Tech & Innovation February 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

At 19, he’s a blockchain engineer with his own startup after dropping out of school to code

Abu Mubarik February 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

February 28, 2022 at 11:00 am | Tech & Innovation

Njoku Emmanuel. Photo: Twitter

Njoku Emmanuel, 19, co-founded Lazerpay, a crypto payment gateway startup in Nigeria, West Africa, in October 2021. The entrepreneur’s journey started seven years ago when his aunt introduced him and his brother to computer programming.

Emmanuel’s aunt was a robotic engineer who felt it was necessary to introduce him to coding and in no time, he started coding and never looked back. His father, on the other hand, is an engineer, and his mother is a school teacher.

At a very young age, Emmanuel started showing signs of great promise in academics and skills acquisition. He won laurels for his school when he represented them in the mathematics Olympiad. His exploit wasn’t particularly surprising because when he was studying complex mathematic topics, his mates were still learning basic maths.

“My father forbade us from using a calculator to solve our mathematics homework. Every computation had to be done with your head—why else do you have ahead?” Emmanuel told Techcabal.

Emmanuel’s venture into the cryptocurrency world started with learning game development and the use of C++ to build games. His parents wanted him to start medicine but he decided to create his own path.

Instead of medicine, he opted to study electrical engineering at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). While in the university, he became an intern at Quiva Games, a gaming company based in Enugu State.

However, after a few classes at Enugu, he felt everything he was learning was a “waste of his time”. For him, whatever he was being taught in school was below his standard. In other words, he was ahead of his colleagues.

“…And the maths they were teaching at 100 level was like my JSS 3/SS 1 maths. So, it became a waste of my time,” he said.

Later, Emmanuel became fixated on coding and became less focused on his academics. “Any time I was going to school, I was going to charge my laptop and code. I didn’t tell my parents. When they gave me money to buy textbooks, I used it to buy coding courses on Udemy,” he said.

When COVID-19 struck and schools across Nigeria were closed, Emmanuel saw it as an opportunity to concentrate on coding. In March 2020, he got a job as a mobile application developer at Kwivar, a buy-now-pay-later company based in Port Harcourt.

The salary was ₦70,000 (now $170) and his parents couldn’t believe that one could get a job during the pandemic when companies were laying people off. “Though the salary isn’t enough reason to not study medicine, they finally saw what I had seen since 2015,” he said.

A month later, he got a job offer as a blockchain developer at Project Hydro, a blockchain company based in the British Virgin Islands. This offer was a game-changer for Emmanuel. He was offered $700 a month and based on the offer, he decided to quit his school.

After his stint with the blockchain company, he moved to Enugu State to join a new venture, Xend Finance, a decentralised finance (DeFi) platform for credit unions, cooperatives, and individuals.

He later resigned from Xend Finance to create his own path in the global blockchain ecosystem. He would later relocate to Dubai, which eventually became his passport to the world. He won multiple contracts to build crypto platforms. Later, he founded Lazerpay to take on the big players in the industry.


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