If the expression, “he has worn many hats,” were to take human form, the result would probably be Victor Ekwealor. He has tried his hands at so many things that I wonder if he set out to discover as much as possible or he is simply restless by nature.
Many successful entrepreneurs pass through this phase, but does an award-winning creative fit into this box? I was curious about his journey to becoming a tech entrepreneur, product strategist, and growth expert.
Until recently, Victor was quick to shrug off the entrepreneur tag. For the better part of his career, he has been a content writer, journalist, editor, and growth specialist, helping startups refine their processes by leveraging his numerous skills. But at some point, he decided to explore a new phase of building a product.
I met Victor for a chat on a cool morning. After exchanging pleasantries, we settled down to talk, which was pretty easy because I enjoy talking, and he is a great listener. But I knew this already from our time together at Techpoint Africa when he was a senior editor. But we’ll get there soon.
What would a conversation with Victor be without context? It’s the Victoresque way of doing things; he almost always provides context when he speaks or writes. So I was not shocked when he answered my question about why he had to try out many things.
Victor explained how he constantly sees a need to tap into his creative mind even if he doesn’t succeed in everything he sets out to do.
“I am a creative, and I solve problems. The problems I find interest in most times are problems I am passionate about, and as I get older, there are more rewarding problems.”
I gave him a knowing look. We shared a laugh.
His public profile hardly reflects the early phase of his life, but he considers it all a part of the thread woven together to get the rich tapestry that is his life today.
And because there’s been so much to do, he admits that it’s a task to sometimes define who he is without going with the convenient response of a recently occupied role.
A foundation of building confidence
“I’ve had an interesting life. I’ve lived multiple lives. I’ve done everything legal.”
Victor believes a lack of confidence limits creativity, and he is nothing if not confident. He found expression early in life because he could try out his craft in many things growing up.
Apart from having liberal parents, Victor grew up consuming a lot of books. And this formed the foundation for his exploits in creative writing, storytelling, logic, narration, and informed thought processes.
He was a professional model, actor, and athlete. He has also dabbled into acting, music, teaching, cooking, and real estate. Whether he perfected any of these crafts is another discussion altogether.
Interestingly, a cursory look at Victor’s LinkedIn profile only reflects a few of his exploits in tech.
“When I got into tech, all the things I’ve done gave me context to be a generalist because I have a lot of transferable skills.”
If there was a light-bulb moment in Victor’s life, it was getting into tech and discovering the potential of working with startups in the innovative space.
First stop: Media tech
“The thing I like about digital media is that your work is tangible. You can see the result of what you’re doing. And there’s a potential for outsizing acts.”
Although Victor was exposed to the Internet before turning ten, he didn’t consider a tech career.
However, his interest piqued as he followed Seun Onigbinde’s story of building BudgIt when he got into CcHUB’s incubator. He was intrigued at how someone who used to work in a bank was building a solution to address a public challenge.
At that point, he had a startup idea to build a product for elections, but he soon shelved it to join Techpoint Africa as a writer in 2015.
Victor describes his roles at Techpoint Africa as very important for his future endeavours.
At Techpoint Africa, he wasn’t limited in his basic role as a journalist in writing and editing. He mentioned being involved in hosting shows, videography, photography, business growth, and brand building. When I joined Techpoint Africa as an intern in 2019, Victor was a senior editor, heading the editorial team’s technology desk.
At some point, he was in Kenya as the company’s country lead.
While at Techpoint Africa, Victor had some other defining moments; he won a journalism award in 2017 courtesy of PwC. In 2018, he bagged the Best Journalist for Business Reporting at the West Africa Media Excellence Awards.
By January 2020, Victor was ready for something new. In what seemed to be a vertical move, he joined TechCabal as managing editor, a position requiring what he calls a mix of refining the editorial, product management, and company building. It was even more challenging as it all happened during a pandemic.
Next stop: Growth
There’s no good time to leave a startup, especially when you believe in what the team is building. The consensus is that leaving either has to do with money/compensation or disinterest in a startup’s mission. The other option is searching for other opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Victor’s longest appointment with a startup so far was at Techpoint Africa, where he spent four years. He spent one year at TechCabal before moving to Spleet and then Dash, where he spent six months each serving as Vice President of Growth and Global Head of Growth, respectively.
Curious, I asked why he did not spend more time at the startups, and he succinctly stated that it’s not how long but how well that matters.
“There’s no right time to leave a startup; there’s always going to be work to be done. Create something that has a general impact on the brand. See something through.”
Victor’s previous responsibilities in product strategy and product development helped him transition somewhat naturally into growth full time.
Before he started getting paid to do this, Victor volunteered to help startups figure things out based on shared context. For context, he helps startups understand what they should do to grow and retain customers. This was his role at Spleet, a Nigerian-founded proptech startup, and Dash, an Africa-focused payments startup. He mentored teams and also consulted for startups.
Although they are mutually inclusive processes, he tried to correct a misconception about growth and marketing as we spoke.
“If marketing gets 1,000 people interested in a product, growth will answer questions like ‘Why are they leaving at the rate of 100 per month?’ ‘Why are they stuck on the sign-up page?’ ‘Why did they sign up and not proceed?’ Growth uses metrics to make products better.”
It all adds up, eventually
Although he occasionally does growth consulting, Victor now considers himself a tech entrepreneur. And it made sense when he disclosed that he currently leads a startup.
“I’m building a benefits platform for gig-economy workers,” he said, after taking a few seconds to decide whether to make the revelation.
Victor expressed his fear about building in an African market, but he is not new to taking risks. He mentioned his challenge with product iteration, but that is not enough to deter him, and he’s willing to take his chances.
My gut told me he had more to say, so I nudged him. Building a startup is no simple task, but he’s encouraged by the maxim, “Everything good will come,” as long as he puts in the effort. Victor believes there’s a lot to do in a short time; nevertheless, he plans to retire at 40.
Victor’s continued interest in the startup space hinges on the available prospects. It is typical for these business entities to evolve, so there will always be opportunities to do the best possible.
Speaking of what has made his life easier and eliminated unhealthy work ethics, Victor said he has learnt to delegate better, avoid burnout by allocating time to rest, and avoid procrastination by optimising calendar use. He has also built healthier habits and makes out time to work out.
Victor loves to sing, recreate to stay fit, read, host events, and hang out with friends.