#78 Bubunyo Nyavor is the mentor he never had in his career
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Bubunyo Nyavor 0:00 Skip cloud, go to the library, read up on the tutorials, write the programs in jodis. compare notes. Keep going back, keep treating over and then see how it goes. On Friday nights when we're given the chance to use a computer lab in our school would run these programs. We had written in geodes on Pentium two computers. The thrill of seeing the results show up on a screen. That feeling is unmatched. I don't know. But there's nothing that can match that.
Tim Bourguignon 0:45 Hello, and welcome to developer's journey. The podcast shining a light on developers lives from all over the world. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today, I receive boo boo never boo boo is a software developer from Ghana, and administrator at dev Congress, the largest developer community in Ghana. He chronicles his life journey and rents about software development, business management and tech community building on his blog at five error.com booboo, welcome to dev journey.
Bubunyo Nyavor 1:20 All right, thank you, Tim. Thank you for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 1:22 It's my pleasure. And I'm going to tease you right at the beginning and the top of your Twitter timeline. There's a video of you is you almost doing a backflip on the beach?
Bubunyo Nyavor 1:37 Yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 1:39 There's this comment. This basically sums up my your 2018. So I have two questions for you. The first one is your back. All right. Second one is What's the story behind that comment?
Bubunyo Nyavor 1:54 Yeah. Yes. So the trick question to that prequel actually is yes, that is me trying to do a backflip. And your first question, my back is fine. I didn't want any life altering injuries. Also a bit shaky at the end, but yeah, nothing, nothing I couldn't get out of so to the story, so the backflip is actually the kitteh in the Volta Region of Ghana. So I've been doing backflips since I was a kid and I thought yeah, maybe I still have it to live try to see how it goes. Then I tried it in a week. So the laughter in it is from some of my very close friends one thing I enjoyed making them making people laugh with me or something I said so yeah, the backstory to what happened in 2018 you know is it was one of those things where you have a basic plan you're going to do this first and then do this next then do this the next thing after I sort of had my entire 2018 mapped out but then life happens in everything that goes how it was to go so yeah, that is the backstory to it Yeah, but we we move we move is more I freeze for we get ourselves and then we just carry on
Tim Bourguignon 3:32 so how is 2019 panning out? Do you intend on doing a failed backflip again? Or this one you will be successful?
Bubunyo Nyavor 3:40 I cannot try one I think this will be successful because I will bet up for it. I don't know how to do that but yeah hopefully that's good but the last time you seen the back of his phone Tina she's in Zimbabwe
Tim Bourguignon 4:00 and and listeners if you're in need of a contagious laughter I just watched a video with the sound and and you just cannot not smile while looking at it. Your friend there is laughing so hard.
Bubunyo Nyavor 4:17 This is absolutely fantastic. Timo Yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 4:24 Okay, so let's, let's roll back a few years. Where and when did your developers story start?
