I would like to introduce to you our Next Nigerian Entrepreneur, Freddie Achom. Freddie is a very successful Nigerian entrepreneur and investor based in the UK. He is the Chairman and co-founder of the Rosemont Group, a company that invests in early stage startup companies who show potential for growth. His latest challenge is to invest in a total of 20 start-up businesses by 2017 and give back to aspiring entrepreneurs through the Rosemont Group Foundation.
We share these stories to inspire young people everywhere. There is no limit to the things you can achieve if you can look inwards and explore your massive potentials. Freddie was so sure of his passion for business he left a medical career (against his father’s wishes) to become a businessman. Read this interview to find out who Freddie is, how he became a business success and what habits drive him to success. And yes, you can reach out him with your startup ideas. Let’s find out!
Please tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and then moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 8 to enroll in private school. After completing my secondary education, I went to study medicine at University but opted out one year after against my fathers’ wishes who was a respected businessman and aspiring politician at the time.
My investment firm is always looking for start-ups to invest; I’m open for any Nigerian businessperson to get in touch with Rosemont Group if they feel they have great ideas.
I always knew at the back of my mind that I can always complete my further education anytime but at that period in my life I had the urge to embark on my journey. So I went to work and found my way in to the financial services industry and progressed from there.
How did you discover your passion for business?
I grew a natural flair for business from an early age watching my father build one of Nigeria’s most successful independent insurance companies from scratch in the 70’s and 80’s. I think it’s natural for most children especially boys to want to emulate and follow in the footsteps of their father.
Tell us about your very first business venture
At age twenty-four I started my first company called City Business Partners, we provided business development services to small and medium-sized firms in the United Kingdom. The company was acquired after several years by a larger firm.
How did you do it?
Before starting my first business, I had previously worked for an established business development agency, which focused on targeting charted surveyors. While operating in this company I became the regional manager which gave me enough experience and confidence to start my business in the same sector.
What were the challenges you faced and how did you handle them?
I don’t dwell on challenges; I look at setbacks as stepping-stones towards my progress in life and in business. I think a lot of start-up entrepreneurs spend far too much time focusing on their so-called problems instead of the solution, when it should be the other way round.
How did you get to where you are now?
Not to sound arrogant but I believe it’s through my self-belief and my mother’s prayers!
How much have you grown from where you started?
I would hope a lot. Every day I strive to learn new things in business and in personal life as a father of two wonderful kids. I don’t only look to succeed in business but also spiritually and as a person. I have a long way to go as life is long and we learn every step of the way.
What habits drive you to succeed?
I would say my drive comes from wanting to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. I want to change the way black people and us Nigerians are perceived. All too often we are only at the table due to our achievements in sport or in entertainment, I would like us to be recognized for our business intellect also. Hopefully I can contribute to changing that misconception.
What is your outstanding moment as an entrepreneur?
The achievement I am most proud of is my children, of course, but professionally my company, Rosemont Group Capital Partners is my proudest achievement. In a short period, we’ve been able to invest in a diverse range of businesses including restaurants, exclusive members clubs and technology-based companies.
In the hospitality space, which is extremely competitive, we have won awards and have been recognized.
One of our popular and most recent investments is in one of London’s leading parking App Company called Appy Parking, which is just embarking on a $13m series A round at a $35m (post) valuation. We have recently sold JustGo, a social media audience management platform to the US-based independent music distribution platform, TuneCore.
Beside digital tech start-ups we have also invested in renewable energy, building large-scale solar power plants and rural electrification services in India, for which we have received the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer award in 2014, previously won by Google, Wikipedia and alike, so I am very proud of that.
Through your social media, you mentioned your plan to be the first Nigerian to travel to space, can you please elaborate?
Yes i hope to be the first Nigerian in space, though I did hope to be the first African but a South African has already beaten me to it! I am an aerospace enthusiast. I am one of the founding astronauts at the XCOR space program. I enrolled 4 years ago and look forward to having the experience of travelling to suborbital space and back. We were initially set to fly by early 2017 but the XCOR Lynx is still in testing phase and the launch stage may now be in 2018. I believe space tourism will be the next frontier and I am excited to be one of the pioneering space tourists!
You want to help Nigerian startups achieve their dreams. Tell us about this
When I last visited Nigeria in 2015, I got the chance to meet brilliant young entrepreneurs in the tech-space. Nigerians are optimistic, hard-working and very entrepreneurial by nature. I believe Africa is the new frontier, in my opinion; the resources and growth in the next ten years will surpass any other continent.
The opportunities are endless, especially in the B2B and technology space. My investment firm is always looking for start-ups to invest; I’m open for any Nigerian businessperson to get in touch with Rosemont Group if they feel they have great ideas.
What do you look for in new startups?
I look for start-ups with a vision and business strategy to disrupt the market they intend to go into. But most importantly I look at the entrepreneur behind it; you can have the best business idea in the world, but you need the right person to execute it.
So I invest in people first. People who do their homework on the business they intend to go into as well as the stamina to see it through.
What are some rookie mistakes you think startups make most?
One of my earlier mistakes in business was doing business deals based on trust.
After I had sold my first business, I invested a reasonable sum of money to a close associate of mine who launched a media business. Long story short, I lost the investment because I failed to do my due diligence. I’ve learnt not to do business on handshakes. Other business mistakes have even had me falling foul of financial regulators, which was costly, and reputation damaging. So make sure you get your legal right, do not under-estimate the importance of a good corporate lawyer
What three books influenced your life and business the most?
I like books written by African authors such as Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi and many more. One of my childhood heroes was Muhammad Ali; I liked what he stood for. His biography titled ‘The Greatest’ is one of my favorites – very inspirational read.
What advice do you have for unemployed young people in Nigeria?
My advice is simple – Don’t place mental barriers on yourself. There are many examples of successful Nigerians who started in the same position or even in a more harsh circumstance than you. If they can do it and rise above, there’s no reason you can’t too.
Editor’s: If you have a winning startup idea, Freddie is looking for you. You can contact him through any of the following channels: www.rosemontgroup.net | https://twitter.com/iamfreddieachom | Enquiries@rosemontgroup.net
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