Chika Ekeji, Alumni
- Employment Services; Mobile Technology
2011 MBA, Sloan School of Management
“I remind myself of the following each day: get comfortable with the existence of unknowns, be clear on why you want to be an entrepreneur, and if you must fail, fail fast...but just do it.”
ManOnGround is a Web and mobile service that connects people around the world with trusted, capable parties in developing countries who can perform discrete aspects of local field work on behalf of the requester.
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where I lived through completion of secondary school before heading to South Carolina to earn degrees in computer science, mathematics, and marketing. Afterwards, I pursued a master's degree in computer science from Cornell and, subsequently, spent five years at Microsoft working in various areas, including software security, information privacy, and geopolitics. Desirous of running a large business entity someday, I enrolled at MIT Sloan to further refine my analytical, leadership, and entrepreneurial skill set.
For one of my undergraduate classes, I had to introduce a new brand of infant formula into the Nigerian market, but simple, accurate information on local market prices proved strangely difficult to find. Several years later, at the height of Nigeria's stock market boom, I had an idea for a new financial services company which required some field data from the ground. Once more, I found this unnecessarily tedious to gather and was reminded of my need from many years ago.
The idea for my venture, ManOnGround, came together after considering several pieces of knowledge I had gathered over the years: first, there was my recurring need for field work in developing countries; then there were the levels of unemployment and underemployment plaguing the educated people in several sub-Saharan African countries, including mine; in addition, MIT's action learning programs often necessitated students conducting research in developing countries. I believe their time would be even more valuably spent if they could outsource a lot of the required primary field work. My idea is to create a Web-based, mobile-enabled system that allows for fast, cheap, and secure outsourcing of local field work and other discrete tasks to capable entities in emerging markets.