My Favourite websites right now and why you should check them out

Ayenithegreat.ng

It was the New York Times obituary of Elie Wiesel that got me thinking, last week, about the importance of that one final piece of writing that seeks to sum up a person’s entire life and essence.

I read a lot of NYT obituaries (well, I read a lot of NYT!) and was thinking aloud on Twitter, about how one should hope to live long, and accomplish enough, to deserve an NYT obituary, when Tolu Ogunlesi mentions that, actually, only The Economist’s obituaries are ‘to die for’.

So I went and registered on The Economist and began the process of reading myself to stupor.

If you love biographies but rarely find time to read full books, I recommend the obituary sections of NYT and Economist. One of the best ways to know and learn, I have found, is by taking a glimpse into the lives of thinkers and doers, and finding things you never expected to find.

But I’m not always reading profiles and obituaries.

Take a look at Zikoko.com , the interesting website from Big Cabal media.  Yes, I know a certain OMG is trying to position itself as the Buzzfeed of Africa. Good PR move. But the only buzz on the ground here, is from Zikoko. If you’ve been complaining about lazy, unimaginative journalism, about plagiarism and anywhere-belle-face reporting, I suggest you open your (Facebook or Twitter) window and ask your neighbours ‘what is Zikoko’? You’re guaranteed to be converted.

PartyJollof.com , from Red Media, is also going where many failed to go. Young Nigerians are bored and impatient and excitable. They’re increasingly attracted to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram because they’re fun and easy to use. PJ is using this understanding to deliver the kind of content that’ll make even Buzzfeed.com jealous.

If I were to invest my dollars in any websites right now, Zikoko and PartyJollof will definitely be getting that call.

Add Newsroom.ng  to that list. (Disclosure: Newsroom is a BHM website). I rarely visit Nigerian websites for business or political news. Apart from The Punch, I find most human interest journalism here gross and click-baity, so I generally stay away. But I read the pieces on Newsroom, and I see journalism that grips, that seeks to provoke emotions and action; that understands me and the challenges of living in 2016 Nigeria; that seeks to help me and my government know and understand what’s happening, I think of Newsroom and I jump for joy.

The only thing that comes close is The Cable. I’ve liked Simon Kolawole’s style since I was a columnist at THISDAY. You can see, through the investigative journalism, the profiles, the news angles and the decency on The Cable that Simon understands what works. You can tell that, unlike other websites I may not be naming today, there’s likely no hidden agenda behind their journalism. If THISDAY were to even take digital journalism seriously, The Cable would be an amazing teacher.

I hate to admit it. But I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter. I may not say much, but I’m there. Scrolling through news feeds and trying to see the world through the eyes of ‘friends’ I may not speak with for months. Because my life is on-the-go, I find both websites useful for staying informed. Brexit? FB and Twitter told me where to get all the gist. Theresa May and South Sudan and Skye Bank? I found all my leads on FB and Twitter. BlackLivesMatter? Twitter and FB. Also importantly, I’m only able to keep in touch with industry news from PR, advertising, media and entertainment because I have learnt to follow relevant people and set notifications where necessary.

Speaking of PR – the CIPR website is a good place to spend a lot of time. I mean A LOT  OF TIME. It’s what Nigeria’s NIPR should be like when she grows up. IF.

And FT.com is what Nigeria’s Businessday should and could be. Business Day is one of my favourite newspapers here. But I struggle with the (now paywalled) website. FT on the other hand, has been giving me orgasm for years. I may cheat regularly with WSJ.com, I may even browse Bloomberg and elsewhere, but it is not for lack of satisfaction from FT. It is I who cannot keep my kini in one place.

Of course you know of QZ and Vice and HBR? Fantastic!

Whatsapp is not a website so I’ll not be listing it here. But if Zikoko and Newsroom and Facebook and Twitter were to know how much time I spend on Whatsapp, they’ll likely be setting fire to the app’s servers. I dumped BBM for Whatsapp nearly three years ago and it’s the best relationship decision I’ve taken in a while. I hear there are still many of you on BBM, that’s fine. Please stay there before you come and join those people calling Whatsapp ‘wosup’. Sigh.

