Nnamdi Ezeigbo is the founder Slot Systems Limited, the home of mobile phones and devices that is popularly known as SLOT by all and sundry. Today, Slot Systems Limited boasts of about 43 offices nationwide and has a vision of “conquering Africa”. Slot has become a household name in Nigeria, but only few people know that Nnamdi started with the sales and repairs of computers.
Having graduated as a Computer Engineer, Nnamdi proceeded to serve his fatherland as a corps member at Guinness Nigeria Plc. With NYSC done with, Nnamdi, like a lot of Nigerian Graduates had his eyes set on getting a job with an oil firm. Nnamdi was close to having his dream come true when he was at the final interview of Exxon Mobil. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Nnamdi lost out on the job because he falsified his age and state of origin. This led to Nnamdi deciding to always be a man of his words.
Goodbye To Paid Employment
Nnamdi eventually got a job which he left after a month because he was not fulfilled. This was the beginning of a two-year streak of joblessness.
His joblessness motivated him to learn a trade and as a Computer Engineer, he decided to acquire practical knowledge and technical know-how in his field of passion. Luckily for him, he had a friend who had a computer engineering outfit at that time, hence, he was able to put up with his friends for six months, learning the trade of computer repairs.
Nnamdi was passionate and willing to learn. He not only got his hands dirty but because he was all about learning, he told his friend not to bother paying him any stipend.
Learning The Ropes
It was during this time that he got to understand the Nigerian business environment. He discovered it was more like a predator and prey relationship. Business owners seemed to be interested in making money at the expense of the customer. Nobody cared about creating value. This was where he saw the opportunity that is known as SLOT today.
However, before the six months were up, Nnamdi had what he calls value misalignment with his friend and was asked to leave because he wouldn’t compromise his values. Nnamdi found out that his friend, Felix cheated undiscerning customers by charging way beyond the cost of repairs. There were instances when a customer was charged as much as N30,000 for a repair that cost no more than N300.
Nnamdi, having decided to stay true to his value of integrity decided to confront Felix about it. However, Felix saw it as just business. On the other hand, whenever Nnamdi had the opportunity to carry out repairs for customers, he charged them much less. This began to endear him to customers who then began to prefer him to Felix. One of such instance where Nnamdi displayed integrity as opposed to what was obtainable in the industry was when he fixed two computers for a customer for less than N60,000, the price another technician had told him repairing one of the computers would cost. In fact, Nnamdi spent only N400 to repair the particular computer the other technician wanted to bill N60,000 for.
This practice of integrity by Nnamdi finally led to Felix showing him the door.
Striking Out On His Own
At this point, he had learnt enough to start something of his own, however, because he wasn’t doing it for the money, he didn’t have money to secure a space to work from. He also had unfinished jobs for customers and also had to find the means to conclude them.
Nnamdi began to operate from a restaurant near Felix’s store. It was from here he operated for about a month meeting with customers and going to their offices to fix their computers. At other times, Nnamdi had to take their computers home to fix them.
After about a month of working from the store, Nnamdi decided to put up with a friend of his, who had a bookshop in computer village. At that time, he had a few tools and a table and chair. His customers were also redirected to his new location by friends he made while working from the restaurant.
He started his first office when one of his old loyal customers, Mr. Idowu came looking for him and found him at the bookshop. Mr. Idowu was surprised to find him at the small space in the bookshop, believing Nnamdi deserved more than that. Mr. Idowu then gave Nnamdi a proposition on how to raise funds to secure his first office space. He proposed to supply Nnamdi some printers from his company, which he could sell. Nnamdi was then supposed to use the money from the sales to rent his office space and could then repay the cost of the printers when he settled down comfortably. This plan proved to be a success and after six months, Nnamdi left the bookshop into his own office space at computer village, Ikeja.
Slot Systems: The Origins
When he started, he wasn’t known as SLOT because all he did was to repair computers for people at the small space he shared with the bookshop owner. Over time, he was able to build a reputation with a focus on creating value which gained him friends, acquaintances and loyal customers. He was also able to make some money which eventually enabled him to get a small space which he called SLOT.
The name SLOT was an alias his customers gave him. When working on their computer systems, he would always ask them to slot the cards in the computer. And that was how they started calling him Slot. Making the same alias his company name came easily to him, since the “SLOT” brand was already attached to him.
His foray into sales and services of mobile phones started when GSM came into Nigeria. Nnamdi had travelled to South Africa before then and has seen what GSM was doing in South Africa and the opportunity inherent in it. So, it was only logical for him to diversify and that diversification now amounts to 90% of what SLOT does, while computer sales and services accounts for the remaining 10%. Nnamdi entered the GSM market at a time when it was dominated by the telecoms companies who were selling cell phones and accessories at very high costs. Masses of people buy mobile phones every day. So, he saw an opportunity and started selling phones at affordable prices and because customers were satisfied with SLOT products, they started trooping in their numbers. Though the mobile phones were of high quality, SLOT still offered a warranty behind them. That was the culture Slot introduced to the market. The brand has since grown and become the default retail outlet for people who wanted to buy mobile phones in Lagos, and then in Nigeria as a whole.
Tribute: Nnamdi Ezeigbo
For Nnamdi Ezeigbo, his success story hinges on the fact that SLOT was sensitive to opportunity and was able to identify such a golden opportunity. But we should not forget that his is a story of little drops of hard work, integrity and opportunities here and there that have proved to become the mighty ocean called SLOT.