Building real products is more valuable than chasing money

Iyin Fisher
4 min read
Remote Religion is a series which shines a spotlight into the life of a remote tech worker in Africa. We explore the promise and perils of remote work and how to navigate career transition.
In this edition of Remote Religion, we spoke with Ajiri Omafokpe, a former Product Designer at Yellow Card. We talk about her experience joining the company in its early stages and her advice for junior product designers.

Hi Ajiri! I’m so excited to be speaking with you. Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Ajiri Omafokpe and I’m a Product Designer. I just left Yellow Card where I worked for about three years. Now I’m looking to work in a Web3 company that’s building exciting products for the future.

How and when did your interest in tech start?

How I got started in tech was serendipitous. When I was about 8, I went to fetch my sister who was taking computer lessons at a cyber cafe and I basically fell in love with computers. I made friends with some other kids there and started going to learn about computers every other day. I would even spend my lunch money to learn more, do more and understand what the internet was all about.

That’s an interesting story! How did you get interested in crypto and Web3?

In 2016 during my third year of university, an old classmate reached out to me, gushing about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, decentralisation and how the world was going to change! He got me really excited 😂

LOL! So did you buy any crypto?

I did! I love taking risks so I jumped right in and bought this a shit coin called TBC with almost all my money. That was a big mistake of course, but the process was really exciting. I liked the problems that crypto was solving and could see that the tech was going to do a lot of good work in the future. There are so many things that have been done and we haven’t even scratched the tip of the iceberg.

Right! How did you get started in Product Design?

Before I got into product design, I would build websites, do graphic design, brochures, flyers, etc. but I wanted more and knew I couldn’t do these things for the rest of my career.  In April 2019, I attended a four-weeks product design masterclass and which enabled me to transition. After that, I did a few more courses and then got my role at Yellow Card.

How was your experience joining Yellow Card in its early stages?

I would use the words interesting, exciting, and fast-paced to describe my experience, especially in the beginning.

It was interesting and exciting because things were not defined, as they usually aren’t with startups. I had to define for myself what my responsibilities were, as well as do a lot of negotiating. I had direct access to the CEO and could easily share my ideas and have them implemented.

Also, because none of us really knew what we were doing, we were just going with the flow, moving quickly, breaking things, and building them back up again. It was a rollercoaster ride that I really enjoyed.

What do you love the most about your job?

It's very fulfilling to see things you’ve built come to life. I also love the fact that everything has to be validated through testing. I’m a scientist at heart so I enjoy carrying out experiments and finding out that people love or hate what I’ve created and so there are always new challenges to solve.

Do you have any advice for people getting started in product design?

My advice for people looking to work in product design is to get experience building real products as early on as you can. Don’t focus on money in the beginning because experience is more important. Find a senior designer to learn from and help them build real products.

That’s great advice! What do you do for fun?

I have a lot of hobbies! I have monthly hangouts with my friends. I also like going to the beach and reading fictional novels, and I try to attend some events. I find physical activities fun so I practise Taekwondo, play tennis, swim, bike and go to the gym.

What’s next for you?

I joined Yellow Card as the 10th employee and saw it grow to over 150 people. I learned a lot from the experience and really thrived in that environment. I'd love to find another startup that I can make my mark on and get really established as a Web3 product designer.

I also want to help more people transition into the space. I also have plans to make a lot of money and travel a lot! I want to experience new places and people. Nigeria is crazy right now so I'd like to be in places where I can really thrive and not just survive.

Thrive and not just survive - that’s a word! Thank you for your time Ajiri. How can people follow you?

This was great Iyin. My Twitter is @ajbabyeth

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