ELEVEN YEARS ago, at the age of 32, Chinedu Echeruo founded HopStop, a pedestrian navigation service that helps people get door-to-door directions or find nearby subway stations, bus stops, taxi service providers, and car rental places.
At the time, Nigerian-born Chinedu was a hedge fund manager and frustrated New York City resident lost in a vast bus and subway system and it was his desire to fix the dilemma of figuring out how to get from point A to point B using public transit led to his invention.
Launched in 2005, HopShop distinguished itself as a perennial innovator in the burgeoning location-based service market with not only its popular online and mobile websites, but also its industry-leading mobile applications for both iOS and Android, covering more than 300 cities throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom.
HopStop was sold to Apple Inc., for what some analysts estimate to be $1 billion (Chinedu is not at liberty to reveal details of the acquisition due to a non-disclosure agreement).
Apple’s acquisition of HopStop is believed to have helped bolster the hardware company’s software mapping tools.
As a child growing up in eastern Nigeria, Echeruo always wanted to be an entrepreneur.
He attended Kings College in Lagos and Syracuse University and Harvard Business School in the U.S.
After founding HopShop, he created Tripology.com (a lead-generation and travel referral business for the travel industry), for which he raised nearly $8 million from private investors.
In 2010, he sold Tripology.com to the travel and navigation information company Rand McNally for an undisclosed amount. Tripology is now owned by USA Today.
However, his advice to entrepreneurs is not to be seduced by the idea that you should create a startup with the express intent of selling it quickly.
“Focus in on the customer. Know what they need and how their needs are evolving over time. Adjust the product and make sure the customer is always happy,” he told Black Enterprise.