Njoku Emmanuel, a 19-year-old Nigerian, co-founded Lazerpay, a crypto payment gateway startup, in October 2021. When his aunt introduced him and his brother to computer programming seven years ago, the blockchain engineer was hooked.
His aunt, a robotic engineer, introduced him to coding, and he began coding quickly and never looked back. His father is also an engineer, and his mother is a teacher.
At a young age, Emmanuel began to show signs of academic and skill acquisition success. When he represented his school in the mathematics Olympics, he won prizes and awards. His success is not surprising given that he was studying complex mathematical topics while his classmates were still learning basic math.
“My father never allowed us to use a calculator to solve our mathematics homework,” he explained. Every calculation had to be done with our heads—otherwise, why do you have ahead?”
His foray into blockchain began with learning game development and the use of C++ to create games, but his parents wanted him to study medicine, so he chose his path.
He chose to study electrical engineering at Enugu State University of Science and Technology rather than medicine (ESUT). He interned at Quiva Games, a gaming company based in Enugu State, as an undergraduate.
He felt everything he was learning in Enugu was a “waste of his time” after a few classes. Whatever he was taught in school was below his standard, which meant he was ahead of his peers.
“…And the math they were teaching at the 100 level was the same as my JSS 3/SS 1 math.” “As a result, it became a waste of my time,” he explained.
Later in life, Emmanuel became more interested in coding and less concerned with his academics. “Whenever I went to school, I would charge my laptop and code.” I kept it a secret from my parents. “When they gave me money to buy textbooks, I spent it on Udemy coding courses,” he explained.
When COVID-19 struck, closing schools across Nigeria, Emmanuel saw it as an opportunity to focus on coding. He accepted a position as a mobile application developer at Kwivar, a buy-now-pay-later company based in Port Harcourt, in March 2020.
His parents couldn’t believe he could get a job during the pandemic when companies were laying people off for $170. “Though the salary isn’t a sufficient reason to not study medicine,” he said, “they finally saw what I had seen since 2015.”
A month later, he received an offer to work as a blockchain developer at Project Hydro, a British Virgin Islands-based blockchain company. This offer changed Emmanuel’s life. He was offered $700 per month and decided to drop out of school as a result of the offer.
Following his time with the blockchain firm, he relocated to Enugu State to work for Xend Finance, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform for credit unions, cooperatives, and individuals.
Later, he left Xend Finance to forge his path in the global blockchain ecosystem. He would later relocate to Dubai, which would become his passport to the rest of the world. He was awarded several contracts to build cryptocurrency platforms. Later, he founded Lazerpay to compete with the industry’s big players.