“Being Educated is Super Important but Having a Great Degree is Not”| Williams Fatayo, Ceo of TruQ

Williams is the CEO of truQ, a Logistics Tech company which connects people and businesses to the nearest vehicle in due time. He was inspired to start this company with his co-founder by their individual experiences and other people’s struggles with accessing third-party logistics. Over the years, Williams has worked in various sectors including engineering, sales, brand and marketing communications. Now, he likes to describe himself as an entrepreneur in the logistics space.

He is a native of Ogbomosho, Oyo state. However, he was born and raised in Lagos state. He had his primary and junior secondary education in Badagry, proceeded to the Federal government college, Ogbomosho for his secondary education and finally, Federal University of Technology, Akure.

Williams is the fifth of six children and he likes to think that he was the black sheep of his family for the longest time because of how he has been able to challenge the status quo over the years but that helped him find his purpose earlier on in his journey. He is a lover of God and he recently got married to the love of his life.

YellowLyfe Mag: Who is Williams Fatayo?

Williams Fatayo: I am an entrepreneur in the logistics space. I currently serve as the CEO of truQ where we are solving logistics problems that my co-founder and I experienced for many years under our various employers and issues that people struggle with whenever they need to access third-party logistics. My life finds meaning across three key pillars, God, Love and work. I believe unapologetically in God, the giver of life and purpose, my creator, father and friend. I’m married, I love my wife. Outside that, I find pleasure in travelling, spending time around people that I care about, and providing solutions that change the lives of real people. It is weird because I also find this deep intense pleasure in swimming against the tide. It feels intensely gratifying in some way. After Uni, I resumed as a user adoption consultant with Microsoft and went on to do some sales, selling Microsoft enterprise solutions too. After which, I joined Wema bank on their brand and marketing communications team. I started as a social media guy then worked on the larger scope on the digital side of the marketing department, and then I went on to lead event sponsorships and activations for the bank before managing brand and marketing logistics for the bank. It was in the middle of managing brand and marketing logistics and having to hustle for vehicles to move stuff to all the branches nationwide that the problem you have to deal with engaging third-party logistics showed so brightly to me.

YellowLyfe Mag: What are you most grateful for?

Williams Fatayo: I’m grateful for people and clarity of purpose. All through my journey, I have had the priceless privilege of getting help from people, even when I didn’t deserve it. I think I became very self-aware early enough. I know what my calling is and what it is not. A million people around me can be doing what is popular but if it doesn’t align with my purpose, I won’t do it.

YellowLyfe Mag: What was it like at the beginning of going full-time on truQ?

Williams Fatayo: Hmm… It was hard as hell. It was harder than you could ever imagine, especially because it wasn’t paying. So you would need to do a bit of pro-bono work for about a year, believing that the work will be worth it and believing that you are walking in the right direction, that with everyday progress, there is a juncture where it all begins to add up. So all of the pains, frustrations and financial pressures that came with that stage of my life were very hard but it has been absolutely worth it.

YellowLyfe Mag: What are some of the challenges that you have experienced as a Tech CEO in Nigeria?

Williams Fatayo: Being a Tech CEO is one thing and being a tech CEO in Logistics is a different ball game, especially when your business is in a market like ours. Our supply side has various literacy levels, some of them couldn’t use smartphones and we are building a digital infrastructure, so it was a struggle trying to get them to utilize our product properly. We had to finance smartphones for them and teach them how to use them. Finding the right people to build with was also a struggle. Being a professional and building a career in the start-up context is different from other fields because there is speed, urgency and tenacity required, not everyone has that. Many people are great at what they do but struggle to apply that within the early stages of a start-up. However, we have been lucky with a large chunk of our hires at truQ. Fundraising is a huge struggle too. However, as long as you are building a consistently growing business with great margins and the right numbers, you leave the rest to the universe and the ecosystem to write you the right kind of cheques. I think generally the struggle which is also like the cocaine of the game is the fact that everything is so fast-paced, it is so intense that you are in an endless phase of paranoia and anxiety. It is what fuels the game and it is also the biggest struggle.

YellowLyfe Mag: Earlier, you talked about educating people and providing smartphones for them, how were you able to finance that at the beginning?

Williams Fatayo: We didn’t start that at the beginning. We started that after we had validated a lot of what we were doing, were on a very good growth trajectory and had raised funds. It was just a bit of innovation on what we needed to do to produce better results. Moving forward, we are partnering with embedded Fintech players to integrate our system with theirs. They will be powering the Fintech side of the business, from loans to helping our drivers save. Ultimately, we are looking at asset financing for our drivers, so that in 5-10 years, drivers who started on truQ with one car can boast of two or more cars.  

YellowLyfe Mag: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don’t know?

