Essence Interviews – Magknit App

It’s been a long time since I’ve done an #ESSENCEINTERVIEW. A time where I get to speak to people who are creative, inspirational or who have made a major breakthrough in their field. If you haven’t already, you can read the last interview here.

Since I haven’t done one in a while , I knew I had to have a big comeback, somebody I found really unique and inspiring – so I decided to base this edition around tech ,we are meeting Jordan Johnson, co-founder and CEO of the new student-based app- Magknit.

Magknit | LinkedIn

The Magknit App acts as a platform to look for other students who would like to join forces on projects or similar interests. The app aims to transform the way students’ network and collaborate whilst meeting new people.

1.Tell us about yourself

My name is Jordan Johnson, I come from a Nigerian background. I’m 22 and attend Lancaster University. I am a Christian who loves drumming and singing. I am also the founder of the Magknit App

2.Where did the idea behind the Magknit come from ?

The idea behind the Magknit app started in my second year of university. I started a YouTube called SSV which allowed me to feature different perspectives of religion and have different faiths on there – similar to BKChat but more polished I guess. I had to end it as there was a lack of resources in order to continue and I wanted to focus more on uni.
I was attending a few networking parties due to this, where I could meet people and I thought why not create an app for this ? Surely there are hundreds of students here who would love to collaborate on projects or similar interests, why is there not an app that can help with this ? That’s where the idea originated from.

3. What were the steps in getting the app created ?

I first had to create the concept. This involved myself and 6 of my friends coming together and brainstorming the idea, creating features to add to the product. We then had to conduct focus groups and lots of market research to test our assumptions.  I did lots of reading ‘lean startup’ and watched lots of videos ‘Gary Vee, Steve Bartlett’ on start-ups and business. We then went to a university innovation hub who were hell bent on us filling in lots of sheets of paper in an attempt for us to further understand our goals for the business.

We then had to prove the concept of it. This involved creating  Facebook group that allowed students, societies, businesses and charities to advertise their skills or willingness to contribute to a project. Over 110+ people joined and over 12+ connections were made however it was painfully obvious that people needed a platform that allowed them to connect on their own as I had to encourage people to post. Upon market research we found that people didn’t really come to Facebook to network but just to watch meme’s, videos and see what friends are up to.

Thinking this was enough, during the summer I went around London looking for investment with my then co-founder. A ridiculous offer was made to us after consecutive meetings with a particular investor, which we decided to turn down in order to further prove our concept in order to gain more leverage in our negotiations so that we could properly convince the next investor. So we created a basic information capture website that allowed me to get a database of people who either had an idea or project, or had a skill and wanted to connect. We succeeded within a day and managed to sign up 30+ student 5+ ideas and 3+ businesses. Allowing me to cold call and connect the people who need to be connected.

Secure Investment and Find a Team – A particular angel investor finally believed I had enough to go ahead and start building the app.  It was through aforementioned website that I found my co-founder Siddharth Notani who was a computer science student and was on the database to help build a website for a Restaurant. I convinced him to join the company and with our resources we found a team to help build our platform and since then it’s been 1 year of building the product and doing research, lots of testing and ideation. We are now approaching launch.

4. What have been some difficulties with the app e.g. creating whilst being a student? Finances, getting a team?

I would say finances had to be the most difficult challenge, every other challenge I faced somehow involved finances getting in the way. Sourcing a team was also difficult as many dropped out along the way due to other workloads/projects. I also found time to be a challenge with it as at the time I was working at Sony, so I had to balance my job with trying to make the most out of the app,making it the best it could possibly be.

Other challenges that I faced which affected me personally included me learning how to humble myself, not letting myself get too involved with the hype of it all. I had also decided to leave university at this point which was a huge challenge for me! Simply because coming from an African background, education is instilled into us from the moment we are able to walk practically ! so I had to convince not only my parents I was serious about taking this step, but also my family and friends of my parents who tend to have an opinion at times.

Lastly, I would say loosing friends. Whilst I had friends that wanted to hang out or chill on a good lad’s holiday, I was dedicating my time to working on the app. This meant I lost friends along the way.

5. What have been some strengths from the app? e.g. getting new skills, networking opportunities

There have been many strengths I have gained from the app. Mainly in leadership. I have had to become very self-aware, be able to reason well and be receptive to criticism both positively and negatively. In terms of hard skills , I would definitely say admin skills is something I have gained and developed, additional skills involve accounting, managing finances and just having a priority to learn stuff that I needed to know . I learnt many things along the way.

