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Seneca


SU SANNI


I look at problems
as opportunities, instead of being content with the way things are.

Su Sanni, 2022 AD

The co-founder of Dollaride, social entrepreneur, and tech executive discusses his journey from football to starting multiple businesses, strategic exits, and keeping two feet on the ground.

All words by Su Sanni in conversation with Seneca.

WHEN I WAS AT BOSTON COLLEGE IN MY JUNIOR YEAR I REALIZED I WASN'T GOING TO THE NFL.


I was a student-athlete playing cornerback and safety on the football team, and also a pre-med major. Pre-med and football do not mix well.

I started getting more serious about two career tracks, psychology and finance, so I switched to a psychology major and took business classes.

I GOT A TASTE OF WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WAKE UP EVERY DAY AND PURSUE YOUR DREAM.

Ultimately as novice businessmen, we didn't really figure out how to make it work. We closed it down and I ended up moving into another job. But this time I was a lot more intentional about where I was going to work because I already had the entrepreneurial bug. I sought out a job selling software at a tech company. That's what really accelerated my aptitude as a business person and as a salesperson, as well as gave me more exposure into the tech space.

MY FIRST JOB WAS IN INVESTMENT BANKING, BUT ON NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS I WAS WORKING ON MY FIRST VENTURE.

During the day I'm a financial analyst. Then nights and weekends, I'm working in a hip hop studio and building this business around music and entertainment. One guy I played football with was a producer and content machine, and the other guy was a web developer and engineer who also was a classically trained music producer. And I was the business guy.
Seneca


IN MY SECOND VENTURE, DESPITE THE SUCCESS, WE WERE SIX MONTHS AWAY FROM CLOSING.

It took us 8 years essentially from founding the company, WeDidIt, in Bushwick, in our apartments, to the point where we had 15 full-time employees, helping nonprofits raise about $60 million a year online through our fundraising platform.
At the time, although things were growing, we weren't making enough money to pay ourselves as founders very much. We prioritized our staff. And you know, one founder has a wife and a kid, my other co-founder, he just got married. So we were all wondering, how long can we keep operating like this?
We concluded that, unless we can make some stark changes quickly, we might actually have to shut the business down in about six months. That was the plan. And then, I kid you not, from having that conversation, three to four weeks later, we got an email which led to a conversation where a company sent us a term sheet to buy the company. That entire startup experience taught me the value of persistence.

THE DREAM IS TO CREATE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY THROUGH TRANSPORTATION.

The underlying issue is that there's a need for transportation. This issue of transit deserts are all around us, in the U.S and all around the world. And you also have the supply of drivers who own their own vehicles all around the world. I'm using technology to match that demand and supply hopefully as elegantly as possible. My dream is to magnify this effect through technology and at scale.
Seneca

FOR THE CONCEPT OF MY CURRENT BUSINESS, I LEAN BACK ON MY UNCLE'S STORIES.

I have two uncles, immigrants from Nigeria, and when they came to the US they had limited opportunities. They quickly learned that you have to hustle, you have to figure out how am I going to make ends meet, how am I going to feed my family? How am I going to make a living?

In the early 1980s, they noticed that there was this period where the Subway in New York continued to have strikes. Or for people who used the bus, the services were becoming inconsistent, unreliable. That would disenfranchise whole neighborhoods of people who couldn’t go to work.

The thing that my uncles knew how to do was drive. They thought, “let me buy a van and I'll pick up and drop off people to wherever they need to go, for a dollar.” And therein lies this concept around dollar vans. That started to catch on. The demand for transportation is ferocious, especially in these lower socio-economic areas that we call transit deserts.

TO CREATE CHANGE, GET CLOSE TO PEOPLE. WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES.

Seneca

One of my uncles said, if you really want to do this, you’ve got to get close to the people. Walk a mile in their shoes to understand their point of view. My take - it's easy to be in my ivory tower, as a kid who's been college educated, exposed to investment banking. But, if I'm really trying to make an impact on someone who didn't have the opportunities I did, I need to understand their world.
That’s what led to me interning with my uncle for a summer. I spent six weeks interviewing hundreds of his passengers, spending time in his office, watching, seeing how he operates. It gave me a new perspective, and helped me stay connected to the people I’m trying to help.
Seneca
TO CREATE CHANGE,
GET CLOSE TO PEOPLE.
WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES TO UNDERSTAND THEIR POINT OF VIEW.
SU SANNI, 2022 AD

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Aero Half Zip

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Forma Blazer

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Vanta Pant

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