2015 roundup

I’m not much for reflection, but I feel compelled to write something this time around. Maybe it’s from the need to write more often in the coming year and beyond, or just plain boredom. Or maybe I am actually amazed at how far I have come in the past few months, who knows?

In many ways, this was probably my worst and most depressing year ever. Personally, I was a mess. My financials was pretty much below zero. My career was as good as non existent. Physically, I was withdrawn from almost everyone. I think I also got a little angrier than normal. There were days I would be driving home from work and literally just start shedding tears. I didn’t want anybody to tell me it would be alright. No. I just wanted everyone to stay clear, and in more appropriate terms, fuck off.

My fantasies became my escape. I love gadgets. But I couldn’t afford to buy myself the things I wanted. I could only dream. And I preferred to continue living in the dreams. Reality was a bitch, and there was absolutely no reason to wake up to it. In my depression, I tried to maintain a somewhat positive outlook. I watched tons of TV shows. I smoked a ton of cigarettes. I was almost always stoned. And I accomplished little.

I took to writing, but I didn’t publish them. Maybe I was scared. Maybe I wasn’t just in the right frame of mind. Of course I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. For the most part of the year, I lived in constant fear of being kicked out of my house, because I couldn’t pay my rent. My cats felt the pinch too, as they became bony caricatures of their former selves. You may wonder why? What happened? Oh well. I wrote about it back in October. In third person. I didn’t publish it of course, but I gave a friend of mine to read. He told me it was the most depressing thing he had ever read. I may end up posting it sometime, but I can give a deserving summary here. The company I joined in 2014 - Delivery Science - was in dire straits. Mostly due to a string of bad business decisions over time. The word ‘bad’ being my opinion, because if the other partners all agreed it that, we could have course corrected a long time ago. This wouldn’t be the first time I would be a part of a company and end up just being a name on paper. The difference is I tried to avoid it this time. I spoke to Lanre in confidence late 2014 to tell him this. I would rather be concerned about the actual work, and leave paper concerns to those who are skilled in that regard. I want to be sure that my back is being taken care of. I was never concerned with how much stake I had on paper, as that shouldn’t affect my output anyway. As long as I make enough to get by, I really don’t care.

It so happened that later on, Toyin (another partner at Delivery Science, and now a very close friend) discovered a secret agreement between Lanre and Chuka post incorporation. An agreement that effectively rendered the company indebted to them for the foreseeable future. I suggested we call a meeting to address this. We were already owing members of staff about 4 months in salaries, the rest of us even more. We had projects we were looking forward to come through, oblivious of the fact that only a meager percentage of the prospective revenue was for the company. The reasoning behind this agreement was dubious at best. They could make so much more individually doing technology consulting, so they created some form of insurance for when the company makes money off consulting as against our primary product. Did I mention that staff were being owed? A friend of mine worked with us for four months from April to July before she had to leave for the US to finish her MBA. She is still being owed two months’ pay. No, we are not talking heavy pay here. It’s 100k. Per month. Yes, she still hasn’t been paid. My take away from that meeting was singular. I had been conned. I thought we were in this together. An impression I had gone on to express by deferring my salary at some point so another partner could make his rent and the company’s account wouldn’t be in the red.

We didn’t have a constant revenue stream, yet we took out a loan to splash on a former bank’s building in Yaba. We were going nowhere with the development of our product, as we kept waking up to Chuka’s knee jerk reactions on architecture, and tirelessly rewrote code. I already had a conversation with Lanre a year prior on the duplicity of roles involved in having us both on the team. I got a string of English words I could not quite place as a response. Looking back, that should have been my cue. We were too big, too early. A lot was bound to go wrong. I objected to certain decisions, but all I got was now famous “I hear you, but this is not a democracy” response. Another cue? Yes fuck me. I was naively committed to the cause. Why are we hiring towards money we don’t have yet? But all that fell on deaf ears.

I still work at Delivery Science, and I am at that point where I am beginning to question whether I can trust myself with my own life decisions.

That was the closing quote from the essay I wrote in October. I am glad I don’t have to end this one with that. Not because I no longer work at Delivery Science, but more because I am beginning to trust myself once again.

Most of my career as a developer has been spent trying to combat the shitty state of online payments in Nigeria. I believed it could be better, and a lot of people agreed. My first foray into online payments was with SoftPurse in 2007. My second was with Eyowo in 2010. I wrote about these two on some forum earlier. Yes, that was my first time of mentioning Paystack publicly. At the time, I was yet to be a part of the company, but I had been involved to some extent in testing and giving feedback. Barely a month after, my friend called me up to know if I would like to join the company as a cofounder and take over the technology function. I saw a glimmer. I was about to be a part of something again. This time, something I truly loved. Something I am passionate about fixing. Something fundamentally significant. I said yes, and got a chance to a fresh start.

We applied to Y Combinator for their W16 batch, and we got accepted. This part is still very much low key at the moment, as the press bit is still being coordinated “professionally”.

In the last three months, I met Uzo Olisemeka. We quickly realized we shared similar tastes in humour, and decided to extend it into something I have always wanted to do. Start a podcast. Technology focused, but with the use of crude humour as a device to stand out. Personally, I don’t believe anyone is beyond reproach, and I adhere to that mantra on the show. We thought we would only cater to a niche crowd of maybe 10 listeners, and that was totally fine. I just wanted to talk, and know someone somewhere was listening. We have 10 episodes till date, and have managed to amass more listeners than we ever imagined. What’s more? We have a long list of volunteering guests lined up for future episodes. We will be recording our first double digit episode today, which will be a holiday special of some sort.

I would like to thank everyone who stayed with me at my darkest moments. They supported me emotionally and financially. The reason I didn’t slit my wrists at some point can be highly attributed to them. Tolu, my best friend. She was there every moment of the way. Seike, my assistant. She showed up at my house one morning with food stuff and made me a mean meal. Onyeka, my very good friend. She kept me strong even much more than she would realize. Loknan, my colleague. He is also a wonderful friend. Toyin, my co partner. We bonded strongly over being in the same shoes for too long and helped encourage each other. I wish her all the best. So many others as well but these individuals stand out. Thank you, and cheers to many more wonderful moments in the new year.


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