There are more people than ever currently using the internet and the more pervasive it has become, the more inventive and creative entrepreneurs are becoming. Connect Nigeria recently interviewed Oyelaja Oyekan, the founder of Prayerbox, an online community of believers where prayers and testimonies can be shared. We found out all about the motive behind this website and the challenges as well as victories he has experienced as an up and coming entrepreneur in Nigeria.
CN: What does Prayerbox do and how does it solve people’s problems?
OO: Prayerbox is a simple tool that enables people share prayer points and testimonies with their family, friends and religious communities, connecting people religiously outside the church and other religious gatherings without a compulsory physical presence. Very soon we’re launching a feature that will enable users pay tithes and offerings directly to their churches electronically with their credit cards and as far as phone credit.
CN: Where was the idea for your business generated from?
OO: I had missed church services due to my habit of working late into the night writing code on my computer. And on Saturdays, I would go to bed as late as 5am and would wake to find out I had missed church.
CN: What would you say has been your greatest challenge since starting your business?
OO: As much as I like to disagree that getting traction is a stage and not a challenge, the process itself is quite challenging. You have to know what to add and when to add, this right now seems to be our biggest challenge.
CN: What motivates you?
OO: Steve Jobs invented the personal computer and became the pacesetter for personal devices, Mark Zuckerberg redefined social networking, Reid Hoffman created LinkedIn (the world’s first professional network), Adebambo Oyekan Oyelaja invented the world’s first prayer app. Being able to create something new and unique is a huge motivation for me.
CN: Why did you choose to run an online business?
OO: I’ve always loved computers and was connected to the internet as far back as the 90s which is rare coming from the town called Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state. My passion for computers made me want to learn more and create things that people would use. I made my first million at the age of 18, I haven’t looked back since.
CN: What would you say was the defining moment that took your vision from a dream to reality?
OO: Seeing a trend of people posting prayers on Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry. That trend made me realise it was time to create a tool for this purpose.
CN: Who is your target audience?
OO: I like to believe that every human prays, so I consider the world to be my target audience. But right now Prayerbox is focused on a religious audience.
CN: What sets you apart from your competitors?
OO: We haven’t seen any competition with Prayerbox thus far, but if there were to be, Prayerbox’s model is different, unique and its features are built with religion and social activity in mind.
CN: What is your source of daily motivation?
OO: Every day I wake up and I pick up my phone, open up prayerbox.co and post a prayer point. My praying habit has drastically improved since creating prayerbox.
CN: If you had to give three business tips to very person considering starting a business in this industry, what would they be?
OO: Understand your idea and make sure you solve a problem while keeping your revenue streams in mind. Study the market and set yourself apart from your competitors. It won’t be easy but you have to keep fighting, and reading every book and article you can find related to your business. I have formed a habit of watching documentaries of great founders and every day I learn from them and see myself being in that league someday.
CN: What is your favourite bible scripture?
OO: Genesis 22:17 reads, “…in blessing I will bless thee and in multiplying I will multiply thee as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. Coincidentally prayerbox has a feature called verse of the day and you can add a certain verse as a favourite verse.
CN: What Nigerian business do you admire the most?
OO: Nairaland; adopting something as easy as a forum and converting it into one of the most visited websites in the country.
CN: If you were given capital to further your business, where would you invest it?
OO: Operations! Currently, prayerbox is run by two people. Myself and Omogbolade Ajayi who is the lead developer. We’re working on expanding the team and hiring people to run certain parts of the business. Key partnerships are also on the top of our to-do list.
CN: What are your plans for the next few years?
OO: More users, churches, partnerships and revenue generation. We’ll also be adding more features to the platform based on user feedback, as well as hire more people and raise a little more funds.
CN: What role does the internet play in your business?
OO: The internet is the foundation Prayerbox is built upon. Without the internet we can’t connect people the way we currently do. God bless the internet.