Bubunyo Nyavor 4:30 So my developer story started, what I think when junior high school, I think that would be 2006. So a friend of mine, his his mom got him dekstop and I used to go to his house to design use paint, Microsoft Paint, I could draw. So I just transferred my knowledge as an artist on to paint and then it was really it was really working for me and I thought I could get used to it. So I went there every evening, got back from around 4pm went to sit at a computer, short or draw, draw. And before we know it, the sun is gone and the moon is out. Then my friend's mom will be like, that is your friend to go home late and stuff like that. That is my cute Google does my face and called with computers. After that my dad got me my own Dexter because he liked the idea of me going out, then I got games on it. I played for a bit, then I got bored. Then I started editing some of the configuration files for the kings. Now I learned that if you change this can become bigger, or something changes in your game become better. The one of the main games I remember freaking heavily was Midtown madness. I don't know if people still remember that game. That's all I remember about they came to me. Everything else I've forgotten. I played around a bit with Midtown madness. And not long after I went to senior high school, then that is where things sort of took off. Because in my senior high school does a Computer Club joining it was one of the first thing I did when I got to high school. It was a group of very like minded people who talked about computers, and shared stories to tell what to name and stuff like that, I will put them down so that when I come home, I come in practice for what I had legs. But while while I was there, I picked up my first programming language, which was cubic. So essentially the way we had about six programming books in our library, and though this book, The had a cubic to reality, one of the sections. So we'll skip class, go sit in the library. That's me and two of my friends. We skipped class, go to the library, read up on the tutorials, right to the programming job this compare notes, keep going back, keep by treating over and then see how it goes. On Friday nights, when we're given the chance to use a computer lab in our school would run these programs. We had written in geodes on Pentium two computers, the thrill of seeing the results show up on a screen, that feeling is unmatched the ability to type instructions into the computer and have the computer spit out some feedback in a way that you had envisioned up to now. One of the one of the trills, you can you cannot complete that anywhere. After high school, I went to uni I studied computer engineering. That's when I started taking things seriously. But I didn't that active software development. Then I was more into hacking, penetration testing and stuff like that. Because Yeah, hacking seems cool movies, people have computed them, you see them doing all the cool stuff. So yeah, I also wanted to be a hacker, I started hacking, got my first laptop, and the first thing I did was remove windows completely and then backtrack. Up to this day. I've never gone back to Windows, I don't regret my decision. Windows was all the rage the day. I don't know that some CDH certified ethical hackers tutorials from the internet's always bad, I couldn't understand anything they would seem. While I was doing that my friends were sort of making money on the site. They were building just normal websites, and they were charging some money with me while I was sitting behind my computer thing that hacking and nobody was paying me. I mean, I'll get some requests for hacking jobs. guys wanted me to hack the Facebook accounts or some of the gills, girlfriends. People wanted me to change their grades, the computer system in the school, people wanted me to hack Wi Fi passwords. Those are some among some of the common jobs. But other than my skills were not up to any of those. So I sort of switched course and in sort of ice switch of like when I couldn't be doing this and getting requests that I can fulfill all my friends, build websites and make money. Then in 10 year of unique of doing playing around the bits, I took up active software development, and I've been doing that ever since. This is about a brief summary of my introduction to software development.
Tim Bourguignon 9:54 Nice. Nice, nice nice and tell us about this change of Course between hacking and then and then in your third year at a university, going to development, how did did did it feel like? I don't
Bubunyo Nyavor 10:09 know if there was an actual transition. So building website was all the rage people wanted websites for whatever reasons they could come up with. And they were willing to pay. And basically my decision was I can build websites. And I like this penetration testing stuff. But I'm not getting anywhere, why don't I just make some extra blocks by building websites. So I built the fifth websites was good. Then I went back to penetration testing, and I got referred, and they just kept coming to is, it was more of a slow transition in a very toxic, very confrontational one. But that's where I liked it at the end of the day. I mean, people do do penetration testing in Ghana. But I did see that I was I think when I made thing out lucking Dale, Dane was, who were they going to do penetration testing with? None of my friends were into penetration test and do well building websites. So as sort of veered off that path towards software development.
Tim Bourguignon 11:33 So at some point, you you decided to put all your effort in in honing those skills in software development and not the penetration testing skills anymore, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And how did that go?
