How Nile University of Nigeria Changed My Life – 400 Level Studentpreneur

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Universities are known for many things, but very rarely is a university associated with the word, therapeutic (having a healing effect). Yet, that is exactly what Tochukwu Ifeanyi (popularly known as Tochi) – a 400-level Accounting student of Nile University of Nigeria – did following her victory in the women-led category at the national finals of the 2023 WEMA Bank Hackaholics competition.

Tochi, who won a mouthwatering cash prize of N5 million for her startup idea, Outsidee, at the WEMA Bank-sponsored youth-focused startup competition, credited Nile University for bringing her from “a bad place mentally” to the brink of achieving her dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

How Nile University of Nigeria Changed My Life – 400 Level Studentpreneur
Tochukwu Ifeanyi holding her N5 million cheque

Recounting her journey to her remarkable accomplishment on a hot November [2023] afternoon in one of the cozy meeting rooms in Nile University’s Administrative building, Tochi recalled the events of the grim final days of her second year (200 Level) as the turning point. At the time, according to her, she fell into a “sad state” due to a series of experiences she preferred to keep private. Starting an internship, which required her to work from 9-5 daily, during the same period also made things worse.

“I was already in a bad place mentally, physically, everything. So, adding an intensive internship program which involved the hassle of commuting to and from work every weekday and dealing with the demands of 9-5 work in an unfamiliar environment worsened my mental state. The internship was not fun in any way,” Tochi stated.

However, true to the famous words of Napoleon Hill, “Every adversity contains, at the same time, a seed of equivalent opportunity,” Tochi managed to turn arguably the most difficult period of her life into a launching pad toward a successful and happier future. “The first step was telling myself that I didn’t want to be in this state anymore. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Whatever it would take to not be the person I am now, I’d do it,” Tochi said.

Top on her to-do list was ensuring that she never had to experience a traditional 9-5 job again. “The internship came at the worst possible time which tainted my perception of the 9-5 life and made me determined to do everything within my power to never go back to it. Maybe if it had come at another time, my experiences and perception would’ve been different.”

In her quest to rediscover happiness and rid herself of a future that included a 9-5 job, Tochi found the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub (formally known as the Collective Lab) of Nile University an invaluable guide and ally. “Before I fell into a sad state, I used to go to the Collective Lab [a dedicated collaborative space designed to develop an innovative entrepreneurial spirit among students] frequently to hang out and seek advice.

“Mrs. Binta [Gali Agbonika, the Collective Lab Manager] is a very welcoming person. You go there once and before you know it, you’re there the next day, and the day after that… [She made the space very welcoming to students]. So, when I found myself in a bad place mentally, the Collective Lab became my safe space to pour out my heart and get informal therapy.

How Nile University of Nigeria Changed My Life – 400 Level Studentpreneur
Photo Caption (L-R): Tochukwu Ifeanyi, Mrs. Binta Gali Agbonika

“After my internship, when I became determined to never work a 9-5 job again, I went back to the Collective Lab to bounce several business ideas off Mrs. Binta, who was more than happy to listen and guide me. It was during this period that the opportunity to participate in the WEMA Bank Hackaholics came and Outsidee was truly born,” Tochi said.

Surprisingly, Outsidee – a platform that provides a robust search engine for all entertainment needs – which eventually won her the competition was not her first-choice startup idea. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an idea book where I write down different business ideas. When Mrs. Binta told me about the Hackaholics competition and asked me to return with a Startup idea we could refine and apply with, I went to my idea book and saw Outsidee.

“But I thought that since it was focused on entertainment, it wouldn’t be taken seriously. So, I came back to her with a fintech idea for an app that helps users track their expenses. As an Accounting student, I believed that this idea was more relevant to my field of study and sounded better as a potential startup,” Tochi stated.

However, while pitching the Fintech Startup idea to the Nile Collective Lab team, Tochi’s lack of passion for it was so evident that she was advised to provide other options. “Mrs. Binta told me that if it was that obvious to her that I wasn’t passionate about the idea, the judges would sense it too and I wouldn’t stand a chance in the competition,” she said.

Fortunately, Tochi’s Eureka moment soon arrived. “Later that day, something just told me that, wait, you’ve had this Outsidee idea for over a year now. You have the name, the logo idea, and a mental picture of how you want everything to be. Why not present it? If they reject it, at least you know you’ve tried your best.”

To Tochi’s pleasant surprise, the Collective Lab team loved the Outsidee idea and asked her to submit it as her entry to the Hackaholics competition. This was the start of a whirlwind, exhilarating few months which culminated in her success in the national finals of the 2023 WEMA Bank Hackaholics.

