19 year old, Njoku Emmanuel, co-founded Lazerpay, a crypto payment gateway startup in Nigeria, in October 2021.The blockchain engineer started with coding seven years earlier, when his aunt introduced him and his brother to computer programming.
His aunt , a robotic engineer introduced him to coding and in no time, he started coding and never looked back. His father, is also an engineer while his mother a school teacher.
Emmanuel started showing signs of great success in academics and skills acquisition at a very young age. He won prizes, awards for his school when he represented them in the mathematics Olympic. His success isn’t surprising because when he had been studying complex mathematic topics when his mates were still learning basic maths.
He said, “My father never allowed us use a calculator to solve our mathematics homework. Every computation had to be done with our head—why else do you have a head?”.
His venture into blockchain started with learning game development and the use of C++ to build games but his parents wanted him to study medicine but he decided to choose his own path.
Instead of studying medicine, he opted to study electrical engineering at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). As an undergraduate, he became an intern at Quiva Games, a gaming company based in Enugu State.
After a few classes at Enugu, he felt everything he was learning was a “waste of his time”. For him, whatever he was being taught in school was below his standard meaning , he was ahead of his colleagues.
“…And the maths they were teaching at 100 level was like my JSS 3/SS 1 maths. So, it became a waste of my time,” he said.
Later, Emmanuel focused on coding and was less focused on his academics. “Any time I was going to school, I was going to charge my laptop and code. I didn’t tell my parents. When they gave me money to buy textbooks, I used it to buy coding courses on Udemy,” he said.
When COVID-19 struck and schools across Nigeria were closed, Emmanuel saw it as an opportunity to concentrate on coding. In March 2020, he got a job as a mobile application developer at Kwivar, a buy-now-pay-later company based in Port Harcourt.
The salary $170 (#70,000), his parents couldn’t believe that one could get a job during the pandemic when companies were laying people off. “Though the salary isn’t enough reason to not study medicine, they finally saw what I had seen since 2015,” he said.
A month later, he got a job offer as a blockchain developer at Project Hydro, a blockchain company based in the British Virgin Islands. This offer was a game-changer for Emmanuel. He was offered $700 a month and based on the offer, he decided to quit his school.
After his stint with the blockchain company, he moved to Enugu State to join a new venture, Xend Finance, a decentralised finance (DeFi) platform for credit unions, cooperatives, and individuals.
He later resigned from Xend Finance to create his own path in the global blockchain ecosystem. He would later relocate to Dubai, which eventually became his passport to the world. He won multiple contracts to build crypto platforms. Later, he founded Lazerpay to take on the big players in the industry.