Can I say Orin, Sabinews, Thenetng and TNS also belong on this list without anyone accusing me of shameless plug? I can’t? Oh, I can? Are you saying I can add them? Or the T in your can’t is just silent? What-ever!

 

 

‘Entertainment as last hope for Nigeria’s economy’ – My #NECLive4 Speech

Ayeni Adekunle speaking at #NECLive4

I’m happy to welcome you to the fourth Edition of Nigerian Entertainment Conference. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for four years – with the sweat and blood of friends, team members and organizations who are committed to working with us to build the industry of our dreams.

Today as we gather here, we are at a critical period in our existence as a nation. The old issues are still around – epileptic power supply, fuel scarcity, security challenges, bad tools, poor healthcare, unemployment and underemployment, and so much more. And they’re joined by new issues that threaten to drown us. We are battling terrorism, feeling the impact of fallen global oil prices; even as youth continue to search for personal and national identities.

With all these problems and more, why should any government take a minute off and look at the creative industry? Why should we even be discussing entertainment at all when we’re trying to fix roads and kill Boko Haram and increase power supply? Why should anyone besides Ali Baba believe that entertainment business is serious business?

#NECLive4

 

Because as everyone who should know has admitted – it’s time to look at the non-oil sector if we are serious about diversifying our economy. We’ve missed at least two opportunities to diversify, in the face of dwindling income from oil. It will be a disaster if we miss this one.

So if we must look at other means, what are our immediate options? The regular suspects are taxation and agriculture. The government already plans to earn 5 Trillion Naira from taxation in 2016. We’ve seen the power of agriculture from the pre-oil boom era, we’ve seen that, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the value of agriculture in Nigeria is over 100 billion dollars. This is projected to grow to 256 billion dollars by 2030, if that sector is properly harnessed.

Agriculture at #NECLive4

But where are the figures for entertainment? Is it possible that the private and public sectors are underestimating and ‘unlooking’ an industry that can be a top-three earner in a non-oil economy? Is it possible that the creative and entertainment industry may become the last hope for the Nigerian economy?

Here are some facts from Hollywood and Bollywood.

Bollywood-Hollywood comparison at #NECLive4

Here’s what we know about the entertainment industry in Nigeria.

Nollywood Data at #NECLIve

What could the future look like if we made the right investments and build the right systems? What should government do? What should practitioners do? What’s the responsibility of the allied sectors which today, will include telecommunications, brewing, banking, PR and advertising?

I hope everyone here today will be able to have clear answers by the time we leave here this evening.

At Nigerian Entertainment Today, we will continue to follow global best practices in helping consumers connect with the music, news, culture and entertainers they love. We will continue to provide a platform for entertainers and creators to connect with their fans and the brands that care about them. That’s why we started test running Orin.ng in 2015. Today I’m happy to announce that Orin.ng is available to all labels, musicians, DJs, artistes and promoters to upload and share their music to the world. We are giving you an opportunity to stop offering your music for free downloads on Soundcloud and Hulkshare. There are already a couple of platforms with the right technology to sell your music online. Your true fans can find them there – be it Spinlet or MTN Music Plus or Cloud 9. But if they want to listen for free, the way of FM radios, please use Orin.ng. Fans can listen, like and share their favourite songs and videos. We are committed to making sure that we build the largest community of Nigerian music fans in the world. We cannot achieve it without the labels and artistes.

Orin.ng_

I pray God will spare my life to see a day when Nigerian music will no longer be available for free download online.

Also we announce today, the launch of NETSHOP. With over 5 million active users on THENETng we discovered in 2015 that we may be the best place for those selling entertainment products to meet those looking to buy those products. Asa is having her first Nigerian solo concert in May. Where do most of her fans catch up on what’s happening with her? THENETng. Darey is planning for the fourth edition of ‘Love Like A Movie’ . Where’s the best place to get details and buy tickets to see the show? THENETng. We are blurring the lines between journalism and e-commerce, hoping to make it easier for the industry to get their products across to consumers through NETSHOP; and for consumers to access the products, events, and properties they love.

