The first office that I remember was actually in V.I or Lekki then we now moved to Surulere, stayed there for a bit longer. It was the trenches, but it was fun, you know, grinding every day, just waking up, walking out of your room because it was like a live-in office, right? And in the parlor that we had converted to, like a workspace and just, you know, trying to get as much work done as possible.
First investor was a friend, Iyinoluwa Gboyeji. So when I had started co-founded a previous company, Buycoins, and when I was thinking about what else to do next, I explained to him the vision behind what is now Rise. And he was like, I see what you’re trying to do. I think it’s absolutely critical and needed. And so he said, Whenever you’re ready, I’ll write you a check, you know, to get started.
After he came in, it was pretty easy for us to go get an MVP and then raise the remaining round follow pre-seed.
Tony: It was some sort of validation. You are pitching to different people, trying to raise money to build this grand vision that you have. And then people are actually committing their resources towards backing this mission. So I think the right word would be there was some level of validation in that.
Otas: People believe in this and so it’s both encouraging and just super exciting to hear someone say, I believe in your idea enough and I want to give you this amount of money to pursue it.
But it’s also really like, okay, game on.
Awa: I think the sign ups were like manual, there was a whole lot of engineering back and forth going on at a time when the product was still in beta and then, you know, just started growing. That people were appreciating what we were doing and signing up. And when we got to the first 1000, it just told us that, okay, maybe we were on to something here.
I remember then Otas used to help me manage the spreadsheets to track, you know, all the different people that were managing money for. We got to the first hundred. Eventually it started growing and a lot of people were coming in saying, Hey, we need something like this. There was so much demand that eventually we said, let’s try to structure this.
By the time we realized that this is going to be bigger than what we’re thinking and we need to rebuild and rebrand the company as, Rise, we had already crossed like a thousand subscribers.
Tony: So you have to understand that product was in beta for a bit. You know, when it was finally launched, it was fun. You know, having people use it to better their lives was kind of interesting.
Awa: Signing Teni as our first ambassador, that was amazing. I think that happened when we were like two years in. So it did give us a lot of credibility. I remember we had this event at the Civic Center, our Moneyrise Conference, she came in and, you know, did a performance and it was super amazing. The number of people that actually started identifying with the brand because she was affiliated with us.
Tony: Her work ethic, She was very open to understanding what we’re actually trying to build, understanding her story, you know, her songs, everyone can be a winner actually really resonated with the brand.
Eke: She was a delight to work with. She understands the vision. She really gets it.
Otas: One of the big things that I think Eke and the team has been really, really good about emphasizing is over communicating and just being as transparent as possible because it’s always better to avoid issues than to start trying to resolve issues afterwards. And so I think that has been the biggest part of building trust with both the customers and the investors.
Awa: We’re very granular. We tell our users, we used to have these office space events where people could actually walk in and sit down with us, ask questions, and we answered the questions, you know, had fun, refreshment.
And so that’s helped us to build trust, allowing our users see us up close and personal and then getting all our regulatory issues, you know, on point.
Tony : Coming into the market we realize that, yeah, Nigeria is a low trust society, not blaming anyone. Well, it’s just what it is. So we had to make sure that we were accessible.
Eke: Our first thing is just do the work well, try and make sure that everyone understands the value you’re driving, you know, whatever you receive in terms of fees or whatever. But don’t make it the primary mission.
Make it the primary goal to give your customer the best value you can, act in their best interest, and the trust will naturally come in. I think that’s that’s the one thing I can say we’ve done, and that’s something we will continue to do.
Tony: Imagine a story that had just like a flat, you know, no high points, no low points. It wouldn’t be an interesting one. The first one was when we received the unexpected shocker from our able regulators, that was a fun one to navigate
On one end you have to deal with user trust and overcommunicate on another end we had to meaningful engage with the regulators and help them see the vision of what we’re trying to build.
Eke: Eventually all of that was resolved. So we we knew that we had done our best. We had done everything according to what was right. And so we stood up for ourselves as well. And, you know, with the support of both our investors, our customers, even the regulators themselves.
Right? Eventually we came out of that and customer trust was increased because during that whole period, our operations did not stop our investments were still moving forward. People were still able to fund, people were still able to withdraw. And, you know, we really were able to demonstrate the fact that Rise is very resilient. And at the core of what we do, we had very strong operational processes and depth to be able to operate even in a very difficult environment
Awa: You know, some of what we are doing are things we’ve not done before. And so every day we are learning on the job, getting better at it. And so when that challenge happened, again, it’s something a lot of us at that time had not faced, but being able to overcome that showed us that no matter what happens down the line that we were up to the task.
For the next four years, one of our plans, our vision, is to dominate our space. And that means, you know, whenever you think about dollar investments, investments in general, you think Rise.
Tony: The vision hasn’t changed. We still want to be the most impactful fintech by providing our users with the best wealth creating opportunities that available outside the shores of Nigeria and also within.
So that hasn’t changed. But the strategy around how we intend to achieve that mission might change based on various factors, but the mission remains.
Otas: It’s a new ball game and creating trust in Uganda and in Kenya. And so it’s going to be I think the next four years is really just going to be us fortifying our mission. Making sure that, you know, the trust that we have built into our clientele is able to scale up into these other countries as we grow.
Awa: Some of it is basically just doing the basic things, right? Users still need communication. So we’ll double down on that. Constantly tell them this is what’s going on, this is how we are managing your investments and this how you are earning returns.
Tony: There’s also new and interesting plans that we’re trying to introduce on the product. And yeah, a lot of interesting things. You just have to keep checking your app.
Eke: Some of the things that we’re building into the product that we’re going to especially the next year, is increase the level of direct insights that customers have into the day to day of what their investments are doing, deeper insights into the product, deeper insights into the portfolio, deeper insights into our selection process.
Otas: One of the things we’ve really focused on is our data security and making sure that information customers, clients, even employees share with us is safe even in our own hands. Because it’s one thing for your app to be breached on your end and it’s another thing for it to be breached on our end
Tony: There’s something very interesting that we do, which is a lot of user education. I believe that education is helpful and a lot of our users are starting tto see the benefits of, you know just staying invested, compounding your money and making it work for you.
Otas: I do think that patience goes a long way because it puts less stress on the team while we try to resolve the issues. Also, it gives us a space to sort of resolve it faster if we’re not worried about how they will react in a few minutes without an answer. So patience will be a great, think that is a great way to summarize that.
Eke: We as a company, no matter how passionate we got about a vision, there is zero chance that we will be here if customers don’t agree or align with that vision and trust us to do the job for them. There’s more than 600,000 people now under the Rise umbrella collectively, and we’re grateful for every single one of you, and we look forward to continue to do this work for you over the years.
Tell us what you need us to build for you. And as much as possible, just understand that there will be no Rise if you didn’t support us and we are always grateful for that.