Sharp Guy Q&A - Will Adoasi, Vitae London

Business today is no longer about just making money. Employees and customers today demand the organisations they do business with to be committed to 'making a difference".

Will Adoasi is a social entrepreneur and founder of Vitae London, an ethical watch brand that offers fashionable, quality watches at affordable prices. Within the company’s DNA is the desire to advance social justice and help children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Will believes that businesses should contribute to a better world and helping people in need and has built his business around this ethos.

We sat down with Will to talk about Vitae London, being endorsed by Richard Branson and what drove him to put social justice at the core of his business.

What inspired you to start Vitae London? 

The two things that inspired me to start Vitae London were my love for Watches I could never afford and my Father's story. With my love for expensive watches, I realised the classic watches I dreamt of acquiring were pretty unattainable for me so I thought there must be many other people like me who want a durable and simplistic watch at an affordable price point. Also, my Father grew up in Ghana (West Africa) and was the first in my lineage to learn to read and write so I've always been inspired by how that broke the cycle of poverty in our life and how we can do that for others. Vitae is Latin for life and we're the fashion brand changing lives so with each watch we sell, we help support a child through education in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Before Vitae London, what did you do?

I started my first business when I was 19 - a multi-award-winning Sports Academy. Then I worked in the City as a senior Insurance broker and recruitment consultant. I learnt so much from these experiences which have helped fuel Vitae's rapid growth.

You've been endorsed by Richard Branson. How did that happen and how has that helped your business?

Out of 10,000 businesses I was chosen as 1 of 1,000 to partake in Virgin Start-Up and then out of these businesses I was chosen as 1 of 2 people to receive one on one mentoring with Richard Branson. In front of a live audience he purchased a Vitae watch and gifted me with his watch, which was an incredible experience. His endorsement has definitely helped us open doors and scale the business in a faster way.

Social justice is a big part of Vitae London. What inspired you to do this?

My father's story as well as the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where poverty has increased in the past 25 years really inspire me. Sub-Saharan Africa is also the region in the world with the lowest attendance in primary school education. I know that education is the key to making the difference and I'm determined to use my passions (in this instance, watches) to deliver the change I want to see.

What has been the biggest challenge with getting Vitae London off the ground?

The biggest challenge has definitely been finance and having enough resources to initially get the traction we desired. In the midst of the lack however I feel I learnt a lot which has meant that operations are much better now that we've raised money. I always encourage entrepreneurs to do the best they can with the little they have which makes it even easier to raise finance in the future and manage it well.

What has been the highlight of the journey so far?

The highlight for me has been seeing the lives we've been able to impact from me just having an idea in my head. One story that always comes to mind is a girl called Lihle from Port Elizabeth in South Africa. She was orphaned at a young age and was out of school for months as she couldn't afford school uniform. We stepped in to assist her and now she's a thriving student I've had the pleasure of meeting on multiple occasions, this gives us such a great drive to persevere. 

If you could have one famous person wearing your watch, who would it be and why

We've already had some incredible people like Richard Branson and Ava DuVernay but the one person I would also love to see wearing our watches is Oprah. I'm so inspired by her journey and having her as an ambassador would be mind blowing.

What does the future hold for Vitae London? Any other collections or collaborations in the works?

We're simply seeking to take what we've built to a global level. We're also looking into product diversification and expansion - we can't go into all the full details but jewellery is definitely high on the agenda.

Any advice for young entrepreneurs?

My advice to all young entrepreneurs is to start small. I feel so many young people are intimidated by their dreams to the point that they end up doing nothing but if you can start small, get feedback and then improve - over time you can build towards that goals that at one point seemed impossible.

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