Four Nigerian students dropped out of university to build a payment platform that’s now in YC

Abu Mubarik Mar 30, 2021 at 01:00pm

March 30, 2021 at 01:00 pm | Success Story

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik

March 30, 2021 at 01:00 pm | Success Story

These students dropped out of university to build Flux. Image: Flux

When Ben Eluan (CEO), Osezele Orukpe (CTO), Israel Akintunde (VP, Engineering), and Ayomide Lasaki (head of Marketing) founded Flux, they felt it was important to drop out of the university to concentrate on their startup.

After all, the fintech space is becoming so competitive lately, and everyone is putting in much effort to grab a chunk of the market share so as to become the go-to company when it comes to the transfer of remittances and crypto trading.

“We dropped out to focus on our startup and scaling it into a $1 billion company. We believe the opportunity here is huge. So for us, the right thing to do is to get the job done well. Startups need time so dropping out was inevitable,” Eluan told TechCrunch.

The four first met as freshmen at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), often touted as the Stanford University of West Africa owing to the university’s budding tech talent ecosystem. The four students started off forming a “programming club” which attracted other software developers on campus. They would meet to write code and make applications.

The idea to start Flux occurred to Eluan and Okrukpe after they had rendered a service to a client in the UK. When they were due for payment, the payment platform they chose did not only delay in getting them their money but also lost a significant part of the money to charges.

The challenges Eluan and Okrukpe faced are not peculiar to them. It is the situation many Africans in the diaspora face when remitting back home. It takes days and sometimes the services are so high that it becomes a disincentive to them to use the formal channel to transfer back home.

“The experience made us think of the payments and, more importantly, cross-border payments,” Eluan said to TechCrunch. “The gig economy and the service economy for small businesses economy is very massive, and we care about it enough to dedicate all our time into building payments for Africa.”

Although some companies have emerged to ensure a smooth transfer of funds to relatives back home in Africa, there are still some challenges regarding service charges. Also, the cryptocurrency market has largely been left to foreign players with few of such platforms being African-led.

Flux is a cryptocurrency remittance company designed to enable merchants to send and receive money from anywhere in the world. The founding of the company comes at a time Nigeria emerged as the second-largest cryptocurrency market.

The CEO, Eluan said the services Flux offers are different from the other crypto current platforms. He said what differentiates Flux from the rest lies in the ease and speed of the platform’s transactions. According to him, facilitating payments on Flux is 100x faster than fiat, and is cheaper too. He explained that his platform charges $0.50 for every transaction, irrespective of the amount.

Eluan noted that the startup is growing 40% month-on-month and has made $25,000 in revenue. He further explained that the company has about 5,000 customers who have transacted over $750,000 in payments volume.

Prior to starting Flux, Eluan, Orukpe, Akintunde, and Lasaki created an e-commerce platform called Joppa that connected people to merchants within the city. The company, which had about 20,000 users, collapsed largely due to its inexperience in business management.

Flux in May 2020 got accepted into Pioneer, an accelerator launched by ex-YC partner Daniel Gross. Pioneer funds startups outside Silicon Valley. After the program, Flux managed to raise $77,000 pre-seed investment from different investors — Hustle Fund and Mozilla, among others.

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