6. What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps and develop their own app?

I would say just start- there is no such thing as waiting for when you are ready otherwise you will never be. I would say this to people who are especially of a younger age, simply due to the fact that you don’t have any major responsibilities e.g. kids, spouse, house etc.
I would also encourage you to look into where there is a demand for what people need. Try and cater to people’s needs. Innovation is the child of demand.

7. What makes this app unique from other apps that students mainly use ? e.g. Instagram, twitter etc.

There are many things that that makes this app different from others. Twitter which is used a lot by students is conversational, you simply go there to voice your opinions and talk to others. LinkedIn is corporate so you tend to create a façade of yourself, whereas the Magknit app is a collaborative platform, rather than a social networking or corporate platform, the Magknit app allows you to collaborate and network with others based on your interests or projects you are working on.

8. How was your relationship with God affected by the app ? negatively/positively

Working on this app has brought me closer to God. When I go thorough hard times, troubles and doubts I look back at how far I have come and understand He will complete what he started. Being a son of Nigerians, failing university once is a curse from the devil and failing twice is an affliction. For me through business, my understanding of The Word and God has allowed me to find my own faith instead of believing in the word of God the way my parents do.

Failing first year and dropping out of my second year, working in my third year has just taught me that everyone’s journey to greatness is not supposed to be the same route or timespan and I thank him for the opportunities and lessons he has taught me along the way. I don’t demand from God; my main prayer is to ask his will to be done in my life and be humble enough to understand that I can’t understand while I’m going through it.

For more about the Magknit App:

W:
https://www.magknit.co.uk/
T: @MagknitApp
F:@magknitapp
IG: magknitapp

Essence Talks 4

Mo Money, Mo Problems !

puff daddy dancing GIF

Hey guys,

So, after a long-needed hiatus (blame uni of course *rolls eyes*) I’m back with a new essence talk- this is where I discuss my views on a topic that has normally been chosen by my followers on IG- so keep a watchful eye on my stories where I announce when the next essence talk is coming up!

Today I am talking about teens and finances- the handling, the spending, the saving, the preparation, the cash losses, and the numerous, numerous amounts of L’s taken (slowly reminisces on those struggle times lool)

I guess my talk begins with growing up. I always questioned why in the UK, young children are not educated on the processes of taxes, credit scores and mortgages. I mean unless you’re going into a career such as engineering or construction, or anything lab based- I don’t necessarily see the need in me learning how to find the value of X or how to do simultaneous equations in math lessons.

Secondary school times consisted of me spending away my weekly allowance as if I was Bill Gates himself lool- back then, something like a tenner was a lot guys, it was a lot. Little did I know the importance of spending in moderation and saving and investing. I remember watching a video from Debbie Crown, as she is quite fond of spending and handling business. She said something that really stuck with me- imagine from young if she had saved at least £20 a month up until the age she is now (let’s say she’s like 24-25) she would actually have a lot right now to indulge in any investments, start up businesses or simply the ability to treat herself whenever she worked hard. Man! – I thought to myself “why didn’t I have that same mentality of money preservation when I was younger!”

It wasn’t until my late teen years on this earth, that I started to realise the importance of money management. Since having a personal accountant or banker to guide you through your finances is not available (they also cost money) I decided it was high time that I focused on my finances and took control of how I was utilising it. Now you may be wondering- you’re not married, looking for a mortgage, or own a business, so why are you so fascinated with handling your money? I believe starting or getting into the habit of doing so will lead me into setting myself up for success by the time it is time for me to go into all of those requirements that need me to spend. (God willing)

Teens and Money Today.

What I must say is, I feel empowered. Almost everyone around me is “hustling” or trying to find their path to earn an income. This is what makes me proud of my generation, and majority of it is done through talents- whether it be hair, makeup, fashion or simply having a part-time job on the side (which is very hard to do when you are enrolled as a full-time student) everyone is trying to take on a hustle that would allow them to be financially independent and that’s what I respect.

Unfortunately there is the negative side to this-the pressure to aspire to be a part of this rich percentile that fits into the brackets of designer shoes, diamond chains and luxurious accessories- now I’m not judging and I’m definitely not throwing any shade, but I guess teenagers today live in a world where social media presents itself as a platform to display your luxurious items all over, for the world to see. The thing is, many of these things don’t come through from legitimate means, and that isn’t shown on social media, so these “luxurious” items act as a disguise to the reality of things- the realities of how these items were bought in the first place. Well that is a different topic for a whole different new day.

