TORONTO — Being a business owner is not easy, and there are plenty of bumps along the way while chasing your dreams. Yemi Shoeowale and Ayodele Sokefun are the founders of Go Chips, some of the tastiest plantain chips on the market. Brandon headed over to their headquarters to find out more about the company, their journey as business owners, and their advice for aspiring business owners on this episode of Building Better with Brandon.
Go Chips come in three flavours: salty, spicy, and naturally sweet. But the founders shared that the journey to starting their own business wasn’t always naturally sweet, as they faced similar challenges to other small businesses, including cash flow.
“Coming from a community of migrants, we are first-generation migrants. Any available funds we had were used to purchase primary residences, so we came into this business with very little savings,” Sokefun said.
He shared that it has been difficult to continue building their business while realizing how much more money they would have made had they stayed in their initial careers. Sokefun shared that before starting Go Chips, he worked in the field of international development consulting, while Shoeowale was a business analyst.
“We would be doing good in those fields if we were still active in those fields. Between you and I, entrepreneurship does not pay the bills in year one or year two,” Sokefun explained, adding that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
The founders also struggled with social capital.
“That social capital that opens doors for you, that social capital that gives you networks,” Sokefun explained.
“Your social network also determines your net worth,” shared Shoewale, saying that when he was trying to get loans, it became apparent that this journey would be difficult for them as new immigrants.
But they overcame these challenges, rising above to build an empire that will one day rival even the biggest names in snacks.
“I would say we have presence coast to coast to coast and in the U.S.. Overall in Canada, we are present in over 100 stores,” Shoeowale shared.
In five years, they are looking to be in the mainstream market, with more products and more retailers. Currently, they make other snacks including popcorn and peanuts, and they’re excited to do more.
How TD Helps Black Business Owners Succeed
Shoeowale and Sokefun first founded Go Chips four years ago. Since then, TD Bank Group has launched the Black Customer Experience, which makes it easier for Black business owners like them to overcome common challenges, like accessing capital.
Faith Biyapo, Regional Manager, Business Development at TD Bank Group explained that it is important to make sure that your personal finances are in order and that your credit score is in good standing before you start a business. Then, it’s time to book an appointment at TD.
“The first step would be for them to book an appointment with one of our account managers because every business is different,” explained Biyapo, adding that customers can visit the Black Entrepreneur Credit Access Program to make an appointment.
Also important: understanding the risks involved with launching a new company.
“It’s very important that before you decide to get into business and then start sinking business loans, that you’ve done a good amount of due diligence, you’ve done your risk assessment, you understand the industry, you understand the specific sector that you’re trying to get into,” Biyapo explained, adding that it’s important to have most your pieces in place before you dive into founding a company.
Faith encourages aspiring or new Black business owners to reach out to the TD Black Customer Experience team for assistance and personalized advice.
“We have several regional managers across the country willing to connect and help you out. We also have a lot of tools on our website,” Biyapo explained.
“We have tools that can help you with your start-up cost projections, your cash flow calculator, business plan template, and also we have a feature on our website that can help you identify different grants from different programs and also government funding solutions.”
Sokefun and Shoeowale shared their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, while Faith explained the inspiration behind the Black Customer Experience team on this episode of Building Better With Brandon. Plus, we debate how to correctly pronounce plantain. Let’s leave Go Chips and its founders some love in the comments, and let us know, how do you pronounce plantain?