Don't Give Up
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Don't Give Up
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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first don't give up you're gonna get tough don't think it's gonna be so easy or rosy and then always get bored of advisors people who you trust their sense of judgment that you can listen to you need mentorship get as good every mentorship uh every uh proper advice you can get be open to change your idea because sometimes the original concept can change along the lines so be willing to listen to professional advice and don't give up keep going [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several uh startups in the seven eight-figure businesses as well as the ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents trademarks and everything for their business and if you ever need help with your business feel free to reach out to us at strategymeeting.com we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast and i'm i'll guess i always worry i'm going to mispronounce today but i'm especially slightly nervous on this name but i'm giving it my best shot which is chabreze [Music] or zugbo it's close enough i don't know but uh so uh chabreze is uh from uh nigeria or went to university of nigeria nigeria left university to start a business um i think did a bit of work in china for a period of time and then come came to the u.s and went shopping for some items and uh just kind of looking at the items was kind of wondering you know you see a lot of chinese-made items that are sold in the u.s but how can you better understand or better on if you have certain items you want to buy at different countries you know you want to buy us-made items or you want to buy it from nigeria or china or mexico or anything else how would you do that and how can you improve that experience and that kind of sent him on to a bit of the journey where he's at today of uh launching that and going a bit further with that concept and that idea to make it a reality so with that much as an introduction welcome on to the podcast my pleasure thank you david and thanks for the opportunity so absolutely so i gave the kind of the brief introduction of the brief intro well take us back a bit a bit in time about uh going to university in nigeria and kind of how that or or how your journey went from there so maybe picking up from there oh okay so um i actually went to university here at popular university uh called federal investor technology uh but i dropped out to study in business and my final year actually because uh i got admission from us from macklin state university in louisiana and i got scholarship actually and some other schools in u.s at the time gave me a scholarship but i couldn't get visa to travel so so and i wanted to do artificial intelligence at the time so and we don't have that often here i was doing uh applied physics and i uh at the time uh so i actually always wanted the best so i i left to start business without my family like came from a very a business oriented background yeah um so so and so you did that and i it certainly makes sense hey you're you know looking to have responsibilities support the family went to university for a period of time and they're saying okay i would need to or do or need to do something else as well so then you know you start down that path and i think that led you to china is that right or do i remember that right okay okay yeah so um actually after the university i i started business the first thing i did was to uh go into pp personal position equipment business so i i have my one of my brother then our second son was a very as an international businessman so we have a lot of chinese companies that he was dealing business with so i i have some construction companies in nigeria and oil industry in nigeria that i went prospecting telling them about supplying them pp you know and again it put their names on their shoes and all that from the factory so that was like i had them so i approached a number of companies uh i got some others so i went to china and started importing those products and that's how i started so i was actually going to china purely on a business trip so i i went there regularly like 24 times a year uh sometimes five times a year that was from 2008 actually was my first in july today it was my first trip of last year i was quite young then and that is how i started so going further to the time i came to us on a business trip as well so now now how did you you know so you do going back and forth with china buying some of the products kind of that was the initial entrance into doing that you know into business and growing and figuring all that out now what brought you to the u.s or kind of how did you make that connection was it a desire to come to the u.s you had a business opportunity yeah you know kind of what what brought you to the us and what did you do once you got here okay so uh like i explained i started doing supply i mean doing contracting with companies supplying pp's so uh how i started thinking i need to be some brands you know contract consists a lot of things affects our industry price of oil could go so low and some of these companies will not require as much ppe as they want before so i look at setting up other sectors i went into cosmetics products and then some grocery items and food items so i first went to germany had a brand that i was marketing in nigeria and then i started thinking of uh imaging you know having at the time in nigeria um a lot of people were buying a red bull other kind of stuff so but i was thinking can we have something like i thought my chewing gum that have that can give you energy that has caffeine and all that in it that can do that for me i got a british company an australian company there's one company in australia then that their packaging was really so nice then i got another company in u.s uh in maryland actually in round valley and i started discussing with them so for them their minimum order quantity much lower than the one in uk and australia so that was how i choose to make the product with them and then that