Q+A with Vivian Ngwodo
Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and where you are from.
I was born and raised in Nigeria before I relocated to the U.K in 2010 to commence a Post-graduate degree at the University of Dundee. I hold a Masters degree in Strategic Financial management from the University of Dundee, U.K. and a Bachelors degree in Accounting from Covenant University, Nigeria. My experience cuts across the financial, retail and digital industries in Nigeria and the U.K. When I am not at my 9-5, you will find me promoting my food app, Chopstreets, as well as providing digital services such as web design, app development and social media management to entrepreneurs and small business owners in the food and drinks sector.
Tell me more about your app Chopstreets and how the idea for it came about.
Chopstreets is an exciting new app I developed to help Africans and Non-Africans discover great places and events where they can enjoy African and Caribbean food in London (and the rest of the U.K later on). You can also upload a picture of your food, like and comment about your dining experience on the app. The idea for Chopstreets was born out of the frustration I faced finding African or Caribbean restaurants in London. Most websites had little or minimal information and I decided to take it upon myself to make Afro-Caribbean restaurants easily discoverable in the U.K.
How did you get to where you are today and what was your career path?
I started my career in banking and after my Masters degree in 2011, I still carried on with the financial services industry and worked with major banks in the U.K. In 2014, I discovered my love for web design by chance and I wanted to learn more. I took advantage of several free online resources to teach myself how to design websites. At about this time, I noticed there was very little visibility or recognition of African and Caribbean restaurants in London. I then decided to start a restaurant blog and super directory which I built myself for people to review and list Afro-Caribbean restaurants and food business in the U.K. Later on, I decided to undergo an internship with a digital startup in London to enhance my skills and learn more about launching and running a tech startup. In 2016, I had the idea to develop a Location based app that would make it easier for people from all ethnicities to find & review African and Caribbean restaurants. I started working on it in the last quarter of 2016 and In January 2017, Chopstreets App was launched on both Google Play and the App Store. I am not there yet as there is still so much to learn in my journey to becoming a successful Tech entrepreneur.
What has been the most challenging aspect of creating an app and how did you overcome it?
There were many challenges including funding, design and much more. But one thing I didn’t want to do was to create an app that was too complicated or frustrating to use. I wanted the app to be simple and easy to use. In order to achieve that, I had to think more like a user than a product manager or owner.
Have you had role models or mentors to help you along the way?
Yes, I have. I have a number of people I look up to as role models in the business world and others who have mentored me along the way. In one way or the other, they have helped shape my brand and moulded me into the person that I am today. I believe everyone should have a mentor or accountability partner as they would help keep you in check.
What has having a business in the tech industry taught you?
I am still very new to it and learning. One thing I have learnt so far is to keep myself engaged in continuous learning and mastery of new skills as things change rapidly in the tech world. When you get stuck, it is ok to reach out to others and ask for help.
Any advice for women who fear to get into tech?
Take it slowly: If you try to do everything at once, you may become overwhelmed and burn out.
Do not be afraid. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to do. Be determined, remain focused and don’t give up. Most people assume that the tech industry is meant for men alone, but no! A career or business in Tech is open to anyone interested.
How do you keep motivated when you’re faced with challenges?
I see the bigger picture at all times and I constantly remind myself that there are other people who have gone through the same challenges. They are doing excellently well and “do not have two heads”. If they can, so can I! I also love to read inspiring stories of successful people.
What advice would you give women who want to start their own business, particularly those interested in creating an app?
Do not be intimidated; Go for it! Take the time to do your research to be sure this is what you want to do. Enrol in a class or program where you can properly hone your skills and enjoy the process!
Find Chopstreets here: http://www.chopstreets.com/