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Reni Legal: Connecting Startups And The Legal Services They Need- Morenike George-Taylor

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Morenike George-Taylor is the Founder at Reni Legal. A law business focused on startups and small-to-medium enterprises with the goal to help 1000 startups reach their goal of optimal functionality. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, she shares her passion for startups, the major legal mistakes they make and how her brand is providing them top notch legal services without breaking the bank. Excerpt.

Alaba: Kindly tell us about Reni Legal and the gap it’s filling.

Morenike: Reni Legal is my dream. It is a business aimed at helping SMES and Start ups have access to affordable high quality legal services. When I quit my job in 2018, I was working at a leading law firm belonging to an SAN and loving what I was doing. However, as God would have it, I was just getting into having kids and couldn’t handle the 9-5 with my kids. This led me to try the entrepreneurship route.

I met Mr. Gabriel Dafeakeh and he wanted me to provide legal services in exchange for shares in a business. This was the first time I ever really paid attention to SMES. He inspired me to participate in the Hustle Bootcamp and this was how Reni Legal born. I saw all the difficulties and expenses faced by entrepreneurs and realised that with the kind of bills they had to pay, they could not afford good legal services. This is why I guess many of them decided to take the option of DIY! Doing it themselves. As someone who has spent 7 years in litigation, I can tell you for free that this often results in disaster. I decided to help SMES by providing the top notch services they need at a very friendly price. Reni Legal is a connector between SMES and the legal services they need without them having to break the bank.

Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?

Morenike: Wow! My startup capital was all thanks to my darling husband, Gideon Okebu. I tried to keep costs for Reni Legal down. I didn’t spend money building a fancy website as I knew that the more I spent building reni legal, the more expensive my service would have to be for my clients. So I started using my husband’s office as my base, hired a P.A. spoke to a few lawyer friends who would work with me and I was good to go. I really benefited from free services as communications for my brand was handled by my friend Tobi Jaiyeola at absolutely no cost and I really appreciate it.

Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?

Morenike: The biggest challenge I’m facing is getting my message out there. People in this age are looking for microwave fixes and with law, this often gets people in trouble. They try to save money by not getting lawyers to review their contracts, having quacks register their companies and drafting awful partnership agreements on their own. When you speak to some SME owners, they even suggest I provide services for free as they are stuck on having no budget for legal services. However, the lessons they learn are bitter. I have clients who have lost millions and returned to me now to say they should have just hired me to draft contracts for them. My door is always open so I overcome this challenge by writing informative articles and provoking SME owners to think twice before they make legal decisions.

Alaba: What are the major mistakes entrepreneurs make when they start or run a business?

Morenike: Legal mistakes entrepreneurs make! Don’t get me started I could write an entire book about this:

  • Not picking the right directors and shareholders for their company at the time of incorporation.
  • Improperly drafted memorandum of association taking into consideration the objectives of their business.
  • Not having a partnership agreement.
  • Registering a business name when they have no intention to use it anytime soon.
  • Reviewing agreements by themselves

Need I say more? An SME needs special legal attention.

Alaba: How are you helping businesses create a sustainable practice?

Morenike:  I’m helping businesses by providing legal services they need with very flexible payment options.

Alaba: What’s the future for Reni Legal and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?

Morenike: The future of Reni Legal is that I want to create an online legal platform that interacts with clients. Right now, I am discussing with technical web developers and learning the technology out there so I can make my dream a reality. I guess you have to see my vision to understand it.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Morenike: I have mixed feelings about entrepreneurship. Its hard. I am just grateful to Jesus that I have been able to overcome the challenges.

Alaba: What is your advice for prospecting entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?

Morenike: I would say that as glamorous as entrepreneurship may look, it takes a lot of planning and time to achieve success. As long as you do what you love and are dedicated to your cause, by the grace of God, you will succeed in all you want to do. Also, GET GOOD LEGAL ADVICE.

Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?

