Here on Whoot Africa, we not only showcase brands, but we also talk to the people behind those brands and have them share with us their back stories as well as give tips on how to successfully start and run a business.
Welcome to Whoot Africa’s – 15 Questions with the CEO.
- Can you tell us a little about yourself and CapitalSquare as a brand you represent?
I am Modupe Macaulay, the founder of CapitalSquare, a co-working space in Lagos. CapitalSquare is a place for entrepreneurs and start-up’s to have a physical presence and get their start without a lot of the hassle usually involved.
What we provide is a managed shared workspace with internet, uninterrupted power, meeting rooms, lockers, printers, more or less everything a person needs in their office, at an affordable cost.
CapitalSquare is about building a community of professionals from every area of business, who like, support, and want to learn from one another, and it’s a great place to network and grow your business.
2. How did you get started in Business and what did it take you to get to where you are today?
Well, I have always wanted to do my own thing, and I played around with a few ideas in back at uni, mainly focused on branding and identity design for small businesses in school. I didn’t have the time or patience then to focus on that (school was my priority), but I always had it at the back of my mind that I would start a proper business, and I always kept my eyes and ears open for business opportunities.
3. What were you doing before CapitalSquare kicked off, and why did you decide to start CapitalSquare?
Before CapitalSquare, I had just finished school and was trying to find my way in the ‘real world’, figuring out whether I wanted a corporate job or to work for myself. I was trying to get started on another project (you’ll hear more about it in a few months) and my partner and I needed somewhere nice and affordable to work from. I had read about co-working spaces earlier, and I thought that sort of thing would be perfect for us, so I thought it would be a good idea to set one up.
4. Did you know you were going to be an Entrepreneur all along, or did it happen by chance?
I cannot say I knew for sure, but it is always something I wanted to do, and I kept working towards it.
5. What do you love most about your business and your life as an Entrepreneur?
Getting to meet interesting people, and having control of my time. Also, it is just an amazing feeling when you see your idea become reality. It’s priceless!
6. What keeps you and CapitalSquare team motivated?
Knowing that the services we offer are useful and valuable to people – that is what motivates us.
7. What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
Passion/dedication, faith (in yourself and your idea) courage, open-mindedness, and critical thinking.
8. How do you envision the CapitalSquare brand in 5-10years from now?
Big! We are hoping it would be every entrepreneur’s first choice for a workspace. Hopefully, a lot of amazing businesses would have come out of our space, and we should have expanded to most (if not all) major cities in the country.
9. What are the obstacles you encountered in your business journey and how did you overcome them?
Money is definitely a huge issue, especially because of the cost of setting up and the overhead costs of running this kind of business. Luckily, people who believe in the CapitalSquare dream surround me, so they really helped with funding (not without doing the numbers, of course. Everybody wants (and deserves) a return on their investments). I also did a short stint at an FMCG while setting up CapitalSquare, and that helped my personal finances, so I did not need the business to support me as well.
Another huge issue for us was incompetence. From contractors to artisans, there’s a lot of incompetence in the construction sector, and that just complicated a lot of things for us while setting up the space. I learnt that I needed to be very involved for things to be done properly; many people don’t care about the quality of their work. I also leveraged a lot of personal relationships with artisans who had worked with the family to get good rates, quick jobs, etc.
10. How would you describe your leadership style?
The CapitalSquare team is just that – a team. My colleagues are partners, rather than minions who just do my bidding, so we make decisions as a team and everyone is involved. Each person has their own role to play, and is free to get their job done however they see fit (within legal constraints, of course). I have very high expectations of myself, and of the people who work with me, so I’m a bit tough like that. But at the end of the day, I’m the leader, and the buck stops with me. I’m not sure what kind of leadership style I just described, but that’s basically how I work.
11. Why did you choose this line of business/service or product and when did you know it was it for you?
I wanted to do something that would make a difference. This seemed like a good choice.
12. Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
My father! He’s probably the wisest person I know, and he has always encouraged all his children to do their own thing.
13. What was the BIGGEST risk you have taken?
Starting this business
14. What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the world’s greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
I think that if you can go to college, you should. Granted, you’ll probably gain more valuable experience in the business world, but the risks are huge. School gives you a fall back plan, if and when things don’t pan out. Plus, formal education has its advantages: it’s four (or more) years of building what could turn out to be some of your most valuable networks, and in this part of the world, people care about degrees and certificates, even if you never use them. So go to school if you can. It saves you a lot of stress in the long term.
15. What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why?
Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you start your business. It’s never going to happen. And don’t be afraid to fail (at least don’t let that fear get in your way).
If you missed the previous parts of the 15 Questions with the CEO series, please click here .