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Innovation

Never feel limited or kill your dreams or passion just because you think some one else is already doing it

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Kevin York Systrom (born December 30, 1983) is an American programmer and entrepreneur. He created Instagram, the world’s largest photo sharing website. He co‑founded Instagram along with Mike Krieger. Instagram is ranked world’s 14th most visited site by Alexa rankings. He was keen programmer and loved photography. Under Systrom as CEO, Instagram has become a fast growing app, with 800 million monthly users as of September 2017. Systrom resigned as CEO of Instagram on September 24, 2018.

Early life and education

Systrom was born in 1983 in Holliston, Massachusetts. He is the son of Diane (Pels), a marketing executive at Zipcar, who also worked at Monster and Swapit during the first dotcom bubble, and Douglas Systrom, Vice President in Human Resources at TJX Companies. Systrom attended Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where he was introduced to computer programming. His interest grew from playing Doom 2 and creating his own levels as a child. He worked at Boston Beat, a vinyl-record store in Boston, while he was in high school. Systrom attended Stanford University and graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in management science and engineering. At Stanford, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He spent the winter term of his third year in Florence, where he studied photography. He got his first taste of the startup world when he was chosen as one of twelve students to participate in the Mayfield Fellows Program at Stanford University. The fellowship led to his internship at Odeo, the company that eventually gave rise to Twitter.

Google

After graduating Stanford, he joined Google working on Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Spreadsheets and other products. He spent two years at Google as a product marketer; Systrom left Google out of frustration of not being moved into the Associate Product Manager program.

Burbn

After leaving Google to join Nextstop, a location recommendation startup founded by ex-Googlers that was acquired by Facebook in 2010, Systrom thought of combining location check-ins and popular social games. He made the prototype of what later became Burbn and pitched it to Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz at a party. He came up with the idea while on a vacation in Mexico when his girlfriend was unwilling to post her photos because they did not look good enough when taken by the iPhone 4 camera. The solution to the problem was to use filters, effectively hiding the qualitative inferiority of the photographs. Subsequently, Systrom developed the X-Pro II filter that is still in use on Instagram today. Today, here in Africa we rather turn to shy away from the problems we are faced with daily. Here is an American who has the same blood that flows through our veins in his, transforming and seeing great opportunities in the problems he is faced with. Today, the world has no choices but talk about Kevin York Systrom.

After the first meeting, he decided to quit his job in order to explore whether or not Burbn could become a company. Within 2 weeks of quitting his job, he received US$500,000 seed funding round from both Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. While in San Francisco, Systrom and Mike Krieger built Burbn, a HTML 5 check-in service, into a product that allowed users to do many things: check into locations, make plans (future check-ins), earn points for hanging out with friends, post pictures, and much more. However, recalling their studies in Mayfield Fellows Program, Krieger and Systrom identified that Burbn contained too many features and the users did not want a complicated product. They decided to focus on one specific feature, photo-sharing. The development of Burbn led to creation of Instagram. A month after launching, Instagram had grown to 1 million users. A year later, Instagram hit more than 10 million users.

Instagram

In 2010, Systrom co‑founded the photo-sharing and, later, video-sharing social networking service Instagram with Mike Krieger in San Francisco, California.In April 2012, Instagram, along with 13 employees, was sold to Facebook for US$1 billion in cash and stock. According to multiple reports, the deal netted Systrom US$400 million based on his ownership stake in the business. One of the key contributions to the acquisition is that Mark Zuckerberg stated Facebook is “committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, allowing Systrom to continue to lead Instagram.[20] Systrom stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the pros of becoming a part of Facebook were that “we got to pair up with a juggernaut of a company that understands how to grow, understands how to build a business, has one of the best, if not the best, management team in tech and we got to use them as our resource”.

In an interview with Forbes, he stated that “Instagram is a new form of communication that’s an ideal fit with the always-with-you iPhone in today’s social media world. Instagram’s a social network built around photos, where people can quickly comment on or ‘like’ photos and share them on Twitter or Facebook.” Systrom identifies Instagram as a media company, which explains the roll-out of video advertisement by big companies such as Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic and CW in late 2014.

