Founder Feature: David Obi Kenechukwu

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday November 22nd 2017

I’m still starting, but I would say that customers are key. If you don’t have anyone to use what you’re building, then it’s just a fantasy.

This week we sat down with Joluud CMO David Obi Kenechukwu. Read on to learn why he’s not afraid of failure anymore and why his mother is his inspiration!

Tell me a bit about your company.

Joluud is a facility management software that helps facility managers plan, execute, and predict their maintenance operations and costs. We do that by aggregating maintenance requests.

Where are you from?

I am from Anambra State in the eastern part of Nigeria.

Why did you come to MEST?

I came to MEST to learn entrepreneurship and tech. I came from an aviation background. I was working at an airline, but I wanted to learn and then go back to the company I was working for. I was driven to apply to MEST after noticing during interviews with past EITs that many were saying if you are not ready, don’t come to MEST. It was the drive I saw in them that made me want to come to the program.

How did MEST help get you to where you are today?

I’ve always been afraid of failure. I’m always thinking about the people that are relying on me and how much they want me to succeed. It frightens me. When I came to MEST, my thinking changed. I realized I don’t have to fear failure, I actually need to embrace it! I need to see myself for exactly who I am and who I can be.

What do you wish you had known as an EIT? Do you have any advice for this year’s group?

When we were in the interview stage, MEST always said that even if you have no experience in programming, when you leave MEST you are going to be one of the best programmers. We all came in with the idea that MEST was going to make us the best. But MEST can never spoon feed you. There are people who come out of the program as some of the best programmers, but there are also people who don’t come out as successful. MEST pushes and gives EITs an enabling environment. My advice to the EITs would be to forget about everything else, look within yourself, decide what you want to achieve, and see how you can leverage your MEST resources to do that.

If you could go back in time to when you were just starting your company, what would you tell yourself?

I’m still starting, but I would say that customers are key. If you don’t have anyone to use what you’re building, then it’s just a fantasy.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced while at the MEST training program and the MEST Incubator? How did you get past these challenges?

During the training program, I went home to Nigeria for Easter Break and stayed an extra week. When I came back, I was put on probation. I was really afraid that I wasn’t good enough then. It affected a lot about me. Then I read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which brought out three points. It suggested asking yourself three questions in the face of harder circumstances. These questions were: what is the worst that can happen, are you prepared to accept the worst, and how can you make it better? I used these questions to help me. That’s when I began to feel more confident in myself.

What would you say is your greatest success?

I think my greatest achievement has been the ability to control my mind, to see exactly how I can accept myself and see the best in every situation. This is something I gained from MEST - the ability to see myself for who I am and how I can be better.

What’s your favorite food?

Beans and plantains.

What do you like most about Ghana?

I love the people in Ghana. In Nigeria everyone’s always rushing, but in the end you’re actually getting the same thing done whether you take your time or rush. Also, most times when you rush, you’re actually neglecting what matters! I love the ability of people in Ghana to actually sit down and do things they are proud of.

What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST?

When the Meltwater 30 came in. These guys were around the same age as me, yet they’ve accomplished so much more. Prior to them coming to MEST, I spoke to a lot of them on LinkedIn. Actually interacting with them was the best gift I could have asked for. Every day I still replay those memories. I still have a lot of things to learn from those encounters.

Who is your tech idol? Why?

Steve Jobs. He has his own ways of doing things. Most people have passion and vision, but Steve Jobs has more than that. He knows to impact other people.

Do you have any books about tech that you would suggest? Or any particular favorites?

  1. Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

  2. My Vision by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

What is your favorite tech company? Why?

WhatsApp. The number of people on the platform doesn’t affect the number of employees they have. I think it has 55 employees right now and they’re handling billions of text messages. They are focused on simplicity and their goal hasn’t changed. No matter the growth, the vision still remains the same.

Who/what inspires you?

She doesn’t know yet, but it’s my mum. In 1999 my dad left and never came back again. She went to my uncles for help, and they told her she should go back to the villages. She told them she could never go back to the village because she knew that our [her children’s] future might be doomed. She took her certificate, started applying for jobs, and fended for us. That’s what keeps me going. I’m always asking what can I do to repay this. Every single day, she is my inspiration.