Chidi Nwaogu is a Nigerian from Imo state. He is a twin and the CEO of Publiseer, a digital publishing platform for African Creatives. He has co-founded, grown and sold two Internet companies with his brother Chika Nwaogu. Chidi Nwaogu is proud to be a Nigerian.
Can We Meet You?
I’m Chidi Nwaogu, a Nigerian serial Internet entrepreneur, computer programmer, Westerwelle Fellow 2019, SensX Fellow 2017, recipient of OD Young Person of the Month Honour (for November 2018), winner of Startup World Cup Nigeria Regional Competition 2019, first place winner of OD Impact Challenge 2018/2019, and a shortlisted candidate for Yunus&Youth Global Fellowship Program for Social Entrepreneurs 2019.
I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 16 with the creation of 9ja Boi Interactive, a video game development company. Today, I’m Co-founder and CEO of Publiseer, a digital publishing platform 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.” Publiseer was listed in ModernGhana’s “List Of 10 African Innovations For January 2019”.
My startups have been featured on several national and international media publications, like Africa Business Review, TechCrunch, TechZulu, IT News Africa, Konbini, PC Tech Magazine, IT Web Africa, Ventures Africa, Ventureburn, Music in Africa, Actualitté, CIO East Africa, Pulse, Technext, Tech In Africa, Techmoran, Disrupt Africa, and Techpoint, for their strides in the tech ecosystem.
Since I was 19, I’ve co-founded, grown and sold two Internet companies, including LAGbook, a social network that garnered over 1-million registered users within three years. As a programmer, I’ve been learning to code since I was 13. Today, I’m proficient in five programming languages, with JS and PHP taking the lead.
I’m a West-African Representative of FasterCapital, a startup incubator based in UAE. I began public speaking as a keynote speaker at IT Leaders West Africa Summit 2012, where I gave a 30-minute lecture on the role of social media and mobile in developing nations. Today, I speak at several summits, conferences, and seminars around the world.
Did you ever start any company at the university? Yes, I started LAGbook while studying at the University of Lagos.
Can you tell us about your former company Ladies And Gentlemen book popularly referred to as LAGbook?
At the age of 19, I co-founded, built, and organically grew LAGbook (otherwise known as Ladies And Gentlemen book) with my twin brother. LAGbook grew from zero to over one million registered members in less than three years. It was initially created for students of the University of Lagos but later expanded to the youth demographic (18 – 30 years) in Africa.
The social network was acquired by the Canadian technology company, Gulf Pearl Ltd. for $10,000 in January 2013. LAGbook was featured on TechCrunch for garnering 30,000 new members in less than six months, and on African Business Review for signing an eight-week advertising deal with the multinational company, BlackBerry.
LAGbook happened to have been one of Africa’s largest social networking website, why did you sell such a great idea?We sold it because we wanted a fresh breath of air into it. We had taken it to the peak we wanted to take it to, and now, it needed someone else to take it even further.
Can you tell what is special about LAGbook? LAGbook was a social discovery network that wanted to help you meet new people every day, and not limit you to the people already in your life.
Can you tell us about PRAYHoUSe?
After LAGbook, I co-founded PRAYHoUSe with my twin brother, an online Christian prayerdirectory of more than 10,000 prayers from the Scripture. I organically grew PRAYHoUSe fromzero to over 200,000 users in less than six months. In March 2014, PRAYHoUSe was acquiredby American non-profit organization, Ten Doves Charity, for $37,500.
PRAYHoUSe another company you founded attracted over 200,000 users in less than six months, what made it be so popular?
PRAYHoUSe was helping Christians who wanted to pray but didn’t have the right words to say, to pray according to the Word of God so that He may listen. It grew virally because people finally had something that could help them pray every day, touching various aspects of their life, without being lost of words.
Did you sell PRAYHoUSe and LAGbook at the same time? LAGbook was acquired in January 2013 and PRAYHoUSe was acquired in March 2014.
Did you sell PRAYHoUSe and LAGbook at the same time? LAGbook was acquired in January 2013 and PRAYHoUSe was acquired in March 2014
Did you regret selling the company? No, we don’t
Do you think you could have sold it for a higher price?
You can always sell something at a higher price if you come across someone who is willing to pay higher. So, yes, we think that we could have sold it for a higher price, but we are still okay with what we sold them for
After selling your first company, why did you sell the other company?
