Welcome to November!
Our Young Persons of the Month are the Nwaogu twin brothers! Chidi and Chika Nwaogu are Nigerian Serial Internet entrepreneurs and computer programmers. Since the age of 19, the Nwaogu twin brothers have founded, grown and sold two startup companies. Presently, they are the founders of Publiseer, described by Konbini as ‘one of the largest independent digital publishers in Africa.’ Chidi and Chika were the keynote speakers at the 2012 IT Leaders West Africa Summit where they spoke on the role of social media and mobile in developing countries. The Nwaogu twins have been featured extensively in the media for their contributions in ICT in Nigeria.
Read their story below and be inspired!
CHIDI AND CHIKA NWAOGU
Chidi and Chika Nwaogu are identical twin brothers, self-taught computer programmers and serial internet entrepreneurs. Together, they have founded, grown and sold two startup companies namely Ladies and Gentlemen book, popularly known as LAGbook, and PRAYHoUSe, an online Christian prayer utility. They are presently the founders of Publiseer, which was described by Konbini as ‘one of the largest independent digital publishers in Africa’. Publiseer is a digital publishing platform which lets independent African authors and recording artists to publish and monetize their eBooks, audiobooks, songs and music videos across hundreds of well–established digital platforms worldwide, at no charge, with a click. The digital platform allows authors and artists to monitor their performance across all the platforms in one place which is a centralized dashboard in Publiseer, and it allows users to receive royalties across all platforms via Publiseer.
On How They Began
For every startup the Nwaogu brothers founded, they say they were inspired by several factors and persons. Their first Startup, LAGbook, began as a social network for students at their university, the University of Lagos. The social network grew quickly from zero to 30,000 registered students and alumni within three months from inception. With this rapid growth, they expanded and grew to one million registered members from over 100 countries. Founded on April 17, 2010, LAGbook was acquired in January 2013 by Canadian tech company Gulf Pearl Ltd.
Their second startup company was PRAYHoUSe, an online Christian prayer utility. PRAYHoUSe garnered over 200,000 users within six months and was acquired in March 2014 by a Texan non-profit organization, Ten Doves Charity.
The inspiration to start Publiseer came after they encountered challenges in putting their creative works out there for the world to see. After selling their second startup company, Chika ventured into professional music while Chidi ventured into professional writing. Chika and Chidi recorded a music and wrote a book respectively. After this, their search for a book publisher and record label began. Months down the line, they were successful with their endeavors, and this was when the inspiration to start Publiseer came around. Independently, they started as separate startup companies. Chidi began an online book publishing platform while Chika started an online music distribution platform. They then decided to fuse these two into one unique company which would cater for both the needs of independent African authors and recording artists who don’t have money to publish their creative works, typically, those from low-income communities.
Since Chidi and Chika Nwaogu began their internet entrepreneurship career in 2009, they have achieved a number of successes. When they were 22, they were invited to give a keynote speech at the 2012 IT Leaders West Africa Summit on the role of social media and mobile in developing nations.
Apart from growing and selling two startup companies, they have made several strides with their current startup, Publiseer. For example, Publiseer was inducted into the international Publishing Distribution Association, an international organization of companies active in print and digital media, and thus becoming the first African publishing company to join the organization. They emerged as a finalist for the 4th AppsAfrica Innovation Awards under the category of Media and Entertainment.
They were also selected to join Google Ally, an exclusive Google platform that virtually connects promising, tech-enabled, emerging market startups with the “Diaspora+” to close expertise and funding gaps. Publiseer was also one of the startups awarded the ‘Most Needed in the Region’ award by the African Entrepreneurship Award and Union Bank’s Top 100 SMEs Award. They were also selected as one of the startups to compete at the Startup Istanbul Challenge 2018 in Turkey. Taking part in UCT’s Venture Incubation Program and emerging a finalist at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition are also their other successes.
Their greatest challenge as a company is copyright and piracy, which also remains one of Africa’s largest problems. To tackle this barrier, they immediately get in touch with the author or artist in their catalog whenever they see their book or song being sold by a different merchant to verify if the copyright owners are aware. If it happens to be illegal, they take legal action against such merchant. Publiseer doesn’t take away publishing rights of their authors and artists. They can, therefore, republish and redistribute their creative works elsewhere without Publiseer’s permission or help.
Presently, Chidi is in Accra, Ghana, while Chika is in Nairobi, Kenya, where they are working on expanding their markets into these countries. They will subsequently expand into South Africa by early 2019. Apart from their expansion plans, they intend to launch “Publiseer for Filmmakers”. This will add filmmakers into the loop. Within the next five years, they want to be the number one go-to utility when it comes to digital content distribution for African creatives.
Their Words of Advice to the Youth
If you are trying to solve a problem in your community, do not do it for financial gain. Do it because it’s good and because you know you are positively impacting the lives of others. Be passionate about what you are doing. Strive to achieve excellence and the reward will come in little or no time.
Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. O! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!
Don’t miss any updates in the future.