How Nile University of Nigeria Changed My Life – 400 Level Studentpreneur
Photo Caption (L-R): Mrs. Binta Gali Agbonika (Manager, Collective Lab, Nile), Dr. Modupe Fausat Aleshinloye (Dean, Student Services, Nile), Prof. Dilli Dogo (Vice-Chancellor, Nile), Ms. Tochukwu Ifeanyi (Founder, Outsidee/ Software Engineering Student, Nile), Mr. Gerald Osugo (Chief Marketing Officer, Nile), Dr. Umar Ibrahim (Officer, Collective Lab/Software Engineering Lecturer, Nile)

Between May (the month of the competition’s regional finals) and October 2023 (when the national finals was held), Tochi underwent a steep learning curve and accelerated growth that few ever experience in life, never mind the university. From a student filled with self-doubt who “didn’t even know what B2B or Blockchain was,” Tochi was transformed into a proficient and confident (tech) entrepreneur capable of effectively selling her ideas and holding her own in any business conversation.

The journey, for Tochi, was life-changing – its impact extending far beyond the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills to other areas of her life. Specifically, she credited it for her improved self-confidence and mental resilience. “From then [since winning the regional finals in May 2023] till now, I don’t doubt myself anymore. That [victory] was enough to pull me through anything.

“When I go somewhere or do something that doesn’t work out, I tell myself that maybe these are not the right people for my solution and I need to build something different [more relevant for them] or go somewhere else. It doesn’t mean that what I did is not good. The last thing I do is doubt myself,” she said.

Tochi attributed her transformational growth to Nile University’s Collective Lab. “The Collective Lab has been a big part of my success story. It’s been my backbone. I go there every day… Once I know I’m not rushing anywhere after school, you’ll see me there. Even if it’s just to tell Dr. Umar [Ibrahim, Collective Lab Officer/Software Engineering Lecturer] hi or talk about one or two things with him. I barely make decisions about Outsidee without consulting them [Mrs. Binta and Dr. Umar] because I know they know best.

“They helped me find the team that put Outsidee together. Efe [a recent Nile graduate] helped me with my UI design, Dami [another, now former, Nile student] helped me do my logo… I met both of them at the Collective Lab and we’ve become very good friends. It’s [the Collective Lab] my root and I always go back [for guidance]. Because of the Collective Lab, I’m always confident that whatever I face or don’t know, I have people to call that can help me out; I’m not alone,” Tochi stated.

How Nile University of Nigeria Changed My Life – 400 Level Studentpreneur
Photo Caption: Tochukwu Ifeanyi (front), Efemena Onovre (Left), Chimdalu Onwualu (Right), Utibe-Enobong Usiere (Back)

Watching and listening to Tochi excitedly narrate her story, while oozing such confidence and infectious enthusiasm, it was difficult to imagine her being the same person who was once (not too long ago) filled with self-doubt and unhappiness. That she was able to achieve such a swift and remarkable turnaround in her fortunes is a testament to the transformative power of determination.

“I believe that most of the change [we seek] starts from within, then your environment aligns with it,” Tochi stated. True to form, her environment did respond, providing her with the most unusual of “therapists.”

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About Outsidee

Outsidee is a platform (app) that provides a robust search engine customized specifically for users’ entertainment needs. Designed to function as the ChatGPT for all things entertainment-related, Outsidee helps individuals looking for exciting places to visit, relax, and have fun make informed choices by providing them access to a wide array of amazing locations tailored to their needs. Beyond discovering the best entertainment spots, the platform allows users to effortlessly share them with friends, bookmark their favorites, and access insightful reviews. Outside also offers a unique avenue for entertainment businesses and vendors to enhance their online presence and connect with their target audiences.

Outsidee is currently in the development phase and is on course to be launched in the first half of 2024. The following are Outsidee’s founding members: Tochukwu Ifeanyi (Founder; Nile Accounting Department, 200 Level), Efemena Hilda Onovre (UI/UX Designer; Software Engineering Department, Nile Graduating Class of 2023), Tamunokorite Briggs (UI/UX Designer/Testable Prototype Creator; Software Engineering Department, Nile Graduating Class of 2023), Chimdalu Onwualu (Chief Operating Officer; Software Engineering Department, Nile Graduating Class of 2023), Utibe-Enobong Usiere (UI/UX Designer; Software Engineering Department, Nile Graduating Class of 2023), and Oluwadamilola Daniel Babalola (UI/UX Designer; Software Engineering Department, Transferred from Nile in 2023).

About Nile University of Nigeria

Nile University of Nigeria is a private multidisciplinary university established in 2009 and located in Abuja, Nigeria. Nile University is committed to building future generations of professionals and leaders who can thrive and positively impact Africa and beyond by leveraging academic innovation, state-of-the-art facilities, and great talent. The University currently has over 40 undergraduate programmes and more than 50 postgraduate programmes spread across eight best-in-class faculties: Health Sciences, Law, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Arts & Social Sciences, Management Sciences, Computing Studies, and Science. Nile University is a proud member of Honoris United Universities, the first and largest pan-African private higher education network with 16 institutions in 10 African countries. 

For Media Information

Ekezimero Eto

Marketing Communications Manager, Nile University of Nigeria

[email protected]

 





Source link: Daily Trust/

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