When Evans Akanno graduated from the University, he faced the same major problem most Nigerian graduates face – Unemployment. However, as a solution-driven individual, Evans had an idea that later metamorphosed into something great.
Evans Akanno was born in Nigeria into a middle-class family, he attended Innocent Comprehensive High School, Surulere and later went on to study Industrial Chemistry at the Imo State University where he graduated in 2009 with a 2nd Class Lower Division. “I think it’s important for people to know that your degree doesn’t define your life”, he said.
After his service year in 2010, he applied for many jobs but couldn’t get any. With the free time, he did some graphic design and minor pc repairs. “Design was something I loved way back in my Secondary School days, but it was more like a hobby because my career path was to be a Doctor”. In a few months I realized that this hobby could grow to become something tangible. So I started to refine my design skills to see how it could help businesses.”
Evans started by designing logos and social media posts and later brochures, and websites he registered the company Evans Akanno Creative Design Agency. Doing this expanded his network and he was referred to his first full-time role in 2012 with Jumia, where he worked for about 9 months before moving on to Konga where he worked for another 11 months. However, when Evans was working at those companies, the business he registered before working full-time had grown so much and was listed as one of the Top 10 startups in Nigeria in 2013. “I knew that my small team working from home while I was at work and my working late nights and weekends was not enough to scale. With clients like Recycle Points, Suregifts, Africa Courier Express, DSTV and others I realized that I could focus on the agency business and make it something bigger.”
Evans resigned from his job at Konga in May 2014 and spent the next few months working for clients while planning for his new company. He rebranded the company to CREGITAL and launched in 2015, starting with a team of four. “Cregital started with offering creative solutions to startups and small businesses and grew organically to a software agency serving established corporates like Zenith Bank, Globacom, Coronation Bank among others. Now the digital agency has a team of 15 people with designers, developers, strategists, analysts, marketers and visionaries.”
Cregital core focus is user experience design, brand identities, web design and development. It has developed into one of the most successful startups in Nigeria. Speaking on the challenges the company faces, Evans expressed his displeasure towards the poor internet service in Nigeria with respect to costs. He also spoke on the challenge of hiring and retaining skilled people with the right attitude for work.
Still talking on challenges, Evans believes that every business can’t run smoothly; there will be ups and downs, but one has to hold on to his vision and stay motivated to achieve success. “Yes, there are down days, there are days I’m tired, there are days I’ve cried over this startup, but I’ve learnt how to “rest when tired and not quit”, he said.
“Most recently we have been working on Disha – the future of Cregital. Disha is a suite of digital productivity tools. We are building digital tools and templates that help designers, developers, content creators, startups and agencies around the world do their work faster and more efficiently. We recently built Disha Pages a platform that enables people create, edit and publish a beautiful responsive website instantly without writing code.”
Speaking on how he juggles family and work, Evans advised ”I think work and life shouldn’t be treated as contrasting separate things. Ideally we should try to harmonize our career and personal lives. ”I try to find ways to stay happy and productive, regardless of how much work I need to do. For most weekends I spend time with family or visit friends and have a good laugh.”
Cregital has grown from a dream to an admirable reality that includes a number of international affiliations. The serial businessman still has the hunger he had in 2015, which inspires him to push for projects like “Disha” and many others that he didn’t talk broadly about during our chat. One thing is certain: there is much more to come from the man called Evans Akanno.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets