While men get detty in December, Ifedapo Olarewaju does the grunk work of building nifty tools. Workers are usually given a break in December for the Yuletide. And in Nigeria, the 12th month is laden with parties, concerts and events to unwind. But for Ifedapo, December is a time to work on personal projects.
One of such projects is IG:dm—Instagram direct messages on desktop, which became the de facto Instagram messenger on desktop and a source of passive income for Ifedapo.
I was introduced to IGdm last year. On my commute sometime in 2019, I was listening to an episode of the Social Media Examiner podcast where Michael Stelzner mentioned some mobile and desktop tools for marketers. One of the tools he mentioned was IGdm. I didn't know it was my countryman that built the app until LykDatApp surfaced on my timeline on Twitter recently and I discovered the gem called Ifedapo.
Until recently, Instagram direct message (DM) feature was only available on its mobile app. While this was not a problem for most users, it was a big challenge for social media managers, marketers and social sellers who prefer to use computer for work (because using a phone can be distracting).
Direct message was introduced on Instagram in 2013. Three years later, while using the feature to chat with a friend, Ifedapo wasn't satisfied with how it worked. So, as a developer with over four years of experience in 2016, he began to think of how to make Instagram DM better.
In 2016, Instagram DM was not as good as it is today. So, I thought I could improve the user experience. Since I had some free time [December holiday], I decided to work on it. I started doing some research. But down the line, realizing that it was not available on the web, I just decided to create that [IGdm] instead.
IGdm was launched in the first quarter of 2017. After some months, Ifedapo decided to tell the world about his new creation. He did this by answering two questions on Quora, "How can I text on Instagram on a computer/laptop?" and "How do I view the DMs on Instagram from a computer?" The response of Ifedapo to both questions, with a link to IGdm, has over 40,000 views.
"That was the only marketing or publicity that I did. The app is open source, so people stumble on it and contribute to it," Ifedapo told me when I visited him in his haven.
The application, which has now gone through 31 iterations, got a paid tier (IGdm Pro) last year. Ifedapo said: "I was receiving feature requests and suggestions from users and some of them even told me they were ready to pay me to add the features. So, in December 2018 [another holiday], I decided to add new features to it and by early 2019 it was live."
The pro version of IGdm cost €10 (₦3,991). "In December 2019 alone, more than 50 people bought the pro license and in a day, the free version is downloaded more than 16,000 times. I've even stopped counting now," jolly Ifedapo said.
All the while, Ifedapo and his partner, Solomon Omojola (a software developer at booking.com) who lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands, were bouncing ideas off each other. Their brainstorming sessions birthed LykDatApp.
"Before LykDatApp, Solomon and I have worked on many projects. While in the university [Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta], we worked on a school management system," Ifedapo recounted. "But it failed. This was in 2012. We didn't know much then and I don't think we were ready."
Sometime in 2018, Solomon and I started working on another idea. An e-commerce platform for Nigerian fashion designers and clothings. We called it 'Billimoda'.
The idea behind Billimoda was to create a platform that aggregates influential and excellent fashion designers in Nigeria and their products. But it didn't get off the ground. "Some of the issues we identified were the need for logistics and lack of funding," Ifedapo said. "It was from there that we pivoted to LykDatApp."
First launched on the web and Instagram in 2019, LykDat helps users to find fashion items they like online through image search. "We know Google image search kind of address this problem, but LykDat is optimized for fashion products. You just need to mention it under a tweet or Instagram post with the clothings you like and it responds with a search result of the stores where you can buy the items, their prices and similar items," Ifedapo explained.
Unlike IGdm, which is an open source project, LykDatApp is closed source and managed only by Ifedapo and Solomon.
Our goal is to make LykDatApp the go-to tool for any fashion item search. The monetization model we currently use is affliate link, but the number of sales completed are not high enough for it to be significant yet. We're working with our teammates, Stav and Eirini, who are business developers to work out something better.
Aside: Other thoughts shared by Ifedapo Olarewaju
There were a lot digressions and segues during our conversation. These are some them that were on record.
Have you always wanted to be a software engineer?
Not really. I was a dancer in the university. But I don't know many dancers with the kind of money I want. And I'm not sure if the game has changed.
Ah! What about Kaffy and Poco Lee?
Poco Lee just became popular. When I was in Uni, Kaffy was behind P-Square. I wanted P-Square kind of money but I can't sing. So I stopped dancing as soon as I was done with the University.
I also wanted to be a filmmaker but Nollywood wasn't making sense then. The idea I had was to go and study filmmaking abroad but the opportunities were not forthcoming. So, coding just happened to be the most lucrative among the things I tried then. And since I studied Computer Science, I just decided to continue.
What's your favorite programming language?
Python. I love Python because it's the easiest for me to run back to after working with other programming language.
What's your favorite pastime?
There is no enough time to even pastime because we need to hustle and make money.
It's important to secure the bag
Exactly. I bought a keyboard to learn how to play but these days we only stare at each other. I like watching movies though. I even go to the cinemas to check out Nollywood movies. And I love to travel too.
Would you ever stop coding?
Oh, yeah. My plan is to have like three careers in my lifetime. So, I really do want to become a filmmaker someday.
A filmmaker like Tyler Perry or Kunle Afolayan?
More like Quentin Tarantino.