My Pivotal Journal: A Shoemaker’s Self-Taught Journey to Product Design

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My Pivot Journal is a weekly series from Ventures Africa documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, particularly into technology.

Akorede Ayanbisi is making a name for herself as a product designer. But he didn’t grow up wanting to be a technical brother. This career path is the product of a decade of constant self-reinvention and adaptation. This is Acorede’s pivotal journal.

how it started

After graduating from high school in 2011, Akorede wanted to pursue a career in finance, but it didn’t take off immediately. “I wrote JAMB three times without being admitted,” Akorede told Ventures Africa. “I was frustrated, but I didn’t want to sit idle. So I went to a roadside cobbler, who worked nearby, and began to learn the trade.

In 2014, shoemaking became her full-time job. But he knew it wasn’t his last stop. “I took JAMB again but still didn’t get admitted. So I went to study Accounting at National Open University (NOUN).

Akorede had barely moved to NOUN when he found a new business opportunity: printing. At the time, his goal was to be able to finance his studies, and shoemaking was not enough. “I saw people helping potential students print their admission letters, course forms, course materials, etc., and they made a lot more money than me as a cobbler. So I teamed up with people and started doing the same thing.

But at the same time, Akorede sought to make itself known. So he always had his ears out in the field for workshops/events that could broaden his mind. “I can almost say that there has not been a conference/seminar/masterclass on Lagos Island that I was unaware of and attended. The subject didn’t matter. I just wanted to learn and meet people. Even when I couldn’t afford transportation, I left home early and walked the distance. This is where I really developed soft skills. He did this for three years before closing the store in 2017. “The mall where our business was located was relocated. So business fell apart for a lot of us,” he said. “I had spent all my savings trying to get out of Nigeria, and it didn’t work out, so I had to do odd jobs for a while before I got an internship in digital marketing at e-know-how solutions.”

Epiphany

Acorede’s internship gave him his first taste of velvet when his job assigned him to manage the famous comedian Ajebosocial media. And even though his internship ended and he was eventually admitted to study finance at the University of Lagos, he continued to work with the comedian. However, these were only seasonal contracts.

“I kept working like that for almost three years and even micro-influenced on social media. But in the end, I just said to myself that I couldn’t continue to depend on the sources of income. seasonal,” Akorede said. “I wanted to earn better and have more stability, even though I was still a student. At that time (2019), technology was already becoming popular and I knew I could have the kind life I wanted. I just needed to find my place.”

Akorede Ayanbisi

Akorede tried to code several times, which never hit him. But he quickly realized that his strength was creativity. The same flair for design that had made him choose shoemaking years ago was still with him. “I discovered that technology is a field in which anyone can thrive as long as they work for it.” He then decided to become a product designer.

Transition

The first thing Akorede did was search for free courses on Google, which led him to a 3 hour Udemy course on the design of the UI (user interface). “I finished the course that day and loved it,” he said. After that day, he redoubled his efforts in a self-taught journey. “Everything you are looking for can be found on the Internet, and most are even free.” he said. “I used YouTube a lot. Google also offers a design course on Coursera (which I recommend for beginners) so I didn’t see the need to wait for someone to hold my hand through the process .

The next challenge, however, was to balance her newfound passion with schoolwork. But in 2020, the closures eliminated that. “Covid has been a blessing in disguise for me as the learning and practice became very intense during this time. There was a time when I was constantly in the same place for three weeks. I became captivated.

Akorede then began to go public with his learning via social media, leveraging his experience of micro-influence. “I started using my Twitter account to share what I had learned. In no time, I started getting engagements on my posts. Nine months later, his tweets have gone from attracting an audience to attracting customers. One of the samples that landed him his first design gig was a proposed app for music star Davido’s label.

However, being self-taught came with its challenges. For Akorede, the biggest challenge was knowing what to learn. “When you’re self-taught, you may learn everything you see on the internet and don’t know which one is useful. If I had learned with someone, there would have been course guidelines. Also, I believe that there are more useful online courses today than there were when i started learning today if you just follow the right people on social media you will have a good score sheet road for the path you want to take in technology.There were not so many of these people 2-3 years ago.

Akorede kept talking about his work on social media, and it became his advantage. “A lot of people got to know me online as a product designer, so whenever they needed it, they reached out to me.” Between 2020 and present, he has held contract positions for at least six companies.

How are you

Product design is already giving Akorede the life it has always dreamed of. “Technology has changed my life,” he said. “Last year was a pivotal year for me. I started getting so many offers from inside and outside Nigeria. I didn’t even graduate from college (thanks to ASUU) , but I bought my first car and I can travel at will.He credits much of his success to the many events he attended in his early days.

However, Akorede is still exploring possibilities in his field. Last year he joined the web3 movement, aimed at solving design problems. “Since joining the crypto space, I have noticed that many apps have poor user interfaces, so I started applying what I know to web3, starting with the Polkadot blockchain.

Almost a year after this position, Akorede has become an active participant in the web2 and web3 communities. His Twitter following has grown to over 30,000. Now he’s back in the league of entrepreneurs, creating a new startup.

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“Being open-minded. I can learn from anyone no matter how old/young they are in this space. Technology is too broad for you to think you can figure it all out on your own.

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