NET SHOP

What I expect is that more people will be encouraged to produce and create if they do not have to bother with how to sell. Of course there will be PR and Marketing support from our sister companies BlackHouse Media and ID Africa, for those who decide to use Orin and NETSHOP.

Finally, we are announcing today, the inauguration of an annual Readers’ Choice Awards, to select one individual worthy to be called ‘Entertainer of The Year’. It will be a big decoration we hope will encourage actors, comedians, musicians, and others, to do the best work possible, while maintaining a great relationship with the fans. ‘Entertainer’ will debut in 2017. NET Honours will also now be given out at this event.

NET-Honors

Since THENETNG debuted on November 23, 2009, we have worked tirelessly to build what we believe will become the world’s number one source of everything you need to know about Nigerian entertainment. Today, 36,000 stories, 6 billion page views, 15 million video views, 5 million users, and 77 months after, I’m happy to say we are firmly positioned to break barriers and build tomorrow.

NET Stories

NET Website

 

 

I believe, as those who know me will agree, that it is possible.

I want to thank you again for coming out. I look forward to having a great time.

Please enjoy the conversations!

Brand of #NECLive4

 

BHM Boss Ayeni Adekunle To Speak At Success Stories Africa Conference

Ayeni Adekunle1croped

BHM Group President, Ayeni Adekunle has been announced as lead speaker at Success Stories Africa Conference 2015 holding on Saturday 12 September 2015 in Lagos.

The respected writer and entrepreneur, who is also the founder of digital agency ID Africa, entertainment website TheNETNG and music platform Orin, is an in-demand public speaker with a wealth of business and lifestyle tips to share. Ayeni, who founded his first business at 17 has spoken at a number of high profile events including the recent Junior Chamber International (JCI) Lagos City Monthly Business Meeting With Entrepreneurs, Project Fame West Africa 2015 Image and Personal Branding Master Class and the African Public Relations Association (APRA) 2014 Conference in Mauritius.

Speaking on the topic, ‘The Making of BHM Group’ and in the course of developing this theme, he will share his life’s story highlighting key encounters, lessons, habits, people and principles that have shaped who he is today. By telling his personal success story to a diverse audience of young Nigerians engaged in different fields of endeavour, he hopes to help those present to find their way and achieve success in life.

Speaking recently, he commented, “I am always happy to share stories and ideas that can possibly make the journey easier for people trying to find their way.

Aimed at empowering African youths to enable them change their lives for the better, the conference themed ‘Buy The Future’, will also feature addresses from other media personalities including CEO Red Media Africa Chude Jideonwo, actress Monalisa Chinda, CEO AGDC Detoun Ogwo and Founder Omojuwa.com Japheth Omojuwa.

About Ayeni Adekunle

Ayeni is a Nigerian Public Relations practitioner, Journalist and businessman. He is the founder of Black House Media, a Public Relations firm, and ID Africa, a digital marketing agency. He is also the founder and publisher of Nigerian Entertainment Today (NET), which organises the annual Nigerian Entertainment Conference and Orin, a music platform. He attended the University of Ibadan where he graduated with a BSc in Microbiology. Often referred to in Nigerian media circles as ‘Ayeni The Great’ or ‘ATG’, Ayeni lives in Lagos and is happily married with two children.

To read more about Ayeni click here

 

My Chat With Junior Chamber International (JCI) Members

Ayeni Adekunle with Members of JCI

Tell us about your work life?

I had worked for five years before getting admission into the University.

The five years I spent at home prepared me for where I am today. The only thing I got out of university when I eventually got an admission was that I got access to a very good library where I could read everything about music. I would have exams and I would go to the library to read books on what I know holds the future for my life. I had access to a huge library to learn about media, PR, advertising and music and then I met my wife in school. Outside of those things, it’s just little of what I studied in UI that is useful to me in my daily life.

But you had the option of studying communication and language arts?

