Chidi Nwaogu, has founded an innovative startup called Publiseer that will ultimately allow the millions of unpublished works of Nigerian authors and artistes to be published completely free.
This startup founder is a Nigerian physicist, computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur, who in the past has co-founded and sold two successful Internet companies. He relates that by age 19, he co-founded a social networking site called, LAGbook.com, (Ladies And Gentlemen book), which grew to 1 million plus registered members within three years. It later got acquired by the Canadian company, Gulf Pearl Ltd. and also got “featured on TechCrunch for garnering 30,000 new members during its first six months, and on African Business Review for signing an eight-week advertising deal with BlackBerry.” says Chidi Nwaogu. He went on to co-found PRAYHoUSe, a Christian prayer directory of more than 10,000 prayers from the Scripture. PRAYHoUSe which also organically raked in over 200,000 Facebook followership in less than six months and PRAYHoUSe was later acquired by an American non-profit organization, Ten Doves Charity.
Having launched on August 4th, 2017, Chidi Nwaogu, was excited to tell us about the next big tech thing coming out of Nigeria in this short interview.
Bring us closer to the fundamental problem in Nigeria that Publiseer is addressing.
Western companies like BookBaby and CDBaby, both sister companies, among other digital publishers, publish books and music by charging authors and artistes an extortionate publishing fee. Many of these authors spend so much on publishing their work that they run out of money, and are unable to promote or market their books or album. This is where Publiseer comes into the big picture and into full effect. We are the digital publishing company for the third world. When you think of free and quality digital publishing, think Publiseer. Many young and budding authors and artistes in Nigeria live on a dollar per day, just as in any third world nation, and thus cannot afford to publish their works by paying for the publishing process.
As a result of this, these works remain unpublished for years. Most of these works are breathtaking and many of these authors and artistes are exceptionally talented, but their talent is put to waste because they don’t have the money to pay for publishing. That’s what Publiseer was created to do. We were created to publish these beautiful works for free. We don’t want our talents in Nigeria to waste away, and this happens when their works lay around with them for years, undiscovered.
Our mission is to sell the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world, and to promote the beautiful Nigerian culture through written words (books) and spoken words (music). Publiseer wants to give undiscovered authors, their first step towards their success. With us, they don’t have to worry about publishing, because we take care of that. All they need to worry about is getting their work marketed. And the beautiful part of it all is that they never lose money marketing their work because we make sure that their work is everywhere for everyone who is interested in it, to purchase a copy.
With authors and musicians already having opportunity to publish on other major platforms, what different do you bring on board?
Aside from the fact that publishing with Publiseer is free, a beautiful part of our platform is that we offer more than free publishing. We help our authors and artistes craft their raw work into a beautiful and professional masterpiece. With Publiseer, they get a professional book/album cover. They also get a unique ISBN/UPC number assigned to their book/album. We’ll copy-edit and format their book and convert it into an EPUB/MOBI file for easy global distribution. For music, we’ll remaster their songs and convert it into a FLAC/WAV file for easy worldwide distribution.
Some of the bookstores we publish our books on include Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play Books, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, Playster and OverDrive. While some of the music stores we publish our albums/Eps on include Amazon, Spotify, Google Play Music, Apple iTunes, Deezer, Shazam, Claromusica and Tidal.
Our authors and artistes get to keep their publishing rights. This means that they can republish their work elsewhere, worry free. We also them email alerts of book and music competitions and festivals taken place soon, from around the world, giving them the exposure activities they need.
Take the opportunity to tell authors and musicians some of the benefits of publishing on your platform.
They get a free, beautiful and professional book/album cover whenever they publish with us. We include them in our monthly press release that is sent to hundreds of media outlets worldwide. We craft distinctive marketing components for their work that will establish a unique brand for them and help them to attract new fans.
We’ll match the price of their work with the price of popular releases in their genre, so they can stand a chance to compete on a global level. We send them email notifications each time a unit of their work is sold. We also copy-edit their book for spelling and grammatical errors, and remaster their songs to optimize their sound across all systems and media formats. And the beautiful part of everything is that they get all these for free.
