Young, Black and Brilliant

Seun Oboite represents an emerging crop of young Black entrepreneurs that are combining talent, education and a fearlessness about entering the business world.

Seun Oboite

Even though the 21-year-old has yet to finish studying or gain long-term experience in the jobs market, he has already created his own company and is beginning to employ staff. Checkmate Concevoir, the events platform, only launched in November 2016 but already Seun is carving out a name for himself in Manchester and Guildford as the go-to man for digital events services.

Entrepreneurial spirit

“I know there is an assumption that becoming an entrepreneur is attractive because you become your own boss but even as an entrepreneur you are still accountable to your investors and your clients. It is for this reason that having a strong work ethic is even more important.”

Although some of Seun’s business was self funded, he has benefitted from third-party investment and received funding after winning a young enterprise award competition towards the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017.

From study to business

Seun has drawn on his academic experiences in computer science and aerospace engineering; his personal interest in web programming, and a wish to leave his imprint on the world to build his business.

He recently developed software that will allow his staff members, who work remotely, to clock in and out, and measure their daily performance.

“I work part time for Amazon in their warehouse department and was inspired to develop a staff tracking system similar to what they use to boost staff productivity,” he said.

Read: An interview with Shoobs founder Louise Broni-Mensah

He also prides himself in his use of time. As well as working at Amazon, he dedicates up to six hours a day on improving Checkmate Concevoir , and travels between his home city of Manchester, Guildford and London securing business leads.

“I get about one or two hours’ sleep a night,” said Seun, who before meeting me in London had been travelling across England and was due to return to Manchester that night and start a shift at Amazon!!

“I believe that in life you can attain three things – success, enjoyment and health – but there is always a trade off.

At the moment I have some success through the business, I am still enjoying life but my health, through lack of sleep, is suffering a little,” he said.

Checkmate Concevoir

Read: Doing business the ‘African’ way

It is this dedication to building strong foundations for the business that convinced Seun to take a year out from continuing his studies. He plans to start his MSc in Business Analysis and Strategic Management at Manchester University later this year.

In the meantime, he is working to release an app for the platform this summer, and has a longer-term goal to extend the business into other events-related service areas.

Read: Africa’s diaspora generation – making culture your business

Seun’s ambition is evident in his choice of business name and penchant for the Romance languages. Checkmate Concevoir means winning with design. It is inspired by the exclamation ‘checkmate’ associated with a winning chess move and the French word ‘concevoir’ for design, while Vivus means life in Latin.

His drive to succeed is spurred on by his desire to become a legend and be better than his mentor Leonardo da Vinci.

“He was someone who was accomplished many fields, including technical drawing and had an appreciation of physics, and aerodynamics – skills I also have. I see him as my mentor but also someone I would want to emulate, and for that reason and want to push myself further.”

Be your best

His advice to other young entrepreneurs is the simple. Don’t be shy about what you’ve created. Even if it is not at the stage your want it to be – develop your minimum viable product (MVP) – and just get it out there so that public feedback can help to shape it and make it an even better product.”

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