Interview with Temitope Benson, founder of Nigerian event website Ojuagbo.com
Last week, we were delighted when Temitope Benson, founder of Nigerian event website Ojuagbo.com reached out to share his entrepreneurial story. He started Ojuagbo only months ago – in December 2013 – but the site has already seen solid traction. Hopefully other readers can be encouraged by his success!
Both of my parents are entrepreneurs and at an early age I have had to work with them during my school holidays. I did everything, sales boy, assistant, managed employees etc. It wasn’t something I liked to do back then but my parents will always want you to know how they make the money you spend. My mum will say “You see, that is what I go through to give you that money you asked for”. The turning point for me was in my darkest hours, I found my first business idea. I had just been asked to withdraw from school because of my grades and I was at home for awhile.
I was sitting at a restaurant one afternoon when a guy walked in and sold an iPod nano to another guy at a very cheap price. I overheard them talking and I was shocked “What, iPod nano for that price” I immediately asked the guy where he got it and he told me fairly. I made further inquiries and knew for a fact the information was true. I imagined how happy university students will feel if they could get one, gadgets like Palmtop, iPods were trending in those days but quite expensive.
I hurried home, developed a marketing plan and worked on our own pricing. I recruited my team which included Deoye, Tola and me. Deoye was the contact guy, he will call up his friends and course mates telling them about our products, Tola handled advertisement, he pasted printed banners we designed on the computer around the neighborhood while I was the guy who handles delivery of product to the clients. We just enjoyed doing it we didn’t see it like we were in business we just did it anyways.
What are your goals with the site?
Today’s media sector is having a challenge, TV/Radio and Print are having huge problems in content sharing and content preservation regards to events. A report stated that 3 billion naira (almost $20 million) is spent in Lagos alone on parties (Weddings, Birthdays, Funerals, Awards etc). For every event there are unique moments we will like to share with our families and friends. To do this most people use media platforms like TV or Magazines to share memorable moments with other people.
The challenge about these methods are:
- Power to Share: The limitation of a TV broadcast is the timing, it’s very impossible to get all your family members or friends at a particular place and time to watch the broadcast. Some of them will miss it, to rebroadcast will cost you more. Prints cannot be distributed to everyone, distribution network to reach family members far away will become a problem. The power to share your content with your network is as important as the content itself. Not even TV or Print can achieve this.
- Content Security: Deciding who can and cannot view your event content.
- Content Preservation: How long can I have my content stored? Will it be available anytime I want? Will I be able to show my grandchildren this photos or videos? TV and Prints cannot answer these questions for you.
I saw these problems and I immediately knew a solution has to be created. Ojuagbo was born to solve these issues. Ojuagbo.com is the new element in modern media that can help you share event contents and preserve them for a longer period of time than any other media platform.
What was the hardest part of starting the site?
Getting the concept right was the hardest part. Ideas don’t always open up fully in the beginning; it leads to one new discovery or the other. I had to really channel what we will be doing to focus on problem solving; I had to define what Ojuagbo as a brand will stand for. Financing has been a challenge but not as much as developing the business model of the company.
As a company, we are so confident of where we will be in the next 300 years. Just like Facebook connects family and friends together, Ojuagbo helps family and friends share memorable moments together. There will always be something you want to share, something that means a lot to you. Your wedding photos, your sons 1st birthday, your college graduation. To view these events 20 years later will worth more than a thousand words.
What advice do you have to others interested in starting an online business?
Focus on problem solving rather than competition. A lot of internet entrepreneur have no unique reason why they are doing what they do now. They just look and see someone doing so well with a Job Portal, so they rush to develop one to launch. Most of them are driven by financial gains, I am not judging anyone. I use to think like that before; I look around and say “Oh, I can do it better than that guy. I will start that kind of website soon blah blah” .
Honestly it never really works out that way. You have to genuinely believe in what you are doing, you have to sleep it, breathe it, bath in it. It will keep opening it new sides to you every passing day, which will always keep you ahead of competition.
How has the community reacted to the site?
So far, we are still in our beta phase. I am currently the only full time employee working for Ojuagbo.com and the workload has been challenging. What was important for me in the beginning was to see if the idea would fit in, to experiment and the results are convincing.
Between 22nd Dec 2013 and now, our video database has grown to 18,000 – arguably the largest in Nigeria making Ojuagbo.com the Largest Video Event Website in Nigeria or maybe Africa (I am not sure). The Alexa ranking reduced from 15 million to 1.2 million with 84% of our traffic coming from Nigeria via mobile. Startup Ranking rated Ojuagbo.com 56th best startup company in Nigeria. I also got an interview with one of Nigeria’s top newspapers ThisDay. Neither marketing budget nor any form of ads marketing has been done to create awareness; the website just grew from Tweets on our Twitter page.
Now as a company, we are ready for the next phase. Opening our website to the world, creating a community within our website. Allowing users register and upload event contents themselves via their profile pages.
What are your views on local Nigerian/African content vs. international (ie. how to make your site a destination instead of YouTube)?
I am glad you asked this question. Gathering content was a major challenge especially for a defined market niche like ours. Finding local Nigerian/African content wasn’t that easy, even if we did so many issues will erupt up like conflict over copyright issues. Recently, a famous Nigerian comedian “BOVI” took to twitter to attack Ojuagbo, over a celebrity channel we created for his videos on our website. Truthfully, we didn’t breach copyright law at all, videos were embedded from Youtube and have referenced to him in all ways. We wanted to help his fans visiting our website find and enjoy “BOVI’s” stage performances. He criticized us for making him more popular.. Lol
That just goes a long way to show you the reaction of content owners in Nigeria or Africa. Using international content are quite easier, you can only get issues when you don’t reference the owners.
Ojuagbo as a destination to Youtube for now can fly but we will not hang in there for long. As a startup, one of our major challenges has been funding. Having our own storage servers for videos will help reduce 3rd party videos on Ojuagbo.com. We want to get to a point where we will have unique contents that other websites can embed into their CMS. The vision is helping people share memorable moments and preserving these moments for a longer period of time.