In November 2017, social media was awash with the gist of an office assistant who cooks, cleans and runs errands for a firm but was also self-schooling herself in logo designs and branding. This was Wunmi of Cregital, whose story inspired us to know that personal development is a choice.
Cregital is well-known in Nigeria not only for what they do but as a brand that cares deeply about its people. This makes it stand out from other startups and companies.
So, what is this Cregital?
Cregital is a creative and digital design agency that helps brands make smart expressions. They are also focused on nurturing creative talent as they believe that great talent will do great work and they do this through the Cregital Academy. When mentioning the names of Nigerian firms that are specialists in branding, UI/UX design and web development, Cregital is certain to be among the top 5.
Teal, which is a combination of blue and green, is the brand colour of Cregital. Blue represents trust and green connotes growth – which are evident in the brand.
Cregital has provided a number of high-profile brands which include Zenith Bank, Africa Magic, Social Media Week Lagos, Maliyo, Tizeti, and Redcare HMO with the “most creative, flexible and innovative solutions possible”. They have helped define the design and branding experience in Nigeria.
For their good work, Cregital has earned some eminent awards in the creative design industry over the years. In both 2016 and 2017, they walked away from the stage at the Nigeria Technology Awards events as the Website Development Company of the Year. Also, The Future Awards Africa saw the genius in Evans and presented him with the Creative Professional of the Year award in 2016.
How did Cregital start?
The story of how Cregital started is of how a self-taught graphic designer began one of Nigeria’s fastest growing companies.
When Evans Akanno, Cregital’s Founder and Creative Director, graduated from Imo State University with a second class lower degree in 2010, he had no idea of how to draw a single stroke with any graphic design software. But as he put it, the design bug caught him at this time and he began to be very curious about how to create stunning graphical images.
Google became Akanno’s friend as he began to use the search engine to comb through different websites on how to design. On his learning adventure, he took up freelance design gigs and started to build a portfolio. In a chat with Zegist (Disclosure: Cregital owns Zegist), Evans reveals that his designs were at best, simple and basic. He was creating designs for people who wanted to update their display pictures on the Blackberry Messenger (BBM). Evans charged as little as N400 for each design and clients would make payment through airtime when they were satisfied with his work.
But Evan’s entrepreneurial journey did not start at this point. After graduation, he began Pc2upgrade, an IT servicing company with a friend during his compulsory one year of service. They fixed computers and provided networking solutions to a few clients. However, this venture was short-lived as Akanno’s business partner and friend secured a job outside Lagos, leaving him to solely run it. Evans could not keep up with this responsibility and eventually had to close the business.
In 2011, Akanno registered his new business: Evans Akanno – Precision meets Design and began to take on more serious gigs such as brochures, fliers, logos, and magazine design projects. The business’ pricing model was based on what he thought was appropriate for his skill level. Later that year he took a major step in his business by designing a website for Evans Akanno for N30,000.
Akanno was not alone in his creative agency – on his staff were Franklin Akanno (his brother) and Genesis Anangor. DSTV was Evans Akanno’s biggest client having done some few jobs for the big pay-TV giant.
Akanno got his first real job in 2012 at Rocket Internet’s Jumia Nigeria originally as a graphics designer before being promoted to be a brand and social media strategist. The role at Jumia allowed him to combine his love for design with writing. In 2013, he moved over to Konga.com as a Creative Strategist.
2014 was the year that witnessed the birth of Zegist.com, which Akanno created. Zegist is an online community “for open conversations on anything and everything”. At this time, Evans resigned from working with Konga.
With less than N1m secured from his personal savings, Akanno launched Cregital on April 20, 2015, which was approximately a year after leaving Konga. A bulky part of the funds was used to rent an office space while the remainder was directed towards buying office furniture from IKEA. The team began with four individuals including Evans as the Creative Director, Rufus Oyemade (web developer), Precious Madubuike (graphics designer), and Nneka Ngene (project manager). In the space of one year, the team grew to a size of 10.
It was not an easy ride for Evans and his new company. They had to weather the usual storms of epileptic power, the high costs of internet and acquiring an office space. It was tough to meet up with the payment of salaries at the start. Because of their small size as a startup, they had to work twice as hard to get new clients with an edge in delivering better results at a fast turnaround time.
Today, Cregital is one of the fastest growing companies in Nigeria. The design agency did great work on Zenith Bank’s website last year. They also partnered with SMW Lagos to help celebrate 5 years of connecting people through collaboration, learning and idea sharing.
Product is the future for Cregital. The company intends to transition from being a service-based business to a product-based one. It’s been their focus to gradually pivot the agency to building products that solve actual problems. This they carry out every Thursday (#ProductThursday) during which 9 hours is devoted to brainstorming and building web products.
Perhaps, what is striking about Cregital’s story is how a self-taught graphics designer braced all odds to create a thriving business. He helped define the way designers not only think about their work but also their future.
With the journey so far, we know Cregital is slowing attaining their quest to be a global brand and we can’t wait!