How I Work: Ire Aderinokun, BuyCoins Co-founder

by | Oct 19, 2020

Ire Aderinokun is a front-end web developer and user interface designer from Lagos, Nigeria. She is the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of BuyCoins, a cryptocurrency exchange for Africa. Ire is also a Google developer expert, specialising in the core front-end technologies and has written over 100 articles on these topics on her blog.

Over the next few weeks, we will look at the work lives of some of the leading figures in Africa’s fintech space. In this first edition, Ire talks about her career journey, her roles at BuyCoins, how she stays productive, and also how she takes a break.


  • Current role: COO and VP Engineering, BuyCoins
  • Location(s): London and Nigeria
  • Current computer: MacBook Pro
  • Current mobile device: iPhone 11 Pro
  • Describe how you work in one word: Focused

Tell us briefly how you started and how you got where you are today.

I have always been interested in web development; when I was younger, I did it for fun and never considered it as a career. I rediscovered it while I was getting my master’s degree; that was when I understood what computer science was all about. So, I decided to try and teach myself to see if I could get into it. I did some online courses and read blogs and things like that, and then I started off doing freelance for a while before I began working for an actual company.

What does your job entail?

I lead the front-end team, so anything to do with the front-end is my responsibility, essentially. And with the COO role, it’s managing operations and overseeing a bit of the business and finance side, making sure we are compliant.

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Walk us through a typical workday.

Well, now it’s just being at home and working from home, right? So, I wake up around 7:30 a.m. or a few minutes to eight, start the day checking emails and just trying to have a slow start. I usually just try and keep up with notifications and plan what I need to do for that day — whether it is going to be more of an engineering day or more of an operations day. I just set out my tasks, work through them, and try to plan and work around the many meetings I  usually have; I schedule them so I have some free days when I can just work without external disruptions. But because of the lockdown, there’s not that much variety to it; it’s just sitting in front of my laptop for the whole day.

What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you do without?

At BuyCoins, we use Basecamp for our project management. We also use Notion.

I use Spark for my emails, and I think it’s an excellent email client that helps make things a bit easier. I use Bear for note-taking — some things go in Bear, and others go in Notion, but I use both. 

I have also started doing bullet journaling, so that’s like actually having a physical journal and writing stuff down. And I’ve found it quite helpful to take some things out and focus on what I need to do that day. It helps to write them down on a piece of paper and cross them off when I’m done. 

The most important thing is Google Calendar; I don’t think I can survive without it. I put everything there.

I use Sketch for design. 

My iPad, AirPods, and Apple Watch are the main gadgets that I use every day.

What’s your favourite shortcut or hack?

Activating the do not disturb feature so that I don’t get distracted by inevitable messages.

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What task(s) do you dislike but still do?

Most of the operations-related tasks. I don’t enjoy them, but I have to do them so that the company doesn’t implode. 

How do you keep track of what you have to do?

We use Basecamp. I also use Things sometimes, but I would say Basecamp and my bullet journal are what I use to keep track of what I need to do. 

Basecamp is more like everything related to BuyCoins that needs to be done and then in my physical journal, it’s more like what I need to do for that particular day or week, and it is more granular.

How do you recharge or take a break?

I take naps, and I watch TV shows. I try to make sure that I take breaks in the middle of the day, so it’s not like I’m just sitting down working for eight hours straight. I also play Animal Crossing.

Besides work, what do you spend time doing? What do you enjoy?

That’s hard to answer because there isn’t much to do now. After all, one can’t go out. But I try to meet friends whenever I can. 

I love watching YouTube and TikTok —  all types of content. 

But I guess outside of coronavirus I like to hang out with friends more and go out. I also like to travel, which I obviously can’t do now.

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What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to? What do you recommend? 

I’m watching Lovecraft Country right now, that’s like the main thing. I’m also rewatching Fresh Meat, which is a UK TV show. Mostly, I’ve been rewatching stuff, so there’s also Community,  and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I don’t listen to music that often, I mostly listen to podcasts so I’d recommend ATP (Accidental Tech Podcast). Cortex is another one I enjoy, and Somehow I Manage which is a podcast about the TV show ‘The Office.’

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

To go for and do the thing that you want to do, and understand the difference between saying “I wish I were something” or “I want to be able to develop a website” and doing it. Also, being careful not to say I’m a developer when I haven’t started doing the work yet. So, just being very action-focused.

With what you know now, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would say, I wish I started this a bit earlier because I ended up going to school for five years and getting two degrees for things that I don’t actively use. I won’t say I didn’t need to do them, but maybe if I was more aware, I might have been able to make a better-informed decision.

What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?

I guess I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do long-term. I feel like I don’t necessarily have a five-year plan. So that’s still something I’m trying to figure out. 

Who would you like to see answer these questions?

I would like to see my Co-founder, Tomiwa Lasebikan, do this, because I have no idea how he works. Also, Moyinoluwa Adeyemi, Software Engineer at Twitter & Android GDE.

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Samuel Okike
Samuel Okike

I write about media, technology and internet culture. Reach me on Twitter @okikesam

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