Tech Entrepreneur Shuts Down Business, Shares 6 Invaluable Insights to Help Others

Sheriff Shittu, a technology entrepreneur and CEO at showroom.ng, announced today, in an article on Medium, that he was shutting down his business after twelve years of attempting to get it to scale. Despite his challenging situation, he took time to share six key invaluable insights to help similarly situated entrepreneurs.

We salute Shittu’s bravery and hope the lessons he shares will help prevent a business from experiencing similar fate.

12 Years a hustler, time to go home

I’m exhausted, it’s been roller coaster for the past 12 years having started my first startup then and ever since, it’s been from one to the other.

I really felt I could succeed, I have read the right books, the right blogs, draft right business plan and but in execution I have fallen short. Maybe it’s time to change things a little, something is quite wrong I think.
The height of it was last year end, business was doing fairly well then everything started crashing.

Somehow I survived the robbery at gun point in the middle and rally round to try to make things work, but getting worse and every now and then the thought will always come around, what if it all ends here? What if I just have an accident right now (while driving home at 11pm on third mainland bridge)? Maybe it was law of attraction but somehow I had an accident but in the daytime when I didn’t think about it.
I launched showroom.ng almost 2yrs now and within months with all the permutation (maybe strategy) we were on a super roll, the dream roll. I think personally I wasn’t introspective enough as I was just riding with the tide. That’s super wrong for a CEO, “you don’t just work in your company you work on it”, so they say. I only read it, I didn’t live it.

I personally won’t attribute the failure to wrong market, or wrong product. It was a wrong execution. Maybe this will help:

  1. Weak domain expertise: we don’t have that in our team, inasmuch as I tried to learn on the fly, this will f*cking take years of learning, practice before charging people. I had personally underwrote mistakes from partner or staff 100%, just so you could make customers happy, but resources are limited we do not have that much and our products are heavy items.
  2. Speed: the edge a startup has over bigger company is suppose to be speed, yeah for a couple of our products we were fast but for so many we were terribly late. Building features, making user experience superb is not my strength, I’m ninja but in the team we didn’t have either or could afford one.
  3. Team setup: success of any endeavor have a lot of tie to the people behind it. Looking back, I’d selected those with; domain expertise, better work ethic (than myself) and complimentary strength.
  4. Raise enough money, don’t raise at all or don’t start: I personally think or being conditioned over the years that startups need to raise fund. It’s not so. I worked with a couple partners that didn’t raise a dime for their companies and they are doing pretty fine(offline). Sells a piece here and there. When we started doing fine, I somehow felt entitled to be funded. Somewhere along the line I asked myself, why really must this guys give me money? Did I work the money in their pockets? I felt really bad and awkward sometimes with the process.
  5. You don’t know everything: F*ck it, I have read all the article, the manifestos, I have worked with a team that built massive stuff. Looking back, I think…our strengths are magnified when we work in a strong team, and diminished when we work alone or in a weaker team. Listening to advise, following your instincts are all as good as knowing what to do right per time. If at a particular you make wrong decision and another then another, the damage may be bigger than you can reverse.
  6. Be true to your core values even at tough times: I believe, customers reign supreme in every business and as such whenever we fall short, I felt personally responsible for them. And at many occasions avoided facing the customer. Cause I thought, if I was in their shoes, I had done worse. I really think as at this time, it’s harder to keep to the ethos, it’s better I just pause, see what’s wrong and find a way out.

Read the full article on Medium.

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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