An Interview with Odunayo Eweniyi, PiggyVest Co-Founder & COO

An Interview With Odunayo Eweniyi, Piggyvest Co-Founder and COO

Odun is the co-founder and COO of PiggyVest – the largest savings and investments app in Nigeria. She’s also the founder of FirstCheck Africa – an early-stage venture fund investing up to $25,000 for women founders in Africa.


In this conversation with Founder Africa, Odunayo Eweniyi speaks on the idea behind PiggyVest, start-ups’ challenges, industry, and more.


Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I am Odunayo, co-founder and COO of PiggyVest. PiggyVest is a fintech company in Lagos, Nigeria that’s focused on automated micro-savings and micro-investment. I am also the co-founder of First check Africa which is a pre-seed fund that is focused on investing in start-ups with a female founder or co-founder. 


How did you get into the world of entrepreneurship?

I started my first company right out of university. So, that’s all I have ever really done. I don’t think there was a transition point. So far, I have been involved in a number of startups; there was PushCV which was an employee-employer connection start-up; 500dishes which was a food delivery start-up; 99 staff which was an outsourcing start-up; FirstCheck which is focused on investing in start-ups with a female founder or co-founder; and PiggyVest which has done well so far. 


What is the story behind PiggyVest? 

On December 31st, 2015, there was a lady who had saved a thousand naira every day in a wooden box throughout that entire year she broke the box and put the photos on Twitter and it went viral. My co-founder brought that tweet to our group chat and said we could experiment with building a digital savings box for young Nigerians and that’s literally how PiggyVest was born. 


How did you come about the name?

PiggyVest was the second name of the company. The platform was initially called which is just a direct translation of Kolo (saving box) from Yoruba. Then in 2019, we decided that it was going to go beyond savings and added the vest and removed the bank. 


How has the journey been so far? 

So far so good. I can’t complain. There is a lot of motivation from seeing the real-life impact that the work we are doing at PiggyVest has. That is something that keeps us going.  


As a growing start-up, you have some typical challenges from hiring to fundraising. There is no exhaustive list. All of that is part of what you must solve as a start-up. Finding a unique value proposition, execution, and regulation are some of the real challenges you face every day. There is no end to what you face when you start a company. 

As you grow and hire more people, the right people, learn more about the space you’re working in, and get traction, you will start to solve the most important things. The growth of the start-up naturally makes talent attracted to it. As your traction also improves, investors are getting attracted to your company. As you are growing in the space, you have sustainability and so, naturally, users are attracted to it. These things happen as you grow, continue to execute, and make the right decisions.


Are there particular characteristics that contribute to a start-up’s ability to jump from start-up to scale up? 

I think that it is generally the basic questions. If you’re thinking about a start-up that you have intentions to grow, you must be able to answer the basic questions. Is your idea good? Is the product you’ve built on that idea also good? Are you the right person to build this and why? Can you sell this idea? And finally, can you make people pay for it? So, those are the questions you need to answer first before jumping in. If everything is yes, then I think you can go ahead. These are also things that you can learn for sure as you grow. 


What is that one thing you wished you knew early? 

Honestly, I wouldn’t point to one thing. I think everything is a learning curve and I believe that my learning curve went as it should. A lot of the things I know now, if I knew then I would probably have decided differently and I don’t want to change that. 


Kindly share some people who have been instrumental to your success

First would be my co-founders, Joshua and Somto who I have worked for about 10 years. The wider management team who currently work with us in Piggy Tech, Nonso, AY, IBK, and Terry. Also, our first-ever investor Olumide Shoyombo took a chance on PushCV in 2014 and took a chance on every other thing we’ve built since then. Those people are particularly important to the journey that this has become. 


What milestones are you looking to achieve this year at PiggyVest? 

The goal is to reach 10 million users this year. We are at almost 4 million users, and we want more than double that this year. 


How would you rate the start-up ecosystem in Africa?

I wouldn’t rate it just because the word rating implies that we are doing good or bad of which I don’t think we necessarily have to rank it that way. I think that the start-up ecosystem in Nigeria and across Africa is young, growing, and progressing quite well. We are not where we need to be but we are well on our way and that’s sufficient. 


What are you most excited about in the tech industry right now?

I am excited about all the start-ups coming up. Everyone is building something and there is this catalytic energy that you can tell is very infectious. Everyone is looking for a problem to solve or a challenge to fix and that’s a good thing. It’s very exciting. 


What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Nothing. I believe I put almost all the aspects of myself out there. I don’t think there would be anything shocking to discover. 


When you’re not running PiggyVest what else are you doing?

Well, I am a co-founder at First Check. So, If I am not running my start-ups, I am investing in start-ups (founded or co-founded by women.) If I am not doing that, I am working with the feminist coalition to improve the participation of women across different pillars. If I am not doing that, I am watching Netflix in my house. 


One piece of advice you will give to your younger self. 

I’d advise my younger self to be herself. The world always adjusts to different people so be yourself. 


What would be the top three tips you would give to other start-ups?

The first one is to understand the market you’re trying to sell. People assume knowledge of the market but, the only way to understand the people you’re trying to sell to is to talk to them and figure out, do they actually want this. Not do I think they want it. 


Secondly, hire the right people early on. It is very important for start-ups to access the business they are trying to run and decide what the most important role in running the company is. When we started, it was customer support and so one of the pillars of PiggyVest right now is customer service and that’s because we were able to identify early on that support was going to be a huge part of where we were headed. 

Thirdly, flexibility. Don’t be afraid to adjust. Don’t be afraid to pivot. Where you start may not be where you end, and you have to always be able to move and adapt very fast. 


Thank you for your time!

Related Posts

Subscribe to Updates

Get the latest news from Founder Africa

FA logoblk_1