BOOTSTRAPPING YOUR STARTUP: INTERVIEW WITH SEYE FALEYE OF TOPDOWNDEALS.COM

Seye Faleye is the Managing Director of Zaynite International Limited Nigeria, the company behind Topdowndeals. Topdowndeals is the most innovative Video Game retailing website in Nigeria, delivering top & hands down gaming solution.

 


 

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Tell us about yourself and what you do.

My name is Seye Faleye, I am 31 years old and have been an entrepreneur for over 8 years now. I graduated from the University of Houston in Finance and Marketing and worked in the oil and gas industry for 8 years. I was always interested in owning my own business since college, and started in my entrepreneurship road by investing in real estate in the United States and evolved to other endeavors like Topdowndeals.com. I am currently working on my MBA, managing Topdowndeals.com and working on a new venture in Brazil.

 

What inspired you to start TopDownDeals?

Well Topdowndeals.com was inspired after a discussion with my uncle visiting from Nigeria about the unlimited opportunities in Nigeria for an entrepreneur minded person with new ideas. I visited China a few months later and met many successful entrepreneurs who gave me valuable advice on starting an eCommerce store. Once I got back to the United States, the domain Topdowndeals.com was created and our journey started. After market analysis, we saw a need in the video gaming market in Nigeria and focused to dominating that market.

 

Do consider yourself a risk taker?

I honestly believe you cannot be an entrepreneur without being a risk taker. In the United States, 75% of businesses fail in the first 5 years, but entrepreneurs still gamble with their life savings or investors cash on a business ideas. I consider myself a Risk Taker, but i ensure that we have analyzed all alternatives, determine my customers, perform market analysis, know my products and understand who my competitors are. Taking Risk Blindly only puts you in a bad position.

 

Tell us, how did you finance your business at startup?

I personally financed Topdowndeals.com from my savings account. Bootstrapping a start-up company is not the easiest way to finance your new company, but i believed in topdowndeals.com and with enough market analysis, i was confident that it would be a successful website. However, bootstrapping a startup company limits your spending and allows you to be creative in your marketing without spending too much. We may not grow as fast as the startup with millions in investor cash, but Rome was not built in one day, so we will continue to grow at our pace.

 

 

What would you say is the most important factor of running an ecommerce website that most people overlook?

I think most people overlook the important factor of updating their eCommerce website to be in line with evolving customer expectations and improving your website interface. We make it a goal at Topdowndeals to improve customer interface on our site and add new services every couple months. We are not just a video gaming ecommerce store, we want to be a platform for gaming information also.

 

What’s the marketing strategy that’s worked well for you?

Majority of our marketing has been online. Social Media has been a major player in marketing for Topdowndeals. Facebook is a powerful tool in reaching your customers and gaining new customers. In addition, major blogs like Linda Ikeji have been a great source for procuring new customers. We have attempted offline marketing, but gamers are always online, so we feel that’s the best way we can reach them.

 

How many hours do you work daily and what are your daily tasks?

The early phases of any start up requires tremendous amount of work hours, sleepless nights to birth your business plan into reality. During the early stages of Topdowndeals.com, I worked about 30 hours a week while holding a full time job. Basically, I had no social life for close to a year

 

Today things are different; I work about 20 hours a week on the website. Most of my daily tasks are managing customer sales, logistics, vendor relationship, finances and planning future marketing and promotions for Topdowndeals. The past 1 month, my work hours have increased as we worked on the new gaming rental service for Lagos.

 

Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?

My parents have always been part time entrepreneurs for as long as I remember. My father’s niche was real estate and my mother once had a store, soda distribution business and imported items to Nigeria to be sold. However the most important lesson was from my father. He always says no matter what you do in life, you need to have integrity. I encourage my personnel to work with integrity. We never promise a customer something we cannot fulfill to just get a sale. If a customer is unhappy with our product or service, we strive to fix the problem or offer a better solution to keep our customers happy.

 

How do you personally define success?

Personally, I feel success is not about the amount of zeros you have in your bank account or how successful your start-up is. I define success as achieving your goals you placed for yourself in your business and personal life. If you wake up every morning happy with your status in life, then I deem that a success. Topdowndeals.com.ng is not Jumia or Konga at this time, but I define it as a success as we have achieved our goals, managed to stay profitable till today without outside investments and have loyal customers that rely on us to fulfill their gaming needs.

 

Do you have any favorite business related or entrepreneur books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

I believe every entrepreneur should read 2 books. Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Millionaire Next door. I read both books as part of my behavioral finance class in University and I credit these 2 books for providing the education to stabilize my personal finances. How can an entrepreneur manage a start-up finances when they can’t even manage their own personal finances.

 

Any advice for young entrepreneur setting up their first business?

My advice to young entrepreneurs is they need to understand the reality of being an entrepreneur. Today, we glamorize the success of great entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zukerburg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and etc. who have become billionaires with their start ups. It took years of working hundreds of hours per week, sleepless nights, discouragement and no income before their startup achieved success. It took close to a decade before Amazon.com even became a profitable company. My point is that your start up may not be an overnight success, but keep working on it, grow it and it will reap rewards down the road.

 

Also take time to read blogs and articles on entrepreneurship and startups. There is so much valuable information on the internet from financing, business plan, management, marketing and etc. As an entrepreneur you always have to want to grow mentally.

 

What do you think about Under35CEO?

Under35CEO is a great site with so much valuable information for entrepreneurs at one location. It’s a great tool for new entrepreneurs and even seasoned entrepreneurs looking to improve themselves.

 

Lastly, tell us what you love most about the internet?

I love the internet for its vast supply of information. I am an avid reader of entrepreneur and marketing blogs that provide information to improve my management skills.

 

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