Simon Okeke also known as Simon C. Okeke was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, April 3rd 1988. To Chief Simon N. Okeke( Ochendo) at the time was the CEO & Chairman of Knight Frank for Africa, a multinational Real Estate Firm & Ambassador Vivian Okeke, who at the time was a Nigerian Diplomat and later became the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria, Slovakia & Permanent Rep to the United Nations Vienna offices including OPEC, UNIDO & currently Representative to the Director General at the International Atomic Energy Agency at the New York UN office.
Simon C. Okeke is the brother of famous Tik Tok Influencer with 5 million plus followers Dreaknowsbest AKA Andrea Okeke, who hosted red carpet at the bet awards and interviewed artists like Rick Ross. Simon attended Elementary school in Belgium at the Brussels English Primary School.
He later on attended Corona Secondary school in Lagos Nigeria, Christ the King College Abuja, & finished High school in 2005 at St.Mary’s High School, Manhasset, New York in the same class with NBA champion winner Danny Green & Rev Run Simmons’s Daughter Angela Simmons.
Simon has always had an Entrepreneurial mindset and started his first business during high school, organizing events for teens at major clubs in New York. After high school, Simon attended St.John’s University, where he studied Business Information Systems.
While attending St.John’s University met Jermaine Cole, also known as J Cole, Dj Spyno Hot 97 Dj, who later planned various concerts and events, including Chris Brown Concert at Webster Hall with Funk Master Flex.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Simon Okeke: My Name is Simon C. Okeke I was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut but grew up in New York & different countries due to my mother Ambassador Vivian Okeke being a Diplomat. I finished High School from St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset Long Island, New York in 2005. Some of my classmates at the time were Angela Simmons, Rev Run Simmons Daughter & NBA Champion Danny Green.
I have always been an Entrepreneur at heart and started my first company at the Age of 17 during my freshman year at St. Johns University where I met a good friend of my Dj Spynfo who is now a DJ at Hot 97 & J.Cole who at the time was known as Jermaine and we all used to hang out at a place we called the Strip which was in front of the Dining hall at St.John’s University it was there I birthed my event & concert promotion & management company that organised concerts for major Artists including Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Davido etc.
I later on graduated form the State University of New York at Old Westbury Long Island and was part of a Fellowship at the United States Congress working under Congresswoman Gwen Moore. After my fellowship I attended and Graduated with my Masters at Georgetown University where I got experience through a Management Consulting Leadership Development program that exposed me to Management & Technology consulting for various major Fortune 500 companies and startups.
While doing this I had started a staffing company in 2016 around the time I was rounding up my Masters and had a lot of clients in the Trucking industry. I later on decided to acquire trucks myself and saw a big problem business owners faced was shortage of good drivers to transport their goods, not being able to get dedicated high paying freight via a smart dispatch system & not having a central location with data/ reviews on the best Truck Drivers & Transportation companies. This led me to found Loadzpro to solve the problems in this industry with technology.
I am the CEO & Founder of Loadzpro an AI powered Digital Freight Marketplace that connects private individuals and commercial shippers to the best on demand delivery professionals, truck drivers and transportation companies to help them ship anything heavy ranging from cars, heavy equipment, full truckload, agro products, manufactured goods, furniture & general moving/relocation.
All from our Apps available now on the Apple & Google play store & we are graduating from the world renowned Founder Institute accelerator on September 15th 2022 which publicly traded companies like Udemy graduated from and most recently companies solving major problems for the US population like Esusu are also Alumni. The accelerator started with more than a 100 companies and only about 18-20 are graduating. So very excited and happy to be part of this alumni & prestigious portfolio of companies.
Other notable mentions Include:
In 2018 I was appointed a Senior Special Advisor on Investments to a Governor of Anambra state, A State in Nigeria known as a manufacturing & industrial hub where Innoson the man known to manufacture Nigeria’s first Nigerian made vehicles and trucks.
I have 8 siblings but 3 sisters from my mother and one is a famous influencer known as Dreaknowsbest. Government name: Andrea Okeke. She hosted the red carpet on the bet awards recently and was trending for her interview with Rick Ross & Chance the rapper on teaching them Nigerian lingo.
