Lanre Ogungbe’s vision for a secured internet space through Identitypass in Africa might have been accidental. Still, his desire to see people grow and human capital yield positive returns is a trait he has imbibed from the right parental nurturing and upbringing.
Lanre Ogungbe is the CEO and founder of Prembly, the parent business of Identitypass. This global technology firm offers compliance and security services based on the vision for a secured Africa. Lanre thinks investing in human capital gives society a more substantial basis for development.
Lanre completed his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Education from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba. Afterwards, he obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from the John Hopkins University – Carey Business School, Maryland.
Often described as a very passionate, people-oriented person, Lanre Ogungbe set out to make a difference in every endeavour he attempted as a youngster. He supervised approximately 120 other students while working for an NGO in school to support and address the issues facing specific communities. He also spent four years volunteering for the United Nations.
Since then, Lanre has been on an innovation ride. He has successfully co-led and championed startups like myPadi, an accommodation platform for students, and Accounteer, a cloud accounting platform for small businesses, before founding Identitypass.
We spoke to Lanre Ogungbe in this instalment of Founders Spotlight, and he shares his experiences, the journey with IdentityPass, his aspirations, and his love for his Turtles.
Let’s get to it.
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Key moments growing up
Undoubtedly, sound parental nurturing goes a long way in making an individual. Science has theorized that the most common way individuals in their early years learn and adapt is by observation of everyday life.
Moments with his family, especially his mother, were powerful factors in his formative years. In addition to being industrious, the mother ensured Lanre Ogungbe and his siblings had the proper education, met their necessities, and lived decent lives. However, they had to make some sacrifices for this to happen.
“In the age when our mates were pretty much concerned about popular TV programs then, like Papa Ajasco and Super Story, we were more concerned about who became the next commissioner as kids. We did not miss the 9’o clock news in my house, coupled with the fact that my mom would make us read pages of the newspapers my dad bought every day.”
“Those were the dynamics of growing up that made me more inquisitive, naturally. I want to know more, I want to know what’s going on. Engaging people and investing in people came naturally.”Lanre Ogungbe, CEO and Co-founder Identitypass
For him, a combination of many factors has contributed to shaping him. The way they lived, his mom’s accommodating spirit that ensured that people other than family members were in the house, and other things were factors that helped him build relationships while growing up.
Inspiration behind Identitypass
For many, innovation is deliberate and well-thought research undertaken to initiate paradigm shifts, but this was not the case for Lanre Ogungbe and Identitypass. The startup was the result of the accidental discovery of a pertinent problem and subsequent innovation.
“I didn’t plan to do Identitypass, the plan was to do a payment solution. But because there was a need for a strong verification system for that, we reached out to a couple of persons seeking how to do that.”
“In concluding that some of the responses wouldn’t work, we decided to look internally and build the verification engine ourselves. In identifying that the verification system was a well-sought-after product, we decided to commercialize it and went public with the first engine.”Lanre ogungbe
Is the payment solution still in play?
For Lanre, the payment structure formerly known as Identitypay is currently not their focus, as verification and internet safety is the primary focus.
“Payment is not our focus right now, we just want to make sure the internet is safe in Africa for now. Also, to ensure that businesses are safe and connected in the continent, individuals in this part of the world can easily access global products and services.”Lanre Ogungbe
Relationship with his co-founders
Identitypass was officially launched in January 2021, although conceived in 2021 by cofounders Lanre Ogungbe, Niyi Adegboye and Tolu Adetuyi. Since then, the company has leapfrogged into becoming one of the fastest-growing verification companies in Nigeria.
Ideas are often conceived and birthed in the most not-so-planned way with people we interact with daily, like friends and family. Lanre also confirms this.
“We were friends before we became co-founders. the dynamics of how is that, Tolu and I attended the same University. He was the President of his department while I was the President of Enactus.”Lanre
According to him, that relationship has grown and culminated into close friends and partners. He mentions that he also had the opportunity of working with Niyi at Accounteer.
“Sometimes you find out that these persons are even closer to you than you are closer to your life partners. Every day you are with them, and also talking about something as serious as money…as long as you want to have sales in the business, you literally have to maintain a good relationship with them.”
Life outside work
There is a general view and presumption that most techies are nerds, perhaps because their work demands significant attention and time. However, everyone has different ideas of fun and what is enjoyable.
Lanre Ogungbe says having fun can be him deciding to sit at home, see a movie on Netflix, and take care of his pets – he owns turtles he refers to as his babies. Spending time caring for them is well spent outside work for him.
“I have some amazing babies – Turtles, I built a house for them and sometimes spend some time with them, taking care of them.”
It goes without saying that work is demanding, and to maintain mental health and continue functioning at one’s best, the ideal balance of fun is also necessary. Lanre enjoys participating in the activity, which includes contacting investors and making sales pitches.
Managing relationships with staff
Identitypass is a fully remote startup with employees located in different parts of the country and continent, entirely dedicated to ensuring the company’s goals are achieved.
Nevertheless, the company enjoys a free flow of communication from top to bottom. According to Lanre, team members know what is expected of them daily, and work goes on with proper communication through the company’s Teams channel.
“I do not think I have a hack other than good communication, they understand the need to communicate always. So I do not need to micromanage them or tell them what they have to do daily per time. We literally have structures in place where they can log in and have know their tasks.”
Also, he mentioned the company has so many cultures that ensure the team is intact and connected. Members interact freely to foster learning, growth, and personal development. Although it might not be sustainable with the growing size of the company, later on, he doesn’t deny the fact the company is open to change.
Most Challenging endeavour
Although tech is demanding, taxing, and challenging, people who can solve problems successfully meet these obstacles head-on. When asked if Identitypass has been his most challenging project, he replies:
“I don’t think Identitypass has been the most challenging, for me, I think managing people generally. In terms of challenges, getting my first girlfriend in JSS3 was the most difficult for me.”
He claimed that the pressure of having company to spend the extended break after the JSCE exams with, like everyone else, led to the thought of getting a girlfriend at that time. He explains, “It took me prepping and preparing to say it.
Most memorable and lowest moments as a founder
A founder or CEO’s average day is characterized by so much that they sometimes feel like they are on top of a cliff and about to fall. Sometimes they have to deal with low sales; other times, it could be a customer expressing dissatisfaction with the product. This doesn’t mean they do not also have better days where they are so happy and get to bask in a win.
The recent sad loss of an employee, an exceptional lady who has contributed immensely to the company’s growth, is the deepest low so far.
“Just before she died, it was interesting and touching for someone in a condition like hers to still code for the company even while in the hospital bed. Until we lost her, she always mentioned she wanted to make an impact in the company.”Lanre Ogungbe
Lanre Ogungbe confirms that the lady led the charge that made the strongest biometrics technology for the company, “losing her has been the most downtime for me. I sincerely didn’t know how to react”, he says.
Founders that inspire him
The tech ecosystem globally is filled with exciting innovations, and behind these innovations are individuals who are churning out some ingenuity to keep it running and successful.
For Lanre, one of those who interest and inspires him is Larry Page, a co-founder at Google..
“I think he is an amazing guy, leading an entire conglomerate like that. Imagining the amazing products Google is releasing and investing in. He is one guy that I look up to.”Lanre Ogungbe
Another person that inspires him is Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. He claims his lifestyle as a whole, being without controversies, clean, and managing his fame, inspires him.
“On the local system, one person that I love so much is Kola Aina, he has been investing in the system. Another is CC-Hub’s founder, Bosun Tijani. These are people that have continually invested in people, this is what stands them out.”
To get the complete transcript of the interview, kindly watch the video below:
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