How did you determine there was market for your type of business?
I realized that I knew a lot of unpublished writers and singers. In fact, the number was running into a hundred. It’s either they’ve spent months, or possibly years, writing a book, and now they cannot get it published because most publishers are seeking manuscripts from already established authors or because they needed to pay money to get their books published. Eventually, they lose faith in themselves and the big dream dies. That was when the idea for Publiseer came about: “Why don’t I build a free book publishing platform tailored to meet the growing needs of independent Nigerian writers?” and I thought adding music to the platform would make everything more fun.
As your publications are ‘absolutely free’, what then is your business model?
We don’t give the works of our authors and artistes for free. Rather, I would say, our publishing service is free. As a result, we make money from the sale of the books and albums we publish, like every other traditional publishing company does. We have faith in the books and albums we publish. We want to promote the creativity of Nigerians to the rest of the world. That’s in fact our core mission. We believe the books and albums we publish are creative and beautiful, and they are worth every penny spent on them by both us and the fans of our artistes and authors who buy them.
As it seems, Publiseer will need some financial muscle in delivering all that you promise content owners, how will you pitch your business to a potential investor?
Most big names in technology started off by offering free services, with no means of monetization. It was after they grew, they decided to monetize their number. At Publiseer, we are taking the similar path of early sacrifice. We intend to publish our authors and artistes for free, and that will never change, but there will come a time when the submission volume will be outrageous and over the top. This is when monetization can come in. Authors and artistes will have to pay to skip the long queue of submissions in order to get their works published immediately, else, they have to wait until it gets to their turn to be published.
Authors and artistes who are patient, will still get the free publishing offer, while those who want it immediately without waiting their turn, can boycott the long queue straight to the front, and get their work published for a certain one-time fee. At the moment, we receive about five submissions every day, and that is small enough to be published immediately without any delays.
What are the strengths of your team members and how did you put the team together?
At the moment, we are three-person team. Ose, Dapo, and I. Ose is a friend back in my university days. Dapo is a new friend who has grown to be a brother. They are talented and skillful, and they are people I can trust and work with. I select the people I keep close to me because they have a great influence on my productivity.
At Publiseer, we call any place ‘office’, even our homes, because we work overtime, and during the weekends, publishing books and music, because we are passionate about what we do.
Though you launched only recently, what are the obstacles you’ve met and will possibly face?
After launching Publiseer, I discovered that we couldn’t solve all the challenges third world writers and singers face. I realized that some writers and musicians are interested in using our platform, but they even have enough money to go to a proper recording studio and produce a song. Some writers don’t have access to a computer to type their manuscript, and at the moment, we don’t accept handwritten or printed manuscripts.
Though we are solving the publishing problem by making publishing free, easy, and extensive, we understand that we cannot help those authors and artistes who are having problems in getting their thoughts into a recorded song or a typed manuscript. Although, it didn’t come as a surprise to me, because I live in a third world country with increasing hardship amongst its citizens. Sincerely, if I could sponsor as many of them as possible, I would gladly and wholeheartedly do so, but at the moment, funding is too limited and can only cover the publishing process.
What is your vision for Publiseer beyond your fifth anniversary?
We hope to be the first choice for digital publishing in Nigeria and possibly beyond.
Which African entrepreneur inspires you and what lessons you have learnt from them?
I’m inspired by the likes of Jason Njoku of Iroko Partners and Mark Essien of Hotels.ng. From them, I’ve learnt that nothing is impossible if you put your mind and heart to it.
Thank you Chidi!
What lessons have you picked from this inspiring African startup founder? Share your thoughts.
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Rahmon Ojukotola: StartCredits Hopes to Save Nigerians Billions of Naira
High interest rates on loans are a barrier to growth and economic prosperity, which is why StartCredits has developed an innovative way for Nigerians to borrow quick online loans without collateral on its loan market comparison platform.