I most recently Co- Produced a hit song called I know with an Artist names Royal Ezenwa who I co- manage and trending afro beats Artist Oxlade. I also co-produced a song called Killaman with Artists Royal Ezenwa and billboard trending artist fka Buju now known as Bnxn.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Simon Okeke: Yes 2020/2021 with the pandemic and many other challenges affected thousands of businesses in the USA and internationally. What I think made the difference between the businesses that survived and the ones that failed or really struggled to make it was being innovative enough to see how you could service the needs of your customers based on the business environment you are in.
For example during Covid prices to move freight or transport goods domestically in the USA went up because everyone felt more comfortable ordering things they needed from the comfort of their home where they were safe. So businesses that did well found a way to transition to e-commerce or offering virtual services.
My advice for business as the saying goes by Steve Jobs “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” – Never underestimate the value of people, especially the power of teams. If you want to come up with excellent work, choose excellent peers.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Simon Okeke: As the pandemic keeps pushing things like the great resignation and changing the dynamics of how business and work is done. My advice for businesses would be 1st know your customer, empathise with your customer, find out what makes your customers tick, find out how to keep your customers coming back.
Treat all your employees equally forget about titles and hierarchy, an intern could be that employee in your company that could bring in that great idea, innovation or account that changes everything positively for you business.
My father, a former CEO for Africa of a multinational real estate firm called Knight Frank also known as Douglas Elliman in the USA, always taught me to treat everyone equally even the security man, janitor etc You never know how your treatment to them impacts their life and who they could be tomorrow to impact yours.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Simon Okeke : The pandemic changed our industry which is the trucking technology industry immensely because there was a lot uncertainty healthwise during the pandemic so CDL Truck Drivers were getting paid the most during this time, and due to the internet and social media a great awareness about entrepreneurship had caught fire leading to many Truck Drivers who drove for companies wanting to start their own companies.
How we approaches this with our company is we have a program called our Virtual Truck Carrier Solution that lets Independent CDL Truck drivers that want to start their own business start their business in partnership with our company Loadzpro.
How that works is we can either let you run under the Department of Transportation Authority of our affiliate companies we own or partner with, and that would come with our smart algorithm powered dispatch that would recommend the best paying loads to you as a truck driver running your business under us, plus our invoice factoring quick pay product that pays you immediately you deliver a load with Loadzpro.
We also offer back office and compliance management all for as low as 5% – 15% of your gross revenue when you choose to start & run your business with our Loadzpro technology. Another option we have is we help you acquire your first truck either by lease/purchase or outright ownership, we help you get your own authority and support all your back office, compliance, dispatch and driver recruiting as you grow your business and fleet all for a flat rate percentage of your gross revenue which ranges from 5%-15% depending on how many services you sign up for.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Simon Okeke : The advice I wish I received was do not panic, everything will be alright. Luckily I am not the panicking type. I am more of the when a problem arises, think of a solution in an agile way and continue pushing for excellence.
What I intend on improving on in 2022 which we have done is increase our technology offerings, which makes it easier for customers of all backgrounds and locations to be able to utilise our services which are primarily on Demand Shipping and transportation of heavy items, with the launching of our app now available on apple & google play store.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Simon Okeke: I believe online businesses will continue to thrive & I see people want to continue to do things virtually. I also foresee more adoption of the metaverse and virtual reality as people find new ways to feel connected virtually.
A business I am a Co- Founder and part of that is building a metaverse city with endless utilities is Kloudvest you will see more to come on this business but they are a fintech company that helps build customers credit for free and provide technology education and art experiences through our metaverse partner company AltesocietyNFT.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Simon Okeke: I definitely feel like I spend at least 8 or more hours in front of a screen especially being a business owner, having to balance work, business and make time for family, friends, working out, sports and leisure is definitely not easy.
Although I do my best to find a balance and make the most of my evenings to work out, spend time with family, and weekends to hang out with friends. I also love travelling growing up in a Diplomatic family so any weekend I get a chance you will find me working from my laptop on a beach.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Simon Okeke: With my team I like to use experiences we go through on the daily to tell a story of being resilient, learning from mistakes, and staying positive. An example that sticks with me was a story of when we had to decommission a wind farm for a client and arrange all the transportation of the equipment used to decommission the wind farm.
