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Meet GISANRIN MOSES ADETAYO – Navigating The Pandemic As A Tech Start-Up

Today we have selected GISANRIN MOSES ADETAYO to take his interview. He is the FOUNDER OF TAGDEV TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Well, I can say we are trying as much as possible to stay safe first and also to generate profit as a company to keep body and soul together. We have had to take health measures to curb the spread of the virus. Most of our team members are remote workers. Vaccination is still ongoing, and we are trying to get vaccinated.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I studied Systems Engineering at the University of Lagos, where my programming journey began. After my diploma degree, I enrolled at NIIT to study Website design for 6months. I learned the basics of HTML & CSS, creating a database with MYSQL, and using PHP to communicate it with the front-end user.

We used Adobe Dreamweaver to achieve all these, and I was good at it. In my second year (my B.Sc degree), I started learning C# as this was a course. At first, it was really hard to understand, and coding was difficult. After much personal practice and tutorials from experienced students and YouTube videos, I could go far with it.

I started helping students out with their projects up to master degree students to build software applications and write scrips to communicate with hardware devices such as RFID tags. Also, I got connected with a Fingerprint Data Solutions company in the United States and helped them build a desktop application to communicate with the custom fingerprint device.

My professional career started during my industrial training with was compulsory in my 4th year. As a junior software developer, I worked with an advertising agency startup in Co-Creation Hub Lagos, Nigeria. I helped the company build software and hardware products using ASP.Net to build a web application, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi kits to build a traffic counter and digital signage.

After my B.Sc degree, I became a freelancer. I worked on numerous projects mostly for individuals and a few companies. After 2years of freelancing, I got a position at a health insurance company as a full-stack engineer. I was responsible for building a mobile application (both android and iOS), a web application, and a desktop application is written in C# using a fingerprint device for authentication.

I had a mentor I relate with and get professional advice from all these years. He taught me a lot about the business side of programming and encouraged me to start my own business. In March 2019, I registered my company as a business name. In May 2019, through referral, I got my first client. We helped this client build its web and mobile application in 6months after 2years of trying with other software development companies.

Nov 2019 was when I incorporated my company as a Limited Liability Company. The journey has been great so far as we have worked on more than 20 projects and had a revenue of $50k+ without an investor in the last 2years. The founder of FingerPrint Data Solutions also played a vital role in achieving all these as he provided us with the office space we started with and supercomputers to use to execute projects. We are currently the IT support company to some organizations in Nigeria and overseas.

How does your company innovate?

We are a service-based company that builds products for individual clients or enterprises. Our innovation comes into how good a product has to be when launched in the market. We use the latest and reliable technology to power up these products.

We consider the number of traffic a product can withstand and how best we can handle it without costing the client a fortune. Platforms like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services are used for building reliable and sustainable products for our clients without having to pay a huge cost on server management.

Also, internally, we use these platforms to build products for the company to confirm that we are well suited to work on the project. We use services such as Alexa on AWS to build a custom voice service, Google Cloud Functions to automate processes, and the latest Web3 technology to build crypto exchange platforms.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

The coronavirus has affected the Nigerian economy and many businesses, including our current clients. Most of our clients struggle and have had to cut down their budget due to little or no cash flow. Some had to terminate contracts, while some postponed until there was enough budget to start the project.

Back in 2020, when the lockdown started, many projects were put on pause, which led to no monthly payment by some of our clients. One of our clients had the Covid-19 virus and couldn’t continue with his project. As a company, we didn’t meet our targeted revenue for 2020. We also had to let some of our staff go as we couldn’t afford to keep them due to no project/cash flow.

Adding to this, the inflation in Nigeria increased up to 18%, and commodities became expensive till now. The company bills(electricity, service charges for the office space, waste bill, etc.) increased, and we were running at a loss. This also affected the exchange rate as 1 dollar to naira increased from NGN365 to NGN480(Bank rate) and up to NGN600 (Parrarel market rate).

Online transactions became expensive as we were paying for our online services such as domain name renewal, cloud hosting monthly charges to keep our servers running, etc., in dollars using a Naira MasterCard. While all these were happening, we coped.

And how did we do that? We managed to work on projects that required less engineering work and less time to deliver with a lesser fee also. We had to use servers that provide the same efficiency but pay less. And whatever profit that was generated from that was used to cover the bills and keep the company running.

Did you have to make difficult choices and the lessons learned?

We had to make a lot of difficult choices during this pandemic. We are still making these difficult choices till now.
Working on projects where the client’s budget is slim, or the client is using the current situation to pay less. We had to accept these projects as the company needed to keep running.

One lesson learned from accepting any project with a slim budget or paying less than the actual cost is not allowing these clients to add to the current scope without additional payment. A lot of them were scope creeping without paying the extra cost or making any changes to the project without paying for the changes.

We learned this the hard way whereby moving forward, any project that costs less also need a written and signed agreement. Another difficult choice we had to make was to let go of some of our experience software engineers due to no project to work on. We had to hire interns to replace them and train them on projects that didn’t require much engineering work.

Regarding cost reduction, we had to outsource some projects to freelancers, but this didn’t end well with us as there were delays in deliverables, and payment made wasn’t refunded. We learned that working on these projects in-house is better than outsourcing them to individuals.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We use accounting software (Wave App) that helps with generating invoices and sending them as emails to clients. This software also helps record clients’ payments after sending them an invoice. We use this tool to project our financial possibilities and also use it to generate end-of-year accounting reports (Income statement, Profit & Loss Balance, Cash Inflow, Balance sheet, etc.) for tax purposes.

We mostly use Google Meet for virtual meetings to achieve this, both internally with other team members across the country or with current/prospective clients. I had to register for a course powered by Providus Bank in Nigeria for management skills. This course teaches the basic elements in a company: customer service, Human resources, Marketing, Financial and Operations Management, and Business plan.

Learning about this helped improve my decision-making and provide a better service to our clients. For project management, we use Trello and Jira for every project within the company. This Agile or Waterfall approach helps track the progress of the project and tracks bugs (issues) after a Minimum Viable Product is out.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

We have a lot of competitors here in Lagos, most especially the big organizations getting all the projects from major firms such as banks, government, large scale enterprises, etc. It isn’t easy getting any project from these organizations if you don’t know anyone inside or your company is not well known. Also, freelancers are part of our competitors.

They do the job for a lower fee which we can’t afford to do most times. However, most clients complain about freelancers because they later abandon their projects. Lastly, we have software development companies in India.

Their services are being used by Nigerian companies all the time. They know how to deliver on a project faster and a bit cheaper. But they get expensive while providing technical support to the project; that’s when the companies try to get a software company here in Nigeria to continue the project. As for TAGDEV, our plan to stay in the game is pretty much simple.

Provide a touch-notch service (including maintenance and technical support for their product) to our current clients and get referrals from them. And these referrals have gotten us linked up to a top organization. Also, we provide a one-stop-shop service to them, i.e., we provide every service need such as marketing strategies, social media management, video/graphic assets creation, business solutions to our clients.

Your final thoughts

As a company, we are doing well, but we can do more to increase revenue, hire professional team members, and get new clients. We have learned a lot during this pandemic and have found better and efficient ways to deliver a good product to the market for our clients. Having a structural team (lawyer, accountants, HR manager, etc.) aside from software engineers is also important. We have also embraced partnerships with other tech firms and digital marketing agencies to maximize revenue.

We look forward to having investors both local and international as this will help meet our yearly revenue target of $200k to $1M as the years go by.

  • Website link: https://tagdev.tech

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