Success has a lot of back stories that onlookers dont get to hear or read about. Some of the stories cant even be narrated by the subject. He or She can only summarize the pain; most often by the use of words like hard work and persistence. Jason has his ownsummarized in-between the line story too.
In between those words are moments of self-doubts, regrets and any other unpleasant things that comes to your mind right now.
Today profiling is about the successful Nigerian entrepreneur that defiled all odds, pushed hard and set pace for the coming generation. Hes not just an inventor of things; he invest in ideas as well.
Jason Chukwuma Njoku invented IrokoTV in 2010, it might interest you to know that he has started series of failed businesses before moving on to the idea of a Nollywood movie distribution company. The genius of Jasons idea isnt in the idea itself, its in the way he executed the idea.
Online movie distribution has been around for years before he launched IrokoTV. Netflix and Hulu is a pilot study to show that its an idea that can work if executed properly. Its very easy to give up on the idea of starting a movie distribution company targeting Nigerians or African for many reasons:
#1. Internet penetration was very poor in Nigeria as at 2010, its still on the average scale at the moment.
#2. Nigerians in Nigerians have access to pirated movies and really dont need a reason to pay for subscribed movie channels.
#3. If youre to build the business from ground up, it will take thousands or millions of dollars to build the needed infrastructure.
#4. Getting Nollywood movie producers to come on board is a somewhat hard task, considering various regulations and lack of a working system in the Nigerian entertainment industry
#5. The quality of movies being produced in Nollywood back then is not the best, and quite frankly, it would take a lot of effort to convince anybody to pay for it.
The list of possible reasons not to get started could go on and on, but despite all odds, Jason built a six-figure business.
For each of the mentioned reasons why IrokoTV could have died before her birth; id write briefly about the genius solution that Jason provided in forging ahead, turning his idea into a product that international venture capitalist gladly invested in.
Poor Internet Penetration:
The targeted audience are Nigerians, but not necessarily Nigerians living in Nigeria.
Jason discovered a content gap. Netflix and Hulu were serving foreign contents, and nobody is catering for Nigerians in the international market.
The first idea was to get this awesome Nollywood movies to Nigerians that knows about other online movie distribution services. These are Nigerians in diaspora with access to fast internet connection and wouldnt find it difficult to pay for online movies.
Once the platform became popular amidst Nigerians in diaspora, penetrating the local market became easier.
The entire entertainment industry still battle the issue of piracy; even Hollywood. The solution for Jasons idea here isnt far fetched, as a matter of fact, the problem itself provided an avenue for Jason to talk producers into allowing him to showcase their works on the internet. After all, the pirated version can be easily sourced in local market.
In solving this problem, that may potentially hinder the growth of Jasons startup, he targeted audience with limited access to pirated movies. Pirated version of top notch Hollywood movies are not readily available in US/UK foreign market.
Building the Business:
Building a movie streaming infrastructure would have costed Jason thousands of naira, and the probability of giving up along the way would have been very high. Considering that Jason and his partner are not developers (He studied Chemistry), it would have costed them lots of effort to scout for the right person for the job.
The genius employed in the growth of their business is superb, and its one of the main reason whyIrokoTVgrew from an idea to a successful company.
Jason leveraged on an already existing platform; YouTube.
He created a channel on YouTube (NollywoodLove), made a deal with YouTube and got copyright access for the movies they were streaming. That way, they wont have to bother about the delivering technology and other facilities needed to get the movies to end users. During those days; revenues were generated from YouTube ads.
PS:A little side note here. Ads should never be the main means of monetization for startups. Creating a viable product is the way to go. Jason and his team changed strategy once they were able to raise enough capital needed to get things going.
The idea behind the entire profiling is to look deeply into the growth process of successful businesses in Africa market. Looking deeply into the possible obstacle and how it was tackled would go a long way in giving readers ideas on how to combat obstacles that come along their way as they strive to develop their own business.
As a plus; I would like to talk briefly about the article that changed the game for Jason and his partners.
In 2011, an article was published onTechCrunch about Nollywood, and the writer (Sarah Lacy) chronicled her journey to Alaba market and the whole developmental progress of Nollywood. Jason took Sarah through Alaba, as he met with movie producers and key players in the entertainment niche.
The publication of the article on TechCrunch lead to the first seed fund for Jasons company.
Relationship is very important when it comes to building and growing a business.
Over six years later, IrokoTv now has a sister company ROK 344, as well as several other investment in Nigeria start-up community.