Leye Makanjuola, CEO of marketing and technology agency, IntenseNG, lived and grew up in Ibadan. He had a regular upbringing in the suburbs of Ibadan with his family, where he had most of his education.
After completing his B.Sc in Economics from Lead City University, Ibadan, Leye left for Lagos in 2009 to start up his life.
As it usually goes after completing a university degree in Nigeria, the young graduate registered for the National Youth Service Corp in 2009. He completed his service year with a finance company, in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Economics and finance wasn’t the path that Leye wanted for himself, “I hated it. It wasn’t for me. I just don’t like abstract things”, he shared. The future was uncertain but Leye was hungry for more.
After completing his orientation year in 2010, Leye was back home, on the couch with nowhere to go. He was on a job hunt. “I was looking for a job”, Leye tells me over the phone. “I got a couple of offers. And then I took one from a company called Moody Intertek. I worked there for like three years.”
Leye worked at Moody, a leading worldwide provider of technical services to the global energy industry and a provider of systems certification services globally, as an Accounts Officer for three years, but he still wasn’t fulfilled. Describing the job, he tells me “It was fun at first, because it was quite easy, there was nothing to it. But I realized that I didn’t want to do that. That for me to be at the top of my career, I would struggle doing things like that.”
In spite of his early entrance into the corporate 9-5 life, Leye still considered himself an entrepreneur. “I had always done things” he explains, “When I was in school we threw parties. I was in a couple organizations, where we threw parties. I also did some other things, any small thing I could do. Send bulk SMS, make clothes, just exploiting stuff. ”
As a way to expand his skill set, Leye joined Fab, a lifestyle blog, as a freelance writer in 2011. Explaining his motivations, he shares “I asked myself that question that if I was to do anything that I wouldn’t get paid for, what do I really like to do, and it was speaking and writing.”
Leye still had a fulltime job with Moody at this time. He could only write after hours, but he was committed to making his side gig work and it paid off. “I just wrote when I got home. I learnt how to use WordPress on my own at the time, because the work required it. I left after three months, but I learnt a lot from there.”
His experience at Fab introduced him to the social media world of Twitter and the early days of Twitter promotions. This piqued his interest and he was soon headlong into the world of digital advertising and social media management. He created his own Twitter promotional page iPublicize Naija.
During the course of this time, Leye also started a Master’s programme at Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, while holding down a full time job.
Leye left Moody in 2014, to join LeadCapital Plc, an investment banking company, as a social media manager. “I had built a new resume practically”, he explained. He was there for only a year however and by 2015, he was ready for his next adventure with IntenseNG.
He explains why he made the move,
“I felt like there was no better time. I was probably 29 at the time, and I felt like this was a good time to try and fail.”
iPublicize at this time had grown from being just a faceless Twitter promotional page to performing as an agency. The platform was receiving requests for website development, ads, designs, it was time to grow or risk becoming obsolete, but to appeal to a larger spectrum, there had to be a name change.
“The reason I started Intense was because I didn’t like the ‘iPublicize’ name for a company. So I had to change the name, or at least start something new.”
Leye, who had never worked in an agency up until that time, had to learn on the job. He had earlier turned down a job at an agency because he “didn’t have enough foresight at the time. I was looking at the cash…” he says.
IntenseNG was off to a good start with the agency carving an early niche for itself in Digital Marketing, but it faced its own challenges.
Leye speaking on the early days of Intense he shares, “Because I never worked in an agency. I had to figure things out myself and I had a lot of imposter syndrome because I wasn’t sure what obtained in an actual agency.”
Those days are far behind him now as Leye has taken Intense from a two man operation to a business employing young Nigerians in their dozens with plans for expansion.
Leye has become one of Nigeria’s leading SEO and Digital Marketing experts. He shares about his process, “In the early days, I had no choice, because this was what I was offering. I had to take courses.”
He continues, “I discovered Hootsuite and took a few courses. I was one of the first major users of Hootsuite in Nigeria so they made me a community ambassador of Hootsuite in Nigeria. It was a bunch of learning and throwing myself at things. I learnt on the job.”
IntenseNG is now in its fifth year and is still waxing strong. The marketing agency started as an offshoot from a Twitter page and is already laying tracks to grow into a technology company.
Leye shares about the journey of the agency so far, “I think the biggest achievement is starting a company with no money and bringing it to where it is today. It was just organic. The power of the internet.”
In ten years, Leye changed the course of his career and the course of his life. Determined to succeed, he has created the life that he wants for himself, harnessing the power of the internet.
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