Bubunyo Nyavor 11:47 I'm still doing software development. So I think we went well, I got paid some good monies to build some websites. Back in the day, it was PHP. On a fifth website I built with for a startup that I wanted to create was called by chop. The problem I actually identified was, a lot of people on campus were trading among themselves. And the most common the website or the Yeah, the website we're using to trade amongst ourselves was tomato tomahto, calm, was it busy classifieds website, where you go list your items, and then people call you, and then you agree to meet up. And then exchange services, basically, money for an item. So I bought a few items of tuna on a move them was heartbeats, and stuff like that. And I realized that most of the time, when I met the people, at the other end, it was three out of four occasions was somebody from compass, we were meeting outside campus because we thought this person is or is probably not on campus. So we both leave campus to a remote location, outside companies, exchange items, and then sort of get on a theme pass, and then come to like that an image. Those are thinking, why don't I build a simple classified service, like the one I was using, but this time, localize it for campus, so that instead of having locations like, I mean, Kumasi, policing cities, people could list the hotels and their dormitories and wherever they were staying on campus, so that you could easily walk to those hotels, or the dormitories, and then get your items. One thing I also figured out was because it was fully on campus, I could just easily market in this defined locality, and market to be far less easier and cheaper. I'm using the internal ecosystem, the compass bars and stuff like that. So yeah, those are the two main things that drove me to develop my fifth websites. That's called my job. And then I wanted to expand it for two other universities that will the University of Ghana, and then with your view in mind, and then what I did was I cloned these websites, will I build them using Joomla. I had some experience with Joomla. from high school, I cloned these websites, and I created three easy two instances to host each version of the app. I just went into change colors and logos and stuff like that. In hindsight, I wouldn't do it. I'll do it differently. That helped me get noticed on concrete like, like, okay, who's the developer of this website. And people wanted me to develop similar websites for them. I hadn't graphic design background from high school. So it really helped with the aesthetics of most of my website. And I think that was one of the things a lot of people appreciated. As much as people were writing software. Not a lot of people were combining graphic design or the aesthetic aesthetics part of design, or incorporating it into the awake. I think that was one of the main things that got me jobs, combining skills is always always very important to be able to, to bring two different domains together, and, and be at the sweet, sweet spot between the two of them, though, is is I think, that is one of the when it comes to software development, that is one of the most powerful ways to get ahead of combining experiences from different domain outside of software development.
Tim Bourguignon 16:09 He said this was your first startup doing get that right? Yes, was does it mean there's a second one coming
Bubunyo Nyavor 16:17 does the second startup that started in field on campus. So when I started that I didn't have a business experience, all I knew was there was a gap. And I wanted to fill the gap or develop something to fill the gap based on my own experience. When you feel I sort of realized that there was something missing, but I couldn't really put my hand on what was missing. I knew we needed to do markets. And I knew we needed to figure out the business. We needed to figure out finance, funding, and all of that. But back then I didn't know people know that these were to wait for it. I just knew that this could be done better. There was something I was missing. So this sort of led me on a journey of enlightened enlightenment seeking enlightenment is the Confucius part of my genuine. So in section one day I went to class in a friend of mine told me that there was a hackathon happening in Accra. My University was in Kumasi, Kumasi to a price about four hours bus ride four to five hours. Yeah, there's nothing serious happening at school, why don't we go see what this hackathon is about? So we took a bus came to our craft, and then came forward to the hackathon in myth to myth is a meltwater foundation. What it do is take people in train them developing software and building a business around the software that has and then funds these, some of these ideas, the most promising ones. And then people want to build these startups. So immediately, I got into the hackathon. I saw people talking about software and talking about business in a way that had never had before. The wearable to understand the impact of their decisions, on product, how marketing was had an impact on the product that they wanted to launch, how business decisions. Were going to ship, what their productivity look like, how customer experience was going to ship products. And for me, it was like a lightbulb go off. Because for a very long time of filming, I figured out that I was missing, I was missing something. And the way people spoke about software in business. That's when I realized that, okay, this is what I want to do. So aplied messed in. Then I got in, and it was a one year program. So in mes the program is focuses on three main things. There's the technology parts, there's the business but in the communication parts. Business teaches you how to build financial models, how to create slides, how to use slideshow for communications, unit economics, marketing, anything that had to do with running a business and communication was how