Ade Olufeko’s personality may best be described as both Zen and reclusive. The former finds him offering wisdom and insights on technology and emerging economies at keynote invitations and public lectures. The latter finds him running away from that same limelight.
He is an American born multidisciplinary technologist and entrepreneur who is currently between Lagos and New York. He has been sought by numerous startups, mentorship programs, non-profits, multinationals and even business competitors for his global expertise and innovative lens on contemporary issues. He grounds this lens in the deeply rooted compassion and stoic pragmatism common to cultures in sub-Saharan Africa, including his.
Olufeko’s traceable ancestry originates from the royal class in the Ijebu kingdom in what is now known as Nigeria, a country that negotiated its independence from the British Empire in 1960. He spent his formative years in Lagos, a cultural, social and economic melting pot in southwestern Nigeria.
His entrepreneurial path was catalyzed during his time navigating the fields of technology and graphic design in the corporate world. Beside winning a prestigious award for IBM during this period, he also worked on teams that include – Deutsch Inc and WebMD in West Village New York, Wunderman DC (Formerly RTC) in Georgetown, Target Headquarters on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. He later became a quality software tester for Shavlik Technologies followed by Adobe Systems. He also had stints with PayPal Inc, Constellation Energy in Baltimore and JPMorgan on Wall Street.
In a chapter release from his forthcoming manuscript, he is cited saying; “it was many drives in 2008 from Hollis Queens to Garden City Long Island where I worked with Sony Music – Bertelsmann’s Direct”. The rich intersections inherent in his career sparked an opportunity to cross pollinate ideas, and then develop and solidify emerging concepts from parallel industries.
As if aware that his father, Prince Ade Abayomi Sr. had named Olufeko “Epiphany”, his current path came as simply and clearly as an epiphany. He attributes this satori moment to the cold Minneapolis winter of 2006, in which he founded Visual Collaborative, a platform for humanities and innovation.
The latest of his contributions to global discourse to be made publicly available is his collection of digital paintings and empirically grounded visual data. New comers and budding economists will have the opportunity to tap into these works in a forthcoming undisclosed exhibition slated for the autumn of 2018 or Quarter 1 of 2019.
A stranger walking by reading about Olufeko’s work might wonder about the practical and economic feasibility of intersecting technology and the arts. But the answer to this question is only superficially elusive– all they need do is place their hands into their pockets, pull out their smart phones and see this confluence at play.
Observing locations and communities for exhibits has always been an important part of Olufeko’s fieldwork. In 2011, he held an exhibition in collaboration with Gloria Chen at multiple locations in Queens borough of New York City. The exhibition was a study on the cognitive faculty of human beings and the way we interpret colors and shapes in real time. Despite lasting for only one month, it captured the interest of hundreds who came to view it.
During the exhibition, ten to twelve pieces including the famous “Philosophers Legacy “(2017) which debuted inside Sungbo’s Eredo, the largest rampart in pre-colonial Africa, as well as the newly mastered mixed-media painting “Remember to Rise – Black Dreams” (2018) will be exhibited. The public will have the rare opportunity to experience Olufeko’s mastery of the creative process.
As the 2020-decade approaches, the Visual Collaborative platform and its valuation is attractive and could be purchased or merged into a formidable platform by industry stakeholders for result-oriented collaborations. In Africa where it will be rebranded as “ta wa ni” it will encompass research on the social dynamics of innovators, artists and ecosystem architects and their patrons. It will also address cultural and economic barriers to entry, thus demystifying and stimulating paths of brain gain across the continent.
10 years, 2 continents, 20 cities and over 150 artists in curated pop-up exhibitions later, Olufeko remains relentless. He recently served as chair and moderator of the socio-cultural panel at the 2018 London Business School’s African Business Summit, on the topic of scaling for impact which also featured Ozwald Boateng OBE, Banky W. Rikki Stein and Michael Ugwu.
Olufeko is an autodidact and a provocateur with a driving vision for mindful progress. His strong support system which include his wife, his mother, business advisors and an international legal team ground him and hold him accountable to his responsibility for creating social and cultural impact. He will be making his commercial art debut on the African continent in the following countries in the future; Nigeria, Cairo, Ghana, Namibia, Ethiopia, Senegal and Bostwana.
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