Under Systrom’s leadership, Instagram developed key features like the Explore tab, filters, and video. Over time, Instagram has rolled out features allowing users to upload and filter photographs and short videos, follow other users’ feeds, geotag images, name location, and comment on other users’ photographs and short videos. Instagram allowed the development of web profiles in 2012, connecting accounts to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr in 2013, an Explore tab in mid-2012, and Video in June 2013.[24] Instagram offers 19 photographic filters; Normal, 1977, Amaro, Branna, Earlybird, Hefe, Hudson, Inkwell, Kelvin, Lo-fi, Mayfair, Nashville, Rise, Sierra, Sutro, Toaster, Valencia, Willow, X-Pro II. Systrom hired former Yahoo Vice-President James Everingham, as well as Kevin Weil, who formerly headed product development at Twitter, as high-ranking executives at Instagram.

As of October 2015, 40 billion pictures had been shared on Instagram.

As of June 2016, Instagram had over 500 million active users.

Also in 2016, CNN quoted a study according to which Snapchat was regarded as the most important social network among teenagers aged 14 to 19, the first time in two years that Instagram did not feature at the top.

Instagram currently employs around 450 people. The app is used by 600 million people per month and 300 million per day. Its competitors Snapchat and Twitter employ more people for a smaller user base, with Twitter having 3,500 employees for 317 million monthly users, and Snapchat employing 1,500 people for half of Instagram’s daily user base.

In the future, Systrom seeks to develop Instagram further to better integrate the use of videos into the app. He also stated that in a few years, the company might be getting involved in Virtual Reality products.

According to Quartz and the New York Times, Systrom and Krieger implemented a system to overcome bottlenecks and slow decision-making in the company by scheduling meetings in which only decisions are taken. This approach was informed by Systrom’s interest in academic business theories, in particular Clayton M. Christensen‘s concept of The Innovator’s Dilemma.

On September 24, 2018, it was announced that Systrom has resigned from Instagram and will be leaving in few weeks.

Views on copying ideas in the industry

Instagram has been accused on multiple occasions for copying various new functions from its closest competitor Snapchat. Regarding the issue, Systrom argued that all new services launched by tech companies nowadays are “remixes” of existing products, and that “all of these ideas are original when you remix them and bring your own flavour”. Systrom also argued that ‘you can trace the roots of every feature anyone has in their app, somewhere in the history of technology’ and that this was simply ‘just the way Silicon Valley works.  Never feel limited or kill you dreams or passion just because you think some one else is already doing what you are thinking of. The curent system just demands that you add your own flavour and move on.

Forbes list

In 2014, Systrom was listed in the Forbes 30 under 30 list under the Social/Mobile category.

In 2016, the magazine ranked Systrom as a billionaire with an estimated net worth of US$1.1 billion. The fortune came about as a result of Facebook stocks rising more than 500%.

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Afro Success Stories

African Entrepreneurs creating Jobs and Employment in Their Communities – Olasupo Abideen

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african entrepreneurs

Olasupo Abideen ” My greatest achievement is being a 25yr old employer who employs 35 people and has trained 475 Others” as one of african entrepreneurs.

Meet Olasupo

I am a 25year old one of Nigerian african entrepreneurs, founder/CEO of OPAB Gas with over 6 years of transnational experience leading and working with diverse teams to facilitate youth empowerment, development projects and youth involvement in policy. I am a UNESCO ESD Young Leader, a WEF Global Shaper and a Fellow, Young Africa Leadership Initiative.

Since receiving the $5000 Seed Capital in December 2018, my Company has created employment for thirty-five (35) University undergraduates (through our Work Student and Student Ambassadorship Program), opened ‘four (4) new Gas stores’, and trained ‘four hundred and seventy-five (475) unemployed youth and corps members‘ (through our #Gasprenuer Initiative). As a means of giving back to the community, we have also helped ‘five (5) kids’ return to school through our #StreetToSchool programme for our Community.

