Founder Profile: Tobi Ogunwande

Tobi Ogunwande likes to describe himself as a lover of Film, Tech, and Good Food.

He’s first a filmmaker with a few short films under his belt and then along the line, he fell in love with tech. Ironically, most of his tech endeavors have been geared towards solving film-related problems.

He’s the Co-founder of Preorder Alpha; a Shopify app that enables merchants to sell products that are not immediately available. For example pre-sales, pre-orders, coming soon, etc.

How He Started

Innocent’s first tech product was Hubrif; an online video platform for streaming African short films.

The idea for Hubrif came when he wanted to make his first short film, and he needed to watch other related films, but he got frustrated when he kept stumbling on irrelevant videos on YouTube.

So, he decided to build a home for African short films where anyone would be able to easily access some of the best short films made by Africans anywhere in the world.

His first hurdle was that he had no software engineering skill, so he needed a partner who could complement his skillset; someone that shares the same passion and also have technical skills.

Fortunately, he was able to meet his Co-founder, John Eke, on a tech community platform, so he reached out to him, and they were able to work on Hubrif together.

Due to Hubrif being both their first tech entrepreneurial journey, they made some outstanding mistakes which ultimately led to the death of Hubrif.

After Hubrif, he launched Festivilia: A film festival submission and distribution platform.

Considering that It was built using free no-code tools with just an investment of less than $20 and a running cost of less than $10 monthly, Festivilia generated a revenue of over $15000 in its first year and currently making about $250 MRR. 

He and his partner, John Eke also built a file transfer platform, Midrive Transfer. It was quite successful, but it wasn’t justifiable to keep running it, so it was shut down.

They also built Filmwaiver; a Chrome extension for scouting and applying discount/waiver codes of film festival submission and it’s recognized by the No 1 film festival submission platform in the world Filmfreeway.

Over the years of running these side hustles, one of the lessons he has learned is that it’s extremely hard to scale B2C products in Nigeria. This led them (Tobi and John Eke) to enter into the B2B space with the launch of Preorder Alpha.

They launched about 2 months ago, and have about 3,000 shop owners who have installed and are actively using the app. So that has been his major focus right now.

Obstacles and Challenges

Rising server cost has been a serious challenge. They’ve had to upgrade their servers three times in the last 1 month.

He handles customer support and makes sure customers are responded to swiftly. This in itself is a big challenge due to time zones. For a Shopify SAAS app, it’s very important that when a customer reaches out to you and you are able to respond within 30 minutes to 1 hour.

However, what do you do when a customer in Japan sends an email at 2 am Nigerian time? So, he’s had to adjust his life just to make sure he’s almost always available at any time.

READ ALSO: My Journey to Building Preorder Alpha: A Tool That Helps Shopify Store Owners Pre-Order Items – Tobi Ogunwande

His Word of Advice to New and Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Don’t dwell too much on your idea, ideas are nothing, execution is everything.

Forget about startup funding, competitors, investors, etc. instead focus on building a scalable product, focus on getting that first customer, that’s what matters.

You can connect with Tobi on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Preorder Alpha on their website.

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