Says Kobo Auctions here to stay
Mr. Chiedu Okpala is the Chief Technology Officer(CTO) of Kokobid. In this interview, OKpala speaks about growing up, his professional background and his role as Kokobid CTO. He also speaks on the firm’s core principles and Kobo auctions
Let’s start with a dive into your personal and professional backgrounds. Maybe go for the one that’s more interesting to you first? Tell us everything!
I was born and raised in Nigeria and moved to the United States to pursue a degree in Computer Science at the age of 15. I have a natural entrepreneurial spirit and also hold an MBA. So, each time I’m involved in building a product, I always look at it from both the technical and business perspective.
I have worked as a programmer for over 20 years. From my first job at the age of 16 at an e-commerce startup in Connecticut to starting my own tech marketing company after college, and then pursuing experience in an established technology company in order to learn how to work with many teams and build products in a structured environment, I’ve done quite a bit of it all.
How did you come to take on the role of CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for Kobobid?
I think it was fate. The role was always meant for me, but we didn’t consider it initially because I was really busy, and we weren’t sure it would be a good fit. Over time, I ended up lending my advice here and there to the CEO and COO as to how they should go about building the product. I was even involved in the recruiting process for someone else to be the CTO, but as fate would have it, we eventually realised I needed to be part of the company. They asked, and I said yes!
What does your role as the CTO entail?
I spend most of my days architecting and reviewing features and projects for my team, reviewing different concepts, code and working products. I tend to also willingly dip my toes into writing code (because I truly can’t help myself), but now that the product has launched, I am slowly beginning to spend more of my time on managerial tasks: emails, creating workflows, reports, and most importantly, working on tech standards and processes for the company.
What were some of your biggest challenges getting the technology for bidding on Kobobid off the ground?
Nigeria has its fair share of challenges with internet connectivity, especially in the smaller towns and cities. So naturally, our biggest challenge so far has been figuring out how to overcome this and provide all users a fast experience. How have I been able to achieve this? I’ll keep that little secret to myself, but what I can tell you is that I always look at every challenge in the tech industry as an opportunity for improvement.
The technology seems rather sophisticated. Can you share how difficult it was to execute?
Every technology that depends on the support of teams and tools that are expected to run 24/7 will always be sophisticated to execute. With that said, I have years of experience working in industries that deal with high traffic and high customer demand, so I was well suited to execute this sophisticated challenge.
What would you say the level of complexity is when it comes to bidding on Kobobid?
Kobobid has been created to be very user friendly. Everything is right at your fingertips; there are not a lot of distractions. It’s simply sign up, top up, bid, win some, lose some, have fun, rinse and repeat.
Kobobid touts transparency as one of its most prominent core values. How specifically do you mean? Also, what part does technology play in this, if any?
Transparency is one of our core principles, and that’s why all the bidding action and subsequent results of our auctions are immediately available for everyone to see. It was very important for us to give users the ability to see who they’re bidding against, so they know they can trust the system. Bids are often being placed within seconds and milli-seconds of each other, so of course, the level of technology and tools we put in place play a major role in ensuring that this feat is possible.
How do you feel about the work your team is doing at Kobobid given the level of attention the platform is currently getting?
Based on the feedback so far, I believe we’re on the right track. The level of detail we’ve put into our product is quite apparent, if I say so myself. We went into this venture knowing that we wanted to serve up quality product and technology to the Nigerian community.
Do you think kobo auctions will be around for a long time?
Penny auctions have existed abroad for many many years now, but kobo auctions are just starting to gain popularity in Nigeria. There are so many opportunities for growth in our country and a longing for the access to quality products that a platform like Kobobid brings to the table, along with incredible prices. So, the answer is yes. Yes, I think kobo auctions are here to stay.
When it comes to bidding on Kobobid, what are a few things you wish potential bidders would bear in mind?
Speaking from a technical perspective, they should know that their data is always safe and their user experience will continuously improve, as we roll out new features.