Dayo Akinrinade is the founder and CEO of Wisdom, a social audio app with the mission to democratise access to mentorship and create an open and diverse community centred on knowledge-sharing. Dayo’s journey in tech started as an IT Management Consultant at Accenture and Deloitte. Then, driven by the lack of diversity in London’s tech ecosystem, Dayo joined the founding team of OneTech, London’s largest diversity in startups programme, backed by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. Subsequently, after spotting a gap in the market, she went on to found her first startup Africlick, a cultural dating app targeting 1 billion Africans globally. In 2019 she was named in the Financial Times Top 100 Most Influential Ethnic Minority Leaders in Tech. Dayo holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Manchester and a M.Sc. in Technology from University College London.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I was born in London to Nigerian immigrant parents who have served as my inspiration throughout my life. I believe their emphasis on education and providing me with the opportunities and access to computers at a young age encouraged me to pursue education in technology. This set the foundation for my career in tech where I first started as an IT Management Consultant at Accenture and Deloitte.
Driven by the lack of diversity in London’s tech ecosystem, I later joined the founding team of OneTech, London’s largest diversity in startups programme, backed by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. This ultimately led me to build Wisdom, a social audio community which connects knowledge-seekers to mentors for one-on-one intimate conversations. The Wisdom app enables mentors to give live talks on a set topic and offer listeners timed slots to ask questions – all talks are recorded which enables listeners to playback talks in their own time. Wisdom mentors are particularly welcoming and when we connect two people for an intimate one-to-one meaningful conversation, that’s the magic moment. That’s when Wisdom has not only the potential to change one’s day, but to change one’s life.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
As a Black woman in tech, having worked in London’s largest diversity startup program, I’ve observed firsthand how lack of access to mentors contributes to systemic inequity and disadvantages founders from minority groups. I observed as well that would-be mentors on other platforms today have a clear problem: they have no way of engaging the many inbound requests they receive so they ignore them all, unless they get a “warm introduction,” which is itself a crystallisation of systemic inequality. Hence, Wisdom was born from the mission I had to democratise access to mentorship using the power of social audio technology.
How did you achieve awareness?
To date the majority of Wisdom’s growth has been organic. Fortunately, Wisdom has benefited from the momentum of the medium of social audio becoming mainstream.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
It’s a challenging business environment for women in tech, particularly minority women founders. Black women still receive 0.002% of venture capital backing and I was one of the few who were able to raise $2 million thanks to the support of First Round Capital and a number of angel investors.
What are the key successes?
Since our launch in October, Wisdom mentors have shared 600,000 minutes of insights, while listeners have absorbed 2.3 million minutes’ worth of knowledge. We have repeatedly been a Featured app on Apple’s App Store and I’m proud to say that Wisdom is now the world’s largest social audio-powered mentorship platform.
We have also joined forces with fellow global tech leaders to become a member of the Oasis Consortium – a first-of-its-kind think-tank dedicated to making the internet safer and more inclusive for all.
Wisdom has raised $2 million in investment and high profile individuals like the musician Kenny G, Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor “Spike”James Marsters and baseball Hall of Famer, Andre Dawson have talked on Wisdom.
Recently Wisdom was one of 7 startups selected to participate in Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp, which is an intensive, hands-on technology lab where we worked one on one with Apple experts and engineers to significantly accelerate the app.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
As wisdom is a social networking app, I have unfortunately faced internet trolling and gender-based harassment online. I do my best to ignore it and lean on my team, friends and family for support.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Continue to build out the Wisdom app. I love reading the ideas our Wisdomers have for the app and working to bring them to the community. This is made possible by innovation, the whole app is built with an algorithm-friendly design meant to deliver the advice people need, the moment they need it across dozens of topics from parenting and startups to technology and dating.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Follow the approach of Simon Sinek, search your soul and start with your ‘why’ – ‘why do I want to start this venture?’ Then use your why to inspire your action.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Be consistent, consistency wins over intensity every time.
When you are starting out and can’t afford experts, take advantage of online Software-As-A-Service tools. These tools allow entrepreneurs to achieve professional results; for example Canva for Graphic designers, MailChimp for marketing, Amplitude for analytics.
Attract a great team who believe in your vision, empower them and delegate. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who are also building.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom” – E. O. Wilson Quote
“Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good
Time and tide wait for no man
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try” – Seth Godin
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Wisdom’s Company Socials