A few years back, if you own any crypto coins in Africa, your best bet will be to wait till you travel out of the continent before you could do anything with it. Fast forward to 2021, all you need to do the most with your cryptocurrencies is the Patricia App.
Hanu Fejiro, who wears a hoodie and sneakers, like some cross between CZ and Steve jobs, runs the largest cryptocurrency exchange out of Africa – PATRICIA.
He recently sat down with Peace Itimi of FoundersConnect for a chat on the Patricia Crypto journey.
Hanu Fejiro was born in Warri, Nigeria. Although, he’s lived in Lagos, Portharcourt and Warri at different intervals in his life. His dream was to study Engineering but he was offered admission to study Mathematics at the universities where he applied.
Eventually, he accepted what seems to be fate and accepted the offer from the University of Portharcourt to study Mathematics.
Hanu had this notebook where he’d write all of his business ideas, not caring how odd or seeming weird they might seem to the average mind. The first of which was selling exotic sweets while he was in primary school, which made him about 70,000NGN in the first month.
Keeping this energy, he went on to try his hands at about thirteen different business ideas throughout his university days. All of which didn’t amount to much.
In 2015, an Uncle of his sent him Bitcoin, and in his attempt to find a place to trade it online, he realized there was no place in the whole of Africa. He ended up on a P2P platform but got ripped off.
It was then it hit him. If he cannot find a place to trade his crypto safely and securely, then there must be others like him.
So, he kept pondering on this and made sure to enter it into his idea book, and this was the 37th business idea entered into that journal, by way of speaking. It took a while before he finally decided to do away with caution and test the waters.
Why Patricia for a business name?
One afternoon, while Hanu was at his grandfather’s house with his mom. He could hear both of them argue as he flipped through his idea book, wondering what was next for him. He kept glancing at idea No 37, but it had no name, so he really couldn’t connect to it enough. But then he heard his mom correct his grandfather saying “My name is Patience and not Patricia”.
So, He decided to give this business idea a name to remind him of his two favourite persons.
How did Patricia start?
Finally, in 2017, Hanu rented out a small apartment and hired two people as staff. Days ran into months, and they had done no transactions. So, Hanu paid a popular comedian at that time to run an ad for the business. The Christmas that followed saw Hanu working through the holidays all by himself.
The next move was expansion, and so, Hanu moved the business into a bigger space and hired more people. Unsure of what the future holds, Hanu kept pushing boundaries and hired more ‘PATRICIANS’.
Growing in leaps, he reached out to his friend who was working for Microsoft to help. This friend, who is now the CTO of Patricia assembled a team of twelve developers. In a matter of weeks, the business had scaled to two thousand active users.
Today, Patricia technologies, which sits under the mother brand Patricia Universe, has a team of over sixty engineers working to secure and improve our products across the board. And a total staff strength of over three hundred people spread across Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States.
How are your ideas birthed?
We build all our products with consumer pain points in mind. This is from knowing that other people need a solution just as bad as we do.
And then there’s Hank, which was Hanu’s very first business idea in his book. It came from a place of being unable to find stuff, leaving him wishing he could ring these items when the need for them arises and not have to recall where he left them each time. And so, Patricia’s very first physical product was born.
In our bid to mitigate the risks of playing in one field, we explore other industries and then go ahead to build that one technology that everyone needs but nobody is working on, which is the bedrock for our upcoming incubator program.
The vision for Patricia is to build a super app that caters to every daily need in its ecosystem. Although new governmental regulation has forced us to decentralize the business, we hope to put it all back together.
We’ve made Patricia the bridge because we understand that people do not understand cryptocurrencies fully. So we are making sure to integrate it into our daily lives in the simplest ways possible.
Challenges don’t scare us, for us, the drive we’ve had from inception to solve consumer pain points using simple and accessible solutions will only continue to grow.
We’ve grown from two employees in 2017 to well over three hundred now. And we are still bent on ushering Africa into the digital age, still bent on simplifying cryptocurrencies for the everyday guy.
Although the plan has changed more times than we can count, the goal remains the same. Which is to become the SI unit of crypto in Africa.