Building and Scaling Startups: Insights from Busayo on raising millions in funding and growing successful businesses.

Welcome to the Earnipay Employee Profile Series, where we shine a light on our talented and dedicated employees. Join us as we delve into their career journeys and discover the valuable contributions they have made to Earnipay.

In our first episode, we have Busayo-Onome Oyetunji, our Chief Operating Officer at Earnipay.  Busayo talks about her career journey, raising and managing funds worth millions of dollars for different startups, and how she ended up as a COO at Earnipay. Let’s dive right in.

Hi Busayo, can we meet you? 

My name is Busayo-Onome Oyetunji. I was born in Lagos on a Sunday at 12:30 pm. I grew up in Ifako Gbagada, Lagos. She completed her primary school education at Yetunde Brown, Lagos, and proceeded to Kings international college Moniya, Ibadan –  In secondary school; I struggled with learning because I realized most teachers didn’t know how to teach. So I needed to put in more effort and discipline to read, what would take others two days to learn would take me at least two weeks, but I didn’t mind. I’m grateful today for the discipline that it taught me, which has helped me to date, the principle that if you do the work, you will get the results.

I graduated with a first class in Covenant University (Economics). Then proceeded to Imperial College London for my Masters where I specialized in Strategy management, graduating with a distinction. This was inspired by a fundraising project I took on as an exco in the church where I  had to create strategies to meet the target for the fundraiser; that was also when I knew I had a knack for sales. 

Tell us 3 fun facts about you. 

I genuinely like people  – which has led me to succeed in sales despite my non-sales background because I have a genuine interest in people.

I don’t have shame. I can beg! And if I want something, I will court you until I get it.

I’m a minimalist – My uniform is an Earnipay black t-shirt, pants, and shoes. 

(PS: Busayo wears only black pants and black tees) 

You wear all black all the time – how did that come about? 

I don’t like attention, and I felt like black would not draw attention to me. It also reduced my decision-making process since I knew I had only one color to wear the next day. I started wearing all black.

Tell us about your career journey. 

When I returned to Nigeria after my MSC program – I was hired as a strategy intern at LATC Group. I was opportune to have worked with a great boss. A great boss is the most important thing you can get at the beginning of your career. My first boss, Sola Adeola, taught me a lot on the job; everything had to be excellent, from as little as taking minutes of meetings. She gave me leeway to try my hands on projects which allowed me to shine. I was eventually offered a full-time position as the Finance Manager for one of the group’s subsidiary companies.. I spent the first 6 months in the full-time role building a fundraising plan for the company, and in 9 months, we raised $5.3 Million; that was my first raise. At the time, I didn’t think of raising funds as a big deal because I was naive, and I think that really helped me because I could dream and see that it was possible and doable. I wasn’t bothered about what could go wrong.

From there, I moved to Chrysalis Capital as a Senior Associate –  one month into the job, an Impact investment fund reached out to the company to see if they could help with portfolio management support, and I was put on as project lead. I moved to Cote d’Ivoire to work on the project. In July, I was tasked with building the structure of a $15 million fund, which was a success. I think this was the highlight of my career so far. The amount of work required and the feedback I received on the work done were very humbling and satisfying.

I joined a Fintech Startup called Step Inclusive as the head of strategy and finance. I didn’t stay for a long time, but it was an impactful period where I helped to change their processes and business operations.

What’s your Earnipay story? 

I got information about a startup looking for me to help with their investment, but I turned it down. Another person reached out to me, and I found out it was the same company, so I agreed to a meeting with the Founder, which turned out to be Nonso of Earnipay. He reached out to me to build the financial model of the company. A few weeks into building the model, he offered me a CFO role, but I wanted to leave finance at the time; then he offered me a COO position which I accepted because I could see the impact Earnipay could make in the lives of people. It’s been a fantastic challenge so far.

Can you describe what your role entails?

There’s a lot of putting out fires in operations. It’s my job to anticipate the problems that can arise and get ahead of them. As a COO, your perspective is needed on almost every aspect of the business. I manage relationships with the employers and employees on Earnipay, and I’m constantly thinking about Business development – How do we increase revenue per month, how do we get more clients, how do we implement this strategy, what results would it bring, etc. 

What’s your favourite thing about working at Earnipay and your most memorable win?

My favourite thing about Earnipay is working with people who want to succeed. There’s never an “us vs them” vibe. It’s always “us vs the problem” we are trying to solve – ensuring businesses have the tools they need to succeed.

We once reworked our pricing based on the feedback of a team member who listened to our employees’ feedback. This led to a massive increase in our revenue and adoption of our product – This has been my biggest win at the company. A second win is an opportunity to take a table at an HR event. I initially didn’t feel up to it, but a team member recommended that small HR communities could help us buy in to showcase our solutions, which worked. We got access to top HR leaders in Nigeria who also have become evangelists of our solutions. 

What are some misconceptions you’ve heard about working in operations?

People think running operations is just routine work where you solve everyday problems. Still, there are a lot of strategies and plans to preempt issues and get ahead. 

In operations, you can end the day by not remembering what you did that day even though you were very busy all day.

A second myth is that – “Everyone can do operations” – I disagree. I believe you need to be street-smart to do operations.

How does one chart a course that leads to the role of a COO? 

You have to be intentional about working in different capacities of the company to help you understand how the moving parts of the business are connected – This will help you with an in-depth understanding of the business, what drives the performance etc.

I have worked in finance, strategy, sales, consulting etc.

How do you unwind after a long day at work?

I listen to audiobooks and podcasts and read a lot of poetry. I also love to spend time with my friends.

Do you have a principle that drives you? 

He who is diligent will stand before kings and not mean men. (Proverbs 22:29)

If you could look back at your 15-year-old self, what would you tell her? 

I’ll tell her to keep doing the next right thing.

What’s your retirement goal?😀 

I want to retire at 35. – Play tennis 3 times a week, go out to eat with friends, and teach for a couple of hours. 

What are your thoughts on the current tech startup climate in Nigeria? 

Tech founders forget that tech in itself is not the business. Tech only helps to scale the business.

I believe business owners need to get back to business fundamentals, including cost, revenue, active users, unit economics, etc.

If your unit of economics as a business does not make sense, tech cannot fix it.

It’s not only about fundraising but paying attention to metrics that matter and building a sustainable business.

Where can people connect with you? 

You can connect with me on LinkedIn – Busayo-Onome Oyetunji.

This is Busayo’s story, and I hope you enjoyed it as we did.

See you in the next article.

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