Halimah Omogiafo is the Founder and CEO of Koody, a personal finance app, and stock market research platform currently headquartered in the United Kingdom.
She launched Koody in August 2020 after attempting to launch a few other products in the financial technology industry.
Her goal as a founder is to help people make intelligent financial decisions by equipping them with the right tools, support, and education.
She believes that everyone has the potential to earn enough, save enough, and spend enough to ensure they live fulfilling lives without having to worry about making money, repaying debts, or other financial-related struggles.
She is confident that people with the right financial tools and support can make informed decisions about when to go to work, retire, have children, buy a house, and other important life decisions without worry, fear, or doubt.
She believes Koody will empower people, giving them superpowers to take control of their finances and, by extension, their lives.
Halimah has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Lagos and an MBA from the University of Oxford.
She is also a hobbyist software developer and ex-retail banker.
What inspired you to build Koody?
My inspiration to build Koody comes from my family and my desire to help others.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Growing up, the only career path I knew was entrepreneurship.
My parents were both entrepreneurs. My father was an entrepreneur long before I was born and stayed an entrepreneur until he died.
My mother was an entrepreneur throughout my childhood. She only changed careers a few years ago.
So, I guess it is fair to say that entrepreneurship comes naturally to me.
I also strongly desire to build products that positively impact society and help people achieve their goals.
I have grown up studying the behaviors and achievements of entrepreneurial icons like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin, who have built some of the most useful products in the world.
I want to build valuable products as they did.
I want to create products that are so good they improve the lives of the people who use them and contribute to the betterment of society.
For me, it is not so much the product as my mission to make a difference in people’s lives.
I have chosen to work in personal finance because I love economics and finance and have a solid educational and professional background in both fields.
Still, I could work on any product that would help me achieve my goal of improving lives.
How have your priorities changed from when you first started?
Yes, my priorities, from a product development perspective, have changed considerably in the last few years.
When I decided to build Koody in October 2018, I wanted to build an ethical payday lender.
I built a minimum viable product (MVP) and pitched it to investors before deciding it wasn’t a good fit for me.
After that, I tried to build an automatic savings and investment app, a cryptocurrency transfer platform, and a food delivery app.
I couldn’t secure funding for the savings and investment app and the crypto transfer platform, so it made no sense to continue.
I fell out of love with the food delivery app days before it was scheduled to go live and immediately decided not to go ahead with the launch.
The current version of Koody, the personal finance app, and stock research platform, was the only idea that required very little initial capital and that I could build entirely without seeking outside help.
It has been quite the journey finding the right combination of products that will help me improve lives, don’t require a high initial investment, and don’t rely on a cofounder for development.
Now that I have nailed down the product I want to build, I will create the best, most functional, and most customer-centric personal finance app and stock market research platform globally.
Is there anything you would have done differently when starting?
Yes, there are many things I would have done differently. For example, I didn’t have to go through several ideas, creating MVPs each time before landing on one.
The ideas I have now were right in front of me back then.
I should have believed in myself more and stayed away from accelerators or incubators that insisted on me having a cofounder or tried to influence what products I chose to build.
These accelerators make you believe, especially for people with non-technical backgrounds, that you need a technical cofounder to find success, which is not true.
Do you need a technical person to build a technical product?
Does that person have to be a cofounder or someone other than you?
These accelerators are also run by people with a financial interest in your company and who prioritize that over anything else.
They also usually don’t have the experience or the know-how to comment on your products, let alone influence what you choose to build.
How did you decide where to establish your company?
I honestly didn’t put a lot of thought into where I chose to establish my company.
In hindsight, I should have. I lived in the UK when I decided to build Koody, so the UK seemed the natural choice.
What challenges did you overcome at the beginning of your journey?
The challenges I overcame at the start of my journey revolved around fundraising, finding a cofounder, and self-belief.
I struggled to raise funding at the start. I realized very early on that it is quite difficult to convince investors to fund a solo-founder with an almost zero entrepreneurial track record.
In the end, I realized that it is possible to build a successful internet business with almost zero capital, and the only reason why I thought I needed investor funding was because it somehow seemed that way.
I also struggled to find a co-founder. This was in part because I honestly did not want one. I overcame this by learning to code.
I forced myself to want a cofounder to satisfy investors, but I quickly found that I enjoyed being a solo founder for Koody.
Another challenge I had to overcome was self-doubt. When you receive many rejections, some with more colorful feedback than others, you start to doubt yourself.
You forget why you started and focus on the unhelpful feedback you received from critics. I overcame this by persevering. By spending more time learning and building, it became clear to me that I knew exactly what I was doing.
What is unique about your business?
Koody is a modern personal finance app and stock market research platform. Picture a modern version of Mint or YNAB with a TradingView component.
Koody is designed to help you make smart financial decisions by helping you visualize your finances now and into the future.
What advice would you give someone trying to become an entrepreneur?
Here are some tips I would give to someone who is trying to become an entrepreneur:
- Take it one step at a time. Perseverance is the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
- Surround yourself with people who love you and believe in you.
- Surround yourself with like-minded, intelligent individuals.
- Don’t take advice from anyone who hasn’t walked a mile in your shoes. Even if they’ve walked a few hundred miles in your shoes, take their advice with a grain of salt.
- Believe in yourself. To succeed in entrepreneurship, you will need a healthy dose of self-belief. Try to stay away from naysayers and critics and focus on why you decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place and what you hope to achieve.
What’s your favorite quote?
I have two:
Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway.Mary Kay Ash
There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky. And you ask, “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?Erin Hanson
9. How do you define success?
Success to me is achieving or surpassing my goals.
My goals for the next year are to build and launch Koody 2.0., and increase our Weekly Active Users to a minimum of 100,000 and our revenue to a minimum of £100,000 a month.
Achieving this in 2024 would mean the year was successful for Koody.
What’s your favorite book? Which and Why?
The Google Story by David A. Vise.
I read this book in 2010 and immediately fell in love with building technology products.
This book is why I left my home country, Nigeria, to find entrepreneurial opportunities in the UK and the US.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
I love hearing back from customers who’ve used my products. I also enjoy the freedom of not having to report to anyone and being able to travel whenever I want and to wherever I choose.
How long did it take you to find success?
I decided to build Koody in October 2018. I officially launched it in August 2020 and made my first revenue in April 2021.
Do what you love, build something people want, and believe in yourself.
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