Publiseer: How we are Building the largest Digital Content Distribution Platform in Africa

Hi Chidi, what’s your background, and what are you currently working on?

I’m Chidi Nwaogu, a serial tech entrepreneur and software developer. I’m
Co-founder and CEO of Publiseer, a digital publisher for African Creatives,
described by Konbini as “one of the largest digital publishers in Africa”
and identified by IFC as one of the startups “that could speed up
innovation in Africa”.

I’ve been described as one of the “Young innovators making Africa great
in 2019″
and “50 Top Personalities on LinkedIn”.

For my works with Publiseer, I’ve won the Migration Entrepreneurship
Prize 2020
by the Swiss Government, the Africa 35.35 Award 2019 for
Entrepreneurship
,
the Young Leaders Award 2019 for Media and
Entertainment
,
and the Bizz Business Excellence Award 2019.

I’m an Acumen Fellow 2020 (West Africa), Westerwelle Fellow 2019
(Germany)
,
AfricanPLP Fellow 2019 (Cairo), and Yunus&Youth Global
Fellow 2019 (New York)
.

Chidi-Nwaogu
What motivated you to get started with Publiseer?

After exiting my second startup company through acquisition, my twin
and I took a break from tech entrepreneurship to pursue other dreams.
For me, I have always wanted to be a published author, and my twin
pursued a career as a recording artist. I wrote a novel titled ‘Odd Family
Out’, and my twin recorded a studio album titled ‘Higher’, and now it was
time to monetize our hard-work.

My twin heard of a music aggregator based in the United States and
decided to distribute his studio album with them. They requested an
album distribution fee of $99, and he paid immediately. After all, he just
sold his second startup company, but this isn’t the case for many
upcoming artists in Africa, who can’t afford such a distribution fee. He
started a social media campaign to raise awareness for his album, and
within a month, he had huge sales.

Now, it was time to receive his royalties, and that was where the problem
came in. The aggregator primarily pays royalties via PayPal, and in
Nigeria, and many African countries, we cannot receive money via PayPal, but can only send money, so that payment method was out of the
picture. So he had to fall back to the only payment method left and that
was cheque payment even though he knew it would take two weeks to
receive the cheque and another three weeks to get the money into his
bank account.

However, after two months, the cheque never arrived, so he reached out
to the aggregator to know ask what was causing the delay. That was
when he was told that he had taken the money. Upon investigation by
the aggregator, it was discovered that someone in Oslo, Norway, used a
fake ID to take his money, and my twin was heartbroken. He had to take
down his album from the aggregator and source for local means of
monetization.

About a year after, he said to me, “Chidi, a lot of independent African
musicians have gone through what I went through trying to monetize my
music internationally. And I think we should solve this problem for every
African creative out there; writers, musicians, and filmmakers; including
ourselves.” And that was when the idea for our third and current startup
company was born.

A digital content distribution platform tailored for the African creatives,
and in Q3 2017, we launched Publiseer, a digital content distribution
platform that lets independent African writers, musicians, and
filmmakers, typically from low-income communities to distribute,
promote, protect and monetize their creative works on over 400 well-
established digital platforms in 100 countries, at no charge, with just a
single click, and we share in the revenue generated from sales of these
works.

Our creatives receive their royalties via local bank payments, with no
payment charges, or via mobile money payment, which makes it easily
accessible; thus making monetization convenient and risk-free. Thanks to Publiseer

publiseer
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We attract and retain creatives on our platform (publiseer) because of its
uniqueness. We cover everything for the creatives, from start to finish.
We allow them to focus on doing what they love doing the most, and what they know how to do best, which is to create, while we handle the
tedious business of transforming their creativity into wealth for them.

For only a share in the revenue we generate for them, we give the artists
a platform to earn a living as full-time professionals. This helps our users
launch their careers easily as we don’t have a setup or upfront fee. We
fine-tune our clients’ creative works to industry-standard so they stand a
chance when competing on a global scale. Then, we distribute them to
over 400 well-established partner stores worldwide so they are easily
discovered.