We faced an issue where one of the CDL Truck drivers had to get permits to move the heavy equipment we had in our project and because of the fact that there is not any central database where you can see full background check of a driver you are bringing on for a contract apart from what is provided by the DOT or background service provider companies. We could not deter that the guy driving the truck was not honest and kept trying to ask for more money than needed for the permits.
At this time our app was not ready yet so the only thing we could rely on is data from the people that issue the permits and info from the Department of Transport website. This situation led us to ramp our app build to save future businesses of having to go through the hassle of making so many calls to find a verified truck drive that has experience moving certain types of equipment, driving certain routes etc.
Now with our app that we built we will never have to go through this again and we hope other businesses will not either due to the technology we built to create more transparency in the trucking and transportation industry.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Simon Okeke: For us being a start up a challenge we face is acquiring more enterprise shipping customers that will want to give us a chance vs the big legacy companies that they are used to dealing with.
How we have been solving this challenge is giving each customer we bring on big or small a concierge experience where they have the technology in place to request to ship anything they would like to ship that is heavy on demand, but we also have our Customer Success reps that stay in touch with them throughout the shipment updating them on everything going on till delivery.
Via the app, email, text and phone calls depending on what the customer wants. This has been a major success for our clients we serve currently including major car dealerships, auctions, equipment dealers, Farmers, manufacturers, small business owners and private individuals looking to ship furniture, or planning to move.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Simon Okeke: I believe in 2022 what I was most concerned with was learning how to grow my Technology start-up the right way and get connections in my industry. This led me to go through the very rigorous Founder Institute accelerator in which our company will graduate in a class of 100 plus start-ups. Only 18-20 graduated. So we are thankful for that opportunity.
It also exposed us to networking the right way, and although Founders did not introduce me to my most recent Advisory Board Members, who were Founding Team Members of Uber Freight, Truckerspath & Smarthop. It has given me the necessary education and industry connections that have prepared us to be the next disruptor in the Shipping, Trucking, and Logistics technology industry.
We will also be getting ready for our pre-seed round, which has been oversubscribed from friends and family, and we shall potentially close our pre-seed round via crowdfunding on Republic, Wefunder, and other platforms which will give our current customers & the general public who are interested a chance to also have ownership in the company.
Something really cool we are working on is Portable/Mobile Electric Vehicle chargers which we will sell exclusively during our Pre-Seed Crowdfunding campaign to owners of Electric Vehicles to give them a chance to be able to charge their cars on the go, which will be groundbreaking as the transportation industry moves more into electric and autonomous vehicles.
We also plan as we expand our fleet to acquire electric Pickup Trucks & Semi Trucks so for us manufacturing and selling portable/mobile electric chargers will be a big part of our entrance into this market, especially as the future will have more of these vehicles on the road and help reduce emissions.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Simon Okeke: The great resignation definitely has come at a time when people saw so many people losing their lives to Covid. So people realized that they would rather spend their life working at a company that they felt aligned with their purpose and passion in life.
People all want to make money but they would rather make money doing something they love or working somewhere they feel aligned with things they truly believe in. Apart from this, employers should let employees feel there is a chance for growth and not just feel it but give them a chance to see and walk through a roadmap that can give them career fulfillment and growth.
Something I do at my company is give everyone a chance to know that they are not only just working for the company, but they are a part of the company, part of my family, also my business partners, and my friends. Keep an open communication policy and try to promote from within. These and many other things can help companies reduce attrition.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Simon Okeke: I think if I could pick a business super power would be to have the psychic ability to talk to the hearts and minds of customers. I think I am doing that pretty well but imagine being like Professor X from Xmen Lol.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Simon Okeke: Success for me in 2022 is continued growth of our business, increased users and customer satisfaction from our On Demand Shipping & Trucking app Loadzpro.
Increased partnerships with car dealerships, auctions, more enterprise shipping customers, and winning a grant or contract with the government as we support a lot of rural farmers nationwide with shipping goods or equipments from their farms & are a big innovator in the push for renewable energy and electric vehicle adoption.
With our portable/mobile electric vehicle chargers, we will be releasing to the public soon with our Crowd Funding campaign to close our pre-seed round either this fall of 2022 or Early spring of 2023.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Simon Okeke for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Simon Okeke or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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