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My initial business idea wasn’t website development, it was modeling. My aim was to create a modeling website, then invite models to upload their profile. My target was to have a minimum of 100 models on my website before inviting advertising agencies, casting directors and companies to work with my models.

The concept was to help casting directors, advertisers and companies have access to models from the comfort of their home and offices by browsing through my website to select a model of their choice and invite them for an interview. 16 years ago there was no such website in my country.

I was so eager to be the first to create such. I had some little money I had saved, hoping it will be enough for me till I will start making money from my new career.

The first thing I needed was a website, so I talked to a website development company (Abimco) based in Abuja. We don’t have many website developers in Nigeria then and the few guys in business were very busy, having too much project to work on simultaneously.

I told Abimco my plans and how I want my website to function. My budget for the website was N100,000 but surprisingly he charged me a whopping N450,000. That was so much money, I don’t even have that kind of money so I became worried and started looking for an alternative.

His price was the best offer I got, and that was much for my budget, so I need to act fast. Just about that time, a thought came to me and it was ”why don’t I learn how to develop a website and do it myself”. That was the best idea I could have had then.

Luckily for me, my cousin just completed a website design training so I quickly approach him to teach me how to design websites, while he was teaching me, his admission letter came and he had to leave for the university.

Before leaving, he introduced me to his friend who is a website developer where I continued with my training. Finally, I was introduced to a website development institute where I enrolled and learned in-depth about website development using PHP MySQL since I already know website design, it took me about 2 years to master the act of website design and development.

During that time, the likes of Joomla, WordPress, and Wix were nowhere, learning website design and development was so strenuous and time-consuming. Before I finished the course, I already lost interest in my modeling website due to personal reasons.

It’s nothing to hide, the reason is that I believe it will be a platform for young ladies to expose their nudity and I wouldn’t want to do that because I am a little bit more mature than when I was so eager to have the project done.

Now, no more modeling project, I have no fresh Idea, no money, no job. The only thing I had was my newly acquired website design and development skill.

One day, I was sitting alone at home and I was not comfortable not having anything to do. I was living with my parent so I don’t have bills to pay, yet I can’t remain idle. I just needed to get busy. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to any professional book, I’m sure that would have helped.

No youtube videos, no podcasts. It was like being in a very dark room not knowing where the door was but I have a little light which is my newly acquired website development skills. I was seated for hours and no idea came to my mind.

Since I couldn’t think of any other business idea, I decided to keep myself busy so I picked the newspaper on the table right in front of me, the newspaper was about 2weeks old. I was left with no option than to go through it again.

Just as I picked the newspaper, I saw an advert on the strip of the cover page with the advertiser’s phone number, email and business address but something was missing, no website address added. I quickly flip through the entire newspaper and I discovered that most of the advertisers on that newspaper had no website.

I stood up immediately, I noticed something has moved in me. My brain became more active, my eyes where brighter. I stepped out, look around and everywhere became so beautiful. The beauty I saw was actually coming from inside of me because nothing has changed about the environment.

I couldn’t stay outside for long, I quickly moved inside and started looking for old newspapers, I brought out all the newspaper in the house regardless of its date. Wrote down the phone number of all the advertisers.

I was having $2 (500 naira) cash on me so I bought a calling card, loaded it to my phone and sent SMS to all the numbers saying ”Dear Sir/Ma, my name is Ajibola Rilwan and I develop great websites please call me on 080…. I added my number”.

I did that with the intention of gathering more newspaper and keep sending SMS to the advertisers till someone call and request my service, but amazingly just about 3 hours later I got a call from a pastor, he is an author and he wanted a website where he can display his books so his audience can read online and order for the premium books.

So fast! I never believed it, it was like a dream, I was waiting to see if I will wake up. Guess what? It wasn’t a dream, its the reality. I quickly accept the offer, we agreed that the premium books will be sold by adding his bank details to the website, and after payment, he would send the download link via email.

He told me to meet him in his office the next day. Of cause I had nothing doing, so it was the best thing that could ever happen to me at that moment, it was around 5:30 pm suddenly, it was as if the time was slow, it took almost forever for the night to come.

I got to bed and couldn’t sleep, I woke up every hour just to discover that it’s not morning yet, finally, it was 6:00 am. The appointment was scheduled for 2:00 pm. I quickly rush into my morning routines, which include cleaning the house and washing my parent’s cars.

By 9:00 am I was dressed, fully ready. I manage to wait till 11:00 am before hitting the road, I arrived at my client’s office around 12:00 noon, 2 hours earlier than the scheduled time. My greatest joy was that I got the job and got paid immediately.

Being my first project, I don’t know how to charge because I wasn’t sure of what will happen after the meeting. I told him N18,000 and he agreed, I got N10,000 upfront I delivered the project within 3 days and got my balance on the day of delivery. That was how I transformed myself from being broke to become one of the few web developers Nigeria had.

After delivering the project, my duty was to look for newspapers where ever I could get. Most times I go to the vendors, bargain with them, pay them little money to allow me to copy advertisers’ phone numbers in newspapers and magazines.

This technique work like magic, as I was getting calls from top companies in Lagos, most of the companies were located in Ikoyi, and VI axes. During my first year, I didn’t have a record of developing a website for any company on the mainland except for my first client who was based in Surulere.

After a while, I included email marketing. I gathered email addresses from a website called Nigeria Galleria and send an introduction email to the companies.

Intense Web Concepts was formally 9jaweb I’m sure someone reading this article know about us then. It got to a stage when I wanted to remove 9ja, I wanted to go global and I believed using 9ja will limit the brand so the name was changed to Intense Web Concepts.

And that was how Intense Web Concepts was born.

I actually did modeling for a little while during my early year’s career, and it was called 9jamodels. I never did the website that I wanted but I published my models’ profile in top Nigeria magazines, my column was named model mart. If you ever come across the name 9jamodels, that was my brand.

But now, I enjoy being a website developer. It has exposed me to many great opportunities that I always remain grateful for.

My name is Ajibola Rilwan, I am an IT Consultant, Business Coach with over 15years of working experience and my job is to help business owners build a sustainable brand for their businesses.

I hope you find this helpful.

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