Leonard Sekyonda, the mastermind behind global entrepreneurial networking community, MyComeUp, set his business up in 2015. Now the platform has more than 125,000 active users from around the world. Sekyonda talks to GrowthBusiness about his ambitious growth plans as he aims to attract 1 billion users in the next five years.
What does your business do?
MYCOMEUP WORLD is a platform that enables creatives, talents and entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate in a way that allows them to thrive, not only in business, but also personally. It provides a unique combination of practical business resources, inspirational self-development advice and genuine human interaction in order to enable user to achieve success together.
Every user has the ability to set up a personal profile and share their story, and it is interesting to see how young entrepreneurs are much more willing to put themselves forward as a human face of their company, rather than hiding behind a brand. Our members also get the benefit of access our “MCU HELP” feature which provides free start-up resources and templates, equipping our users with the tools that they may have lacked in order to start bringing their ideas to reality.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
A few years ago I heard about the rise in recruitment of nurses from the Philippines in the UK and spotted an opportunity to start a business over there. Unfortunately, changes in legislation killed that company almost overnight, but while I was running it I realised I lacked many of the practical business skills that I might have developed had I continued into higher education.
One of the tools I used to get me through the day-to-day challenges of foreign business was self-development books. I found that reading these books helped me develop a more spiritual confidence, and I began sharing some of the tips and thoughts online. Writing a blog was initially just something I was doing as an escape from the pressures of doing business in a foreign country, but I quickly realised there was strong demand from other likeminded young people who seemed to like this self-help information. This led me to putting self-help at the forefront of MyComeUp.com in its early stages, and it is still one of the most popular aspects of the site today.
How did you know there was a market for it?
During our transition from blog to online community, we temporarily took the site down and put a “countdown to launch” up to create a buzz for the online community. However during this transition we were surprised how many people were reaching out to us via our Facebook and Twitter demanding that the site went live as soon as possible. Within our first week of launch we had over 10,000 profiled active users and it has continued to snowball virally since then.
How did you raise funding, and why?
When it came to raising capital, we were fortunate enough to attract an investor who was already a believer of our brand and message as he had used the site in our earlier days when we were just a blog. Raising capital was vital as developing the site from a blog into a community required quite a few upfront costs, including expanding our technical team and production equipment so we could create original self-help content for our users.
Describe your business model in brief?
MYCOMEUP WORLD contains a hub of proactive, likeminded entrepreneurs, creatives and talents. Our core demographic hits between 16-24 years old worldwide. As a brand we see ourselves as not only a representation of our users but also a direct advisor for them. We work with a number of brands we feel can enhance or add value to our users by providing bespoke contextual, digital advertising and sponsorship campaign within our community. We also hold ticket events & seminars to ensure our users continuously connect on more than just a digital level and feel part our story too.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
The first big milestone was the first day we went live as a community. To be honest we were oblivious to quite how advanced the level of our transition was and day one felt like it was filled with technical errors, bugs and general mistakes. It was the point I realised I was now in the tech industry and there was a lot for me to learn. I literally spent two week studying the key technical components of the site, and setting up solid testing processes which came in handy for our future site upgrades.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Don’t start with the technicalities. We often overwhelm ourselves with the big picture and the things or resources we don’t currently have. There is power in just starting – things may not be perfect at first, but the start enables people to be aware of what you’re doing and ultimately attracts the key people you need along the way.
Millions of people talk about starting a business but never do anything about it. If you make a start you’re already one step ahead of all those people.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
My goal is that MYCOMEUP WORLD will have affected over 1 billion people within the next five years. Soft skills like resilience and motivation are often missed in mainstream education, so I want the world to recognise the value self-help and personal developments techniques can add. I would like to create self-help and personal development academies, inspiring conferences and maybe do some public speaking. It’s still early stages for me, but I like to start optimistic about the future.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
If I wasn’t an entrepreneur I think I would be film director, as I love the element of multiple people coming together in order to collaborate on one idea. Plus Hollywood wouldn’t be a bad place to live too.
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
My philosophy on business and life is pretty simple. I believe that thoughts become things, but the best way to manifest a thought is to make a start. I don’t believe that perfection is a destination, but I think that it should be something we’re constantly pursuing.