Morenike: I relax by swimming, spending time with friends and watching movies. I read mostly my bible, law reports and John Maxwell books.I’m a very positive person so I love being motivated.

Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favourite local dish?

Morenike: The word I will teach you today is “Ese” which means “Thank you”. Yorubas are very appreciative people and tend to say thank you a million times. My favourite local dish any day any time will have to be “amala and ewedu”.

Also Read Interview With Street Global Venture Capital Partners, Christian Meyers And Alysia Silberg

Biography

Morenike George-Taylor: I am a wife and mother. I was born in Lagos to my parents who are accountants. I grew up being great at Arts and eventually opted to study law. I attended Queens College, Yaba, Lagos and proceeded to undertake my A-levels at Oxbridge Tutorial College where I won several awards for academic excellence. After this, I got a partial scholarship to the University of Sheffield due to academic excellence and graduated in the top 20 of my class. I won several awards at Sheffield and then attended the Nigerian Law School.

Since leaving school,  I have worked at the Legal Aid Council and in leading law firms. I have also taken several professional courses from the University of Southampton, UK, World Intellectual Property Organisation Academy, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development to mention a few.

RENI LEGAL

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Interview with Mathapelo Pitse, Founder and CEO of J’ADORE D’AMOUR

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Mathapelo Pitse is the Founder and CEO of J’ADORE D’AMOUR, a proudly South African luxury shoe brand. Mathapelo boasts immaculate skills in areas such as sales, business development, business expansion and customer relations. These key aspects were integral in the founding and management of J’ADORE D’AMOUR’ to ensure the smooth-running within the business as well as success for the overall brand.  When it comes to the creativity and style of footwear development, Mathapelo Pitse has always had an eye for minimalistic designs exotic textures and bright colours. This has seen the brand appeal to an audience who believe in a style that should be audacious sophisticated, timeless and unapologetic. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Mathapelo speaks on her brand, J’ADORE D’AMOUR and entrepreneurship. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: Could you briefly tell me about yourself and your brand?

Mathapelo: My name is Mathapelo Pitse and I’m the Founder & CEO of J’ADORE D’AMOUR. We are a proudly South African shoe line that caters to high-end ultra-feminine consumers with a love for sophisticated trendy footwear. We prides ourselves on being a highly collaborative brand as well as a socially responsible one, with future plans of expansion to compete within international market standards in the footwear industry.

Alaba: What inspired you to go into entrepreneurship and start J’ADORE D’AMOUR?

Mathapelo: My passion for entrepreneurship stems from an early age and I’ve gained a lot of experience as an employee as well as a business owner. How my journey with J’ADORE D’AMOUR started is very interesting. I was spring cleaning my house with my mom and we were getting rid of old things that I wanted to give away. I then realized that I owned an overwhelmingly large collection of shoes and that’s when I had an aha moment, and the rest is history.

Alaba: What makes your brand USP stand out and how has the market responded to your products?

Mathapelo: Our unique selling point and trademark is definitely our metal heel! We want to appeal to the modern woman who is audacious, classy, fashion forward and fashion conscious. We want our clients to be unique and stand out with our shoe designs.

Alaba: Any challenges so far since you launched and how are you managing them?

Mathapelo: Just like many businesses out there, funding my business was a challenge. I had to rely on my passion and creativity to sell the vision to the masses no matter how small it was. Another challenge was converting our social media followers to buyers however we came up with different strategies to bounce back.

Alaba: In what way do you think the South African government can support entrepreneurs?

Mathapelo: I believe the government can assist local entrepreneurs with funding. Entrepreneurs are beneficial for the economy and employment of our country and with the support from the government, a lot of opportunities will be met.

Alaba: Where do you see your brand 5 years from now?

Mathapelo: I’m currently expanding my brand and trying on new and exciting projects which I will officially launch soon. 5 years from now, I’ll be the proud owner of a media empire.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Mathapelo: I feel very fortunate to be afforded the amazing opportunities thrown my way. I have a very supportive team that understands my brands and its visions. Entrepreneurship is not an easy journey.

