He is the founder and the CEO of SLOT Systems Limited, and also one of the brains behind TECNO and INFINIX which are the fastest selling phone brand in Nigeria. Many people are not even aware that these popular brands are the brainchild of their fellow Nigerian. His success story is a very remarkable one. The person in question is none other but Nnamdi Ezeigbo.
Nnamdi Ezeigbo studied Electrical Electronics Engineering in Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, in the year 1988, where he got his Higher National Diploma (HND). He did his National Youth Service Corpse at Guiness Nigeria PLC in the year 1996. After he completed his youth service, he tried to secure a job in a good company in Nigeria, but that didn’t work out for him.
With no promising signs of any potential employment, he started learning the repair of computers. At the end of his apprenticeship, he started repairing computers for individuals because he didn’t have the money to open his own shop. He was squatting with his friend at Ikeja at that time. His customer base started to grow largely because of his honesty to his customers.
The mutual trust and good relationship with his customers is what gave him his first big break in his business. One day, a customer that he knew during his days as an apprentice, came to his small shop to see him. The customer told him that he will like Nnamdi to continue to help him fix his computers, but he would prefer that he does it from a better environment.
The customer started supplying Nnamdi with printers and computers for him to sell, just to help him make some gain that he will be able to use to set up a shop for himself. Nnamdi paid for the first SLOT shop with ₦180,000. He later bought that same building for ₦100 million many years later.
From his new store, he started selling computers. As his business started growing, many of his customers started demanding for SLOT stores in areas that are closer to where they live, and they also started asking them if they sell mobile phones. Nnamdi was sharp to see the opportunity as it presented itself, so he immediately expanded his business to cover the sales of mobile phones.
With no real knowledge of how to manage a growing businesses, Nnamdi decided to enroll for an MBA Programme in the prestigious Lagos Business School. He also started to attend many workshops on entrepreneurship, and this helped him to sharpen his entrepreneurial skills. During this period, himself and his team decided to use a 5 years duration to make his business become a reputable brand. By the end of 5 years, SLOT had become the most reputable mobile phone retailer in the whole of Nigeria.
The rise of telecommunication networks created many opportunities. The poor network services at that time made Nigerians to buy more than one mobile phone, so that they could be able to use more sim cards from different networks. Nnamdi realised this problem and he approached Nokia and tried to convince them to start manufacturing Dual SIM phones for Nigerians, so that Nigerians would be able to use two different sim cards in one mobile phone, but Nokia refused to listen to him because they felt that if people could use two sim cards in one mobile phone, it would result to them making lesser sales.
According to his interview with Naira metrics, Nnamdi said that;
“So I went to China to look for a certain guy that has worked with Bird phone company back then. Bird was a company that was into the production of mobile phones but they fell off the market. I met with the guy and told him that we needed to do something together. I came up with the name and I registered the company here and brought the guy to Nigeria. That was the high point of our business. We came together and I designed the first TECNO phone, TECNO T101. We unveiled it but the market didn’t really accept it, and we also had problems with the Dual SIM feature that wasn’t working properly, so we had to make corrections, that’s how we came up with TECNO 201 which the market accepted more. But we basically gave the marketers on credit to sell the phones and they will pay us later. I was funding the business alone at this point in time”.
“Since I was funding the business alone, we were finding it difficult to get the right quantity to sell, so I started to make our customers pay in advance, I mean the dealers. So we started using their money to order for the products. It was in 2007 that we had a turning point in our business. Like I said before, TECNO is my baby and we continue to improve daily. I know that a day will come when the middle class people will accept Tecno. Initially, it was a phone for low income earners, but based on improvements and upping our game, the middle class had to accept Tecno. When the economy went down in the year 2008, it helped Tecno to move to the top. Since the purchasing power of people had dropped at that time, people had to go for something that has thesame capabilities but comes with a cheaper price”.
“So with ₦15,000, you can buy a smartphone and thank God for 3G network. The coming of 3G network actually helped Tecno move up. So students that couldn’t afford to buy more expensive phones, bought cheaper phones and enjoyed the features of Smartphones like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and so on.”
Today, Nnamdi Ezeigbo is a phenomenal success story in Nigeria and Africa. From a humble repair man, he has built a multi-billion dollar company and one of the most recognisable brands in Nigeria.