Jimi Olaghere took computer coding classes every summer when he was a kid. They were supposed to be a way for him to learn more.
They turned out to be anything but.
“I remember at one point I had to stop taking the class because I was teaching the teachers,” he said.
Years later, though, he realized the courses taught him a great life lesson: You never know it all.
“When I integrated myself into the tech community, I realized what I knew was actually nothing compared to what was actually out there,” he said.
This idea — the wisdom that comes with understanding there is always much to be learned — has helped make the 28-year-old Olaghere a top young entrepreneur in the state.
Olaghere isn't a teacher. In fact, despite his background, he won't even call himself a coder.
Entrepreneur? Businessman? Those fit.
In 2010 at age 24, Olaghere started his first business, BagA Writer.
BagAWriter was an online freelancing marketplace, which he operated for a year before selling it to Scripted for a revenue share. The sale didn't make him rich, but it gave him a proven track record as an entrepreneur.
Olaghere then went on to create a small Web-development shop called Mello Lab in 2011. Mello Lab designs company websites that will help businesses engage with casual visitors.
Olaghere still owns the company but is not involved in its day-to-day operation.
He's now focused on GeekCook USA, a design company he founded later that year, which aims to add fun and character to everyday objects.
One of the company's most popular items is a wooden cord organizer based on the design of the Imperial AT-ATs from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — the large four-legged “walker” vehicles. It has been featured on NBC News, Apartment Therapy, Gizmodo and The Discovery Channel.
GeekCook originally operated as a wholesale, business-to-business model, but he's now hoping to bring his product directly to the consumer.
“Right now, we're still trying to figure out what we are as a business entity,” Olaghere said. “We're actually switching business models.”
He's calling his new business-to-consumer model GeekSupply, which is “powered by GeekCook.”
In 2013, GeekSupply sold $100,000 worth of products; Olaghere hopes to double or triple that number in 2014. And he's hoping that by going directly to the consumer, he can increase his profit margins.
At least that's the thought. And if there's one thing Olaghere already has learned, it's that there is plenty left to learn.
E-mail to: email@example.com
On Twitter: @andrewsnjbiz
THE BIZ IN BRIEF
Company: GeekCook USA
Niche: Design, merchandising
2014 revenue projection: $300,000
For Jimi Olaghere, the lesson was simple: Believe in yourself, your product and your business — even if no one else does, especially investors.
“I didn’t have any angel investors,” he said. “Everyone was telling me, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ ”
That didn’t stop Olaghere from founding companies – and selling them. “I realized I was at least able to build something with little to no investment, create a value and have someone interested in buying.”