Alaba: A little piece of advice to young and budding entrepreneurs out there?

Mathapelo: Just go for it! It all starts with an idea (no matter how big or small it may be) and it’s determined by your time and dedication to put that idea into action! 

 

 

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Trueflutter – Matchmaking App for singles of African descent: Interview with Trueflutter’s Co-Founder, Dare Olatoye

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Trueflutter’s Co-Founder, Dare Olatoye

Trueflutter is a matchmaking app built for single Africans on the continent and in diaspora, in search of committed, fulfilling relationships. An online community of Single Africans in search of something real, make genuine and authentic connections. The App takes you beyond surface appearances with the use of audio bios to hear what a person sounds like and what’s important to them even before you connect. In this interview, Alaba Ayinuola speaks with Trueflutter’s Co-Founder, Dare Olatoye on his experience growing a Matchmaking brand, successes and challenges in Africa. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Could you briefly tell me about yourself, business and the gap it’s filling?

Dare: My name is Dare Olatoye, I’m the co-founder of Trueflutter which is a matchmaking app for Africans on the continent and in diaspora

Alaba: What’s the inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for Trueflutter?

Dare: My sister got married for the first time when she was 47 years old. She met a great guy and they have a beautiful family. The interesting thing is that the person she married lived just 15 minutes away from her and had also been searching for a partner for many years.

Thinking about that, I realized this was a problem that technology could solve, which is why my brother and I set out to build Trueflutter.

Our vision is to provide a platform where single Africans can easily connect with highly compatible partners.

Alaba: What makes your brand USP stand out and how has the market responded to your products?

Dare: The major challenge people have with online dating is that most of the profiles have sparse or superficial information. Our platform helps you get a much deeper insight into a potential match with the use of Audio Bios and responses to carefully thought out prompts.

Alaba: How long has Trueflutter been in business?

Dare: We launched the MVP in September 2018 and had over 15,000 users sign up. That helped us gain valuable user insight which we built into the current version that was launched in January 2021.

Alaba: What are the key initiatives for the success of the business and great accomplishments?

Dare: To us success simply boils down to assembling a great team at Trueflutter and building a great community around the product. This means the most important thing we can do is listen to our users and ensure our product continues to evolve based on their feedback.

Alaba: Kindly share your most difficult moment in business and what did you learn?

Dare: Our founding team has always been very goal driven and when we set targets, we drive ourselves incredibly hard to achieve them. We had set a goal to launch the new platform on January 8th 2021 and had all our promotional partners ready to go.

However we experienced a serious setback in timelines with our development and ideally should have postponed the launch date, but we literally worked 18 hour days to still meet the timeline.

Unfortunately we launched prematurely, with quite a number of bugs on the platform. We have since resolved these but that premature launch meant we lost many of the early adopters of the platform. The major lesson is that it’s okay to release a product that is not yet perfect, with the caveat that users know it is still on beta (just like what Clubhouse did). Public launch dates should only be set when the platform has been stress tested by thousands of users and you know the user experience will be flawless.

Alaba: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Trueflutter’s growth and/or the user experience?

Dare: I think online dating is one of those few industries that thrived because of the pandemic. We saw an 820% spike in activity on our platform and a 270% increase in organic downloads. Our voice and video call features are also now used by more people with duration of calls at an all time high.

Alaba: What’s your favourite feature of the App so far?

Dare: Hands down it’s the Audio Bio feature, which also lets you reply with a voice note to users you like. People don’t actually realize how much your voice says about you, and when they listen to someone’s audio bio, it helps them easily decide whether or not they want to connect.

Alaba: Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

Dare: As the primary platform where single Africans on the continent and in diaspora meet.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Dare: I am incredibly proud to see what my peers on the continent are doing. Despite the challenges of funding and infrastructure, we are beating the odds to build incredible products that are solving real problems. And the rest of the world is sitting up to take notice.

Alaba: Finally, what advice would you give entrepreneurs and investors in your industry?

