From roommates to co-founders; the 20-year friendship providing accommodation through tech

Godfrey Elimian
From being friends and roommates in secondary school, devote readers and like-minds to co-founding two startups.
Hanson Nnadi and Akinfemi Onadele, Co-founders of Homely
Hanson Nnadi and Akinfemi Onadele, Co-founders of Homely

The journey of Hanson Nnadi (32) and Akinfemi Onadele (33), from secondary school roommates to co-founders of Homely, a platform for professionally managed stays and experiences, tells a story of partnership and its impact on success in the tech space.

How does a professional engineer collaborate with an accountant to form a startup that caters for hospitality? These two share their stories and inspiration to becoming tech founders with Technext in this series of Founders’ Spotlight.

Hanson obtained his first degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana and a Master’s degree from the University of Salford in England. Femi is an accountant who obtained his undergraduate degree in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Hanson likes to cook, enjoys trying new recipes, travelling and keeping fit with exercises. On the other hand, Femi loves watching movies, podcasting, and eating out with his wife.

Co-founders of Homely, Hanson Nnadi and Akinfemi Onadele
Co-founders of Homely, Hanson Nnadi and Akinfemi Onadele

A striking note from the conversation is that the founders have been friends, in a relationship that has lasted for 20+ years. This started from being friends and roommates in secondary school, devote co-readers and like-minds to co-founding two startups.

“The interesting thing about our balance and match is that Femi brings things what I don’t have to the partnership, and I bring things he doesn’t have. We trust each other’s judgements, and this is how the partnership works” – Hanson Nnadi, CEO of Homely.

Read also: Austin Okere receives Special Leadership Award at 2022 Nigerian Fintech Awards

Below is a summary of my chat with both of them

Hanson Nnadi, Co-founder of Homely
Hanson Nnadi, Co-founder of Homely

Was tech the initial plan?

The tech ecosystem in Africa has evolved with the rise of notable tech solutions and innovators that have significantly changed how people live and contribute to economic growth. These, in turn, attracted significant investments from across the globe. Consequently, the ecosystem has attracted all-comers with uneven interest and achievements.

So, how did these two men get into tech?

Femi’s qualifications as an accountant make him one of the most sought-after professionals in the world. According to Michael Page, accountants are amongst the world’s top ten most sought-after professions.

But Femi claims that accounting became a boring profession for him.

“Accounting was boring, so I started looking into tech. The idea after Masters at Hult, San Francisco, was to build a database for Nigerians with the acquired knowledge, and be the Jeff Bezos of Nigeria”

Femi Onadele

Ironically, Hanson was jealous of finance professionals because he assumed they made a lot of money. This informed his decision to be a business professional and attend a Business school.

“After Business school, I worked with Telecoms for a while, which entailed me spending a lot of time online. These gave me a chance to get a glimpse of people doing great innovations in blogs and write-ups. This was what inspired me to do something myself.”

Hanson Nnadi

The idea for the partnership

For both founders, the partnership idea started with an opportunity.

The first startup they came up with was Reevyse, a study platform. The COVID-19 pandemic caused outdoor activities to shut down worldwide, and work was being done remotely. Hanson and Femi decided to provide a platform that could allow individuals to learn online.

The idea was conceived after considering the shift that would occur worldwide during and after the pandemic.

However, Homely started as a home. It wasn’t supposed to be a company. It was a hobby that was later launched on the platform of opportunities that came afterwards.

“At that time, I was living in a two bedroom in Lekki and I had a friend visiting from the U.S. He advised I put one of the rooms up in AirBnB since I was just living in one and make extra income. It turned out good, because the income I was making from that covered the rent for the whole year and more”

Hanson

“Fortunately, when I told Femi about it, he had like a friend who was moving to Europe to start up a new job, but had some months left in his apartment here in the country. So, together with Femi, we raised little capital for that from family, which later became apartment number two. This was what slowly pivoted to what it is today now,”

Akinfemi Onadele, Co-founder of Homely

Their major inspirations

It is not wrong to say that life circumstances inspire humans. For many tech founders, the chance to make an impact and to create solutions for problems facing humanity informed their decision to grow startups. Of course, that desire to achieve financial liberation is the bedrock for many people’s self-development that drives them to learn skills, work hard, and have sleepless nights to achieve results.

According to the Homely founders, their major inspirations for becoming tech founders come from wanting freedom, wanting to jump on opportunities, and feeling like taking up more challenges.

“It’s a combination of things. But one thing I would be unfair not to mention is Financial freedom. Being in a position where you don’t have to make decisions about your life that is rushed and abrupt. Nobody forces you and doing what you really want to do. This, together with the impact.”

Femi

Life outside work

Do tech bros have a social life?

I believe this question many people often ponder about. Building products that create solutions to life problems should take complete dedication, a lot of programming and focus. Why should they play?

For Hanson, life is full of varieties, and exploring these varieties makes it all worthwhile. Apart from being an ardent reader, he enjoys art and exhibitions. Also, having a good time with the buzz and music isn’t a bad idea for relaxation sometimes. These outings play a major role in expanding his network and keeping his sanity.

“I try to go out few times a week. Sometimes it’s going out to eat, Live shows, plays, art exhibitions, bars and the likes. These help with keeping my sanity, especially with remote work, and I find I’m also able to meet new people and network which has helped in growing the company.”

Hanson

Life outside work for Femi is rather spent in the warm embrace of his wife. For him, “going out twice in a month with his wife” is a tradition.

Read also: A chat with Accrue’s Clinton Mbah on studying in Ghana; his motivation for getting into tech

Has it been worth it Financially?

The general assumption is all tech bros have money. In fact, for founders, that assumption is way higher. But for Hanson, satisfaction comes from thinking about the value created.

“In two years, we have achieved a lot and we have had so many services under our belt. With a team of 9 and about 36 apartments in our portfolio, we have done so much in two years. It’s definitely worth it being a PropTech startup.”

Hanson

Advice to fellow founders in the space

The tech industry is currently brimming with inventions, many of which are similar in the solutions they produce. However, continuous improvement is what sets the startups that fail from the ones that succeed.

On this note, Hanson advises that founders continually learn to be at the top of their game and always provide direction to the team they lead.

“Be always ten steps ahead, as your team is relying on you. Your team is not going to be as dedicated as you are. Another major thing is a forehand knowledge of other startups, it will prepare you to prepare for the many challenges you might not envisage at the beginning of your journey.”

Hanson


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