Oforbuike Chinonso is a Nigerian student who wants to solve a problem in the not-too-good educational sector of his country. He aims to ease the problem of finding research and other project materials which students have to pass through when undergoing their own project.
His startup, ProjectShamba, founded in May 2016, serves as an online marketplace for project works. The platform allows vendors and buyers to register, and trade research works. At least you’d be getting more than just grades for your completed academic projects.
In our chat with him, Chinonso talks about his challenges, managing a student-work life, team and many more.
Daniel Anuoluwapelumi for TechMoran: In your university days, did you think of buying project works from others? Was that what inspired ProjectShamba?
Oforbuike Chinonso: I am still in school, although in my final year. I don’t support plagiarism, ProjectShamba acts as an online library for projects and research materials. The idea behind ProjectShamba was during my days as a typist for business centres, I watched people’s research work/projects (which I typed) get lost whenever there is a system malfunction. I created ProjectShamba to act as an online library where people can share their projects as an aid to other researchers.
D.A: And so far, how many works have been shared on this “online library”? Have you made significant progress?
O.C: I call it “Library”, although it is also a Marketplace, Yeah, there has been significant progress Currently, there are 46 Projects and much more being vetted for standardization. Also, there are 16 approved Vendors.
D.A: What is the business model of the venture?
O.C: We charge 15% as commission for every sales made.
D.A: How have you managed been a student and a startup founder? Has it been any easy?
O.C: Not just only a Student, I work also.
It hasn’t been easy, but having a set goal inspires and motivate me to move forward.
D.A: Does ProjectShamba have a team? Or its just you at the helm of affairs.
O.C: There is a team which comprises of 2 other persons. Bringing a total of 3.
D.A: What challenges have you and your team encountered,and how have you been able to weather the storm?
O.C: The problem mostly lies on plagiarism. People seeking project topic and guide to their project work often look for an already made project. This caused a lot of redundancies. Making students who by chance chose the same project topic, present identical project works. Although the possibility of these students coming from the same institution is quite low; near impossible. But then, we were confronted with the idea of, “what happens when in subsequent years, students from the same institutions or researchers from the same institution, by chance choose the same topic?”
We retracted most of the projects we had online and converted them to blueprints instead. Much like an ABC guide to the project topic.
D.A: Do you see academia.edu and Researchgate as competitors? What is your selling point?
O.C: We are a startup organization. We have to think of ways to outsmart our competitors. The approach we have taken is one of the smartest if not the smartest. We started with a totally new and different business model that technically, include what you have in this other organizations.
D.A: What is your advice to up and coming tech startup founders wanting to make an impact in this same sector?
O.C: My advice to them is to be unique and help in cutting down on plagiarism. They should have a projection of what impact they want to make and pursue it religiously and not give up along the line. To be frank, if you think you’d start combing cash immediately, then you have meticulously planned for your own early exit from the business.
And his last quote was quite interesting.
Patience, uniqueness, and deep research is what makes the business worth it.