Dare: To entrepreneurs, I would say every challenge is teaching you something. Every investor that walks away from your pitch meeting without investing, does so for a reason and if you find out why, it will make you better prepared for the next pitch.

Every customer that leaves a bad review is communicating a problem that thousands of other users are also experiencing, so you shouldn’t take it personal but embrace the feedback with gratitude.

For investors looking at the online dating space, few people realize how profitable it could be until they start diving into the numbers. But they also need to realize that it’s a long game, and like most consumer tech products, needs to be approached from the perspective of a long term investment. Trueflutter has been very fortunate to attract these kinds of investors.

 

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Prudence Ramotso: The South African entrepreneur who turned her love for shoes into a brand

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Prudence Ramotso, Founder and CEO of PRUDENT (Source: Prudence Ramotso)

Prudence Ramotso is a South African young lady who is passionate about fashion and envisioned a different kind of a brand that cares about customers and offer high quality products services. She decided to follow her dreams by creating the brand PRUDENT. A brand with designs inspired by African names, Prudent Shoes is a South African Shoe Brand established in 2019 and manufactured by one of the best and finest stylish shoe makers in Italy. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Prudence shares her entrepreneurship journey, the gap her brand is filling in the industry and the future. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Could you briefly tell me about yourself and your brand?

Prudence: My name is Prudence Ramotso, I was born and raised in the Vaal (Sebokeng). I love shoes and fashion , I am ambitious and goal driven. I realized there was a gap in the South African female footwear when I was shopping around for shoes back in 2016, my entrepreneurial spirit couldn’t let this to rest. After my research in 2019 PRUDENT shoes was born, we offer what was missing in the market which is good quality shoes at affordable prices and shoes that have characters from the African names that are engraved on the outsoles.

Alaba: What inspired you to go into entrepreneurship and start Prudent?

Prudence: The rate of unemployment in South Africa increases daily and knowing that I have the ability to make a difference and create jobs in the future inspires me everyday. I took my love and passion for shoes and turned it into a brand that fills the gap in the female footwear industry. It started in my bedroom on my cell phone. I left my full time job as a financial advisor for an insurance company and gave birth to PRUDENT shoes in 2019 and I never looked back again.

Alaba: What makes your brand USP stand out and how has the market responded to your products?

Prudence: Our shoes are made of high quality material and attention to details (better workmanship). Our insoles are glued and stitched on, with our unique style names engraved on the outsoles. Like the brand name says PRUDENT, you take prudent steps when walking in our shoes, which means taking careful and calculated steps you think for the future.

The market response is very good, customers are happy with the quality and saying the shoes make them comfortable. Most customers say the shoes speak to them laughing.

Alaba: Any challenges so far since you launched early this year?

Prudence: The challenges we have is reaching a big scale of the market and getting the brand out there.

Alaba: In what way do you think the South African government can support entrepreneurs?

Prudence: Government must encourage localism, encouraging customers to “buy local” is a pillar of regional development strategies. There are products that are not manufactured in South Africa due to lack of suppliers, however they are South African brands and they make us a competitive country. Also, the government should give small businesses a real advantage in procurement policies and the process must be clear, protective and accessible to all small businesses.

Alaba: Where do you see your brand in 5 years?

Prudence: I see my brand growing and being the trusted female footwear brand in South Africa and in 10 year recognized globally. Also, as a brand helping fight the high rate of unemployment.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Prudence: Being an African entrepreneur feels amazing at the same time is hard and exciting. We are 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies as Africa and the ease of doing business in Africa is improving to an extent that a good number of countries including South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius and Tunisia now outperform China, India, Brazil and Russia, we can say our future is bright as AFRICAN entrepreneurs.

Alaba: A little piece of advice to young and budding entrepreneurs out there?

Prudence: Believe in yourself and your dreams, it is true your network is your networth. Be persistent and never give up, start where you are with what you have and go for it. If you can imagine it , you can do it!

 

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