It is always a known fact that in every family, at least one of the children will take after either of the parent’s footstep in terms of chosen career; so it is with Ubong Isemin, the Founder/Managing Director of a fast thriving digital agency in Nigeria.
Ubong Isemin has been chosen as our SME of the week and in a brief interview with him, he led us through his business journey. There’s a thing or two to take from this conversation. Let’s meet Ubong Isemin.
Q: Can we meet you?
My name is Ubong Isemin. I am the Founder/Managing Director of UBS Digital.
Q: Tell us about your Business, how you started and what inspired you to go in that line of business.
UBS Digital is primarily a digital agency dedicated to helping MSMEs compete more effectively online. To do this, we’ve made available a range of digital marketing services, including website design, SEO, SEM, social media marketing and business directory services.
UBS was borne out of the need to make local businesses discoverable. For example, if you’re new to a city and you’re looking for a good cobbler, you’d probably need to ask for a referral. So, to eliminate the need for this ‘middleman’, we decided to create tools that would connect people directly with the services they need, and in doing so, draw more customers to said business.
The first tool we launched was our business directory, quapages.com. With it, businesses can get online within minutes. Soon after launching that, we realised that some customers wanted a little more. So, we added a few other services – website design, digital copywriting, content marketing, social media marketing and search engine marketing, to name a few.
We’ve been in business for about 5 years, and in that time, we’re proud to say we’ve helped thousands of businesses across Nigeria get online.
Q: What does it take to start a Business like yours?
To start a digital agency, you need some digital skills such as web design/development, graphics design, social media strategy, inbound marketing, copywriting, etc. You also need some customer service skills because you will be dealing a lot with clients.
With these and a decent computer, you’re well on your way. You can start offering service to people around you and on social media.
Q: What makes you different from your Competitors?
UBS is different from our competitors in terms of our flexibility. We offer a range of packages for each of our services as well as flexible payment options. Thus a business can mix and match services to suit their needs and then pay for their package in whatever way suits them: monthly, quarterly, annually… whatever suits them best.
Also, our broad range of services means most MSMEs will find most (if not all) of what they need for their online advertising at UBS Digital. As such, they’ll only need to deal with one vendor for all their services. For example, we can build and manage someone’s website, content marketing, social media marketing and PPC advertising, all for one monthly fee.
Q: What were the Initial Challenges you faced when you started your business?
biggest challenge we faced was that the majority of our target audience
didn’t realise they needed our service. Just imagine trying to convince
your local cobbler that they need to get online [Laughs]. It took a lot
of sensitisation to bring them around. Now, thankfully, it’s become
Q: What is that thing you wish you did differently?
[Laughs] There’s a few of them, really. You know what they say about the beauty of hindsight. However, if I were to pick one, it would be the our business structure. There are so many things I know now that I didn’t know when we started.
Q: Would your Business still be around in 5 years? Why do you think so?
Yes. We will be around longer than five years. Why? Firstly, I believe the structure we have put in place has set us up for longevity. Secondly, we believe strongly in learning and innovation. We’re relentlessly looking for what’s new in our industry (sometimes, even outside our industry) and how we can use it to improve.
For these reasons (and a few others I can’t go into right now), we will be around way longer than 5 years actually.
Q: Do you currently have Expansion Plans? Can you share with us?
Yes, we have big plans. We are looking to establish some physical presence in a number of cities across Nigeria over the next few months. We’re also looking to expand our service offerings to include more programming. Our focus, at the moment, is on A.I. and data-driven services.
Q: How has your Business made you a better person?
For one, running a business has made me more empathetic. Working with people everyday – colleagues and customers, I’ve learnt to see things more from their perspectives. Running a business has also made me a lot more organised than I used to be and I am learning to make big decisions fairly quickly.
Q: Who or What is your Main Inspiration: Business/Personal?
My main inspiration is my mother. She was an entrepreneur through and through. Also, she was a doer. To her, nothing was impossible; she was always willing to try. A life-long learner, she started more businesses than I can remember. Some worked out, others didn’t. But that never bothered her. She was always ready to take on the next challenge. Amazing woman. I learnt so much from her.
Q: In what ways have you given back or is your business giving back to the Society?
Personally, I volunteer whenever and wherever I can – church, my local community, everywhere. I’m a firm believer that whatever resource we have, we’ve been given so we can use it to improve society.
On the business front, we do a lot of work with NGOs, especially those that work with rural traders, farmers, micro-business and the likes. We provide free business training, ICT training and more to help them grow their enterprises. Also, we offer a 20% discount for NGOs, schools and other institutions working to improve people’s lives. Lastly, we build one free website every month for an SME. We host contests on social media to select the business that will get the free website.
Favorite Quote you live by:
“Gutta cavat lapidem“. Actually, the full quote is “Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed saepe cadendo“. It means “Dripping water hollows out stone, not by strength, but by consistency”. I love this quote because it’s a reminder that consistency is everything.
MESSAGE TO ENTREPRENEURS
What would you like to tell the person who is scared for one reason or the other to start a Business?
They say, “…fear is the result of ignorance“. Ignorance, in this case, regarding the things you don’t [yet] know about the business you want to go into. So, to dispel your fear, do some research. Read some books. Conduct a feasibility study. Put together a business plan. Ask a business person or someone who is well-versed in that field to help you review it, and, if holds up, start. It won’t be easy. There’ll certainly be bumps along the way, but go for it. In the end it may work out splendidly, or it may not turn out how you anticipated. But you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t, at least, try.
Message to other Entrepreneurs
Well done, comrades. Together, we move.
Message to would-be Entrepreneurs
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” It’s a quote from Walt Disney.
5 Isaac John Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos
C7 Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, Akwa Imo