The love and the hustle to get high-end phones won’t ever go away, because of the various brand of phones in the market today. Amazing still is that while some prefer a particular brand of phone over another for no reason, some just stick with whatever brand can give them what they are looking for in a phone.
You will agree with me that the fastest selling phone brands in Nigeria now are the, Infinix or Tecno phones but, these brands were in the past believed to be what we call “Chinko Phones” (China Made Phones); the truth is, whether you go with the Infinix or the Tecno phone, you are buying from the same company or individual, and he isn’t a Chinese man, no! He is a Nigerian.
Meet Nnamdi Ezeigbo, a native of Umuahia, Abia state, the founder and CEO of Slot Systems Limited, and also the co-founder of the Tecno and Infinix phone brands, which are currently one of the fastest selling mobile phones in Nigeria. Born on the 4th of August, 1966, in Delta state, Nigeria. He started his primary school education at Pamol primary school, Sapele, and further had his secondary school education at Ogini grammar school and Ogharefe, in Delta state.
He proceeded to Yaba College of Technology in 1988, where he studied Electrical Electronics Engineering, and got a Higher National Diploma (HND), he had his mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year at Guiness Nigeria PLC, in 1996. Nnamdi Ezeigbo further proceeded to study Computer & Electronics Engineering at the Lagos State University (LASU), between the years 1996 to 2001, and graduated with a Second Class Upper result. He later acquired a Masters degree in Information Technology at the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, in the year 2008/2009.
After searching for job with no avail, he decided to become an apprentice learning how to fix computers, however, six months into his apprenticeship, he decided to move on from his employer because his boss was more into making money than building a solid customer relationship. Nnamdi, went on to squat with a friend at Ikeja, where he was able to increase his customer base, due to his sincerity and customer relationship goals.
Luck smiled on him, when an old customer he knew from his days as an apprentice, came to the little shop he shared with his friend to see him. The customer asked him if he could continue fixing his computers, and also requested that Nnamdi move to a much bigger shop. To help him get started, the customer brought some printers for him to sell, from which he used the proceeds to get a bigger shop for himself. He paid 180,000 Naira for the new place and continued with selling computers; he eventually bought the place over, years later for 100 million Naira and so the story of SLOT began
However, the need for an expansion didnt come until customers started demanding for phones, and requesting for other branches of SLOT closer to them. Seeing this as an opportunity, he proceeded to Lagos Business School, to learn how to better manage his growing business; More so, with the increasing challenge of phones with poor network coverage at the time and people carrying multiple phones, Namdi approached Nokia, with the intention of convincing them to manufacture dual SIM phones, a proposal Nokia company rejected believing it will slow down the sale of their single sim phones which were in vogue at the time. That was not enough to discourage him however, as he proceeded to China.
According to his interview with Nairametrics, Nnamdi said; “So I went to China and got a guy who had worked with a company called Bird then. Bird was into phones but they got choked and lost market share. I met with the guy and asked the guy to let us do something. I came with that name and I registered it here and brought the guy to Nigeria. And that was the high point of our business. We came together and I designed the first Tecno phone, Tecno T101. We started it but the market did not accept it and we also had problem with the dual SIM not working together and we had to make corrections and we came with Tecno 201 and that was a bit accepted by the market. But we were basically giving marketers on credit to sell the phones and then pay us later. And I was funding it all alone.”
“Since I was funding it alone, we were finding it difficult to get the right quantity to sell until the market started accepting us. What I now did was to make them pay in advance, I mean the dealers. So we started using their money to order the products. This was around 2007. The introduction of Tecno brand was the turning point of our business.”
“Like I said, Tecno is my baby and we kept improving. I knew a day would come when the middle class would accept Tecno. Initially, it was a phone for low income people but based on improvement and upping our game, the middle class had to accept it and when the economy went down in 2008 that helped Tecno to move to the top. Since purchasing power had dropped, they had to go for something that have same capabilities but cheaper. So with N15,000, you could buy a Smartphone and thank God for 3G network. The advent of 3G network actually helped Tecno to move up. So students who could not afford to buy phones in the range of N30,000 could buy one for N15,000 and enjoy features of Smartphone like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and so on.”
“Tecno now gave birth to Infinix. It is the same company. You can now see how the brand has evolved. So looking at the Nigerian people, you would see that a phone like Tecno will get a point when premium customers will like to use it.”
Mr.Nnamdi Ezeigbo is currently running an entrepreneurship program at the prestigious Harvard university, and he is happily married with children