Dabo Owen Etela is not your average “nerd” or “geek” (I sometimes get the two confused, someone please help clarify); on the contrary, one could take him for someone working in the finance industry and you would be gravely mistaken. Dabo is the CEO of Techpoint Information Systems an Enterprise Technology company based in the garden city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Dabo’s first foray into the world of computers was initiated by his dad who used to work with mainframe computers in the 70’s, and introduced him to DOS and Microsoft Windows 3.1 in the early 90’s. Today Dabo offers solutions in various areas ranging from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), IT Service Management to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Automation just to mention a few.
He shares his story with StartupNigeria;
StartupNigeria: Tell us about Dabo Owen Etela
Dabo: I’m a Generation Y from a military barracks background. I studied Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Port Harcourt (Uniport). I come from a second generation Technology family.
StartupNigeria: I must ask this question that has been foremost on my mind; what’s in Enterprise Technology that endears Techpoint to it?
Dabo: Techpoint has evolved over the years from web development to IT Infrastructure, e-government services, to Enterprise Software and Consulting. Technology is a journey, you can’t sit in one place for long or else someone or something disrupts you. Even the Fortune 500 companies are not left out because the market is what you make of it. Some companies like to pursue profit, others just want to build a great product or service. Profitability alone is not a motivation, for us as a company, we love technology and the capability it offers us.
Our focus in Techpoint Information Systems is Collaboration Solutions such as Intranets and other workgroup solutions. We offer tools for Unified Communication Tools, Business Process Automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Video Conferencing, Task Management, Corporate Social Networks, Document Management System and Enterprise Content Management.
StartupNigeria: Please share the ideology behind Techpoint.com.ng; when was the defining moment for you?
Dabo: It was out of curiosity and more of a hobby that I became a computer evangelist. In this regard, there was no magic moment for me. Though there was a time I was called by Mr. Lawrence Milton, a mentor of mine, he had a friend whose server had crashed and the tech guys couldn’t fix it.
I packed my bag of ‘tools’ and went down there. I noticed they kept installing and re-installing Windows 98 on the Xeon server. ‘I said this is a server and its core works with i386. Have they tried running Windows NT?’, the owner said he had Windows NT installed on it before it crashed.
Among my set of ‘tools’ was Windows NT Server and workstation, which my father had given me. I installed it and the server started to respond. It was then the owner of the firm realized that he actually had a set of utility disk for the Xeon server and Windows NT was among them. Of course, everybody was happy the server was running again. Surprisingly, the tech guys rushed to take over the process like they provided the solution.
I didn’t care much, I was only happy the server was fixed. Until the owner gave me N1,000 and said ‘Ol’ boy, thank you’. At that moment I felt cheap, it’s better you offer a product or service for free than be underpaid. That was 1999, I started Techpoint Information Systems 10 years later. I started out by offering computer services for family and friends, advising everyone I knew to get a computer. I would assemble the hardware peripherals and install the Operating System (OS) with its associated software.
StartupNigeria: Do you think more Niger Delta Entrepreneurs should be encouraged to delve into Enterprise Technology?
Dabo: We definitely need more partnerships but they shouldn’t just register a company, print business cards and go to media. It boils down to knowledge, skill and relationship management. They should be flexible with their product offerings, for instance, they shouldn’t get stuck on CISCO alone, nothing hurts if they add Microtik or Juniper. Also, different variables influence customer buying-decision; cost, change management, after-sales service, on-boarding, etc.
StartupNigeria: Starting out, what were your challenges and how were you able to overcome them?
Well, it’s basically the same challenge any other product or service would face. Sometimes people are already using a particular product or service and you have to convince them that your offering is better. Some other people are stuck with their legacy systems because of the disruption the migration would cause the organization.
Personally, I am never afraid of trying new marketing and sales approach – from online marketing to inbound strategy to strategic partnerships (International & Local) or even free trial services.
StartupNigeria: Startup founders love ‘advice’ and encouragement from successful entrepreneurs like you; any words for them?
Dabo: Knowledge and skill can never be over-emphasized. Don’t use a google approach, get your hands dirty, go through the drill, no shortcut. You must know the art and the trade.
You must learn to share your resources. Don’t go into business using hype or media or else your bubble will pop in no time. Your product and/or service must be good. Finally, treat one customer like the only customer.
StartupNigeria: We appreciate you taking out time to have this chat with us. We wish you the best in all your endeavours.