you communicate what you are doing two parties that are listening, it being investors, it being partners, it being customers, we did that for a year was really intense. I think it's one of the best decisions I've made in my life. Outside deciding to flip in kingdom? Yeah. Yeah. So I got in. And then, after the program, we sort of came up with a startup idea called EF review went through many, multiple iterations. But essentially, we were building services to help read, you get the appendices online and to be able to monetize. Probably a lot of that come from the fact that I'm really into music, I enjoy listening to music. And radio is one of the places where we discover music. And for me, the radio experience was always broken, so that there were too many acts, do too many radio stations, you couldn't really search these radio stations. And if there was something interesting, you could never really get them come back to the radio station and cook to find the shoes. So at the core of our products to consumers, the main selling point was, if you miss your favorite radio show, you can just come back to fpu. And then listen to your pre recorded session. And then you don't have to worry about missing your defibrillator issue. Rest assured that if you fall asleep, or if you're in a meeting, you can just come back and then find this radio program that you missed. I think one of the things we did in testing that assumption was, so I found a radio station. Before all of this, we were sort of marketing it as a another TV, but we weren't getting traction. And people told us that it would be nice if the courts if they could listen to past episodes. So I didn't really know if integrating the playback session into the app was going to be a good idea. So what we did was, we got radio shoes from one of the radio stations in the country, which was on SoundCloud. And we sort of hyperlink them in the app. And then we run two campaigns on Facebook. One, we think that gets into air for you and find and listen to interesting discover new weird issues around your interest, blah, blah, blah, stuff like that. And then the other one was simply did you miss your radio? And did you miss your favorite radio show? Just come back into fpu. We have it recorded and then you can listen to it measured the traffic around boost ads, for sure that you couldn't find recording for those a button where you could click a request for recording. A request for recording what was missing was just a button for us to track how many people were interested in which particular when you shoes. So we we learned the campaigns. And then we monitored the traffic or the reach of the campaigns and realized that the one that had the message of playback was reaching people is far better than the one that just had discover renew shoes. So that when we decided to build the playback functionality extensively, said version of it was in Python developed by some of the physical programming I had ever done in my life. Using g vents, and celery and rabbit mq. I still think about some of the programming, all the programming I did back then back then for that and I think I get PTSD. We later changed that infrastructure to go like that was fine. The Python was terrible. Let's kill the Gulag once killed nicely. So yeah, that became my second startup.
Tim Bourguignon 24:17 Nice, nice, nice. And if you had one, one learning to pick out of this second experience, what would you want to highlight? Okay, so
Bubunyo Nyavor 24:25 one of the things I learned was, I figured out was building a software product is about value. And in this part of the world value is mostly attributed to money. So are you making money using for someone's business or people using your software product? If you're not making money? How are you saving them money? If you're not saving them money? Are you making them? are you saving them time? In a day able to translate that time into money in a way that is straightforward to them. At the end of the day, what I realized was whatever I was doing, if you can draw a straight line, from your services, to the monies of your target customers, you have a sheer hits, if you have to go through hoops, and go around and keep on explaining how the value you are delivering tends to money for your customers, Dr. Most likely not going to hear and not because because in Africa, consumer business is not major kids as much as b2b or enterprise. Because businesses are looking for ways to save themselves money and reduce overhead. So that like low hanging fruit that a lot of people with their startups can capture. Good and bad. These are some of the most stubborn people because when you start to talk, and then you start to drag on, then we start to zoning out, like, what do you do? I do this? How does it save me money? How does? How does this help me save money? Or how does this help me make money? If you go on to explain for more than five minutes, then we give them away? Anything you say?
Tim Bourguignon 26:28 Yeah, but if you flip that around, that means if you can articulate your your marketing message around this, then you have a chance at being successful right away?
Bubunyo Nyavor 26:38 Yeah, um, I think I think that is that is the other aspects to value, as much as you are able to deliver value. If you are not able to communicate the value you deliver effectively, to whoever's listening to you. Obviously, you're not going to be able to sell. But at the end of the day, I see people in this ecosystem come up with products and services. And the value to them is probably clear. But drawing the line from value to money to for target customers, is most often the they have to go on and explain and explain and explain and explain. Maybe we can chalk it down to communication of what the value is. But at the end of the day, if you are able to deliver value, should be able to articulate it in a very simple and straightforward.
