Member Spotlight: Oliver Johnson of Mercator Technologies
Each month, we sit down with a member of our community to talk about their work, their experience working out of CapitalSquare, and to just generally let the world know how awesome they are.!
This month, our spotlight is on Oliver Johnson, software engineer and founder, Mercator Technologies
Who: Oliver Johnson
What he does: software development
Working from CapitalSquare since: September 2018
Hi, Oliver! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I started my career as a software engineer (trainee) in 2008 with Neptune Software PLC (formerly Computer Systems Associate - CSA). Neptune was arguably the leading software development house in Nigeria at the time, providing Core Banking Applications to almost all the banks in the pre-merger and consolidation era. I left Neptune in late 2010 to found a software technology consulting firm - F1 Technology Consulting. That didn't go so well so I dusted my CV and got back to paid employment in 2013.
Between 2013 and late 2018, I have worked with Fidesic Nigeria/Parkway Projects (Senior Software Engineer), Keystone Bank (Enterprise Application Developer) and Unified Payment Services Ltd (HOD, Software Development, and Fintech).
What inspired your interest in software development?
I caught the programming bug in university and I never recovered. My first programming course was QBasic as a freshman studying computer science. I thoroughly enjoyed the course. I still remember writing perhaps thousands of lines of code on paper and whenever it was our turn to use the Computer Lab (which was like once in a month or thereabout), I’d transfer these lines of code into the computer and it would work like a charm, no errors whatsoever. I knew then that this was what I was meant to do. A realization that this is my superpower, my calling. Lol. I learned Java (self-taught) while still in the University even though I never owned a PC until after graduation.
Did you always want to become an entrepreneur? What inspired you to launch your own business?
I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur. Like I mentioned earlier, I left my first job after 2 years to found a software company. The drive, passion has always been there. I know why I failed at the first attempt and the lessons are well incorporated into the “second coming”. 😁
Tell us about Mercator technologies. What challenges in the payment solutions space does your startup address?
Mercator Technologies is a Merchant Focused Fintech Startup. Fun fact: Mercator is Latin for merchant. By Merchant we mean anyone who is involved in business or trade. Our focus is on the bottom of the pyramid and hitherto digitally excluded small and medium businesses in Africa.
We provide first and foremost, custom-built tools and technologies that enable them to run their business operations smoothly: inventory, invoicing, sales, marketing, etc. We also provide a variety of ways for their customers to pay them.
We are not aware of anyone in Africa that is sincerely focused on helping small businesses improve their operations. The reason for this is not far fetched: It is hard work. We are determined to do the hard work that is necessary to create wealth on the continent. We are ushering the era of the Merchant . The rise of the Merchant class in Africa. Like it was in 14th-century Europe. We believe the rise of the merchant class in Africa will usher wealth and prosperity for the continent.
That’s impressive! Is there any of your products you’re particularly proud of?
We’ve launched a few super duper useful products already!. We have a solution that helps merchants (who accept POS payments) to automate and standardize their transaction and settlement reconciliation processes, helping them identify and recover money they didn't know had gone missing: incomplete settlement, excess charges, frivolous disputes, chargeback deductions, etc.
We are currently helping a customer recover about 42 million Naira from one of the Nigerian Banks. We’ve made significant progress with this recovery, and we’re confident that he’ll be refunded really soon. You can learn more about this product here
We have also just recently launched Symplifi, a cloud-based POS+ solution for various kinds of businesses: retail shops, boutiques, bukkas & fast food outlets, tyre sales and car service shops, pharmacies, super markets, etc. The good thing about Symplifi is that it's not a one size fit all kind of solution. It is customized specifically to meet your business needs.
We are currently in beta and interested business owners can join the beta for FREE here.
Symplifi empowers business owners to stay on top of their businesses from anywhere in the world - using any device. What makes Symplifi unique is that its not just a software or tech tool. It’s a partnership. We want businesses in Africa (especially small ones) to stand on our shoulder and out-compete bigger ones. Its a lot of responsibilities but we are ready for it.
What are you currently working on? Any interesting new projects you’d like to share with us?
For now, we are focused on concluding the beta for Symplifi, which should end in a few weeks. We have a few more products but they will be rolled atop Symplifi to provide a richer merchant-customer experience.
What keeps you going when things get challenging?
I don't take things personally. I also play a lot. Most people are too serious. Life is not that hard 😊
What’s the most useful professional advice you’ve received?
My very first boss taught me that understanding the business domain or business process of whatever software product you are building is more valuable than your developer skills. This is Golden for software developers, but sadly many new and young developers are concentrating too much on technology stacks with little or no attention to the domain knowledge.
My last job as an employee was in the payment sector. Though I was in a software development role, all the business guys always wanted me to accompany them to meetings, because I had a solid understanding of the payment domain and the business of it, in addition to my skill set as a developer.
Enough about work. What do you do for fun? How do you unwind?
All my guys are ballers! lol. I enjoy swimming and partying. I also enjoy spending time with my family. Nothing tops spending time with loved ones in my opinion.
Tell us one fun fact about you 😊
I like woman, I dey straight forward -:)
You’ve worked out of CapitalSquare for a while now. What do you think about the space and community?
The space is really neat and spacious and I like space a lot. The people are friendly. Tbh, I think it’s the best co-working space I’ve been to in Lagos and I have been to a lot.
Thank you for your time, Oliver. This was fun!
Thank you for interviewing me!
That's all folks! You can get in touch with Oliver via:
Email: OliverdeJohnson@gmail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org