Business and Finance

10 minute with mentor Alexander Amosu

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Alexander Amosu, a young entrepreneur, set up his first business when he was a schoolboy. He turned his interest in technology and the mobile phone industry into a commercial success with RnB Ringtones. He now heads his current high-profile luxury phone company ‘Amosu’. He looks back on his first businesses and gives advice on how to market to niche and overseas customers.

Alexander Amosu talks about what motivates him and how to find customers in different markets.

Is the entrepreneurial spirit something you’re born with?
I don’t think entrepreneurial spirit is something you’re born with. I think, for me, it’s a situation I was forced into. When you come from a very poor background, you’ve got to fend for yourself and look at opportunities around you that can make money. I started from a very young age and gradually built up a system to learn about looking at my environment and making money from it, and that’s how I’ve grown into it. So sometimes I think it’s made me more entrepreneurial, rather than being born with that kind of gift.

Were your businesses always a success?
My businesses were not always a success. From a very early age I tried several different businesses. I would say 40% of them failed, but I think part of the failure is actually where you learn. For me, failure is part of success. So having businesses and learning the wrongs and right of them allows me to grow, and when I have a business in future I know not to make the mistakes I made when I was young.

Where do your business ideas come from?
Business ideas come from my environment, things around me. It’s about spotting the gap, and I think there’s a certain type of gift in doing that. You’ve got to be able to see something that nobody else sees and be able to make money from it. I could be sleeping and some idea might come to me. I’ll jot it down on a piece of paper. Or I could be in a car. I could be in a restaurant. Anything around me, my environment, is what I absorb when I think about the next idea that could really make money. You’re sitting on a chair, for instance. If you’re sitting in a certain way, maybe there’s a type of chair that needs to be specifically designed for that type of audience. It could be anything, and how an idea starts is just from something that you see and then you generate it into more of a bigger idea.

How did you market your first business?
Well, it depends on which business. The very, very first business I had, when I was 14, was when I organised a five-a-side tournament in school. I got a group of kids together and asked them to pay £5 per team, and all I did was simply go to the library, design a A4 news leaflet that said five-a-side tournament, £5 per team to find out who the best player was in school. And then I went round the school and gave it to every teenager I felt was interested in football. That was my marketing ploy at the time to try and get people to be interested in my ideas. So something as basic as that at that age has obviously grown a bit more sophisticated now in terms of using the internet, radio, TV and newspapers. That’s how I started my first businesses, just by going out and giving things to people by hand.
What have you learnt about marketing since then?
Well, I’ve learnt a lot about marketing in terms of being in the right place at the right time. You can’t market a particular product without understanding your market audience. I think one very important part in anything you do when you’re about to market is to do your research, because there are often times where you could spend thousands and thousands of pounds putting an advert promoting a particular product in a newspaper, but it never reaches your audience in any particular way. So I think the most important thing for me in understanding your marketplace is by doing a lot of research and understanding what exactly you’re trying to market.

How do you sell to niche markets?
I’m in a niche market at the moment. I sell high end, very luxurious, very expensive mobile phones and a very, very small number of people who can afford my phone because it starts from $20,000. Not everybody’s got $20,000 to spend on a mobile phone, so it’s a very, very niche market. However, in saying that, there are people who have that kind of money, who have maybe two or three cars, live in Spain, Italy, France, have a plane, so it’s just an additional line in terms of the luxury they want, and these people can be found in high-end places. I have to target this audience wherever they are around the world, millionaires, footballers, celebrities and the like. I approach that angle by looking for these niche markets and selling my products directly to them.

How do you adapt your marketing for overseas markets?
I think I have to adapt my marketing overseas by understanding the local knowledge and culture of those countries. So, for example, if I’m going to market in Spain or Italy, I wouldn’t use a British marketing company because they have a different understanding, a different culture. For me it’s very important to understand the local knowledge and use it to market the products in those countries.

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