Name: Kelechi Udoagwu & Tolu Agunbiade
City, Country: Accra, Ghana
Website URL: www.skrife.com
Kelechi Udoagwu and Tolu Agunbiade met at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in 2014. The duo bonded over a shared love for writing and freelancing and have been friends ever since.
“It was funny to us that we both studied accounting in university, and now have absolutely no enthusiasm to pursue it! We noticed that we think similarly about a lot of things and decided to go into business together.”
Kelechi and Tolu launched Skrife – an online platform that helps entrepreneurs, brands, digital agencies and startups create consistent quality content by leveraging on an exclusive community of vetted freelance writers and editors – while participating in the S Factory, a spin-off from the Start-Up Chile program. They were one of two African startups accepted into the first generation of the S Factory and received $15,000 in equity-free funding.
As of today, they’ve completed over 150 requests for 20+ clients from 7 countries, including the United States, Australia, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritius. Some brands currently using Skrife include African Leadership University, Paystack, Ingressive, Tress and Start Smart.
Kelechi answered some questions for She Inspires Her.
Where did you get the idea for Skrife?
From personal experience, discussions and listening to startup pitches, we noticed that a good number of businesses plan to use content marketing as a user acquisition strategy but either don’t know how to execute it or lack the skills to write engaging content. We also noticed that entrepreneurs and individuals who aspire to be thought leaders or contribute to global trending topics often have meaningful ideas in their heads but can’t always put them into words.
Writing is a chore for most people but not us. So, we decided to create a platform that makes it convenient to create quality written content.
Building a business needs a lot of planning and funding until it’s launched, what has been your biggest challenge to date?
Our biggest challenge has been finding quality people with whom we can work. It’s funny that there is a high rate of unemployment, but when you want to hire, you can’t seem to find the kind of people you need. When we needed a web developer, we relied on recommendations and were very thorough in screening, but we still ended up having problems of communication and expectations not being met. We’ve learned that people over-promise when they are looking for jobs and under-deliver when they get them. Now we make sure to do a trial run before entering into a formal contract agreement with anyone, whether full-time hires or freelancers.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given that has stuck with you?
The best advice I’ve ever received was actually from my cofounder, Tolu. Sometimes, I get cranky and anxious because I think we are not moving fast enough. She’s usually the calm voice saying: Relax Kay, we’re in this for the long haul. I’ve had to remind myself occasionally that running a business is a marathon not a sprint. That it’s okay to take some time off when I feel burned out. It’s okay to stand back and breathe, after all I’m the boss of me.
What three things have made the most significant difference in your business?
The most important thing that impacts me Skrife-wise is the friendship I have with my co-founder. I have no doubt that if it was with anyone else, building Skrife will be so much harder. We think similarly about a lot of things; we are both open and honest; and we both have passion and experience doing what we do.
Receiving $15,000 equity-free funding from the S Factory in Chile also made a significant impact. It gave us the time and space to focus on Skrife with no distractions. We lived together in the same apartment and literally talked about Skrife every second. From the time, we woke up till we went to sleep we could brainstorm and get things done fast. Also, as Nigerians being in Santiago de Chile where infrastructure works, for once we didn’t have to bother about electricity, internet or transportation. So instead of looking for fuel for a generator, we were able to channel all our energy into what was most important — figuring out how Skrife should work and validating our assumptions by signing up clients and freelancers.
Lastly, our personal network and connections – before launching Skrife, we had both worked in top African incubators/hubs: MEST, CChub, (plus our experience at the S Factory), so we had a rich network of techies and founders who understand and use Skrife recurrently. It gave us a great foundation when we started looking around to acquire customers.
How do you see your business evolving in five years?
As Skrife grows, our vision is to train aspiring African writers and connect them to paid writing jobs all over the world. In the near future, we’d like to see Skrife evolve into a trusted and diverse writers’ community that not only provides alternate income to writers but also trains, mentors and supports them on their career journey.