It is the aim of this fin-tech startup to help Nigerians access finance and save money by comparing loan providers. Rahmon, the Director of StartCredits is strategically growing this company to be the preferred loan market for a number of online borrowers.
Rahmon Ojukotola currently sits on the advisory board to the Florida schools group and previously worked at the Bank of England and UBS. Our startup founder, is also a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Royal Economic Society.
With these credentials, he surely has what it takes to lead the competitive loan market. Let’s find out what Rahmon has brought into the market and his life as an entrepreneur.
How is StartCredits disrupting the traditional borrowing in Africa as you suggest?
StartCredits is disrupting traditional borrowing, as our product provides transparency and increases competition in the market to reduce interest rates for qualified borrowers. It also provides a new channel for Nigerians to borrow money.
From your enviable background why did you decide to leave all that to start a startup in Nigeria?
I worked in investment banking and central banking for a number of years and gained a finance MSc from the London School of Economics and chartered qualifications in accounting, investments, securities and finance. I decided to build a startup in Nigeria because there were opportunities and issues that needed tackling, and I thought I had the right skill set to do so. So I gave up a well paying job and decided to come back to try and build something that would hopefully contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria.
How unique are features of StartCredits?
We are the first and only business in Nigeria offering our services to all Nigerians who need loans. We have developed innovative proprietary risk models that accurately measure the borrowers probability of default. This improves our partner lenders’ ability to assess risk, and enables them to disperse more loans to qualified borrowers.
What has been the major achievement StartCredits has chalked since you commenced operation?
We have helped thousands of Nigerians to save millions of naira in interest rate so far and hope to save billions of naira in the coming years.
As much as people really need loans, Rahmon, what is your advice to stay out of debts?
My advice to Nigerians is to ensure you do not take out loans to fund lavish expenditures, loans should be used to finance good business plans. Also remember to budget for interest and other fees in any loans you do take, to stay out of debt. For more technical advice on debt management visit our website on http://startcredits.com
One of the notable features of your company is the stress on Data Science, how relevant is it?
Data science is at the heart of what we do at StartCredits. We utilise big data analytics to build innovative credits risk models, which help facilitate affordable lending to underserved qualified borrowers.
What great challenge are you facing in running your startup?
It’s pretty much to do with the adoption of the technology. Technology in general is all about finding the best ways to do things. In certain industries it’s easier to have the incumbents accept that, whereas in finance, people have become entrenched in how they do things. It’s highly profitable, so there’s more resistance to changing a winning formula. Finance is highly resistant to change, but people are slowly starting to adapt as you’re seeing with Blockchain technology, which I think has the potential to revolutionize the finance industry. The banks are slowly coming around, but are still highly resistant to change given the nature of the business. In Nigeria, it’s mostly trying to get the people to use the technology. People are highly suspicious of new technologies, so it’s a bit of a challenge
How do you foresee this industry going into the future?
The lending market in Nigeria will be one driven primarily by digital lending in the future, as it is more efficient. I also feel we will continue the cultural tradition of thrift lending (Ajo, Esusu), as it fosters community cohesion.
Tell us which African entrepreneurs inspire you and why.
I think all African entrepreneurs that have built successful business in the face of significant challenges deserve commendation. Saying that I find Ola Orekunrin’s work saving lives with flying doctors to be truly inspiring to all Nigerians and especially young girls. She is a role model who shows them if they study and work hard they can have a significant impact on the lives of many in Nigeria.
What financial advice can you share with fellow startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs across Africa?
My advice to entrepreneurs across Africa is to make sure that everything you’re doing is simultaneously helping you achieve your goals and make profits as well. Don’t leverage too much and try not to grow too fast. Also, make sure that what you’re doing is what people want. The whole point of doing business is addressing the needs of society. So make sure you do your extensive research, go out and meet people to listen to what they’re saying, and make sure you have the right skill set to execute your plan. Once all of that is in place, you’re good to go.
Thank you, Rahmon!
To find out more about loan rates and the company, kindly visit startcredits.com.
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