As at when I went to university only a few parents wanted their children to study language arts in school. Every parent wants their child to be a lawyer or a doctor. They would say you should study a professional course. I finished secondary school; I did sciences because I went to a school you couldn’t even aspire to become a prefect if you were not in the science class. So I did sciences but when I finished and realized that I preferred the arts, I bought all the books in the curriculum, I read them and I passed all the subjects. Still all my parents wanted was for me to just study medicine because I had distinction in my science subjects, but I wasn’t meeting the cut-off mark to study Medicine. It was after writing it for like five years they said if you don’t get medicine you would get Microbiology. In Part two, I came home to see my Father, I told him that Daddy I want to change my course of study to Communication and Language Arts but he said NO. He said I should do this for him and that he would sponsor me to go and do whatever I want to do but by the time I was done with school, my father was retired.

They said you have to work in an office. But when they started seeing me on TV and in Newspapers, gradually they began to understand.

How did your parents cope with you not working in your Field of study?

 I had a third class so there was no way I would have gotten a great job. Most of our parents are very traditional and so they don’t understand, I don’t even blame them; my father thought it was a lazy thing to organize events. They said you have to work in an office. But when they started seeing me on TV and in Newspapers, gradually they began to understand. By the time I was leaving school I was already earning money. By the time I left school, I had a job.

Before my father died, I was already comfortable. Their own generation was Study get a job, Work, and Retire so you can get your pension. He kept telling us to make sure we have our pension.

 Tell us how you started Black House Media, the rudiments and the challenges?

I’m a bit fortunate because I had spent five years at home writing JAMB and I had been talking to entertainers during those periods. By the time I left school, I realized that I wanted to be a journalist so I got a job with Encomium, one of the biggest magazines in Nigeria. I wanted to work in Encomium because I wanted to make my name known and the bigger the platform, the more renowned you will be. I also wanted to learn how the structure works in an organisation. By the time I was stepping out to do my own thing, I already made acquaintances across the entire industry so it was easier. Because I was reporting entertainment, it was easier for me to start out doing PR for entertainers. So that was where we started but that’s not where we are today. So because everybody in that industry knows me it was easier for them to come to me and say I like how you write can you do this for me and for those I wanted to work with it was easier for me to walk up to them and tell me what I could do for them.

We started very small after I left Encomium, I wrote for Thisday for two years while I was doing my business by the side. The media industry in Nigeria is very peculiar and I worked at Thisday for free for two years because I knew I had to keep my name out there while I was trying to build my own business. I also won’t say it was easy because the Entertainment industry was not well structured and also there wasn’t as much opportunity for revenue as there is today. The bulk of what we spent when we started was my wife’s salary. She had a job and I remember I had her ATM card and we were spending what we needed. But we were serious and consistent and it was just two of us and eventually we became three. We were squatting in the office of the Gentle man who owns Hip TV. He gave me a desk in his office. So we started from there, when money came, we bought one computer and eventually we moved into our own office.

Soon I realized that the entertainment industry was not very stable, and that it was impossible to build a sustainable business working in that industry. I’m a very ambitious person and I’m confident it’s possible for us to build a global organisation. But if artistes are rich today and broke tomorrow and if actors that are buying jeeps today and tomorrow can’t even pay their own bills, how will that help my own business? So some of my very good friends encouraged me to change the direction of the business. Although music and entertainment is my primary passion I had to now restructure the business to work for corporate organizations that have a longer life span. For example, we currently work for Nigerian Breweries, the company was established in 1946 and they started producing in 1949 so you can imagine how long they have been around. They are part of the Heineken group and are quoted on the stock exchange.

We wanted to make ourselves appeal to companies that are serious and well structured and are in it for the long run; once we did that it looked like we had found the Magic. As of today all our clients are corporate organizations except for a few entertainment companies that have become family. Now we also run some of the most popular websites some you may know, some you may not. We run a weekly newspaper, also because entertainment is my passion, I started convening the Nigerian Entertainment Conference 3 years ago.

