25 Dec 2018

2018

dusts cobweb off blog

2018 was kind of weird. It had that subtle disguise that made it easy to forget it was a challenging year. Yet it was. It was a year of more miss than hits for me.

Family

If there is anything I’m most grateful about this year though, it’s family. Watching Oluwatooni grow has been one of the most beautiful thing that has happened to me—the crawl, the first words, the first steps, first day at creche, 6 months celebration, one year celebration…. And honestly, it has been challenging as well. I was never well prepared for the creche pickups and drop-ups (Igbo-efon is a terrible place during raining season), the incessant hospital visits and giving her all attention till she goes to bed at night.

Growing in love with J has been a thing of beauty as well. I have always admired her work and get involved at any chance I get. She didn’t really do much the previous year because of the pregnancy and settling down but for 2018, I felt I could help her get running as Oluwatooni started creche. That didn’t go very well.

Getting an affordable space for her work on the island was challenging. After we did, making it look good was another one that took longer than planned. Staffing? Challenging as well. (Even now she’s looking for tailors again). And the big part: reaching new customers was even more work. I had promised to help her with branding and strategy but I didn’t deliver 100% on those. (I haven’t even been able to build her website).

It’s been a learning experience for me as well. I’ve had a couple of strategy sessions with her in plans for 2019 and we’ve been able to look at where we got it wrong and come up with better plans. Now I know (at least to an extent) what works and what doesn’t. For example, you’ll be surprised at what $10 sponsored posts can achieve.

Work

My startup failed last year. In the aftermath, I decided to take a long break off development. I thought about a lot of alternatives. I considered relocating. And I almost did. The only reason I didn’t take the leap was because I didn’t get the leading to. In a turn of event, I joined RelianceHMO to lead technology for them.

Why RelianceHMO?

  • I had an existing relationship with them. I built the prototype of Kangpe, the parent app, some years back
  • It was a management position. This was a good option as I wasn’t still finding that motivation to start coding again.
  • Then Health + Tech? Sign me up!

Many people have said things along the lines of “you should be doing interesting stuff; Insurance? Hmmm…not so sure”. But truth is tech powers everything RelianceHMO. That’s why we are the fastest claims paying HMO in the country. That’s why you can walk into a hospital [we support], signup at our website and get access to see the doctor right there and then. That’s why we can allow people pay for health care month to month.

The transition to management wasn’t a bad idea. Because of my dev background, it was easy earning the team’s trust and getting them to deliver while still maintaining a good work/life balance. I’ve been able to, by experience, bring different perspectives to decisions and optimise the delivery processes. I still code but for fun and experiments.

[Web] Projects

(For context, I work on projects from time to time to test out new ideas and keep up with technology. Generally, it helps me learn about building stuff—user experience, market fit, monetisation and everything in between)

I entered the year with two projects—The Feed Press and Suet. When I finally dragged myself from the low, I worked on Waytab, a tool I needed to keep up with my bookmarks and social likes. And then a shared inbox for Slack towards the end of the year.

I should do another post on my projects as the details can get lengthy but the summary is that for the most part, the projects didn’t work. By work, I mean get to the level of growth/utilisation/revs I was expecting. Signups and subscriptions on The Feed Press trickled. Suet didn’t reach the numbers I expected. Same with Waytab. (If you are interested in any of the projects, let me know).

Later in the year, Nduyeobong saw my projects and reached out to me on Reddit. He had an idea for a poll app and wanted me to help build it. Pro bono. What could possibly go wrong? I said yes, and The Humanity Poll was born. I don’t know what will become of it yet but I think it’s a good idea and it was fun doing something different for a change.

Money

My revs dipped by over 50% this year. To top that, I also made some wrong financial decisions that left me broke for the major part of the year. And in debt too.

Among the numerous lessons, one big one is that you can’t be well prepared enough. Even when you’ve well planned your budgets and all, life just happens and boom, bills everywhere! Those contingencies need to be in your plans as well.

A second look

So has it been a challenging year? Yes! But do I have things to be grateful for? Definitely. So maybe it wasn’t a bad year after-all.

This year came with many lessons. I learnt how powerful happiness can be. You’d be surprised at the rules people will break to be happy. And it’s easy to sit on a high horse and judge. But things are not black and white. Life can be really complicated.

Anyway, that’s about it for me. Hope it has been a great year for you? Here is praying 2019 brings more joy. Cheers!

My name is Opeyemi Obembe. I build things for web and mobile. You should follow me on Twitter (@kehers).