Monday, 19 February 2018

STEPHANIE OBI SPEAKS ON HOW SHE STARTED ST HUB LIMITED, AN ONLINE EDUCATIONAL FIRM

Stephanie Obi, CEO, ST Hub Ltd
Folks, have you heard of Stephanie Obi? She is a 31years old Chief Executive Officer of ST Hub Limited, an online education business company. In this interview, she speaks on how the idea to start her business came and how far she has gone. It is very inspiring. Sit back and enjoy it.

What stirred your interest in technology?
I have always been surrounded with technology. My mother bought computers for me and my siblings when we were in secondary school and this stirred my interest. I was intrigued by how computers work and that led me to study Computer Science. While in school, I became interested in how technology can be used as a tool to help businesses grow.

What is your educational qualification?
I have a first class in Computer Science from Covenant University, Ota, and a master’s degree from the Lagos Business School.

What does ST Hub Limited do?
ST Hub Limited is an online education company that is focused on making business education more accessible to Africans through online courses. We work with individuals to help them create and sell online courses, and we also manage a platform called Trayny that hosts online courses for Africa’s top leaders. We do this because we believe that a lot of businesses are suffering due to the fact that they don’t have access to the right information that can help them grow. We want to bridge the gap and give more people access to the knowledge that they need.

What year did you establish the company?
We incorporated ST Hub Limited in 2014.

You help women entrepreneurs and speakers build their businesses online. Can you shed more light on this?
We help people who are interested in turning their knowledge into information products that they can sell online. We also help them to connect to the audience that needs their products online. We basically provide the training, tools and platforms that they need to succeed online.

Are the business courses only restricted to women?
No, it is not, but we have a bias for women because we believe that if you educate a woman, you enrich her family and the entire community. 90 per cent of our client base is women, but we also have a few men who make use of our products.

How much was your start-up capital?
I can’t remember how much it was exactly, but I started with my savings and bootstrapped along the way.  I learnt how to do a lot of things by myself and this helped us to save cost.

Did you get loans or grants?
In 2014, I won the first prize in the Wimbiz Impact Investment Competition and this came with a grant to grow my idea.

You also founded Steph B-School and ST Colours. A-School which equip people with the skills they need to start business. How did this play out?
My journey actually started with accessories. I used to make and sell ankara accessories; then I began to organise workshops. As I was marketing my workshops online, people started to reach out to me from outside Lagos. This inspired me to launch an online course. This decision opened my eyes to the opportunities in the online education industry. I started teaching other related topics and so far, I have launched over 20 online courses and gotten over 600 students from nine countries. However, I realised that I cannot teach all the topics in the world and I cannot reach everybody who needs help. I decided to reach more people by helping more experts to create their own online courses so that they can reach more people and impact more lives.

What challenges do you face on your job and how do you surmount them?
The biggest obstacle I have faced in my business is trying to get people to create their own online courses. A lot of people do not know what online courses are; others are scared of technology and do not want to attempt it. I overcame this obstacle by selling a compelling vision to people. I painted a picture of what they would achieve if they launched their own online courses. I explained to them how much money they could make and how many lives they could impact. I have also created a business model to make it profitable for them to launch online courses so that they would see it as a worthwhile venture. I have created a step-by-step online course that would help them to successfully launch their courses; an online course website that handles all the technology for them, as well as numerous free educative programmes like virtual summits, webinars, live shows, articles and videos.

Who are your role models and how have they influenced you?
My role model is Tara Fela-Durotoye. I am particularly intrigued by how she built a business based on the model of impacting lives. Her company, House of Tara International, has impacted the lives of over 10,000 beauty practitioners and this is a fundamental part of their business model. It was also encouraging to see another pioneer who started with an unconventional idea and has successfully built it into an empire. For instance, when she started her business, people were not used to the idea of paying a makeup artist to make them up. This however did not stop her.

What words of encouragement do you have for individuals who want to improve in their various career paths?
My encouragement for them is to stay focused and remain consistent.

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