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  • Writer's pictureMofoluke Ayoola

The move (Part 1)

The entrepreneurial journey is not without its challenges. At the end of 2016, after a series of reflections. I made the difficult decision to let my team go. It was only fair as I felt everything I had done to keep the business afloat was futile. Later that afternoon, on the 27th of December, I checked into Clear Essence California Spa and Wellness Resort in Ikoyi. I booked a room and got my usual deep-tissue massage. I remember driving myself through the Lagos traffic to Ikoyi with bulgy red eyes, thinking this entrepreneurship thing was not for the faint-hearted. I got there and sank the pillow in my tears. I cried for three days straight. Whilst you are wondering why the tears, deep down in me, I was mourning the vision, the sacrifices and the projections I had for this baby I had nurtured from ground zero to where it was. How do I walk away without feeling like a failure? Should I hold longer, or should I not? What options are available to me as someone who has spent a better part of her career on her entrepreneurial journey?

For the rest of my time at the resort, I read one of the books I had packed in my luggage, 'A Woman after God's own heart by Elizabeth George'. The book provided a cushioning effect, a kind of peace that let me want to live a day at a time and see beyond the turbulence of running a small business in a volatile environment like Nigeria's. The challenges certainly didn't fly away, but I did start to take on issues one day at a time.

I decided to visit the United States; the purpose was to establish RedViolet Company as an international brand. I attended the HighPoint Market Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina. I envisaged using the dropshipping model while creating a similar e-commerce platform in Nigeria. I applied for the Stripe Atlas program for Inc. registration to have RedViolet registered as an American entity and receive payments through the Stripe platform. I had everything figured out until Stripe Atlas came bearing bad news that we did not pass the KYC risk assessment test, despite qualifying via a competitional assessment. They declined because they won't provide the support that was part of the package to set up the US-based entity; this included access to a bank account and credit card. That vision was again dashed.

At this point, I knew the Nigerian market was nothing to write home about. The projections indicated a dwindling revenue year on year, plus the upper-middle-class market, our audience, consistently lost their buying power at the time. Later that year, I left for the UK. I was there for four months, from September 2017 to January 2018, thinking of the next steps. I knew if I couldn't keep the business, at least I could save myself. I considered personal development. Getting a master's or PhD will push the frontiers of my capabilities and make me commercially competitive. I also joined various startup ecosystems and conceptualised the idea of a DIY home furnishing app. This was the beginning of the era I call the Move.

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