Chidi Nwaogu is a serial Internet entrepreneur, software developer, Westerwelle Fellow 2019, Yunus & Youth Global Fellow 2019, Halcyon Incubator Fellow 2019, African Young Leaders Fellow 2019, SensX Fellow 2017, two-time recipient of OD Young Person of the Month, winner of Startup World Cup Nigeria Regional Competition 2019, first place winner of OD Impact Challenge 2018.
Chidi speaks with CrossRoads Africa about his career journey with his twins’ brother and how they have helped over 2,000 African creators earn over $100,000 in revenue since August 2017. He also talks about his next plan in his career and how he got most of his fellowship.
He advised those looking up to him and the startups to work more and work smart and never should they give up on their pursuits.
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Tell us about yourself?
I’m Chidi Nwaogu, a serial Internet entrepreneur, software developer, Westerwelle Fellow 2019, Yunus & Youth Global Fellow 2019, Halcyon Incubator Fellow 2019, African Young Leaders Fellow 2019, SensX Fellow 2017, two-time recipient of OD Young Person of the Month, winner of Startup World Cup Nigeria Regional Competition 2019, first place winner of OD Impact Challenge 2018.
I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 16 years old with the creation of 9ja Boi Interactive, a video game development company. Today, I’m the Co-founder and CEO of Publiseer, a for-profit social venture for independent African Creatives from low-income communities, described by Konbini as “one of the largest digital publishers in Africa”, identified by IFC as one of the startups “that could speed up innovation in Africa”, and listed by ModernGhana as one of the “10 African Innovations”.
Share with us your experience on how you get to where you are right now and your next plan about yourself and your career.
After selling our second startup, my twin and I took a break from Internet entrepreneurship to pursue other dreams. I wrote a novel and he recorded an album. He heard of a music aggregator in the US and distributed his album with them. Within a month, he had huge sales. Unfortunately, they pay royalties via PayPal, and in Nigeria, and many African countries, we can’t receive money via PayPal. He had to go for cheque payment. After 2 months, the cheque never arrived. Upon investigation by the aggregator, it was discovered that someone in Norway used a fake ID to take the money, and my twin was devastated. About a year later, Chika said to me, “Let’s solve this problem for African authors and musicians like ourselves” and Publiseer was born.
At the moment, we’re working hard to improve our product and to scale our impact across Africa. We will be launching ‘Publiseer Pro’ in a bid to retain and grow with our most successful creatives. Typically, when creatives sign up to our platform, their contents are non-exclusive to us. This means that they can sell their contents elsewhere if they want to, i.e. they get to keep all the distribution rights to their content. However, we intend to discover and sign African creatives whose content we strongly believe in or those whose content is selling faster than other creatives. When we sign such creatives, we go into an exclusive contract for a minimum of two years, and we work closely with them to promote and launch their careers. They get to move over to ‘Publiseer Pro’, which discovers, signs and builds rising African talents. In a nutshell, when we find a creative we believe in, we offer them an exclusive distribution deal, which includes strategic planning, marketing, financing, branding, and PR. This is focused on retaining our successful creatives.
What is your greatest accomplishment and would you like to stay there forever, if no why and if yes why?
My greatest accomplishment is helping others achieve their dream, and with Publiseer, I’ve helped over 2,200 African creators earn over $100,000 in revenue since August 2017.
Do you ask if I would like to stay there forever? No. I do not dwell on my successes. I achieve something great, I celebrate instantaneously, and immediately, I move on to the next goal. I’m always constantly asking myself, “What’s next?” “Yes, I did great, but that was yesterday. What can I do great today?” I don’t dwell on past glory. I move on.
What challenges are you currently facing in your organization?
Piracy. This is has been one of our greatest challenges. When we notice a different merchant selling a book, song or film in our catalogue, we contact our author, artist or filmmaker 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. Copyright Infringement. This is a big issue as sometimes some Creatives plagiarize works of others and submit it for publishing as theirs. To mitigate this, we always verify the originality of any work we want to publish. We have several tools we use for this, thanks to the great folks on the Ally team of Google. These tools have helped us ensure that the works we publish are free of plagiarism and are 100% original.
Describe your management and teamwork lifestyle.
At Publiseer, we believe the success of a business is built upon both the vision and hard work of the founders and most importantly, the effort put in by the entire team. The founders and their employees play a vital role in the foundation of a business. Everybody is needed to build a solid foundation, from the top managers of the business to the little ones, even the interns. Nobody is negligible. That’s the mentality we have in Publiseer, everybody matters in our growth, even our clients.