Financial Education.

If I had the power to change the current syllabuses of Maths in the UK, believe me I would. I don’t believe it takes a university fee of 9 grand and over for young adults to realise that handling their finances takes priority and should be done with serious consideration. I believe that if we were taught with the ability of handling our finances appropriately, we would be able to make smart decisions. My parents have always been advisable when it comes to managing your money, none of them work within finance, but of course they have had years of experience of surviving in this Britain to know the ins and outs of utilising your cash, therefore I think I’ve been alright so far. Of course, I get out of control sometimes with the occasional unnecessary purchase (usually make-up) but I’ve learnt that yes, whilst money comes and goes, it should be wise of you to slow down on the spending and save up for future investments.

Tips:

1. Control your spending:
Whenever I go on my shopping trips, I play the value game. I literally ask myself if this is valuable to me? do I really need it? And what benefit is it going to give to me? If I can’t answer these things, then it’s probably not worth me tapping my card of the machine for it. It’s imperative that the money leaving your account is worth the time you spent to earn that in the first place.

2. Get a savings app
Now I’m probably playing myself as I am yet to invest in a savings app (don’t worry it will be done after this post is uploaded lool) but there are some good apps out there such as YOLT or MONZO that help set you weekly or monthly budgets and help you to track when you are overspending. I think this is great as everything we need is normally stored on our phones, so we can track our daily spending. Alternatively, we can have someone accountable for your spending e.g. a parent or close friend who can monitor when you are going over budgets

3.Have a savings account
Now this can cause a love hate relationship- but I love it more than hate it. Having a savings account is great as it allows you to store money away into another account which can help contribute to things like Christmas or holidays. Also, most banks give interest on savings, therefore you will get more money accumulated over time. However, I’m guilty of transferring between accounts most of the time as it’s so easy to do so (literally done through a phone app) so it can get tempting to pass over money to the current account- I guess you have to be really strict on yourself to avoid doing so.

Thanks for reading !

 

 

 

 

#ESSENCETALKS 2

Hey readers !
It’s good to be back with a second segment of Essence Talks, this is where I get people to send me a message on Instagram (@essenceofefe) about a question or a controversial topic that they would like me to talk about or comment on. I really enjoyed the last segment where I talked about the topic of pre-marital pregnancy in christianity. If you haven’t read it, you can catch a sneak peek of it here.

I must say, I got a range of wild topics -from plastic surgery to the topic of black people not supporting each other to even Madeline McCann ! (but I small small love me a conspiracy theory though) However, I decided to pick upon the topic sent in by one of my readers-  university (Here we go again…. lool)

The question sent in was –
“Is university meant for everyone ? ”

NO 

Simply put. NO
(unless proven otherwise.)

Now I can end the post here, since I’ve addressed the question there. It’s not one of those things where i’m undecided or I’m stuck in the middle of maybe and no – it’s simply put, I believe it’s not meant for everyone. But I guess it would be kind of a wacky post if I just end it here- it’s not an Instagram Q&A – you’re expecting  full answers – so let’s dig in shall we !

giphy-2So, the way I see it is that in my 2 years of being at university, I must say it is a crazy, crazy ride. Apart from being entirely responsible for your own self whilst being at university, it can also change your life drastically, unfortunately for some this being a negative.

1. Most people, not all, but most people would leave home for university. Many may move out to a campus, many will even move cities and some might even move countries. With that being said, your Mother, Father, annoying brother who refuses to put down the toilet seat and that annoying sister who refuses to stop touching your makeup bag simply isn’t there for the majority of your university life. Whilst for some, this may be a dream come true, for others it slowly becomes a thing that affects them deeply. Simply the loss of family support systems around them can really damage a person. That’s why I wouldn’t completely recommend jumping out to the furthest city away from your parents if you know you need them around you every step of the way for moral support- campus life and learning by yourself is definitely not for everyone.

