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Nigerian Entrepreneur Trades Google Jobs for African Education Tech Startup




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Nigerian-born Ope Bukola left Google to start his own business. She is the co-founder and CEO of her Kibo School, an online university that offers affordable degrees to African students, and has her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree starting in October. increase. The company now also offers her five-week introductory programming class called Try Kibo. In this class, students can explore computing and online learning, learn introductory her Python and her web development.

We asked Bukola about his success in Africa, Kibos’ business model, pulling out investments, and the most difficult part of starting a company so far.

Was it a difficult decision to leave Google?

At Google, he worked as a product lead for Google Classroom, leading a team of software engineers, developers, marketers and others to build the best educational software on the K12 market. I loved my team and my role. But during my tenure at Google, it felt like I could take the risk of trying something new. I had full confidence in my abilities as a Big Tech product manager and wanted to see if I could build from scratch.

It wasn’t hard to quit, but it was a little harder to tell people I was quitting my dream job. Still, I had a strong belief and desire to step outside my comfort zone. Additionally, after the pandemic and the upheaval of the last few years, I was encouraged and reminded that the world is uncertain and I need to make the most of my time. I fell in love with the field as a way to make an impact in Nigeria and Africa where I was born. So I felt it was appropriate to work on Kibo.

Describe Kibos target market.

Our target market is young Africans looking to solve pressing problems with technology. Our degree programs aim to provide an alternative path to university qualifications in a region where quality education is in high demand but very limited in supply. Intended for people aged 16 and over who want to learn computer science. Our free Try Kibo program is open to learners anywhere on the African continent. Bachelor’s degrees are available to students residing in participating cities.

How much does a degree program cost?

The degree program costs US$2,000 per year and the degree is designed to be completed in three years at a total cost of US$6,000. We offer the opportunity for learners to pay by semester ($500 per semester). We also work with financial institutions to provide loans to those who cannot afford to pay the full cost.

How was the curriculum developed?

We have designed an integrated curriculum that prepares students to thrive in a remote-first, global world, and one where the skills needed are rapidly evolving. Our curriculum teaches students to build with the latest tools, but also provides a deep computer science foundation to adapt to changing tools. Help students learn effectively and interact with others.

Our teaching and learning approach is designed to mimic real-world usage. Students collaborate on projects, conduct self-assessments and peer assessments, and apply their skills in the workplace through internships and industry challenges. It was developed in consultation with advisors from companies such as Shopify, Amazon, and Netflix to ensure it meets the needs of the modern workplace.

Who are your main competitors?

The online learning industry is globally competitive. We don’t think our competitors are only in Africa. I believe it is a global company serving mainly Africa. Honestly, our biggest competitors in Africa are conventional brick-and-mortar institutions. Many of these institutions are plagued by inadequate supply and poor quality, creating graduates who struggle to find jobs. However, it is still an option that attracts many students and families. To scale our work, we need to convince our stakeholders that online is viable and a better option to achieve our mission.

Kibo recently raised $2 million in funding. Talk about the process of raising this investment.

The fundraising process was difficult. We had to convince investors, including those who were not familiar with the African market, of the size and scale of the online learning opportunities in Africa. We also needed to find patient capital who understood edtech and how it differed from the rest of the technology. It took a lot of conversations to find these right investors. Fortunately, I was able to use my experience and network and the strength of the leadership team to have many initial conversations. From there, it was a matter of finding a match for us, and in April of this year, he won his GSV Cup, the largest edtech competition for startups, making it one of the most fundraising. brought awareness and momentum within.

What was the hardest part of building Kibo so far?

The hardest part, and also the most rewarding part, is building a team that can do it. But as we scale, we need to recruit, hire, and succeed people who are mission-aligned, entrepreneurial, can influence startups, and work well in globally distributed teams. there is. Very difficult!

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