How this Nigerian-American is shaking up the doughnut industry

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Edose Ohen quit his job as an IT manager to open a doughnut shop. It set him on the path to starting his own internet company. The article below tells his story, it first appeared in Forbes Africa and is republished with its permission. Subscribe today by contacting Shanna Jacobsen [email protected]

Edose Ohen had an unconventional childhood. By elementary school, he was given a programming book by his father and told to study it, sparking an interest in information technology (IT) and robotics. Entrepreneurship was also in his blood. By the age of 12, Ohen was selling sweets to his classmates to make extra money. By the time Ohen got to college, he started a marketing company to promote events at the school, which progressed to organising high-end events for his fraternity.

“My father has always been an entrepreneurial man and I believe the lessons he taught me earlier on in my life was my foundations for my entrepreneurial paths. He shifted me towards IT at a very young age, so I always knew I would be in IT. I also always knew I was going to be in oil and gas because I idolized my father and he was an oil and gas man,” says Ohen.

After graduating at the University of Houston with a degree in management and information systems, Ohen’s prediction came true. His first job combined his IT skills with his passion for the oil and gas industry.

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“I graduated in 2009, which was the height of the economic recession in the States, so I sent out my resumes to hundreds of companies and I did not receive any feedback. Finally, there was a mid-to-large-sized international oil and gas company, and it just so happened that the hiring manager went to my university and we had some synergies. So I started working as a system administrator and four years later I worked my way up to an IT manager.”

Ohen began to feel like he had reached a glass ceiling. It was time to do something different.

“In 2013, I started my MBA, concentrating on supply chain and operation management. When I was doing my MBA I was watching a show on CNBC called ‘How I Made My Millions’ and it was one of my favourite shows. There was a segment about these guys who opened a gourmet doughnut shop. I was like why would you open a gourmet doughnut shop?”

“I watched them and I was like these guys had a plan. So I said let me go to the top 10 doughnut shops out there and every single one of them had a line outside the door. I looked around and I couldn’t find anybody that did it in my area, so I said why not?” says Ohen.

Ohen got some close family and friends together and raised $300,000 to start his new dream, Glazed The Doughnut Cafe.

“It took about two years to get it off the ground. We had about 2,000 people come to the grand opening and the first six months was a total disaster. We could not keep up with demand and we could not create enough products.”

“I had this perfect staffing plan and perfect projection and it was absolutely terrible. It stabilised after year one and we just recently opened our second location which is also growing,” says Ohen.

The biggest challenge for Ohen was managing his own expectations.

“I was so adamant about my business plan. I had all this predictive analysis saying we anticipate we are going to need flour because we plan on selling so many doughnuts a day and trying to force that to happen. But the thing is, you don’t know, you can’t tell. Somebody can wake up and say I want a doughnut today or not, so just trying to understand that there is a complete difference between what you think can happen and what actually happens was difficult.”

With his doughnut business set up, Ohen was ready for his next move.

“One thing I learned from my father was that he always preached diversification. Mitigation from the effects of the economic cycle was how he survived for so many years and thrived in business,” says Ohen.

That sparked the move into IT infrastructure and services. Ohen set up Alfa Dando, which is the parent company to his internet business. The first brand under that portfolio is Wireless NG.

“We have a company called Wireless NG that we are looking to roll out in Abuja and Benin City. It is focused on information technology solutions, network engineering, procurement, design, wireless communication, and radios,” he says.

For the past three years, Wireless NG has provided communication platforms for the Nigerian Gas Pipeline and Transportation Company and Ohen hopes to create a nationwide network soon.

Ohen is building a diversified empire and, unlike his doughnuts, there doesn’t seem to be any holes in his plan.