What kept you moving forward?
What I’ve learned from my years as an entrepreneur is that it’s better to know why than to know how, because the person who knows why is the person with the vision, and the person with the vision is the person who leads those who know how. As an entrepreneur, you have to constantly remind yourself why you started your business because it’s the only thing that will keep you going when everything seems to be working against you.
Have you ever have challenges with communication before, if yes, how do you improve yourself?
Yes, I’ve head challenges speaking before an audience. However, they say “practice makes perfect”, so in spite of my fear, I continued to speak publicly before large audiences, and eventually, it became a part of me.
As a team player, how do you adapt to a team quickly?
I’m a team player, and that’s why I’ve never been a single founder. I have always started tech startup companies with others or someone else. And I adapt quickly into a team by understanding that everyone has different temperaments, opinions, and beliefs, and it’s my job to respect everyone and that they hold dear to their heart. Being a good team player involved tolerance, patience, and sometimes, compromise.
How did you get yourself in those fellowships?
I told my story, on how I am helping thousands of creatives around Africa earn above the minimum wage, and live above the poverty line.
What experience do you have with those fellowships?
As the fellowships, I have enjoyed meeting, networking, sharing and learning from amazing entrepreneurs from around the world. In each fellowship, I’ve learned from other fellows and mentors. I’ve learned from their journey, their stories, their successes, their failures, their experiences, and their mistakes. I’ve received feedback about my startup company and endeavored to grow from the feedback received. I’ve also shared my experiences, learnings, mistakes, failures, and successes, with other fellows.
What did you like about those fellowships?
I love the diversity of each fellowship I’m part of. It’s amazing meeting and sharing with amazing entrepreneurs from all around the world in a single room.
What challenges did you face with those fellowships?
Sometimes, I had to apply twice before I got in. But it shows that if you work on yourself and try again, you could be successful the second time.
To gain international fellowship, what are the steps someone can take?
Solve a real problem that exists within your community or nation, and be passionate about what you’re doing. Fall in love with the problem you’re solving, and eventually, you’ll build something so amazing that international fellowships would want you to be a part of them.
How do you improve knowledge?
I improve my knowledge from my experiences and daily interactions with amazing and like-minded individuals like myself. They say “failure is a success when you learn from it”. so, the best way to succeed is by trying, failing, learning, and trying again.
What has been your biggest professional disappointment?
The sudden shut down of OyaFollow.me, a microblogging platform I co-founded with my twin brother. It was a microblogging community that allowed anyone to create a free account and follow their interests, while other users followed them in return. It was a very sophisticated tool, because it allowed users to share videos, photos, and music files along with their micro-updates, and allowed them to join groups. The network took off and attracted over 20,000 registered users within a short time.
How would you describe your work style?
Inspired, fun-filled, spontaneous, and daring.
Describe how you plan your week
I rely heavily on Google Calendar to plan my week. However, in between, I spontaneously finish some pending task.
What did you like and dislike about your job?
I love entrepreneurship. It brings me satisfaction. I love solving problems using technology and creating something extraordinary out of absolutely nothing or out of chaos. I love changing people’s lives with our tech solutions, and this is why I’m an entrepreneur. I can’t see a world where I’m not creating innovative tech businesses that aim to solve some of the world’s pressing problems.
How do you manage pressure?
I set goals, and I break them down into steps. I break them into tiny little steps. I don’t pressure myself to do something great in such little time. I believe in growth, and I let myself grow naturally and gradually. I don’t envy anyone. I just let people’s success inspire me to continue on my own path, timeline, and pace to success.
How do you share your knowledge with people?
I constantly share my knowledge every day on my social media pages, and also via webinars, summits, seminars, conferences, and mentoring sessions.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In five tears’ time, I see myself being one of the most successful social entrepreneurs in Africa, changing the perception the rest of the world has about Africa. And I will do this by helping thousands of African creators get discovered internationally, and simultaneously earning a living from their craft through Publiseer. I will change this narrative about my people.
Your advice to those who are looking up unto you
This may sound radical but it has always worked for me. “Dream like a beast, and chase your dream like a possessed demon. When you come across obstacles, crush them down, and if they prove difficult, bend around them. Make sure you’re always on the move.”
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