Laolu Williams
IMPACT INVESTING

Laolu Williams

#33

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Venture Capitalist (Philanthropist), Business Funder, Trader

Laolu Williams – How is your product helping people?

“If you start a company and you build a product, you have to think of how that product is helping somebody. That should always be your focus.”

ABOUT

Laolu is a self starter and innovative individual looking to make things happen. He is currently the founder and managing partner at Akwugu where he is in charge of deal sourcing and investor relations.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Laolu Williams

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
All right. So welcome everybody, today we are on our, I’m gonna say our 41st, I’m going to get the actual number, it’s probably our 51st interview — and we are part of OPN ask an angel. And today we’re with Laolu, I hope I said that correct…

Laolu:
Yeah. Perfect, perfect.

Jeffery:
Yes. All right and I’m excited to chat like we’ve kind of hit up different spectrums when we get into talking and and getting into interviews but I can say that everybody fits into a different bucket. But one of the places that is kind of, if you will, dear to my heart is gaming. I’m a big fan of it, I have been for I can’t even remember. I’ve been playing since I was probably 14, 13 somewhere in that ballpark and since the PS2 came out and gaming on computers and everything else so huge fan. But today I want to start off by — maybe you can start us off by giving us a little bit more background on yourself, where we’ve come from, what you’ve been up to, what you’re doing now, and uh we’ll dive into it from there and then give us one thing about you that no one else will know.

Laolu:
Okay. All right, all right. Okay so a little bit about my background… So I was born in Boston but I grew up in Nigeria. I went to high school there.i actually lived in Canada for a little bit as well. I did a little bit of college blackpool, some high sponsors from college in Canada before transferring to the United States where I finished my degree in accounting was a minor in business innovation. You know I also built my first application when I was in college, it was called star valley. It was a food application so that’s kind of like where you know I started you know with my entrepreneurship edge. Yeah during doing that as well you know I have some experience with my accounting background, I have some internships with KPMG, the big four. I also interned with Goldman Sachs, I worked with them for a little bit as well. So that kind of led me all the way up to this point you know just doing different stuff with like finance. i’ve been in the business world, I always knew that I had a passion for entrepreneurship, and also at the same time I had a passion for helping people but which kind of led me to venture capital. because being a venture capitalist. It actually gives me the opportunity to use my skills to actually help people out who are actually you know trying to build stuff, trying to describe you know to go somewhere to be someplace and one thing I’ll say that people don’t know about me is that my dad’s an active pastor so that’s actually where I got my philanthropic nature from because I actually stumbled from here but I’m more of a businessman so like my family also had like a business background but like my dad and out of the pastor like he kind of likes it that’s kind of like um so I kind of use that philanthropic nature. when I’m working um with my venture capital.

Jeffery:
Very cool. Well that sounds pretty exciting, so you’re actually an inaugural Canadian?

Laolu:
Yeah, yeah I lived in Canada for like five years. Yeah, yeah I still I still go back I go back quite often I was there last year before COVID started. My brother lives there and some of my other family as well.

Jeffery:
Very cool, so your brother actually decided that he wanted to stay being Canadian instead of going across over to the US.

Laolu:
Yeah, yeah, yeah he likes Canada. He likes Canada, he lives in Toronto

Jeffery:
Oh, that’s good. Well he’s in a good city and that’s awesome to hear. So you mentioned that you’ve built some applications, you’ve worked in finance and now you’re driving through the venture world, so maybe give us a little bit of an understanding on kind of the platform build and how you use that to now benefit where you’re looking on the VC venture capital side, how did your experience as being an entrepreneur help escalate into the world of what you’re doing on the vc side, what learnings did you bring forward to that and what things do you share with startups when you’re talking with them?

Laolu:
Yeah so my experience being an entrepreneur it helped me understand especially how entrepreneurs think and how much pressure entrepreneurs are under when they start a company but sometimes it doesn’t show on your face. But entrepreneurs are actually under a lot of pressure and they’re usually learning things really quickly, other entrepreneurs like to be right a lot of times, so when they’re communicating with the venture capital, I’m a really good venture capitalist to be able to understand how an entrepreneur thinks and you know how to actually help him or help him or her with on where they’re trying to go so that’s that’s one of one of the edges I’ll say on having been an entrepreneur rolling into venture capital

Jeffery:
So it kind of gives you a good perspective of what an entrepreneur goes through the time they put into their passion into their project, do you find that taking some of the — with your father being a pastor, do you take some of that experience as well on how to work with big networks work, with a lot of different people you take that type of experience and show kind of startups that what it takes to really get people behind your brand and get people interested in what they’re doing with you with their startup and with how they got to engage people to build their company?

Laolu:
Well I wouldn’t say, but my father being a person might not really come to that edge of me you know. My father before come more about me being a speaker because I could see you know I got someyou know um being able to speak in front of people, you know being able to relate with people with a more positive edge. But in terms of you know being entrepreneurs, you know their strategy their build, and all that I think that came from like a different side of it on a different different area, so yeah that really came off from my entrepreneurship background. Really more from my experience working at you know different internships. I like having the various competitions i’ve gone through, i’ve worked in various groups, i’ve had many many different kinds of people… Also having an international background that’s helped me out a lot because you know I schooled in Nigeria, schooled in Canada, school the United States, and when I was you know school in all the different different places I also met a lot of internationals. How many different people actually was like international high school as well, so I understand people from different backgrounds. If you’re from India, if you’re from you know Pakistan, Canada, you know all the other various places so I’m really good with the social aspects of you know getting people together on the team. I kind of understand different viewpoints and making something happen.