Ofo Ezegwu Interview – December 2016

We don’t stop until we’re up by 100. Then, once achieved, we keep going.

For someone who doesn’t know who you are, can you tell us about yourself?

I love building, creating, inspiring, and learning. My passions are what craft me to be my most authentic self. By having a clear vision of all I want to achieve, I’ve been able to accomplish a ton by 24 years old. From founding WhoseYourLandlord to walking in NYFW, being featured in top commercials, partnering with some of the nation’s largest institutions, being a mentor to young people, and speaking at the White House and a slew of Ivy league universities and neighborhood schools, I’ve been blessed so far.

When did you start your entrepreneurial journey? Did anyone inspire you along the way?

Heading into my junior year of college, I was working as a licensed life, accident, and health insurance producer for a very well respected company, in the industry. I couldn’t stand it. I enjoyed meeting new people and creating my own schedule; but, the corporate setting, the focus on unimportant things, etc., lead me to jump into the entrepreneurial space. While I’m inspired by a lot of things, I’d have to say my parents journey to America inspired me the most. They are from Nigeria and Barbados, came here with no promise of anything – just a dream and plan, and met in Buffalo, NY (of all places). I’ve grown as they’ve grown and they inspire me more than anyone.

What motivated you to come up with WhoseYourLandlord?

During my senior year at Temple University, I was the VP of the student body. In that position, I often fielded questions from inquiring students about issues they were having with their landlords and property managers. I thought ‘What if renters could review their landlords, that way those coming in, know what to expect before signing their lease?’ The idea stuck and we expanded it to provide quality overall, from both sides – Tenants and Home Providers.

Who does your team consist of?

There are three co-founders: Nik, our CTO, a self-taught developer (12+ yrs experience) and former Van Guard team member. Felix, our COO, former Director of the Mott Community Center and George Mason alum. And then, there’s me – CEO.

While building the platform, what challenges did you encounter and how’d you react?

Most challenges are financial. Once you figure out the business, the brand, the team, and the growth strategy, you need add fuel to the fire to get it out there. For us, raising investments in this macro-economic climate, hasn’t been easy, but we’re still here and still growing 30% MOM while also locking up several five-digit ad deals, this year, in the process.

What did you study in school? Has it helped you with building your business? If so, how?

I studied entrepreneurship and management and information systems. On paper – they’ve helped me. In reality, what helped me even more was the organizations I participated in, while in school. I was never a general member of anything. If I was going to give an org my time, I was going to give them participation on the board, too. Learning how to budget, promote, plan, execute, build with others, etc. prepped me for much of what would come in the real world of entrepreneurship.

What are the future plans for WhoseYourLandLord?

Let’s jump five years out: By then, we’ll be the preeminent place to find your rental, nationwide, and we’ll be in the midst of expanding into new foreign markets. We’re going to get there by creating a brand connection with young people, building out our data offerings to renters and home providers, and by putting ourselves in financial position to expand rapidly. When you think of the cab industry, if you’re not catching one on the side of the street, you’re thinking Uber or Lyft. When you think of the hotel industry, if you’re not booking at the Hilton, you’re heading over to Airbnb. When you think of visiting a club, bar, or restaurant, you think Yelp, first. WhoseYourLandlord is creating this for housing.

Based off what I’ve seen, you’re involved in a lot. Modeling, ESPN commercials, building WhoseYourLandLord, and more. How do you balance all of that out and do you have any time management tips for someone whose having trouble balancing out everything on their plate?

Many would disagree, but there’s a lot of time in the day. I think the saying goes, ‘you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce.’ For many of us, we hang our hats on days where we experience one or two wins. If we get a job promotion, that day was a great day. If we close a partnership we’ve been working on for months, the closing date is a good day. I always say, why can’t we do all of that in the same day? My favorites are what I call marathon days. They usually are laden with meetings and activations from many parts of what I do. I may appear on MSNBC in the morning, close a partnership deal in the early afternoon, hop on an investment call, thereafter, and still have time to respond to all my emails and hold our customary team meetings throughout the day. What I just described, really happened. Set up your Google Calendar app and let it go to work for you.

When you have spare time, what do you enjoy doing?

Catching up with my friends and family and traveling. I do all of these a lot – or at least as much as I can. I need to be around good energy that’s always pushing me to grow.

If you were to give advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would you tell them?

Never stop. Learn, adapt fast, be scrappy as hell, and be consistent. Half the battle is being around long enough for something to happen. When things get hard, understand that everything in life is temporary. You’ll figure it out – just don’t quit before your do.

We always ask this. Are you UpByFive?

We don’t stop until we’re up by 100. Then, once achieved, we keep going.