My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Before Isaac found himself in the web3 space, he dreamt of becoming a dance musician. A few years later and with a degree in fishery, he is building a community to teach African developers and designers about web3. Here is Isaac Chizaram’s pivot journal.
How it started
As a child, I wanted to become a musician. Not just any type of musician. I admired musicians like P-square who could sing and dance at the same time. As I got older, that interest started to fade. By age 12, I had a new dream of becoming a surgeon or a medical doctor. My parents would call me “Doctor Sixtus, doctor Sixtus” (Sixtus was my catholic given name). Doctor Sixtus became a nickname that lasted till secondary school.
Just before I wrote Jamb in 2014, there were rumours that Jamb was adopting the CBT system. So my mom paid N9700 for me to learn basic computer skills. The package she paid for covered basic things like Microsoft Word, Publisher, and Powerpoint. But when I got there, I saw other students that had paid for a higher package. They were learning Photoshop and Corel-draw. I marvelled at how they turned physical things digital. I couldn’t pay for a higher package, so I tried replicating that with Microsoft Paint software, and although the designs were ugly, I see now that it was my eureka moment. One of the instructors, Philip Onyinye, truly helped me uncover my design passion. Whenever the instructor was not around, he would show me how to use Photoshop and Corel draw, guiding me step by step.
Soon after, I applied for jamb exams, obviously stating medicine and surgery as my choice of study. My jamb score was 230, which was enough to get me a medical-related course. But medicine said no. I was offered admission to study forestry and Wildlife. I refused because I wanted a science-related course. So, I wrote the jamb exams again. This time, I scored 234. But yet again, I got offered admission to study an agricultural course. This time it was fisheries and aquaculture. I gave in and accepted to study fisheries and aquaculture.
It started with me wanting to be financially independent. Growing up in the slums, I had always somehow known the importance of money. Whenever my dad tipped my five brothers and me with N5 or N10, I would save mine. So I began to think of ways I could make money in school.
During my 200 level, I took a course called Introduction to computer appreciation with Agriculture, where we had to do some designs like farm records and receipts. It was a double discovery. I rediscovered my passion for design and found a way to earn cash. I started working at a cyber café. I would print works for my coursemates and professors, and design calendars, logos, business cards, and banners for student week. For anything design-related, I was your guy. By the end of the day, I would make 4k or 5k, depending on how busy it was. With the money I made, I paid for my utilities, textbooks, and other little things without having to bother my parents.
I continued with graphic design for a while, till I realized I was always busy yet not productive. With graphics design, I was doing all sorts of – from visual collaterals to printables. I felt like I was all over the place and not making money. I was hustling. So I decided to niche in design. I tilted toward brand design because I could help businesses solve problems.
Then I discovered web3 a couple of years ago, post-pandemic. I had just met Nader Dabit, director of global relations at Lens Protocol. He is quite popular in the web3 space. I got a gig to work on his personal branding. While working with him, I noticed how fast he worked, and how quickly he understood information and technology trends work. I did some research on him and found out he was into web3. That’s how I got curious about how web3 works. I reached out to him and we had a one-on-one call where he explained web3 to me in detail. I was so enthusiastic and pumped to learn more about this space. I started doing research, joining Twitter spaces and discourses. I can say that meeting was what set me up for my whole web3 journey.
I started contributing to web3 communities and I was getting paid for it. One of the earliest web3 contributions I did was with Near Protocol. I got reached out by one of the core teams to do some branding for their YouTube. From doing some contract community contributions to their team, I became a full-time consultant for them. I also got to work with a web3 security platform. When I started first heard about web3, I dint even know what it was. I thought it was a scam. It was after research I realized it was just a different thought web. I had to do a lot of research, especially understanding web3 jargon. I had to find out what words like player one and pool one meant. I remember when I had to do research on bull runs and bears. It was overwhelming. In web3, you have to deal with so much information, trends, and scamming protocols. For example during the NFT craze, it was a messy time in web3 record. There were a lot of fake players running scam coins, tokens, and projects. That period had me rethinking my participation in the web3 space. But I got to understand that with every new web, there are people who would want to take advantage to create chaos and steal.
How it’s going
I work with Flipside Crypto as a brand designer. Flipside Crypto is a web3 platform that makes data analytics accessible to all blockchain and web3 users. As a brand designer at Flipside Crypto, my responsibilities involves creating and maintaining the visual identity and branding of the company across various platforms, such as the website, social media, marketing materials and other communication channels.
I still like to refer to myself as a graphic designer because I believe that graphic design is the foundation of all other designs, whether it is content design, motion design, brand design, or product design. But I’m glad I focused on brand design because I was able to grow to the point of becoming an industry leader in the brand design space. I understand how businesses work, all about copyright, marketing, and what makes a brand work visually and I’m a problem solver. With brand designing, I’m having fun and making money.
Passion and patience.
Being in the web3 space has helped me understand that if you want to build something that lasts, you have to build it slowly, and take your time. To do that, you need interest and passion.