Williams Fatayo: People confuse my social media presence to mean that I am very extroverted. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not. I would choose my space over anything extroverted 9 out of 10 times. It’s like I have a social battery, when the battery runs out, I go back inside for about a month or two to recharge.

YellowLyfe Mag: What inspires you daily?

Williams Fatayo: Three things inspire me daily. TruQ came to be as a result of my co-founder and I giving a problem that was frustrating us a shot. Seeing the business improve the earnings and ultimately the quality of lives of the drivers on our platform inspires me greatly. Secondly, I am inspired by the people with whom I share this vision, people who are on board working tirelessly and building with me. Seeing them become better versions of themselves with each passing day and finding fulfilment on their own as they do so inspires me to show up even on days when I don’t want to. Finally, I am inspired by the kind of life I want for myself and my kids in the future. It is not a conventional life. I want my kids to look at me and pull inspiration that anything is possible if only you will dream and commit to doing hard work. I don’t want them to ever think that they can’t do something because it looks hard.

YellowLyfe Mag: What’s the best advice that you ever got?

Williams Fatayo: Hmm. I think the biggest one would be, “the consciousness to die empty”. That means that at the end of your life, you want to know that you have spent your entire essence, you are not going to the grave with any potential untapped. That consciousness makes you do more at every point in your life, you keep asking yourself, “What more can I be? What aspect of me have I not tapped into?”. So you want to maximize yourself before the grave. I think the grave is something that you jump into after you must have lived a full life, enjoyed yourself and explored every aspect of your life. Many people are filled with regrets when dying, they say, “There is a lot more that I could have been”. Yes, there is but why didn’t you be? You chose comfortability over the inconvenience of growth and expression of your potential, we can’t blame anyone for that. That’s on you.

YellowLyfe Mag: What are some of the principles that guide you?

Williams Fatayo: I am heavy on touching lives, making impacts and creating opportunities for people. I want to be remembered for the lives that I have touched and changed. So whenever people interact with me, I always want them to get something tangible out of it. I want people to be able to drink from my wealth of wisdom and experience. I want people to be able to climb on my shoulders the same way I am climbing on others. I want to build gates and keep them open for the next generation to find an easier passage than I did. That’s it.

YellowLyfe Mag: Can you describe your journey using 5 words?

Williams Fatayo: Risky, Exciting, Fulfilling, Purposeful and Endless-paranoia

YellowLyfe Mag: Hmm… Risky and Endless-paranoia?

Williams Fatayo: I will tell a story to discuss them. When I wanted to resign from Wema bank to chase truQ, my siblings told me I was stupid at that point. One, I hadn’t gotten my certificate, so it would be difficult to get another job. I also had a boss who knew that I was building something on the side but still lets me keep my job, keep building and enjoy myself doing both, so why was I resigning? However, I knew within myself that side hustles produce side hustle results, so I needed to go fully on truQ for me to get the best result out of it but they thought it made no sense. It was risky for them but it has been the most fulfilling journey of my life. I don’t hold it against them though, it just kind of typifies my mindset around how I go about my life. The fact that it is popular and convenient does not mean that it is the right thing for me. The fact that it is not a side hustle means that failure isn’t an option. A lot of money has been invested, people have resigned from their jobs, some even took pay cuts to join the team, while some people’s source of livelihood depends on the success of this business. You know there is a lingo in the start-up space that says, “Fail fast, fail forward and all of that but this is the fourth year running and failing is not an option for me any more. So it just keeps you paranoid at every point in time, you want to move fast but make sure that you are moving right and with experience, you tend to make more right calls, and you also have to keep moving, you can’t afford to stop or fail because a lot more is at stake than you could possibly imagine now. So that’s where the paranoia comes in.

YellowLyfe Mag: So at that point where your siblings felt like you were taking a very risky decision, did you have any doubts about yourself and your decision?

Williams Fatayo: No. You know when you have choices, that is when you have the luxury of doubts. When you think, “Oh, if I don’t do this one, I have a plan B”. I just had no choice, so there was no doubt whatsoever. It was a very comfortable decision to jump off the cliff and hope to God that I build a plane before I hit the floor.

YellowLyfe Mag: What do you see as the future of tech in Nigeria?

Williams Fatayo: I think the biggest solution to Africa’s problems will have Nigerian roots. I hope the Continent is prepared for what is coming but more importantly, I hope we get leadership right because a key part of innovation is a conducive environment. If the environment frustrates innovation, the building takes longer. We are building solutions for global problems, the guy building from the USA doesn’t have to struggle with power supply, basic infrastructure, internet or any of those ridiculous things we struggle with as innovators building out of Nigeria. That enabling environment is very important. I think there is an awakening among the youth in terms of the quality of leaders that they choose and vote for in positions of authority. The “Not-too-young-to-run” bill also particularly positions us to get into offices where we make decisions that affect us, not some old man who won’t even be alive to see the effects or consequences of his actions and decisions. So exciting stuff will spring forth out of this country over the next 5-10 years. In the same way, we have seen the likes of Flutterwave, and Paystack does, lots of innovations and then truQ is building the operating system for third-party logistics on the continent. That’s a continent-level problem that has the potential for driving Economic and commercial growth across the continent, changing lives as we journey on. So the continent will be seeing more of that springing out of Nigeria and the change in the leadership landscape that will be happening in the country over the coming years will also make it easier for innovators to innovate.

