin the day’s work.
A brief rundown of your daily routine?
Prayer is very important to me and I ensure that I say a word of prayer in the morning. After which I go on to check my emails and respond to them. Then I pick up the day’s tasks and work on completing them before noon. I schedule calls with our training partners, ensure that our program marketing is up and also check in with my team members to ensure we are all on the same page.
How do you keep track of what you have to do, on a daily?
I maintain a to-do list that keeps me in check. For every task that is completed, I make a tick beside it. Also, I set timers and reminders on my mobile phone and laptop to remind me of meetings and tasks.
Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in business?
One of the toughest situations was when we had issues getting teachers to make payment for the programs they register for. After thinking through it thoroughly, we found out that the major cause was that there was a delay between the time when the teachers register for the cause and when our programs associate reach out to them. So
we reviewed that and sped up the response time, and then we recorded more payment coming in.
What is the best business or career advice you’ve ever received?
The best business advice I had ever received was to set up a good team. A good team will always make the dream work.
What conventional life or business advice do you disagree with?
I really can’t think of any now!
If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently, and this is because I know I am living out my purpose and if I had done something else from what I am doing now I might not be happy. This is my perfect reality and I’m glad that God has empowered me to live it.
Tell us about your current role and key traits required to succeed in this role.
I currently work as the CEO and this is a very tedious job. I am always at the frontend and backend of the business. Every day, I run after partnerships that will help us scale our training programs to reach more teachers. Another major part of the job is the place of marketing. On this role, selling is like the core of my work. I believe that for everyone to succeed on this role, grit, perseverance, positivity and a huge sense of possibility are needed.
Tell us about a task do you dislike but still do and a problem you’re still trying to
Lol, that will be selling. But I still have to do it if we must survive. Haha! One problem I am still trying to solve is the lack of teacher quality, and it’s been a great ride solving this at Schoolinka.
Who has had the greatest impact on your career, and why?
Eyitayo Ogunmola has had a great impact on my work and I follow his work at Utiva. He has a great model working for him, and I am glad to have a relationship with him. I have learnt a lot from him, and have adopted some of his approaches to business to my work at Schoolinka.
What business achievement are you most proud of?
Well, one achievement I am most proud of is the set up of our online learning platform for teachers. This is like the first online learning platform that is entirely dedicated to the professional development of teachers.
Tell us about your greatest weakness as an individual.
I can’t sense any weakness that I have, and even if I tend to procrastinate a whole lot, I am working hard to change that narrative of myself, and I can see quality improvements.
Name two untapped lucrative business opportunities in the world, right now.
I think there are a lot of untapped opportunities and I can’t give the best answers right now. However, I think the best ones will be found in the education sector.
Aside from God, what do you consider your greatest success secret?
Hardwork it is!
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?
I’m currently reading Value-Creating Growth by Thomas Doorley III and John M. Donovan
What tools, gadgets, or apps can’t you do without?
My mobile phone, digital camera and laptop
What’s your favourite social media platform, handle, and why?
LinkedIn, and this is because it gives quality visibility to my work.
How do you unwind?
I go out and visit recreational centers. I also listen to music and have good food at quality restaurants.
Who would you love to have answer these questions?