brought me to america that was my first trip coming to visit the company uh sign agreement for a private level manufacturing because they are to do my brand for me and it was on that trip that the experience you mentioned earlier happened you know going to shopping mall to buy some things for myself and give some good give to people when i come back to nigeria and [Music] that's it yeah so so now you have you know come to the us you continue on in the business and then you have the idea of hey how do i start to kind of provide that information so people want to buy it from a specific country and there's a number of motivations right it could be everything from hey i want to buy it from this country because i like the if it's food i like the flavor i like the style or technique to hey i want to support you know the different causes or different countries hey i want to support you know new businesses and whether it's you know south america or africa or asia or india or wherever or i want to buy u.s made so you know you kind of have all those different motivations for why you'd want to do it and you have this idea now how did you go about kind of starting to build it or to otherwise um make it a reality okay fine so um that experience at a messy store in in maryland really changed a whole lot of things for me you know being somebody who traveled to china all the time i'm getting to that store and then i'm saying married china a lot i i'm i be my first time in u.s i want to buy many u.s brands at least when i give my friends gifts in nigeria i'm a family and gift it's be made in u.s you know so um though i was able to buy one or two things there but it got me thinking i mean how do we provide a platform where people can shop things based on where it's made okay maybe i want to buy them at the u.s like you mentioned or men in colombia or many nigerians so uh that got me thinking of that so initially when i came back to nigeria that year i got an i.t person here programmer here in nigeria and then i got one person in india i commissioned the project but then being that such a platform never existed as a one-stop platform because what we do have is maybe a website showing made in u.s you don't have any one-stop platform where you can shop based on any country of your choice okay and um [Music] first idea came to my mind i told the book i won't defend the website the first page of it was the front page to be like what map so you click on the one the country where you want to shop from and then you can start doing that but when they first design it i look at it i say this is crazy so we started that fresh so we started designing it modifying it but you know as we were doing that a whole lot of other things has to come in place because number one if you want to build one-stop platform where products made in any country of your choice can be found okay specific to that country then you also create the demand and supply in the sense that you have to find a way to supply product coming from some countries to vendors or the merchants that wouldn't want that in order to populate the marketplace effectively otherwise you can have many us made in nigeria maybe one or two or five countries there you will be able to have broader representation of countries okay so what i did was it's okay we have to do b2b as well we have to create a b to be platforming so the platform is going to be but b to c and b to b in other words if you are in america as a business you want to produce your product in africa want to do african med product on nigeria my product or a colombian product or whatever country you'll be able to find companies doing private label or whatever for you okay and then if we see that a lot of buyers a lot of shoppers are looking for products made in say um a quarter we could tell you as a merchant that you are selling similar items and we realize that there is a lot of interest for products coming from for this particular type of product coming from enquirer so we can link you with the business there that can make your own brand for you say for instance um south korea uh sakurai is when we're known in some specific cosmetics items okay so there's a lot of people who might have interest in getting grants from there okay so we need this globe to be to be coupled with the b2c in one platform then as that idea was going as well working on it then i started thinking of other issues as well because when i did my research one of the boosting consulting group bcg report shows that a lot of americans want to buy money in the u.s even a higher percentage of them can pay up to 15 more on u.s product for honorable and i started seeing german germany japan different countries how people prefer things coming from them but at the same time there's something that struck a lot of people want to spend helping others some people who want to spend on local uh locally but product in america want to support the economy they want to support their company take foreign a lot of businesses mom and pop shops are closing some small businesses start testing their product the first point we are small businesses actually do test their product is on at those small mom and pop shops in the streets in their community i've been a businessman i've created a brand afraid of 15 brands in nigeria that sells not just in nigeria in north african countries first time when you create a brand being a small business you take it to those small shops where your community people go to shop right so if for this coffee that closes all the shops now how are small businesses able to sell their product because everywhere you go to some online stores you have to make a lot of advertisement and all that so it's not so easy okay so i started thinking even before coming how do we get involved women own enterprise products identified minority owned enterprise product identified and then we did a country of origin associated with product also helping those who want to maybe support uh people in africa like you mentioned earlier maybe they'll as a well direct web transfer to the people because so maybe just diving in or jumping in really quick so you know and