Halimah Omogiafo is the Founder and CEO of Koody, an online marketplace for financial advice. She launched Koody in August 2020 after attempting to build an automatic savings app. She describes Koody as the future of wealth management. Koody is democratising wealth management by building tools to make financial advice cheaper and more accessible. Halimah’s long-term vision is to help close the UK’s widening financial advice gap and then expand into other countries.
While Koody has only been available to the public for about three months, Halimah has been working on the idea for about six months. Koody currently has two employees, but they plan on increasing the team size to four before the end of the year. They are actively looking to add a community manager and a tech lead to the team.
What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I have always known that I was going to become an entrepreneur. Growing up, the only career path I knew was entrepreneurship. Both my parents were entrepreneurs. My father was an entrepreneur for all of the seventeen years I knew him. My mother was an entrepreneur throughout my childhood. She only changed careers recently.
I studied finance at undergraduate level in my home country, Nigeria. Then went on to earn a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Oxford. I am also a hobbyist software developer and ex-retail banker.
Koody is not my first venture. When I was studying at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, I launched an events management startup called Sarah Springs. I ran it successfully for about three years before joining a retail bank.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is finding a problem, solving it and sharing that solution with as many people as possible with the goal of helping people and earning a reward.
How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I knew my idea was good enough to develop it when it became much easier to convince people to use the service. The easier it got to acquire new users, the more convinced I was that I was solving a real problem. Or at least, I was making something that people want.
What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Firstly, as an entrepreneur, you need to understand product development and sales. It would help if you were comfortable building a basic version of your product, sharing it with as many users as possible, and iterating based on user feedback. You must also understand how to sell. Selling becomes easy when you are solving a problem, and you know where to find the people who need your solution. As with most things like these, it is easier said than done. Creating a useful solution and identifying the right audience can be quite tricky.
Secondly, you need to be strong-willed. This isn’t a skill, but it is essential if you are going to succeed as an entrepreneur. So many people are going to reject you and your idea in the beginning. Many people will tell you that your idea makes no sense or tell you about a competitor who is doing a better job. While it’s important to listen to feedback, you need to be strong-willed; otherwise, you will succumb to external pressure and give up too quickly.
Finally, it would help if you had grit. Grit is also not a skill, but it is quite important. I think perseverance is the difference between success and failure in entrepreneurship. Even if your first five ideas aren’t good enough, for example, if you keep pushing and genuinely try to solve problems, you will be successful.
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
Nothing brings me greater joy as an entrepreneur than receiving feedback from users. It makes me happy that people are using something I built and want to talk about it.
What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
Apple Inc. constantly inspires me. Their core products are useful, beautiful and easy to use. I want to build a company that does all three of these things on a very large scale.
If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
Product development, design and innovation.
What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
Launching and growing our personal finance community.
What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
I think my biggest mistake so far has been choosing to do all the work myself and not properly delegating or outsourcing the work to other people.
How have you funded your ideas?
We are currently self-funded. I have also received donations from family and friends.
Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
Not really. I was accepted into the Antler accelerator in London last year. Although Antler did not fund my startup, I learnt a lot about building a company from scratch.
What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
The Oxford Careers Service has been very supportive and helpful.
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
1. Oxford University Innovation
2. The Oxford Foundry
Any last words of advice?
Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey. If you are going to do it, it might help to surround yourself with people who like you and believe in you. Some online communities and accountability groups can also be really helpful.
EnSpire Oxford is a University of Oxford initiative to help connect people to the entrepreneurship resources they need, and to promote entrepreneurship across Oxfordshire.
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