1 year at Microtraction: Behind the Scenes

It’s June 17th 2020 — one year since I joined Microtraction.

A long way since the events described in my Breaking into Tech story — since that first email to Yele.

Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

Day 1— June 17, 2019

My colleagues would say I was super quiet at the first internal meeting. They wouldn’t be lying. Usually when I get a new job, I spend the first few days observing team dynamics, mode of operations and absorbing information generally. This allows me determine true reporting lines, how to prioritise tasks, the company’s focus and if I have made a mistake by joining the company. It wasn’t any different here.

What I really liked was how things were explained along the way, without me having to ask. There were also other meetings dedicated to getting me up to speed, explaining company goals and why we were adopting certain strategies. This made onboarding very easy. It’s difficult not to feel like you are doing important work when you are included in the big picture.

As we left that first meeting, all I could think about was how failure was not an option.

One thing that impressed me was the team’s insistence on knowing what my personal goals were and how the company’s objectives fit in. We did it when I resumed and at the beginning of this year. In the year after, we have had many more honest conversations, primarily aimed at making sure we are all on the same page and everyone’s head is still in the game.

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L-R; Ife Ojobanikan (Investment Associate), Chidinma Iwueke (Managing Partner), Thonia Okonji (Community Associate), Dayo Koleowo (Managing Partner), and Yele Bademosi (Founding Partner)

Working remote-first

In February 2019, I wrote about working remotely in Lagos. Being in a remote-first company has taught me the importance of responsibility and reliability.

While I am fine with the solitude as I am introverted, I’ve had to adjust to being in constant contact with my team. I’ve also learnt that motivation to get work done will not come from heaven. It comes when you actually start the work.

These days, the only battle I have is to get to my workstation. Everything else happens after.

What I found difficult — and how I have adjusted.

The first few months were not funny. Many times, I felt like I wasn’t in control of my time. Infact, there were real issues around:

  • Being spread thin, and always wanting to be up to date on everything immediately. This led to being busy, not productive. Productivity in this context refers to how many tasks were actually completed. This translated to time management and prioritisation issues. These days, I work hard to dedicate myself to one task at a time.
  • Admin work: The sheer volume of calls and emails alone was drowning. However, I realised there would always be a billion things to do and got more intentional with better time management.
  • Verbal Contribution & Taking Action: When you’ve worked in structures where you are assigned tasks, proactivitybecomes a pipe dream. Here you are trusted to make the best decisions for activities within your purview. PS: Part of this trust means you know when a Partner’s involvement is required.
  • Time had no boundary: The line between work and life was blurred for some time. To help with this, I invested in an at-home workstation so my brain knows that sleep and work are two equally important and distinct activities. We are getting there — most days, I have to play Rain Sounds or Enya to prompt myself to sleep.
  • Focus:My biggest lesson in learning the power of focus was when I read 62 pages of a book in 45 minutes with my phone on DND. Time moves slower and things get done faster when you focus.
  • Power and Internet issues
  • Saying No

What has helped me

  • Putting my phone on DND: I found that I lost control of days where I focused on messages and emails first thing in the morning so I started blocking notifications. The Samsung Focus Mode is also a good alternative. I don’t do this everyday and some numbers can still get through. If you are a PM, project manager or healthcare professional though, this may be a bad idea.
  • Batching tasks: Before I started doing this, it felt like all my time was spent on only emails and calls. These tasks are now conducted on specific days and times.
  • Eating later: I’m not big on breakfasts, especially because food can be distracting. I usually eat around 4/5pm.
  • Instrumentals: If I’m incorporating music for deep work (usually between 12am and 12pm), Binaural beatsGame of Thrones Season 6Hans ZimmerThe Piano GuysClassical music or 8D Audio will be playing on my speaker or headphones. Mafo, Local Rappers and company have been reserved for reactive/shallow work.
  • Time away from Social Media: I occasionally delete Twitter, Instagram and YouTube from my phone.
  • Time blocking using Google Calendar: This helps me lay out and prioritise tasks.
  • Using Todoist: This helps me track productivity and task completion.

The good of the past year is best shown in pictures

This team is bada**

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Yes, black is our favourite colour 👀

Our Portfolio Companies are extraordinary

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Visiting some of our PCs — w. Stephanie & Folasade of AccounteerIre & Timi of BuyCoins and Emotu & Segunof Sendbox

We added value to the ecosystem through events

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At the Microtraction Growth Fireside Chat (27th Nov 2019). Top image is with the panelists L-R; Estelle DogboVP of Diagnostics & Country Manager (Nigeria) at 54geneOpeyemi Fowler, Vertical Lead, Growth at FlutterwaveBabs Ogundeyi, CEO at Kuda Bank, and Bili SuleFounder and CEOat AlGROWithm

I met awesome people! — and I’m grateful I can call many of them friends today

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Appearances by Chidinma OkoliYvonne OkaforChinyere OkaforSegun MakindeAlexis RomanDamilola ThompsonAima Nwafor-OhiwereiTemilade DentonIye Rotimi-OdunugaVictoria FabunmiOdunayo AyorindeTaiwo KetikuAlma KariboDamilola EmuzeTeniola LawalOluwajoba Oloba

We even turned up a lirru bit!

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Location: Classified

By June 2021, I’m hopeful we’ll have at least 30 portfolio companies, at least 5 non-Nigerian, with a combined valuation of $250M. Somebody say amen?

To the good vibes Year 2 will bring!🚀🚀🚀

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Say hello!


LinkedInIfe Ojobanikan

Email: ife@ojobanikan.com