Cycles >> CredPal and more…🚀

Pitching at the Facebook Startup Accelerator Demo day. (2018)

“With our technology, users can now move from point A to point B”…

Those were the go-to words for any member of the team wherever and whenever we wanted to share the Cycles vision with anyone we spoke to. Our vision was to solve transportation inefficiencies and the problem of tiring and long walks across universities, estates and gated communities across Nigeria. (This is already sounding like a pitch all over again 😅)

Having experienced this problem first hand at our alma mater, Covenant University (all cycles founders were Covenant University alumni), we were driven by the passion to solve the problem beginning with our campus then taking the solution all over the country.

Backed by the prestigious Facebook Accelerator Program, in collaboration with Cchub, where we raised $5000 equity-free funds, we were off to a great start and with introductions to both local and foreign investors, it was almost certain we would have our bikes in communities in no time.

But not everything is as it seems, with loads of obstacles on our path and hurdles to climb, the realities of doing business in the Nigerian market began to set in.

Problems we encountered…

Cash is King

The uniqueness of the bikes meant they had to be imported, communities demanded for revenue cuts (try not to build your business on another man’s land, literally🤧) and as a cash strapped startup there was just so much we could do with the funds we had raised.

This birthed the question of if long-term investment into such capital intensive venture was worth the risk.

Cycles bike share prototype in testing at the Facebook hub, Lagos. (Image: Accelerator Members)

Is the market big enough?

“So how big is your target market for this solution”

On a cold afternoon at San Francisco, Segun (a co-founder) and I heard those words from one of the partners of a VC firm who had recently invested in the largest bicycle sharing solution in LATAM (Latin America).

After defending the numbers we carefully analyzed on our pitch deck, the partner described to us their major motivation for investing in bike-share at LATAM.

“We didn’t invest because of mobility, but because the mobility offering opened up access to other verticals for their users”

It was obvious at this point, that solving a problem was not enough, but finding a market fit valuable enough to either draw investors or keep the business moving is key. (Perhaps this information might help you entrepreneurs reading this😉)

We spoke to a good number of investors and applied to a good number of accelerators, but in the end building for the low-priced charges a bicycle share could generate across just a few communities was definitely not a space my co-founders and I wanted to operate in.

For context, what I mean here is, out of the 200+ universities in Nigeria, how many of them were deployable? And how much returns could be made over the useful life of the bikes? For estates, how many estates had high pedestrian traffic and were deployable?In all, was there ever going to be a time when the program could be deployed in busy cities such as Ikeja, Yaba or Abuja’s Municipal?

All these were the hard questions we had to ask ourselves and eventually our answers were not convincing enough to proceed.

(L-R; Me, Sam of Lara.ng and a founder from India at Facebook HQ, Menlo Park)

The timing

Although as an entrepreneur working when the timing isn’t right wasn't a new thing, because most successful startups did not begin when the time was right.

Was our passion enough to power through all those hurdles? No! it wasn't but perhaps there could be some people out there who could bear the brunt and still build regardless, just maybe, but it certainly wasn’t us.

Breaking into product management: CredPal

CredPal HQ Yaba, Lagos.

Shutting down Cycles in 2018, a myriad of thoughts crossed my mind, what role can fill my urge to create solutions that solve real world problems just as I did at Cycles? Should I quit on this journey and settle for my accounting career path? What should I do next?…and yes, I did study Accounting at Covenant University (I know, I am one of those graduates towing a different path)

After countless job applications and discussions with people in my network, I finally got a job at CredPal, a financial technology company providing consumer credit (credit cards and loans) solutions across Nigeria. The founders took keen interest in my experience and gave me the opportunity to work closely with them in building the company's product.

Product management has allowed my entrepreneurial fire to keep burning, while I do my best work in solving problems for people using technology. However, even this was never promised to be a walk in the park.

Accountant turned Entrepreneur now Product Manager

I made it a rule to not sleep each day (truth be told, this wasn’t all days😅) without learning a new technical term, process or tool. Online courses such as Cole Mercer’s : Become a Product Manager (On Udemy), Udacity’s PM Nanodegree and my dearest Product Dive course and community played very active roles in my development and growth as a Product Manager.

Overall, working as a newbie PM meant I had to humble myself and build personal relationships with both the technical teams I worked closely with and also other cross-functional teams (Business, Sales, Marketing, Risk and more).

The Product Management role is to me 50% skills and technical know how and 50% human relational and people driven. This is majorly because your work as a PM is driven by other people and your ability to create a thriving environment for other people to do their best work will eventually speak to your success in the role.

Pioneering members of the CredPal team celebrating a team members birthday. (Find me if you can 😉)

Work at CredPal

At CredPal I worked on developing a range of the company's products, including (but not limited to),

CredPal’s Mobile app and Credit Card.

A. Asset Financing (Including buy now pay later and merchant checkout products)

B. Credit Cards

C. Cash Loans

All these products are available online, on website and mobile app. For more information on what these products have to offer you can follow the company's blog below.

To the future…🚀

I’ll be assuming the role of Product Manager at Tutuka, where I hope to build products which will power the issuing of physical and virtual cards across EMEA and even more parts of the world.

I hope to write more about my journey and experiences along this path. Indeed, it has been a most rewarding decision to dedicate my career to solving problems for people through technology and I can only look forward to what the future brings with outstretched arms.

Follow me, signup to get notified about my articles and connect if you share the same passion as I- solving world problems through technology.

I do not know what the future holds, but one thing I do know is you will find me building and solving problems for Nigeria, Africa and the world at large using technology.

To the future🚀.

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Damilola Soladoye

Damilola Soladoye

Technology | Business | Product | Finance