YellowLyfe Mag: What are some of your goals for TruQ?

Williams Fatayo: The goal is to have our infrastructure powering third-party logistics across the continent making it smarter, faster and more efficient for people. That involves product growth and geographical expansion. Another one is to see lives being changed because of truQ, see partners grow their businesses, make more money and live better lives, and find fulfilment even when they resign and move on to better things. Also, we have investors who believed in us earlier, before we even had the guts to fully believe in it the way they did, so the goal is to make them a shit-load of money for believing in us.

YellowLyfe Mag: Do you ever get overwhelmed?

Williams Fatayo: Everyday.

YellowLyfe Mag: How do you handle or deal with it?

Williams Fatayo: I don’t deal with it, I just swim with it. Dealing with it multiplies the overwhelming effect, so you just swim with it, sleep with it and when you wake up in the morning, you go again. Focus on 20% of the things you have to do that bring 80% of the desired result, focus on the problems that matter, and prioritize as appropriate but all of that is just dealing with the overwhelming nature of being an entrepreneur. It is swimming with it and just riding the wave. It gets to a point where if you don’t get overwhelmed, you will feel weird that “ Why don’t I have a lot of things to do? What is going on with me? Am I being irresponsible with my work?” I don’t think it is a bad thing o but it is what it is.

YellowLyfe Mag: So if you could do anything or something differently, what would it be?

Williams Fatayo: Hmm… I would hire better and more strategically at truQ. I would have prioritized my capacity and personal development over academic certificates because I think the things you need to survive in life are not a measure of your degree certificate. Being educated is super important but having a great degree is not. Rather, building capacity, building critical problem-solving skills, and building value in yourself make you attractive to people who can help you. Some people can help you but if you don’t carry value, you won’t be able to move close to them and it is not a function of what level of degree you finished with. It is a matter of what you can do for them, that is the only thing that can open their doors to you. All that aside, I don’t think I want to do anything differently, because everything that has happened throughout my life has brought me to where I am today. I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

YellowLyfe Mag: Earlier, you talked about being married, how has that been?

Williams Fatayo: It has been good. Third month in, learning the ropes. Umm…Giving up choices and decisions to letting somebody else make the decisions for your life, is a very weird thing, you no longer decide what happens within things that you usually control for yourself. It is something that I had to learn the hard way to give up but I’m learning the ropes, learning to build the right foundation for the home. In all, it has been good.

YellowLyfe Mag: What do you do for fun?

Williams Fatayo: I work for fun. Work is fun, and building truQ is fun. If I’m not working on truQ, I am travelling. I enjoy travelling and spending time with people that I care about and love. I also love doing unpopular things. Things that people would look at me and be like, “Are you mad?”, I enjoy doing those things too.

YellowLyfe Mag: Where is your favourite place to go to?

Williams Fatayo: Ah, Church o. I like going to church, I feel refreshed every time I’m there. But I love anywhere that an Aeroplane can take me. I love being at the beach, I think it is intensely refreshing, I just don’t have the luxury of time. I can’t remember the last time I went there.

YellowLyfe Mag: Do you read books?

Williams Fatayo: Yes, I do. Mostly, these days I just read books that make me do better at work. Right now I am reading “The psychology of money by Morgan Housel”. I think for the longest time, I have had a very weird relationship with money. I was a jama-jama guy, money comes, money goes, I knew I needed to change that mentally after I got married. I began to understand the different categories of people when it comes to spending money, “Poor people spend money, rich people buy things, (spending money and buying things are two different things by the way), while wealthy people grow money”. So I’m at the point where I am trying to understand how to build that wealth mentality into myself as I journey on.

YellowLyfe Mag: What is your favourite quote?

Williams Fatayo: Hmm… I think the biggest one is not a quote right, it is more of a mindset. “I am a child of God” is deeper than people understand it to be. They think it is a religion-Christianity thing. I don’t think people understand enough what it means to say, “I am a child of God”, the possibilities that abound to me, the power that I carry to stop and start trends, and everything possible for me. It is not religious slang, it is a status and I live through that status every day. When I tell people that I can’t fail, it is not because I’m sure of what I am going to do tomorrow that will guarantee my success but because I know I am a child of God, there is no way I can fail. So it is not a quote, it is just a mindset, knowing that I am a child of God, I’m good, and everything else will fall in line.

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