We are serial entrepreneurs. We create startups. It’s a way of lifestyle. We create, we grow them to profitability and then we sell it, and start another one
What mistakes did you not make when selling the first company that you did not make when selling the second company?
We sold PRAYHoUSe to someonw who wanted to keep it the way it was and continue growing it, while the person we sold LAGbook didn’t want to continue with it as it was. He had other plans for it, which didn’t really make us happy. But that’s life. We can’t be always happy with people’s decisions
Do you think you could have still managed the company if you did not sell those companies? Yes, of course
Did those companies you started have anything in common with what you studied at school? Not at all. We studied Physics
What did you wish you were taught in school that you had to learn after school? Entrepreneurship.
What do you think is entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. It’s a way of life. It’s the urge to create something amazing out of absolutely nothing. Entrepreneurship the urge to solve a problem, rather than complain about it.
Any special attribute or skill makes an entrepreneur succeed? Humility
You started Publiseer in 2017 have you reached all the landmarks you wanted to reach in 2019? We have reached milestones we didn’t plan for. We are happy with where we are, and we’re working hard to get even further. There’s always room for improvement and advancement.
How easy was starting Publiseer after selling your previous companies? It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of planning and sleepless nights
Can you tell us about Publiseer?
Publiseer is a digital publisher that helps African writers and musicians from low-income communities to distribute and monetize their creative works across over 400 digital stores in 100 countries, with just a single click and at no charge.
How many staff members do you have? Six.
How easy is managing the staff amount you have at Publiseer compared to your other startups? It’s easy as other startups because we always make sure we work with people we trust and believe in.
What do you think your staff members think about you? They see me as a friend, rather than a boss.
How much do you appreciate criticism? Criticism is the source of growth. I take constructive criticism with a welcome embrace and grow from it.
Where do you currently operate Publiseer? Lagos, Accra, Cape Town, Nairobi.
Do you make enough profit from the services you render at Publiseer?
Publiseer became profitable after eight months from inception
What has entrepreneurship given you that a normal office job could not give you? The freedom to take initiatives and risks, fail and learn from it. Failure is success when you learn from it
What problem is Publiseer solving?
Many budding authors and musicians in Africa live on a dollar per day, just as in any third world nation, and thus cannot afford to publish, promote, protect and monetize their creative works by paying for it. Thus these breath-taking works remain undiscovered for years and the gifts of these talented Creatives are put to waste. Some of these Creatives often have their works stolen or plagiarized without any due settlement.
Publiseer let independent African writers and musicians from low-income communities, to publish, protect, promote and monetize their creative works on 400+ partner stores in 100 countries, at no charge, with a single click. Our partner stores include Amazon, Google Play, Apple store, Barnes & Noble, Spotify, Kobo and Deezer. These Creatives can monitor their performance across all stores using our centralized dashboard.
How do you monetize your solution? When a unit of any work (book, audiobook, song and music video) is sold, Publiseer shares in the revenue generated.
Have you ever regretted being an entrepreneur? Never.
Do you think doing business in Nigeria is better for Publiseer than doing business outside Nigeria? Nigeria has a lot of problems, and this is good for an entrepreneur because it means there is a lot of problems to solve
Have you ever had a funding problem after selling your startups? No
Have you ever been ashamed of your Nigerian heritage? Never. That’s why I go by the name Chidi and not my English name. I want everybody to know I’m Nigerian
Have you ever been ashamed of your Nigerian heritage?
Never. That’s why I go by the name Chidi and not my English name. I want everybody to know I’m Nigerian
Have you ever had a reason to compromise your stance on something? No.
What makes you attractive to your prospective clients or customers? I’m ready to do things over and over again until I get it right.
What makes you attractive to prospective investors? I’m open to learning.
Have you ever been given an award? Yes. I mentioned those at the beginning of this interview
Do you think Nigerians appreciate your products? I know they do
Do you think students should be encouraged to be entrepreneurs?
Yes, especially in a country like Nigeria where unemployment is so high. Entrepreneurs also create jobs. So it’s a win-win situation
How can students get funds to start their businesses? There are a lot of grants out there. One of which is the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme with a business grant of $5,000
How can student entrepreneurs avoid running at a loss? They should focus on making money from your solution from the very first day
Any advise for student entrepreneurs?
Figure out what you are good at that many people aren’t. Once you’ve figured it out, do it, and never do it for free. Get people to pay for it
Do you think student entrepreneurs need mentorship? Of course, they do.
How can people contact you? Via LinkedIn or any of my social media account.