Elvis Chidera Narrates the Power of Self-Drive in Tech Industry

Elvis Chidera

Elvis Chidera is a Nigerian with 19 years old. He is currently the developer for MIT-backed startup known as dot Learn as a developer in Lagos Nigeria. Before he got the job, he had a different life. The only valuable item he had was a Nokia 2690 phone that was owned by most people in the country. He used to stay at the rural in south-eastern Nigeria. Elvis has an urge of improving the world by the use of technology.

At the age of 11 years, he started programming by spending his hours on websites. He used to download and play the latest games on websites. That gave him the urge of knowing much about the website and how he can develop one. He used the common step which was to Google. That landed him to W3Schools tutorials. That’s a site where one learns the basic programming skills.

After learning about the programming, he watched The Social Network movie. The movie shows how Facebook came to being. That gave him the idea for his first website. He wanted to make a better website than Facebook. Different from the Facebook which used to connect one to the people one knows, Elvis wanted a platform that connected everyone. The idea never worked out. The platform never got enough users to sign up. Moreover,  those who signed up also left since they lacked people to chat with.

That did not demoralize him, but instead, he moved to his second idea. He developed an app that makes it easy to send text messages to many people at once for an affordable price. By then Nigerian cost of sending a text was $0.013, and he planned to lower it to $0.005. While building the app, he learned about a new term called Java. The challenge came when he wanted to compile the code. That needed a computer, but he lacked one.

Fortunately, he managed to get how to build an app using his Nokia phone. He used an application called J2ME SDK Mobile. That took him many days to finish the website and the app. The app got aired out by the local press and got a good number than the first one. He received 5,000 users into his app after the launch. By then he was 14 years old, he had no experience of running an app. The growing number of users made him pull down the app.

He realized that the only way to improve his programming skills was to have a laptop. Moreover, he had to save and ask for help from relatives to buy his first laptop. He had to take up freelancing job of developing a website to get experience and also to earn him some income. With the laptop already at his disposal, he started to create Android apps. That was a good environment to him due to fewer limitations compared to the J2ME platform. He came across an advertisement for Android developer position at dot Learn. Remember by that time he was a secondary graduate.

The job was on technology that was his main interest. The idea was to reduce the amount of data consumed when watching a video online. The data was to be at most 1MB for an hour, and it was to make online education accessible.  With his passion for improving education in Africa, he had built PepUp. This was an exam prep app that had 30,000 plus installs. The app was amongst the finalists at the West Africa Mobile Awards 2016. Working at dot Learn has helped him to meet a variety of people from MIT Havard and other great places. With his team, they have managed to have attended many competitions. The competitions include Techcrunch Battlefield Africa, MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, and Cisco Innovation Challenge.


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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
Denis the Tech guru

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