On the 16th of March, we hosted one of our bi-weekly AMAs on slack, our guest for this insightful session was a Techpreneur, Chidi Nwaogu.
Chidi Nwaogu is a serial Internet entrepreneur, computer programmer, Westerwelle Fellow 2019, Yunus&Youth Global Fellow 2019, SensX Fellow 2017, winner of Startup World Cup Nigeria Regional Competition 2019, and first place winner of OD Impact Challenge 2018. Nwaogu started his entrepreneurial journey when he was 16 with the creation of 9ja Boi Interactive, a video game development company. Today, Nwaogu is Co-founder and CEO of Publiseer, a digital publisher for African Creatives, described by Konbini as “one of the largest digital publishers in Africa” and identified by IFC as one of the startups “that could speed up innovation in Africa.”
What was the main motivation to starting a company at 16?
Well, for me, I have always been fascinated about how things are created more than how to use them. While playing video games with my peer, what always runs through my mind is "the process in which the game was created." So after graduating from high school, I decided to learn how to develop video games. Before this, I had already starting web design by learning HTML and CSS when I was 13. Within two weeks, I had learnt the basics of ifelse, dowhile, dountil, and a bunch of other statements. I had learnt about sprite and object oriented programming. And in the second month of learning to code, my twin brother and I created our first video game. This was when we decided to start a video game development company.
"Before this, I had already learnt web design" [correction]
How did you build your team?
My team was built gradually though. I started off with my twin brother, Chika. It was only logical since we have done this several times before. We've worked together since we were 16, and had co-founded, grown and sold two tech startups since 2009. My twin and I ran the startup together for a few months, before meeting an old university friend who was also a software developer. He liked what we were doing, and jumped on the wagon. Along the road, we met a blogger with a wide connection in the media ecosystem. He offered to handle our PR, and we jumped in. And that was how we grew until now.
What were the major challenges you faced while building your first two startups, and how did you overcome them?
The major challenges we faced was getting people to know about what we were offering and signing up. It was an easy task, so we had to develop an incentive for them around our offerings, which paid off in the long run.
For the social network we developed, people earned airtime for updating their status, adding new friends, and sharing multimedia like photos and videos. And when the airtime accrued reaches N100 threshold, they receive it into their phones. This made up grow by over 10,000 new signups every month.
What is your primary focus or in a better way what is your african dream?
My primary focus is to solve problems using technology. It is what gives me the most satisfaction in being a tech entrepreneur; the ability to create something extraordinary out of nothing and having that thing change people’s lives for the better.
In a country like Nigeria that there seem to be a different problems facing all entrepreneurs what has been the greatest challenge you have faced in this few years and how have you surpassed it?
Piracy: This is has been one of our greatest challenges at Publiseer. At the moment, we mitigate this by contacting our author, artist or filmmaker when we notice a different merchant selling a book, song or film in our catalogue, to verify if they are aware of this, and if they aren’t aware, we take legal actions against such merchant. The reason why we contact our Creatives first is that we don’t take away their publishing rights, which means they're free to republish their works elsewhere without our permission.
However, piracy seems to top our list of challenges.
How was it easy for you to figure monetisation model and do you still adjust it or you just want to keep scaling users(on the finished model)?
Copyright Infringement: This is a big issue as sometimes some Creatives plagiarize works of others and submit it to us for distribution as theirs. To mitigate this, we always verify the originality of any work we want to distribute. We have several tools we use for this, thanks to the great folks on the Ally team of Google. Their tools have helped us ensure that the works we distribute are free of plagiarism and are 100% original.
@RightSilicon.com when we started, we only had the 'freemium distribution' package because our target was independent creatives who don't have the money to distribute their works. And we monetize this package by taking 25% of the revenue generated when a unit of any work we distribute is sold.
However, we started receiving emails from record labels and book publishers seeking to keep all the revenue from sales, and that was when we introduced the 'premium distribution' package, which lets the right holders keep all the revenue generated from sales of their work by paying an upfront recurring distribution fee.
What is your motivation and what keeps you going.
I'm motivated by my reason "why". It's what keeps me going especially when things aren't working out as planned. When the rough gets rough and the situation is tough, I remember why I started in the first place, and it keeps me going. In my years as a tech entrepreneur, I have discovered that it's better to be the man who knows "why" than the man who knows "how", because the man who knows why something is being done is the man with the vision, and the man with the vision is the man who leads.
Thank you so much for this session @Chidi Nwaogu it was really amazing and eye opening.
Hope y'all have a great day ahead!
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