The Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Planet NEST located in Akure, Aboluwarin Kitan David, 25, talks about his passion for digital business and growing up in this interview with TODIMU OGUNADE.
Tell us about Kitan David
I have won so many awards. There was a time that I was known as the guy that comes up with new ideas. And those times when we were in school and I won competitions back to back and all that but gradually, I think now, I am popularly known as the guy that runs PlanetNest and I am the brain behind SeedDev. I consider myself to be an entrepreneur, with strengths on relationship and sales basically and a lot of strengths with team building… building a team, sustaining a team, basically, those are like my core strengths.
I was born in Ile-Ife to the family of a missionary and a musicologist. My mum studied Dramatic Arts and Music at Obafemi Awolowo University and my dad also graduated from the institution as well. Growing up, I will not say we were well to do generally.
We are definitely in the low class. My dad would not take us to a school that did not have a computer and a library and due to the nature of his job we were always moving from town to town and from state to state. I went to five primary schools and it was important to know if there was a computer lab and a library. If they had books, I stayed and if they did not have, nobody went to the school.
Every Friday, we would have to borrow books from the library. The impact it made on me was that it made me work with every operating system from Microsoft to Ms-Dos, I actually operated all those things because I had a computer teacher.
So I am right to say that background gave you a kind of leverage?
Yes! Absolutely and if it was not in the picture, I do not know if I would have been able to discover my interest for it would have been more difficult so for example, because we were not boxed up enough to have a computer, based on my interest in computing in primary school, I could always go to my teacher’s house to train. Then going forward to secondary school, I actually wrote jamb four times. During the four years of waiting for admission that I was learning how to program. I was just enjoying myself and then meeting people like Joel Ogunsola in school made it easier to relate in the computing line.
What inspired the idea of creating a start-up company?
First, there was a bit of zeal. The major factor is we would go to competitions; we would go to events. I was a Nokia ambassador for West Africa. We would travel round West Africa and sometimes go to international events. We would build products that could compete on a global scale then we discovered that the knowledge gap between us and our mates were so wide and apart from the willingness to learn, they feel they do not have the right resources to learn so we started training people.
Back in school, we organised boot camps and we discovered we could build something out of it. People would call us. We would charge them and then the money would be used to organize events. I remember in my third year in school, I organised an independent cloud event for Microsoft and it was supposed to happen in different parts of the world and I was the only one that did it in Nigeria. We had 2500 people in attendance and then we fed everybody. We got partnerships through Joel who was in Realize Naija so we decided to it make it more formal.
Let us build a company out of this where people can come learn to program for a couple of months or years depending on how quickly they catch up and then they get jobs. We are trying to bridge the gap. That’s what basically influenced starting up a company.
Can you tell me about PlanetNest?
The tagline for PlanetNest is Building a Skilled Africa but we are focused on digital skills. We feel that Africa would be the most populous continent in few years’ time by statistics in like 2050, Nigeria would be the third most populous country in the world and once that happens, the world will start looking to Africa to solve some of these problems. Africa has been looking to the world to solve problems and I feel that one of the things we can solve is the skill problem because they will need skills to match all the technology improvements as at that time and now is like the best time to start.
So we train and house engineers who work together. It is a deliberate way because we believe learning continues even in playing. We train them in technical software engineering fields to match what the market is looking for. They work on in-house projects to get better and then they have projects on their cv and by the time they are done or we certify them, we connect them with jobs both internationally and locally.
That’s basically what we do. We have been able to train 7000 plus kids now in one year across West Africa like Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya but majorly Nigeria across South-East, South-West and we have done North. As at last year, we trained 22 thousand software engineers already. We have partners and most of them are in the community. We have Fourth Canvas, Microsoft, Google, Swiftly in the US, Oracle among others.
What are your expectations in the next five years?
Currently, we have over 2000 applications that want to come to Nest and before our next intake, we should have had 60,000 applications. The aim is to make anybody with software engineering experience come from Africa so when an African want to be a software engineer, he should not have companies that are far away. It should not be a big deal.
We know Nest alone cannot do the job so this will also steer up people in different areas who can come up with different structures to train people so it is a movement like a revolution for us such that an average African can have digital skills. It might not be coding. It might be designs and branding, sound engineering.
What is your greatest motivation for success?
My greatest motivation for success is seeing a bunch of Africans doing something meaningful in terms of their own career or business basically. A young African is skilled to fit into the entrepreneurship world and career market.
Are you currently working on any project?
Yes. Our learning community, we are trying to get 60,000 applicants. We are selling our solution. We have a monetary and evaluation solution that we sell to construction companies
Apart from software engineering, what other things do you love to do?
I like to dance. I dance a lot. I danced for 11 hours at a stretch. I love talking. I talk a lot. I am a freak for intellect so when I hang out with people, I don’t just want to be discussing irrelevant issues. I am going to be discussing things that sharpen me and I read a lot. I play football too and looking to playing golf soon.
If there were some things you would want social media to know about you, what would they be?
My age. A lot of people do not believe. I am 25 years old and then people think I am 29 and that my hair is growing Southwards. I do not like beans, I do not like yam and I do not like any soup that draws. I ate them a lot while growing up.