We protect their works from illegal distribution and intellectual property
theft so they truly own their content. They can monitor their sales
performance across all our partner stores using our centralized
dashboard and receive their royalties via African-tailored payment
methods, such as to their local bank accounts or mobile money wallets,
which are convenient and risk-free.

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
  1. Revenue Sharing (25%): For independent creatives earning below the
    minimum wage and cannot afford to distribute their digital content with
    us by paying for the distribution fee, we distribute such content after
    review, for free, and when a unit of that work (book, audiobook, song,
    music video, and short or feature film) is sold, Publiseer takes 25% of the
    revenue generated from sales.
  2. Recurring Upfront Distribution Fee: Most large traditional book
    publishers, record labels and film production houses who want to sell
    their creative works online can do that with us by distributing it for a
    recurring upfront distribution fee, and when a unit of their work is sold,
    they get to keep 100% of the revenue generated from sales.
What are your business goals for the future?

We are working to build a larger distribution channel and a more tailored
promotional service for our creatives. We’re working towards being a full digital media platform for African creatives that handles everything,
including strategic planning, marketing, financing, branding, and PR.

digital-media-platform
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources for you?

“Blue Ocean Strategy” by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim. It
portrays the beauty of being proactive and thinking outside the box.

Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

Many African creatives use social media to promote their craft to
potential customers because it’s free and effective. So at Publiseer, we use social
media utilities like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to reach
out to African creatives who are looking for new avenues to distribute,
promote, and monetize their creative works.

We run several organic and paid media campaigns on social media
platforms, targeted towards those who are writers, musicians, or
filmmakers. So far, we have gotten most of our creatives to adopt the use
of our platform using social media utilities.

Also, we have been extensively covered by the media, mostly blogs, and
this is because we have maintained a very healthy relationship with
bloggers over the years and they often keep in touch with every new
milestone we reach, and they often report these milestones on their
blogs. Many creatives have found our platform via blogs.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?

Copyright Infringement. Sometimes, some Creatives plagiarize works of
others and upload it on Publiseer for publishing as theirs. To mitigate this, we always verify the originality of any work we publish.

We have several tools we use for this, thanks to the great folks on the Ally
team of Google working closely with us to achieve this. These tools have helped us ensure that the works we publish are free of plagiarism and are
100% original.

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

I won’t do things differently, because I believe all my mistakes, failures
and disappointments experienced along the way taught me a lot of
important life lessons and molded me into the entrepreneur that I am
today.

If I am to start all over again, I will make the same exact mistakes I made,
learn from them, fail again, learn from them, and eventually succeed with
all the lessons I have learned.

Have you had any failed business?

Yes, OyaFollow.me, which was a microblogging community much like
Twitter. It allowed anyone to create a free account and follow their
interests, while other users followed them in return.

It was a very sophisticated tool that allowed users to share videos,
photos, and music files along with their micro-updates, and allowed them
to join groups.

This was created in 2011 and was shut down in 2012 due to technical
reasons.

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

Please, listen to advice. It’s great that you’re passionate about your idea –
and sometimes, you need to ignore the naysayers to realize your dream.

However, some zealous entrepreneurs fall trap to dismissing any
constructive criticism or advice they receive, which can lead you to miss
the opportunity to address possible issues before they happen. Figure out
how to sort through truly negative comments and constructive criticism.

If someone is offering you genuine advice, consider stopping and listening
carefully. Impartial sources like potential customers, investors, lenders, or
mentors are more likely, to be honest with you than family and friends, so
pay particular attention to what they have to say and you can avoid
making some serious mistakes with your business.

RELATED: Behind the growth of Smuv, a creative and design agency

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Figure out that one thing you know how to do better than many people
you have come across. Now practice that one thing over and over again
until you become undoubtedly an expert at it. Now do that thing and get
people to pay you for doing it.

That’s how successful businesses are created out of our talents or
hobbies.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

A quick google search for “Chidi Nwaogu” is all you need.

about-Chidi-Nwaogu
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

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