Who are you and what are you working on?
My name is Ahmed Oyenuga, a Hardware Engineer / Developer and I’m the founder of AhmsvilleLabs. AhmsvilleLabs is a collection of innovative projects and accessible tools geared at streamlining the hardware design and development experience.
What motivated you to get started with Ahmsville Labs?
Imagine being able to solve complex problems using technology and turning your ideas into real-world solutions that benefit people far beyond your own expectations. As a hardware engineer and product developer, this is exactly what drives me. Ahmsville Labs started as a humble endeavour to share my knowledge and expertise in building innovative hardware projects. But as I delved deeper into the world of problem-solving through technology, I discovered that the solutions I created for myself could also benefit others in unexpected ways. This realization fueled my passion for developing my ideas into useful products, and that’s how Ahmsville Labs came to be.
What specific problem are you solving with your startup and how are you solving it?
At the core of my work lies a deep commitment to empowering professionals in the hardware design and development industry. I believe that everyone deserves access to the latest and greatest hardware tools, regardless of their level of expertise. That’s why the company is dedicated to making hardware tools accessible to more people.
In pursuit of this goal, I have developed a range of innovative products that are specifically geared toward professionals looking to improve how they create. These products can be broadly divided into two categories: new hardware/ software solutions and engineering tools, Both are tailored to meet the needs of hardware professionals who want to streamline their workflows and improve their work efficiency.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I have found honesty to be the most valuable resource when dealing directly with consumers. My customers are primarily hardware engineers like myself, so it is important to invent tools that I am happy to use myself. My customers are often part of my online community as a maker, and listening to their improvement recommendations has also helped improve the user experience for other customers.
Describe what makes your business/startup unique.
Ahmsville Labs is a product-driven business, and each of its products is unique in the problem it solves and in the way it solves them. You can explore these products on the website.
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How did you raise capital to fund your startup, and what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs seeking investment?
Right out of university, I started working for ipNX, an internet service provider. It was a great job that promised a successful engineering career, but it wasn’t the career I wanted for myself, so I had to walk away from it. However, the job allowed me to save enough money to buy my first 3D printer in 2018, which set me on the path I am on today. If you are a maker in Nigeria, I strongly recommend getting a 3D printer, it’s like having a superpower that helps you quickly realize your ideas.
For the first two years, I worked as a freelance hardware designer, and I used part of my earnings to expand my capacity and tool arsenal. The other part went into developing the hardware products that Ahmsville Labs is known for today. Funding endeavours in this manner requires a lot of personal sacrifices, and knowledge of how to build MVPs, a concept I habitually live by. In 2019, I created my first product and sold it directly to customers through my online store on Tindie.com. This brought in more money, which I religiously reinvested into the company. Ahmsville Labs now has nine products in the hands of hundreds of people around the world.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources for you?
Hackster Cafe is a weekly live stream that features a lot of brilliant and amazing people in the hardware community, it’s been an inspiration and a guide for me, I also got a chance to interview with the host Alex Glow last year. see the interview here.
What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?
Nigeria is not a conducive environment for tech businesses, particularly in the hardware space where accessibility to tools and parts is crucial. As hardware creates hardware, the biggest challenge I face is the lack of accessibility to the tools and parts I need to operate at the level I do. Major electronics distributors rarely ship directly to Nigeria, and when they do, the shipping charges are exorbitant. Imagine having to pay $97 to ship a chip that costs only $0.50. This is ridiculous, but it’s what I’ve had to do to get the parts I need. The ongoing challenge of power, or lack thereof, is also a significant hurdle. Nigerian readers will understand this struggle. Despite these challenges, I remain committed to innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the hardware space.
What role did innovation play in the development of your business/startup, and how do you stay ahead of the competition?
The technology industry constantly evolves, and it’s easy to get left behind if you don’t keep up. At Ahmsville Labs, we take a different approach – we’re the ones creating the change. by focusing on identifying unexplored problems in the hardware design process and providing innovative solutions to get tasks done more efficiently. We don’t just follow the trends, we strive to set them, by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and challenging the norms we’re guaranteeing our position in the industry as it grows.
Where would you like your startup to be in five years?
Ahmsville Labs will continue to develop groundbreaking hardware while making technology more accessible to hobbyists and professionals alike. In five years, I see the company disrupting the AR/VR and robotics industries, and becoming a multimillion-dollar operation.
While I encourage dreaming big, I prefer to square my focus on what I can do now. So, what I am most looking forward to this year is launching the Pick n Place Wheel v2, a device that will revolutionize the way we assemble PCBs. Additionally, I am excited about establishing the interactive air quality map in Lagos to increase awareness about air pollution. This project recently received a seed fund of 10,000 pounds from RS Components /Designspark, a UK-based electronics distributor.
What software or technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
That would be additive manufacturing (3D printing) and PCB manufacturing.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you started on your business journey?
I wish someone had taught me all the creative solutions I have painfully learned and employed to keep my business going despite all the limitations imposed by the country, solutions in part sourcing, shipping, power, and time management.
Have you had any failed business?
Ahmsville Labs is my first company and I’ve weathered failed ideas and significant setbacks due to poor money management, but through it all, I’ve remained steadfast in my belief that experience will always teach you more. While some may wish for a chance to go back and make different choices, my mistakes are valuable lessons that have helped me grow both personally and professionally. And even now, as I continue to face new challenges and make mistakes, I am still looking forward to the journey and the lessons it has to offer.
What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?
Google and YouTube have been my best resources for learning so I have no reservations in recommending them to anyone looking to learn or improve a skill, there are a lot of amazing people out there who are happy to share their knowledge.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
being featured among other amazing founders is a true honor. But first and foremost, I identify myself as a hardware engineer and an all-around giant nerd. Ahmsville Labs happens to be the perfect expression of my passion for innovation, which is what drives me to create and bring new ideas to life. As an aspiring entrepreneur, my first advice would be to find that thing that drives you, that thing that you’re passionate about. It’s the one thing that you can invest your time in without any regrets. For me, it’s tinkering with hardware and coming up with new and innovative solutions. But for you, it could be something completely different. The important thing is to find that spark and chase after it with all you’ve got.
My second piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to embrace the possibility of failure and see it as a valuable learning opportunity. Be prepared to make sacrifices and put in the hard work necessary to succeed. and if you truly love what you do, you will always be able to find the motivation to overcome any obstacles that come your way. So, don’t wait for the perfect time or the perfect conditions, start now and be prepared to fail and learn from it.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’ll take an intern someone with some technical skills looking to learn hardware design and development.