i think that that you know the motivation kind of why you do what you know what or what you're trying to accomplish definitely makes sense and that kind of brings us up to kind of where you're at today and if i remember right you guys have kind of done what would be a bit of a you know a soft launch so to speak or you've got a you got the website up you're starting to get vendors you're starting to get people on board and starting to implement the project so kind of give us an idea of kind of where you're at today and kind of what's the next steps or kind of what you know where things are heading from the air heading now okay so we started july next last year which actually started november to raise some matches on the nigerian marketplace so as of today we have we have thousands of merchants on the nigerian marketplace and we have started selling for july and we're receiving very good review and a lot of people love it the idea of shopping on saturdays then we also need some trends a lot of people our merchants here also want to diversify their supply chain so some people are looking for many us products and all that that can buy so uh this time we are launching the us um we've started onboarding merchants on our us marketplace we just open it on ablc.com for merchants to to get registered and put their product there and then hopefully by the end of this month it could be open for consumers to start shopping on it so not just consumers but also the wholesale services to be to be part of it yeah so we we kind of want to serve as gateway to african market not just for for retail for for for b2b for hosting services the same thing for african businesses to us and canada and at the moment we partner with shipboard they are based in chicago for our local locations both in u.s and canada for fulfillment services and warehousing i think that that sounds exciting and a fun a lot of progress to be made and a lot of uh fun or fun opportunities down the road so now's that kind of brings us up today maybe we'll you know as we wrap towards the end of the podcast i always have two questions that i always hit on and also we'll jump into those now so the first question is so along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it yeah i think um the worst business decision i've ever made was doing a business one particular business in a foreign country without hiring an attorney in fact our advice if you want to do business that you you're ready to bet up to fifty thousand dollars even if you're twenty five thousand dollars you need an answer because i had this business the first business i told you i came to us i lost 127 000 because i went to this company they made a product for me because i didn't have an attorney when i came to sign the agreement and all that but unfortunately i realized the company were not really producing much that kind of thing at that time so uh they tried making the product it took us a long time to get the formula the formulation and other then when the first batch it was not good they apologized they tried again trying again i saw the red red flags but at the end of the day when they shipped the product to me within three months i have to do a record it's a massive record because the product was amazing our chefs but because uh and then i wanted to come over to negotiate with them i was denied this at that time though i let us cut my visa but it took almost a more than a year so because i didn't have an attorney then to to discuss to you know it's a interference on my behalf it i lost that money i lost the business i lost everything so i the best advice i will give is always even if you are doing 25 000 dollar business of physical get an anthony to help you stretching things out especially even local it doesn't have to be foreign country even local yeah no and i think that that that's a you know mistake certainly to learn from and great advice that you learn from it so and it kind of transitions into the the second question which is now if you're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them the one piece of advice i'll tell anybody who want to go into startup is first don't give up you're gonna get tough don't think it's going to be so easy or rosy and then always get bored of advisors people who you trust their sense of judgment that you can listen to you need mentorship get as good every mentorship uh every proper advice you can get be open to change your idea because sometimes the original concept can change along the lines so be willing to listen to professional advice and don't give up keep going no i think i think that's uh that's great advice and i think certainly something that people should take to heart as they get started on a startup or small business so well as we wrap up if people want to um find out more about you they want to be a client they want to be a customer they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you or find out more okay so uh the best way to reach out be i'm on twitter uh i'm not on twitter i'm on linkedin uh with uh zuma chiwezza jay zumu or through my email sheboys.com that is my first name and then at abuser.com it's a very good way to reach me all right well i definitely encourage everybody to reach out find out more support uh support a great business and uh and definitely do their part so well as we wrap up first of all thank you for coming on the podcast now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show also uh make sure if your listener to click subscribe so you get notified in your podcast app so you get notifications as all the new awesome episodes come out and leave us a review so new people can find us as well last but not least if you ever have any needs for startup or as a startup or small business for patents trademarks or anything else related to your business feel free to reach out to us by going to strategymeeting.com and always here to help thank you again for coming on to the podcast thank you david for having me thank you for having me it's my pleasure all right and good luck with the the next leg of your journey and wish it even better than the last yeah i thank you so much yeah sure you