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Cross Border E-Commerce in Africa: Mall For Africa CEO Chris Folayan (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, Aug 13th 2016

Sramana Mitra: You were based out in the Bay Area?

Chris Folayan: I was based in San Jose.

Sramana Mitra: What was the duration of the web design company?

Chris Folayan: I was with it for 10 years. We worked for pretty much all the Top Fortune 500 companies in the Bay Area. We also worked with the US Government and major banks. OCFX started many different startups because I was privileged to own a company that was not just a software development company, web development company, and a design company, but we also had our own ideas and our own products.

We were able to think up and drum up ideas internally to see if we could make money. In brainstorming sessions, we would just go to town on it and see if we could put it out in the market and see what became of it. There were a few companies that were launched that way. Some did pretty well and some did not do well. Some were sold and some just fizzled.

Sramana Mitra: Did you have equity in these other companies that was spawned out of your web design firm?

Chris Folayan: Yes, 100% equity. They were all owned by the company.

Sramana Mitra: You managed to actually incubate some companies within the web design firm and then sell it. Can you give an example of one or two that were successful?

Chris Folayan: I can’t say who it’s sold to because it’s been rebranded. One of them was called Guru Country. Guru Country was the platform that allowed individuals who wanted to get advice from a lawyer, teacher, or doctor for just a few minutes and didn’t want to pay the full hourly cost. You can talk to a lawyer for three minutes and pay $5.

Guru Country came out of the idea of just trying to get advice from other people and experts from different fields. We found out that everybody had these hourly charges. Nobody charged in increments of five minutes. Guru Country came out of that idea. I want to be able to talk to a lawyer for just five minutes and I don’t want to pay the one-hour fee. That’s how that idea came up. It was hugely successful. It was acquired. They took it on.

Sramana Mitra: When you say hugely successful, what does that mean? What kind of revenue levels did you achieve before you sold the company?

Chris Folayan: I never disclose revenues of any of my companies, but we were doing seven figures.

Sramana Mitra: This 10-year time window that you’re talking about, what year does that bring us up to?

Chris Folayan: That would be about two years in. That was developed in about the second year of OCFX.

Sramana Mitra: You’re saying that you spun out this company two years into the 10-year journey?

Chris Folayan: It started two years after I started OCFX. It went from me being at Quantum and then joining NewTechMusic. We sold NewTechMusic and after that, I started OCFX.

Sramana Mitra: What year was that?

Chris Folayan: OCFX was started in 2000. Two years into OCFX, Guru Country was started and we sold Guru Country within a year.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Cross Border E-Commerce in Africa: Mall For Africa CEO Chris Folayan
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