Nnamdi Ezeigbo is the founder and CEO of Slot Nigeria, and also the co-founder of the Tecno and Infinix phone brands, one of the fastest selling mobile phones in Nigeria.
From searching for a job after his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, to settling as a computer repairer, today, Nnamdi Ezeigbo is controlling millions, running one of the fastest phone brands in Nigeria.
In an exclusive interview with Nairametrics, Nnamdi Ezeigbo revealed how Slot Nigeria was born
After his secondary school education, Nnamdi Ezeigbo proceeded to the Yaba College of Technology in 1988, where he studied Electrical Electronics Engineering and got a Higher National Diploma (HND).
Completing his youth service in 1996, He tried to no avail to get a white-collar job. To make ends meet, he went to work as an apprentice learning how to repair computers.
Six months into the apprenticeship, he decided to launch his own computer repair centre. Gradually his customer base grew, largely because of his honesty and the premium he placed on customer service.
His rise to greatness began the day an old customer he knew from his days as an apprentice, came to his little shop to see him. The customer told him he would love him to continue fixing his computers but would prefer he operated from a larger and more serene environment.
To help him achieve this, the customer brought some printers to sell, with proceed from sales Nnamdi rented a big shop for 180,000 Naira which he named Slot Nigeria and began to not only repair but to also sell both computers and printers.
Asked how the name Slot Nigeria came about, he said it was borrowed from “Slot Processor” and Socket processor, an engineered technique for adding the capability to a computer in the form of connection pinholes. As a computer assembler, he would always prefer and recommend the Slot Processor over the socket processor because it was stronger and more robust than the later. Thus he was nick-named Slot by friends and customers.
“ I looked at the meaning of slot in the dictionary and I discovered that it was another word for position, space, and fixer and I felt this was a good name. So we saw ourselves as coming to occupy a space and take a position and to lead. We got stuck with that name and it aligned with our mission and vision.”
His business further grew and customers began patronising Slot stores in areas close to their vicinities, and to also ask for mobile phones as it was relatively new in the Nigerian tech market then. With a keen eye to spot opportunity when it presents itself, Nnamdi Ezeigbo immediately expanded his business to also cover the sale of mobile phones.
Within this period, Nnamdi Ezeigbo proceeded to study Computer & Electronics Engineering at the Lagos State University (LASU), graduating with a Second Class Upper.
And with no real knowledge on how to manage a growing business, he also enrolled for an MBA program at the prestigious Lagos Business School, and also attended a lot of workshops focused on building a great entrepreneurial prowess.
During this period also, Nnamdi Ezeigbo and his team decided to take a 5-year route to build a strong reputation for their brand. By the time the projection had elapsed, the Slot brand name had become the most reputable mobile phone retailer in the whole country.
His goal as the leading mobile phone retailer in Nigeria wasn’t just to be the number one, but was to make competition irrelevant; and to a great extent, he achieved it.
The Tecno Brand
The rise of telecommunication networks in the country created an opportunity for Slot Nigeria in the Nigerian market. Poor network services by network providers caused many Nigerians to purchase more than one mobile phone, so they could try a different network when the other was bad.
Seeing this as a rare opportunity, Nnamdi approached Nokia in a bid to convince them to manufacture dual sim phones for Nigerians, so they would carry only one mobile phone at a time instead of two but Nokia refused as they saw people carry more of their phones as more phone sales for them and apparently more money.
Nnamdi then turned to China where he met a guy who had worked with a company called Bird. Bird was into previously into phone manufacturing but they got choked and lost market share. When he approached the guy with his deal they agreed to come up with something.
Returning home, he got the name Tecno registered and began to work things out with his new partner and together, they designed their first Tecno phone T101.
The T101 encountered some challenges that made it not largely accepted in the Nigerian market. Among other problems was that the failure of the dual sim to work together. To correct this mistake, they designed Tecno 201.
Nnamdi started the sale of his new phones basically by giving them to marketers on credit to sell and then pay later and because he was funding the business alone, the supply was limited until he devised a new marketing strategy in 2007. The introduction of Tecno brand was indeed, the turning point of Nnamdi’s business.
The Infinix Brand
While the Tecno was having a great time in the market, it spun off a subsidiary from itself, named Infinix, to cater not just for the middle and lower class, but for all classes of individuals in the country.
Today, Tecno and Infinix are the fastest selling phones in the Nigerian market and have a rock-solid reputation that has guaranteed their future in the country.
Speaking of the Infinix brand, Nnamdi said that the Infinix brand evolved from the Tecno brand and that it was made to suit the taste of every Nigerian.