Adeyemi Ajao is the co-founder of Identified.com, a way for professionals to manage their identities on the Internet. Prior to co-founding Identified, Adeyemi founded Tuenti.com and JobandTalent.com, the largest social networks and executive job sites, respectively, in Spain.
Sramana: Adeyemi, let’s start with your personal story. Also, if you could give some background on your co-founder, that would be helpful. Where do you and your co-founder come from? What background led up to the Identified story?
Adeyemi Ajao: I am originally from southern Spain. My father is Nigerian and my mother is Spanish. My name is Nigerian. I lived in Nigeria for six years, spent two years in Italy and then moved to Spain when I was nine. I grew up in a little town called Marbella, which is basically a beach town that I think is akin to Santa Cruz, California.
I studied in Madrid and did a special program where I spent every six months in a different university around the world. That allowed me to meet people in a lot of different places. I ended up studying in the Atlanta, Georgetown, Germany, and all over the world. I have friends everywhere. From very early on, I was exposed to a lot of people who did a lot of different things. I saw the tendencies that people had which were universal as well as the tendencies that people had which made them different.
My father was one of the first mechanical engineers in Nigeria. He started a steel company in Nigeria. He fought hard to put it together, but Nigeria is a very complicated country. That is why he left for Italy. I have seen that lifestyle since I was very young. He managed to establish his company in Europe and was very successful with it. Seeing him work so hard was inspiring. I think he always wanted me and my brother to do something along those lines. He trained us to be that way. Every meeting was like a business meeting.
Sramana: How did you meet your co-founder? Help me to bridge the story of your background to the start of Identified.
Adeyemi Ajao: Everything starts back with the first company I founded in Spain. In my last year in college, I started a company that was called WhosWho. It was for university students to see what their classmates were doing, particularly where they were going on any given night. That was in 2005. I launched the service and it was very popular in Madrid, but I never thought of incorporating it as a business. It was a cool tool to use, and that was enough. When I did my last exchange program in the U.S., I saw the beginning of Facebook. My service had a lot of similarities and that showed me that there was a real company to be built. I went back to Spain and incorporated, hired people and raised money. That company turned into Teunti.com, which is the biggest social network in Spain. We went head to head with Facebook and still do. It was an invitation-only network, and we became the largest invitation-only network in the world.