I am also fortunate to have an idea of how companies die and how people die. A lot of people die even before they die. If you don’t continue to develop, you will find out that everything else has left you behind.

The soul of the businesses departs because they were not prepared for today. Some of these things are as little as preventive maintenance that could have been done proactively. A few years ago, I started learning about Information technology and Digital marketing. After about 5 years of learning on my own, on my computer at Night, in 2014,I decided to go to some of the biggest trainings around the world. In February this year, we launched a digital marketing agency. So there are different perspectives to what you do. When you say how we were able to do it or succeed I don’t think we have built a successful business yet, I just think we have just had opportunities, based on the promise Nigeria holds. Nigeria is one of the greatest countries filled with so many opportunities for everyone and then because you are here in this country, at this time and because you have the kind of knowledge that you have then it shows that if you don’t self-destruct then you have an opportunity.

CEO BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle & President, JCI Lagos City Chapter, Kehinde Adedeji

With  President, JCI Lagos City Chapter, Kehinde Adedeji

But it seems like you had a passion and along the line you realized that your passion might not absolutely pay your bills. What are the challenges you have faced thus far?

Well, we all live in Nigeria and I think the biggest issues we face, as people who live in developing economy like ours are issues of basic infrastructure. I live in Opebi just down the road and I could just have taken a bus to this place. But people will look at me and say, see that guy in public transport, he is probably broke and that is if the Bus doesn’t tear your clothes. I could have also gotten on a train but we have some many cars on the road because we haven’t fixed the problem of Transportation. There is also the issue of power and then once you see queues you know you have to start buying petrol. But these are basic things we can find our way around and which consistent good governance can fix within five tenures. All we need is a good team of people who would rule for five different tenures.

The most important problem that I face when I share notes with SMEs is the Quality of Human capital. People have graduated with first class degrees but you give them a job and they can’t perform and I don’t blame them because they have not been prepared from a young age. The pastor of Daystar says that, It is important to raise children well because they might end up as presidents and governors. But if they have not been prepared they would run the state aground. We don’t even teach leadership in schools.  The biggest problem still remains the quality of people available to do the job.  How do you become a global organisation, if you do not have first class brains and talents? Any serious company, invests as much as they invest in their raw materials and marketing in trainings for their workers.

So it’s increasingly difficult, you have a vision and you can’t do it alone because there is a limit to how much you can do as an entrepreneur. When the good ones move on to go and do their own thing, who are the people that will help them achieve it? I think our educational structure is flawed. Countries I have studied, Singapore, India and China, they structure education to reflect the society and economy’s needs but we structure education so that your family will say to you that you have to get a degree then we choose courses based on what we think is prestigious. People who studied courses like Agriculture, Yoruba, and Music are considered inferior, so we under developed a lot of sectors and focused on what looked good to us. If you make me president for a day I’ll fix education. If you want to be a vulcanizer, a bricklayer, or a painter you will be sent to the best places in the world to study.

(L-R) CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle, President, JCI Lagos City Chapter, Kehinde Adedeji & CEOs, Speed Meals Mobile Kitchen, Titus & Tobias Igwe

With President, JCI Lagos City Chapter, Kehinde Adedeji & CEOs, Speed Meals Mobile Kitchen, Titus & Tobias Igwe

How did you build systems and structures that ensure that your business runs without you?

It will be a shame if I say it’s easy because it’s not. Most newspapers are now shutting down. The media business is in trouble all over the world. I am also asking myself why I should keep running the Print edition of NET because it’s not making sense in terms of the figures. These are challenges entrepreneurs face on a daily basis.  That’s why I follow MKO’s Words where he said you should never invest in a business you know nothing about. Before you start a business you could take about 2 years just to understudy the business. Richard Branson says once a business stops making sense, you shut it down. When people praise you they don’t look at failures. Google also has so many failed products they have shut down. People look at successes but they don’t know the pains you are facing. I don’t consider myself successful. I think success should be redefined. In terms of structure I think God has just blessed me. My wife fell in love with Human Resources many years before I decided to start my business. She put all the structures in place and she still consults for us. I wasn’t trained for that so I got help from my wife because left to me I’m just a writer and Ideas man. She did put the structure in place so I can’t take credit for that.  I started preparing myself for Life after BHM many years ago. That is why we take decisions in terms of mentorship and leadership so that there can be people who can take over the business when I’m not there.

CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle Speaking at JCI Business Meeting

When people praise you they don’t look at failures. Google also has so many failed products they have shut down. People look at successes but they don’t know the pains you are facing. I don’t consider myself successful. I think success should be redefined

Why are you still printing NET newspapers in this period where most papers both local and International are shutting down?

Globally, sales have dropped in the print media and Advertising revenues have also dropped. What Newspapers sell isn’t the news, it is advertising. Nigeria has a couple of years to go before it faces such problem.

The reason our newspapers here aren’t selling is not because people aren’t reading but because there is an inefficient production and distribution structure.

The Newspaper industry relies on an archaic structure of circulation and the people who run it don’t have a stake in the business so they do it anyhow. If they had a stake in the business, it would be in their interest that the paper succeeds. It takes the stakeholders to build a proper structure that will work. If the circulation problem is fixed it will work for the distributions of music, books, magazine and all other things.

Whoever fixes it will never go poor again. The music industry would have fixed this because they have made a lot of revenue but most of the money in individual pockets and nobody is willing to invest because they think the Industry is fickle. On what is keeping the paper on, I don’t even know if we are on because we are not sure of next week. I am not sentimentally attached to any of my business. If it’s not working I’ll make an effort but if it still doesn’t work, I’ll get rid of it. Presently, I have met some other publishers and we are seeking an alternative way of solving the circulation problem.

Since you have been talking about your business you haven’t said anything about taking a loan to start your business?

I will never encourage anyone to take a loan to start a business. It is better you start with what you have and let the business grow organically. Presently, we work with organizations that give us purchase orders but I have never taken these purchase orders to the bank to borrow money even when I know can.

What stops the government from putting in place proper copyright laws that can curtail rape on investments?

We all know the reason why these laws are not in place. It is the same reason why Diepreye Alamieyeseigha is not in jail. Nigeria has been continuously raped for forty years. It is the same reason why a lot of people who have committed crimes have gotten away with it. It is the same reason why in other countries, when people are accused for wrong doings they resign from their public offices. The laws are there but who is going to enforce them? Until we kill corruption, corruption will continue to kill us. It is also important that we understand that the problem is Corruption. There is a reason why law exists. A few years ago, the head of the home office in the UK, got into office campaigning against illegal immigrants, after he settled into the office, he decided to check the papers of his domestic staff because he renews it for them every two years.  Then he saw that the papers of his maid, who had been with him for a long time, were fake. Instantly, he wrote the prime minister and he offered to resign immediately. This is something he discovered himself, he could have easily covered it up or sent her away quietly. That is a country that has discipline. Until we fix corruption we are joking. If we have a government that is interested in fixing corruption, it will take just 6 months. There was a time in this country when we always queued to enter a bus. In organizations now, People are putting laws in place and they are enforcing them. The solution, I think is that Government needs to understand how the creative sector works. We must also understand that Intellectual property is not abstract.

Do you think the NET newspaper should be translated into new media reality?

I’m a very active player in the online space. We started a digital newspaper before we went on print. We launched our website on November 23, 2009 but the paper launched on April 26, 2010. We have made more profit online than offline and because we have seen that success, we launched a lot of other online properties. Recently, we launched a music-streaming site and I understand how the online market works and it makes a lot of money and there are also multiple opportunities to monetize your content.

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The solution, I think is that Government needs to understand how the creative sector works.

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I will never encourage anyone to take a loan to start a business. It is better you start with what you have and let the business grow organically.

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Until we fix corruption we are joking. If we have a government that is interested in fixing corruption, it will take just 6 months

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The most important problem that I face when I share notes with SMEs is the Quality of Human capital

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Any serious company, invests as much as they invest in their raw materials and marketing in trainings for their workers.