A CEO Christmas: What Spreading Holiday Cheer Looks Like for Selar’s Douglas Kendyson

by MMC
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A week into December, Lagos was already buzzing with anticipation for Christmas. Outside, Christmas carols mingled with the growing bustle of the city, reflecting the influx of vacationers attracted by the promise of a Déty December. Everyone was preparing to end this year. Some are more excited than others. Including Selar’s enthusiastic staff, who received joyful applause when CEO Douglas Kendyson told them they would be paid twice in November and December. But in Kendyson’s home office, Christmas cheer has been replaced by worry. He had just learned of a software bug on his backend that required special attention. If ever he felt excited about the season, it was replaced by a nagging sense of responsibility. He had to act quickly.

Working overtime is not a new concept for Kendyson. He is the founder and CEO of Selar, an e-commerce platform that allows digital creators and entrepreneurs to sell their products online. He launched Selar in 2016, after noticing a gap in the market for unregistered businesses wanting to sell their products. The platform is committed to empowering digital creators by providing them with a user-friendly interface, secure payment processing, and a suite of features tailored to their needs. Kendyson started Selar as a mini-project. Today, the platform records a turnover of 2 billion yen in 2022, serving more than 40,000 creators and entrepreneurs across Africa.

But before founding Selar, he worked as a software engineer, product manager and consultant for various technology companies. His most high-profile role is as part of the Paystack team, where he worked as a customer success expert and software engineer for the Nigerian fintech startup. He believes all these experiences have shaped the way he leads his team at Selar. “These experiences inform some of the decisions I make now as CEO. On the one hand, I am now aware that if I ask people to work during the holidays, they will be paid for overtime,” says Kendyson. “It’s the least I can do.”

Douglas Kendyson

Christmas means different things to different people. But the one thing everyone tends to feel this time of year is love. Love for family, love for friends and, if you have enough room, love for strangers. A survey carried out by Geosurvey shows that 73% of people say Christmas is their favorite holiday because of the love they feel from others. And this act of gratitude can take different expressions. Therefore, Kendyson was asked to give his team the 13th and 14th month salary. “I was hoping to do something good for my team. They worked very hard and we achieved a lot this year. I asked myself, what extra thing can we do to appreciate hard work? ” he says. Money seemed like a good answer. “Especially with the dollar moving very recklessly and completely erasing value for money.”

Selar does not yet have a Christmas culture within the company. Last year, the team hosted a Christmas-themed luncheon on a shoestring budget. The budget was tight, but Kendyson remembers it being much bigger. The team toasted their triumphs and bonded over burnt chicken. This year, the The team is geographically dispersed, with members scattered across Lagos, Abuja, Rwanda and even Ibadan. “Having a team lunch in Lagos didn’t just seem feasible or wise. There aren’t many of our people here. And some people can travel. It made more sense to give them that money,” he says.

Still, as much as Kendyson enjoys his job and his team, he looks forward to taking a few days off. He imagines lazy mornings with him in his bed tucked under his favorite quilt, the only deadlines being the murmurs of the tide. No codes, no meetings, just the endless sounds of his favorite movies and lots of food. “I think that’s probably my favorite thing now about being an adult at Christmas,” he says. “The feeling of relaxation, catching up on movie time and eating food you probably haven’t cooked. »

It’s a complete contrast to what his vacations were like growing up. Christmas used to mean bumpy trips across Nigeria to visit his father, a banker who was constantly on transfer. “It used to be really nice,” he remembers fondly. Kendyson hasn’t traveled in a very long time. “I think (Christmas) stopped being about fun at some point. Right now, I’m like the Grinch at Christmas,” he said. It’s not that Douglas hates Christmas. But somewhere between chasing startup dreams and building Selar, Christmas became a tangled knot of responsibility and ambition.

Regardless, he’s proud of what he and his team accomplished this year. This year, the company nearly doubled its transactional revenue from last year, despite the economic uncertainty that has disrupted many industries. Generally speaking, the creative industry has seen a wave of innovation and experimentation in response to changing consumer needs and preferences. This year, more people than ever have sought to earn in a more stable currency. “We have seen an increase in USD and GBP transactions. But then, the question of whether it is the economic climate that affects the sector is only a hypothesis. Because if we’re being honest, it hasn’t been the best year for the creative industry, but it hasn’t been the worst either,” says Kendyson.

To close the year, Selar has just launched a new product called Show love. This is an add-on feature that allows creators, artists and influencers to directly receive financial support from their passionate communities. “This will be a great way for creators, artists, influencers and content creators to just get public support,” Kendyson said. “We were looking for an opportunity to reach a broader audience of creators and we believe that so far it will be the case and we pray that it will be the case. I look forward to this product performing well,” he added optimistically.

The project required a lot of technical work, design, testing and marketing. This involved constant coordination with the team of developers, designers, and customer support to handle bugs, feedback, and delays. “I’m grateful we can afford to put in the extra time,” says Kendyson. “Especially the support team. Usually people were given two weeks to relax. But this is not the case with the support team. Fortunately, we have a large support team, which allows them to rotate.

After a chaotic year, and an even more chaotic end to the year, it’s no surprise that Kendyson is opting for a to do the housework December. It’s been a long year and he’d just like to relax. “I might try making some New Year’s resolutions. It’s not my thing. But I see the merits. I hope to at least try to pose goals or some sort of vision board. At least a few things I’m looking forward to in the new year,” he says. This Christmas may not be filled with concerts and parties for Kendyson, but he wants to make it a magical time, not only for dreams, but also for realities.

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