We covered Mall for Africa some time back in TLEC. Here we trace their entrepreneurial journey.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Chris Folayan: I’m from Nigeria. I was born and raised in Nigeria. I came to the United States for college. Everything prior to college was done in Nigeria.
Sramana Mitra: Where did you come to the US for college?
Chris Folayan: I came to San Jose State University.
Sramana Mitra: What did you study?
Chris Folayan: I studied Business, but I was keen to learn software and programming. Before coming to the States, I had never been online. As soon as I saw a computer and connected to this thing called Netscape, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about programming, web design, coding, and all that. My degree is in marketing, but I’m also a programmer.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?
Chris Folayan: That was 20 years ago.
Sramana Mitra: You finished in the mid-90s?
Chris Folayan: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do when you came out of college?
Chris Folayan: While I was in college, I got an internship at Quantum Corporation, which was one of the largest hard drive manufacturers in the world. I started in the telecom department. Then I moved up to the web department. While I was in the web department, I started asking my boss a lot of questions about different things that I would like to see on the web. I always was that guy who had ideas on how he could probably improve things.
My boss wanted to nurture that and have me speak to the CEO. I met with the CEO and he liked my ideas and he asked me to talk to some other individuals within the company. Before I knew it, I was part of the M&A team. I was looking at deals and trying to see if some products that the company was going to buy and input into the hard drives were that hard to build and check on the intellectual property and how strong the core base of the code was. I did that for a while. Then I graduated college, but I stuck with Quantum.
While at Quantum, I was poached by a wife of someone who was starting up a company. It was called NewTechMusic. I went to NewTechMusic and joined the Founder. The software was the first online uploading system or stream for independent music artists. It allowed independent artists to record on the fly with the software and upload their music content to a website. They could sell their music on the site. This was way back before Apple had dominance over the audio market. Individuals could upload their music and sell their music. It had all the digital rights connected to it.
I developed that software and worked on expanding the company. When the company was sold, I took the money from that and started a software company and a web design firm called OCFX. From just me, OCFX went on to have several hundred employees. We were an award winning Software and Web Design Company.