2.Following from my first point, the INDEPENDENCE is real. University is the only time where you are fully responsible for going to that lecture, going to that tutorial, emailing that tutor, submitting that coursework- it’s all up to you. You would think that gaining independence would be a great thing (which honestly it is) but if you haven’t been slowly eased into it, it can be very difficult to grasp. For some people, they need that extra added push by a teacher or a loved one to tell them to start on that essay or to finish revising before going on a night out. This is how people get led astray and end up loosing themselves as they don’t have anyone to guide them on making university work

3.Quite frankly, university isn’t for everyone simply because there are different paths to set goals and plans. Going into 2019, there are no surprises that there are various ways of  earning a living without going through the traditional route of university. Hey, our good friend Ferdi coming fast literally secured himself a deal with BooHoo simply because of a funny video that went viral. I’m not saying to get a friend to record a funny video of you, be put up on social media and it blows- because it doesn’t always happen like that, let’s just think of this guys fortune as luck. But getting to a career through the world of social media, apprenticeships, freelancing, businesses are just some of the numerous ways people are avoiding the £9.25 k amount of uni fees. Quite frankly, not every single career needs a degree, sure some qualifications would look nice to show you have studied the expertise of a field, but as we are progressing into 2019, it is slowly beginning to become an optional choice to have one, not an essential thing.

So there you have it, I decided to put it into 3 points to stop me rambling on about the topic, as I have plenty of more things to say, but I could be typing for ages. This was not done to put anyone off going to university or to any form of higher educative institution. Rather, it is just an insight into my opinions of everyone applying, I guess you can compare it to certain foods, you either like it or you don’t- University is for some and for others, not so much !

Thanks for reading !.

My University Experience SO FAR

My University Experience Blog –

Woow 2018 definitely needs to slow down, because it is already March and I need to catch up!  Happy New Month guys!!

So, as we are already into the new year I decided to reminisce on how my Uni experience has been so far :

First things first, I can start off by saying that being at university has enabled me to learn so much about myself in terms of how I deal with my schoolwork, my friends, my social life and my extra-curricular activities. These past few months have really allowed me to evaluate how I am especially without living with my parents and also with moving to a new city in the UK. So, I’ll explain exactly how my experience has been so far…

Let’s talk school work. So, prior to starting university I had no idea what the transaction will be like from a-levels to degree type of studying, so I wasn’t ready for the big jump in terms of how lectures worked and how coursework was planned out. I found attending lectures in my first couple of weeks quite simple as I had just started, and I thought it would be best to not miss anything important- but by the time I got to the end of my semester the familiar phrase “you’re gonna miss some of your lectures” became to common in my case. I had never attended a proper lecture before coming to university, only through an open day visit or if I attended a guest lecture, so the whole system of adjusting to lecturing style was new to me but I eventually got the hang of it.

You think A-levels gives you independence? wait till you reach university level- now that is where the independence really lies. You are an individual learner to the core! Yes, they provide you with resources and work to benefit you, but it is solely up to you whether you want to use them to your benefit or not, at the end of the day they all impact you on how well you perform at the end of the semesters. But I learnt from a-levels that I am extremely extra so whatever resources they give me I just use it to the fullest anyway, even if it not that necessary to my work.

Okay, enough about the boring topic of work, we know that university doesn’t only include school work but also a lot of social activities on the side. Now my uni (which I can’t disclose for personal reasons and also because I’m not trying to do the most lool…) offers a great university experience especially in your first week or 2 of starting. Once I arrived I immediately knew I didn’t want to be that person who stayed in their room and didn’t socialise with anybody, so I made an effort to speak to my flatmates and to get to know people who I had never come across before, and I am glad that I made that choice as It helped me to make friends whilst I was just getting to know the university for what it really is.

Likewise, with extra-curricular activities and societies, I also made the effort to join some clubs that would not only get me out of my comfort zone, but that would also make my university experience a successful and interesting one. We all need a break from revision or coursework once in a while, so I made the effort of joining societies that I would love to do in my spare time. For example, I decided to let my creative side come out a bit, so I joined a society called Open Minds who specialise in drama, poetry, music and spoken word. It was actually a great experience as I ended up becoming an intern for them and also performing one of my spoken word pieces as their showcase which I really loved doing. There are bound to be some sort of society that will cater to your personal interests, so I would encourage you to join some!

Money- What is that ?? no really what is money in university please? It is somehow non-existent really because it just disappears out of your account just like that! And to think I was watching tons of financial preparation videos before I reached uni to prepare myself in advance. Yeah, knowing me and my spending habits, it never worked really. I probably need to do a separate post on money and finances at university, and the lessons I learnt from it.

Well since I am only in my 2nd semester of my 1st year, there isn’t really much I can say, but maybe I will do an updated uni experience, when I finish 1st year or 2nd year, so that concludes my blog post.
Thanks for reading!