My Humble Beginnings

I watched my mother walk long distances to gather firewood and buy coal to cook for my family in my growing up years in my village in south-west Nigeria, where I was raised. It wasn’t peculiar to my mother; this was commonplace for all families. We all knew it wasn’t safe. We knew that if it made them this uncomfortable, there was no way it was safe, but we didn’t know there were alternatives. After all, this is how our grandparents and their parents before them lived.

It bothered me to see my mother’s red eyes, and the wet eyes of other women in our rural community bothered me a lot. Even though I did not know until recently that cooking with firewood is equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes per hour, and is one of the three causes of mortality among women and children, I knew there had to be something I could do, but I couldn’t figure it out; or better put, I did not have enough education nor access to information to figure it out.

 

My Business Idea

The Idea to start my business came from a need that I identified and solving that problem meant a business opportunity. As a student of chemistry at the University of Ilorin, I was exposed – through volunteering – to MDGs (and subsequently SDGs), and I took a keen interest in clean, renewable energy, that could be used instead of orthodox fuelling options, and one of them was Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

After a long time of advocacy for SDGs, as an undergraduate, my SDGs advocacy and youth development organization, Brain Builders International, signed an agreement with the Kwara State University’s Community Development and Entrepreneurship Centre to train young Nigerians african entrepreneurs on the Sustainable Development Goals, their benefits, and ways toward actualisation.

I noticed that every time I took the 55min trip to Kwara State University to facilitate these training sessions, I would encounter students carrying gas cylinders: either going to fill Gas in Ilorin or coming back from Ilorin after filling Gas. I later learnt that the only cooking gas supplier in the community at that time was exploiting the students by using a manual scale that could be manipulated and also selling at a rip-off price.

 

Solving the Problem

In 2017, I took a soft loan from a friend, added some of my own moneyand after conducting intense market research, filing necessary papers, and satisfying ethical and professional standards, we opened our first OPAB Gas station. The services we offered hinged on three things; convenience, safety, and trust. Students could now focus on academics, as we did not only sell gas at the standard rate, but we also offered pick-up and delivery services. We used safe measures alongside a digital scale to address the issue of trust. Within three months we had broken even.

The TEF Intervention

In 2018, I applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme but was only selected for the GIZ list to be one of the 210 beneficiaries of the training and $5000 funding. The training provided by the foundation on business planning, financial intelligence, scalability, among others could only be likened to a mini MBA.

Immediately after the training myself and my team we started discussing how to dominate the market in which we operate and capture new markets.

With the seed capital, we were able to expand our business.

 

Our Growth and Milestones as one of african entrepreneurs

  • Expansion: We have expanded the business to 6 stations in two townships to target the student populations and made over $25,000 since receiving the seed capital from the foundation.
  • Employment: Staff strength – 2 (in 2017), 35 people (2019).
  • Gas on Wheels: We now own delivery vans and offers delivery services
  • Digitization: We now take orders on the business’ website in both cities where we operate.
  • Introduced Customer Loyalty service
    • Health safety card – to educate users about safety measures.
    • Customer reward: Points reward system.
    • Holiday Promos
  • we also have a few impact initiatives that we run.
  • OPAB Gas has trained 450 Youth Corps members, unemployed youth in Kwara State on the economic merits of the Gas economy and the many opportunities that abound in the sector.
  • In line with the UN SDGs, OPAB student work experience – an internship programme where we train students. During this internship, they work on Sundays for a stipend. They then receive N10,000 for every 1000kg of gas sold.
  • OPAB gas student ambassador scheme – delivery service.

 

The Future

The vision for OPAB Gas has always been to solve energy availability and ease of use for everyone across Nigeria so we are constantly working on ways to reach out to more Nigerians.

Our OPAB telemetry solution will allow people to monitor and manage their gas usage, notify them when it is almost finished, connect them to the nearest gas stations and pay for gas with existing mobile money applications.

 

 

Contact Details

Website: https://opabgas.com

Instagram: @opabgas_

Phone call/WhatsApp: 07068775529.

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