Gift Muoneke is a 23 year old final year student of Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO). He currently works as the CEO of Greenera Technologies, a Renewable energy company located in Imo State, Nigeria. Histeam (G-Tech)wonthe prestigious HULT prize FUTO, Ideation cup 2019, First runner up at the Ventures Cup, Organized by University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Ugwumba Enterprise Challenge and top ten finalistsin the mentor match up challenge.
Gift give us an insight into his entrepreneurship journey. Read on and be inspired.
Give us a brief gist of how you started and where you are now
It started during a hackerton organized in our University. I was in my sophomore year then.We were asked to ideate around a problem faced by students on a regular basis. We were able to come up with a prototype in 3 days. A solar generator to replace fuel generators. We pitched and got the first prize.
We did our research and development for a about 6 months and tested the market. We are currently 5 months old in the market.
We are currently a registered company in Nigeria and have served over 20 clients in 3 different states. We also run a mini-grid that supplies markets with electricity of which they pay in subscription.
What is Your Motivation?
I am really passionate about building things that would help lives. Right from my secondary school days, I have been an avid researcher on renewable energy. During holidays, I moved to the state library just to read about inventions in the sector. I would also say I am passionate about innovations that have massive impact.
Who do you look up to?
I read a lot about successful entrepreneurs which includes Peter Thiel(on team building), Akin Alabi(on marketing) Sam Adeyemi(on leadership)and Jack Ma(his nuggets on the never die attitude).
Meanwhile, I had a mentor who through his help incubated me into business proper. Mr Kolapo Ogungbile, currently the Business Manager of Vertebra Tech Hub, Lagos. Up till now, he still advises give valuable input into my company.
What inspired you to dive into the energy sector?
Its obvious. I saw a problem in Africa and I was attracted to it.
Over 600million people lacks access to reliable electricity in Africa. According to World Economic Forum, only 28% of health facilities in Africa has access to electricity. Electricity is one of the bedrock of a nation’s growth.
In a bid to make up for the short fall in electricity, people resort to the use of petrol generators. A lot still use kerosene lamp for basic lighting. And this is one of the leading causes of lung cancer and leukemia.
One incidence that sealed my resolution to end energy poverty was when I mistakenly swallowed petrol while siphoning it into our generating set. I made up my mind that fuel generators would be totally replaced by clean energy sources.
What challenges did you face as a start up?
First was trying to validate the market. Our prototype was crude and we needed some finance to make it look great to behold. Thanks to my co-founder, Prince. His experience in marketing made every thing easy. He was able to get our first adopters who still paid for our product. This was essential for us to build traction.
We realized that many start ups struggle with funding for their businesses. How were you able to scale this hurdle?
Yes, funding is one of the major bottlenecks faced by startups. However, each startup must be able to do their homework. No investor would invest in a product that has not been tested by customers.
Our ability to show investors that our product can be very competitive and make great sales scaled us through to getting investments.
If you have a good team, getting investments is not a big deal. Most investors invests in teams and not just the business. We were able to prove that we have the right skill set to move this company to success. We also did our homework by having an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which can be exchanged for money.
Tell us a bit about your YouTube channel
My channel name is Grow with Gift.
I started the YouTube channel because I saw a lot of young people want to venture into entrepreneurship, but don’t have the required knowhow. So what the Chanel is all about is a step by step procedure in building a successful company. I also share inspiring stories of successful entrepreneurs and lessons that can be gotten from them.
What is your approach to leadership?
Leadership is very essential in everything.
Leadership by position is the lowest form of leadership. The highest form is leadership by influence. You mustn’t be called a title before you show your leadership capacities. How many persons can you influence? How do you settle dispute? A leader follows from the back but makes his followers see that he is in the front. Leadership needs to be built.
Do you think everybody should go into entrepreneurship? What’s your outlook on this?
Yes, I believe. Whether you are building something of your own or for somebody else. You must exhibit that characteristic of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is a character. You must know how to sell. You must be updated. You could be an entrepreneur that is you work for someone but exhibits the entrepreneurial character.
I don’t believe everyone should start business. It’s damn hard. You must have the gut. That does not make any better than the other.
What advice do you have for those still struggling with their ideas?
My advice is: Do it afraid.
Execution is key. Start it no matter how crude it is. You need feedbacks from your potential clients. Don’t be afraid to fail. Entrepreneurs are made of many failures and few successes that changed their lives forever.
Do it Afraid!
Gift Muoneke has not just proven to be determined but he has shown that age is not a barrier to achieving greatness as he is gradually taking over the energy sector.