Tim Bourguignon 27:43 I would like to, to switch gears a little bit. In the in the bio, I read from you and say that you are an administrator at DEF Congress. Community. How did you enter the the community in this community in Ghana? And and why did you decide to take on some responsibilities in there,
Tim Bourguignon 36:21 Nice, very nice story. Very nice story, the time box is running away from us. If you could, if you could go back in time, and and meet yourself, when you were still doing this penetration testing. And give yourself one advice. What would you say?
Bubunyo Nyavor 36:41 I don't know if I'll change anything, because I have a very peculiar outlook on life. So I don't believe in I told you, Suze, I don't, I don't believe in looking back in shipping out what you are, what you want to change, or what you would have changed. Because I think you can't tuitions, the sum of all these actions you took, and all the actions you didn't take, you might not like your situations, your situation, the current situation you are in. But at the end of the day, that is what you have to deal with. And that is what you have to make the most of it. So, um, I don't really know if out tell my cell bakhtin to change anything. One thing I do do is, I do live notes for my future self. So what I do is, move it and when I'm when through difficulties, I write a letter to my future self, and explain that this is what I'm doing and different way of taking these actions. And it has backfired. But we still have life. And we still have breath to tomorrow, we are going to take on new challenges. And then I hope I live it for myself to find in the next maybe five to six, five to 10 years. I think I've done three of us. I don't think I'll tell my past selves to do anything different. Just maybe, I don't know. I don't think I would have to my pastels to study any harder.
Tim Bourguignon 38:32 I can't think of anything. Fair enough. And the the advice of writing to your future self. That's also very interesting. I need to think, think a bit more about that. That's a nice idea. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Bubunyo Nyavor 38:43 You're welcome. So basically, the idea is to so because we have the tendencies of looking back in recreating us tuitions, most of the time, we do it with a lot of context of the future and what has already happened. And then we regret things in the past that there was no way we could have had context or would have known. We don't know that this is what is going to happen. And because we have the benefit of being in the future, we sort of tend to regret decisions. So when you write a letter to yourself, you explain to your future film that this is way too big decision. And hopefully, a future self will be more lenient on you.
Tim Bourguignon 39:28 Yeah. This is Barry Weiss. Thank you. So, um, if the if the listeners wanted to contact you and get in touch with you, should they go over a Twitter or should they go over a deaf Congress? Where would be the better place to get in touch with you?
Bubunyo Nyavor 39:49 Yeah, so the two main places I hung out on Twitter in depth conference. If you interact with me on Twitter, I might be a bit slow in replying because attendance notification for a tweet on my phone. If you get in depth Congress, which I think everybody should, if you issue in Canyon, or if you have interest in the developer ecosystem in Ghana, just joined the Congress, go to slack, Dev convert.org and create an invite for yourself, you can connect with me there, my username is bu bu bu. And I'm always ready to have a conversation about developer ecosystems, how to make things better, how to pick the opportunities for new developments and stuff like that. So
Tim Bourguignon 40:40 awesome. Are there is there anything you want to advertise out? You want to plug in before we call today?
Bubunyo Nyavor 40:45 I have nothing to vlog. But a friend of mine, his name is Kofi. He does this awesome. YouTube sees he'll be angry if I don't think so. Yeah, uploading to youtube.com slash key h o PS I. Yeah, we're watching the videos. Well, I think I've already said joined the US Congress. so
Tim Bourguignon 41:08 fantastic. Thank you very much. This has been a very fun listening to your story. Thank you, Tim. And this has been another episode of developer's journey. And we'll see each other next week. Bye bye. Dear listener, if you haven't subscribed yet, you can find this podcast in iTunes, Google music, Stitcher, Spotify, and much more. Head over to WWE WWF journey dot info. To read the show notes, find all the links mentioned during the episode. And of course, links to the podcast on all these platforms. Don't miss the next developer's journey story by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice right now. And if you like what we do, please rate the podcast, write a comment on those platforms, and promote the podcast and social media. This really helps fellow developers discover the podcast and those fantastic journeys. Thank you.