Few months ago, we were trying to get into an institution to discuss the adoption of our product and several other collaborations. Unlike other prospects we had reached out to, we knew nobody in this particular institution. All efforts to get an insider that could push our proposal internally failed. We posted on Facebook, Twitter, nothing.
So, we decided to go the difficult route. We decided to drive down. A long journey, it was. By the time we arrived, we were already tired. It was close to evening and we hadn’t eaten anything. With that hunger shaking every vein, I stepped down to have a word with the security officer at the gate. The following conversation ensued:
Security man: “What do you want and who do you want to see”
Me: “Good afternoon sir, we are here to see the… (mentioning post)”
Security man: “Do you have an appointment with him?”
Me: “No, sir”
Security Man: “Where are you coming from and which company?”
Me: “Lagos, sir…LeBrug Ltd. based in Lagos”
Security Man: “Ah, Lagos keh…the issue is that, one, you cannot see him without an appointment, and he is not even around at the moment”
Me: “Wow, okay, can we see the (mentioning post) instead and at least have a word with him, then drop our proposal?”
Security Man: “We cannot allow you enter because you don’t have an appointment”
After few minutes and several back and forths, the security man finally agreed to place a call to one of the strategic officers we wanted to meet. In my mind, I thought we finally had the breakthrough, at least to go in and have a conversation about our mission.
Oh, the smile on my face as the security man gave me the phone to speak with this top official. In a matter of seconds, the smile turned artificial. The official insisted on not seeing us, not even for the 5 minutes I requested for desperately. “That’s not how I do my own things. You have to book an appointment to see me. I don’t care where you are coming from, Lagos or…”, he said. I explained to him that we had made several efforts to get through to him and other officials in the institution but to no avail. After some time, I then asked him for the procedure of booking an appointment with him or give me his phone number or email address for us to follow the “proper” procedure. He declined hastily, and hung up.
My veins vibrated. I looked at my partner to get some hope, but saw none, except for the fake smile he gave me when he asked “What did he say?”. At this point, the old security man started to pity us. Helpless him, he resorted to consoling us and telling us stories of his own hardship.
Our eyes were heavy. We were hungry and thirsty. By this time, it was already getting late and we still needed to make it back to Ogun State that night as I had another meeting with the founder of the company of another prospective partner the next morning. We jumped into the car, drove few kms, and a bunch of guys selling gala. We bought the largest pack, and drove off to Ogun State as we consoled ourselves with the songs the local radio stations played. What a day, it was.
Entrepreneurship is not as easy as you read. I see why many of my generation prefer to get a job and live the easy life. I see why people run away from this path. I salute those on this path. You’ve got to be able to face rejection in all shades. In this same journey, we have faced all kinds of rejections, but one thing we learnt early enough is that we needed to develop a thick skin to rejections. We ain’t backing down. Not yet. For all the NOs we’ve gotten (several of them), we get back to the drawing board, re-strategize and launch into the deep again hoping to be lucky the next time.
The big luck is yet to come. The hustle in on. Next