How Victor Asemota discovered and fell in love with tech
If you have ever listened to Victor Asemota, or even read through any of his social media posts, you will agree that he has some sense of humour. This jovial and life-loving tech entrepreneur is not much different from many others at heart.
As smooth as his career and entrepreneurship story goes today, the truth is that he did not have it all figured out from the beginning. Typically, he went from being a child who didn’t know what career path he wanted, to becoming a tech entrepreneur who mentors and advises others on their tech careers.
Victor Osaretin Asemota was born and raised in Nigeria. He was a very intelligent child and as such, did not spend longer than the necessary years in school. He was already in secondary school at age 10 and out at age 15
Choosing a career: Choosing a career path was not a very direct or easy task for Asemota. As many others would make the decision based on what subjects they felt they were good in, Asemota was good in all subjects but did not still feel any particular tug of passion towards any career.
He, however, had a few careers in mind that he did not want to toe. One of them was Banking. As a teenager, Victor simply found it hard to picture a life of wearing suits and having to count other people’s money – and this was the picture of banking he had in his head.
News continues after this ad
In his seemingly indecisive state, he did not refuse when his family nudged him in the medical direction. He narrated this experience during a 2017 Tedx Talk in Yaba, Lagos.
- “I had no say over what I wanted to be. My parents wanted me to become a medical doctor because both my grandparents were in the medical field, and I had a lot of relatives too who were in the medical field. So it seemed logical that they expected me to continue down that path. I was young so they wanted me to do my Premed in Nigeria and be grounded before going to Harvard Medical school,” he said.
Taking this path meant that he would take a related course first in Nigeria, and grow a little older while also allowing himself to get some background in the medical sciences. Consequently, he gained admission into the University of Benin and graduated with a degree in the biological sciences in 1988. This was to be followed by the preplanned move to Harvard Medical school.
News continues after this ad
During his service year, he got to work with bankers and IT professionals, and he recalls that he started seeing the possibility of a successful career outside of medicine. However, it would take a chance occurrence to completely turn him off the path to becoming a medical doctor.
- “During my service year, on this particular day, I was at the Ikeja bus stop in Lagos, and I saw this guy who worked with one of my uncles. He was also in the medical field and was one of those encouraging me to study medicine. After exchanging pleasantries, I was shocked to see him jump into one of these yellow ‘molue’ buses. That was officially the end of my medical career and any dream to become a medical doctor. I told myself that if this guy after all his years in medical school, his residency and work, was jumping molue buses, then that was not the profession for me. At that time, doctors in Nigeria were really poorly paid” Asemota explained.
Switch from medical field: Having eliminated medicine from his list of possible career paths, Victor Asemota started considering other options around him. According to him, he saw a lot of bankers who were well dressed and living comfortably and began to rethink that banking might not have been a bad career choice after all.
On his uncle’s advice, he returned to the University of Benin in 1992 for a Master in Business Administration (MBA).
- “I was lucky to have done my NYSC among bankers, so I got exposed to financial services. I saw bankers looking good and well-dressed, and it was impressive. I did not know still if I wanted to be a banker. I had a conversation with this uncle of mine, and he suggested I go do an MBA and then decide afterwards what I wanted to do,” he recalled.
Before this time, he had started learning about computers and other IT-related things, just as a means of exploring different areas to find his interest. He also saw a movie where he was thrilled with a character who happened to be a hacker, and this was the point he officially decided he was going to be a ‘techie’.
- “I liked the character in the movie who hacked into banking systems and made a lot of money. So I looked at it and I decided that I wanted to become a hacker to hack into banks and make money. That was the first reason for going into tech. Of course, it was a very stupid reason, and morally questionable too but it led me to where I am today,” he explained during his TedX Talk.
During his MBA, Victor finally decided to try entrepreneurship as well, so it became tech entrepreneurship for him. To cement his choices, he went to Sheffield Hallam University for a master’s degree in IT and Management between 2005 and 2007; then to Harvard Business School between 2011 and 2013 for a couple of Executive courses.
Foray into entrepreneurship: Victor Asemota started his first company – SwiftaCorp – in 2003 as an MBA student and since then, has evolved to become a serial entrepreneur. SwiftaCorp was a pioneer player in software and technology services and has now expanded into several African countries.
As the founder, CEO and Principal Consultant of SwiftaCorps, one can rightly say that Victor Asemota is one of the pioneers in the African Information Technology (IT) industry. In 2015, he stepped aside as CEO and became a Director on the board.
Asemota is also the Co-founder of MFISA a unique African Mobile Financial Services Accelerator. MFISA has powered some payment platforms around Africa. In 2014, He co-founded Alterna Capital Group which is devoted to funding tech startups and platforms.
As a venture capitalist, Asemota focuses on early-stage technology companies. He is an expert on bootstrapping business ideas, and a lot of his tweets dish out ideas about building revenue-generating businesses.
Victor Asemota is a Growth Partner at AnD Ventures, Africa Partner for Alta Global Ventures, and an advisory board member at Assets and Resource Management DFS. He is also a Non-Executive Director at Merchant and Agents Transaction Services (MATS) Africa.
He has been a Board Advisor to Flutterwave since 2017, and Continent Lead/Manager for Interactive Design Foundation (IDF) in Africa.
In May 2017, he co-founded Africa & Diaspora mentorship, Investment Network.