TechMoran chats with Nathaniel Okwoli, who founded booklify, an online community of readers. Readers are leaders, isn’t it? Do enjoy and share your thoughts.
To create a platform like Booklify, even from the name, we can infer that you are an avid reader. How well do you like reading?
While growing up, my Dad had this small library in the room where I go to read books. I enjoyed reading the Science Encyclopedia and was fascinated by concepts like the way rainbows form and how rockets launch into space. Reading for me is about learning and finding out new things, and books are one of the ways to achieve this. I think the phrase avid reader is a relative one and I would prefer to say I enjoy reading and learning about new things.
Tell us about Booklify as a startup. How was the idea conceived?
I’ve always been passionate about the Tech sector likewise books/ reading and have naturally skewed towards that angle. You might say Booklify is a mosaic of both passions. Sometime in early 2016, Iwas searching for a book to read and a friend I had recently met suggested Peter Theil’s “Zero to One” since he understood my interests. It dawned on me that the books that will turn out to be my favourite books can only be recommended to me by my friends. At that point, the Booklify dream was born – To make finding and sharing books/knowlegde easy and fun. At Booklify, we believe in creating a platform to allow people connect and find books that matter the most to them. Booklify is about finding, reading interesting books and people sharing reading experiences.
The reading culture in Nigeria is quite poor. How have you been able to get people onboard?
People say that Nigerians don’t read but that’s not entirely true. Nigerians do read blogs, forums, magazines and books across several genres. The problem is that the industry is books fragmented. As with Tech, we know that the best ideas come from collaboration and openness. It is that community that existed as book clubs some years ago that we are re-inventing with technology since almost every body is now online. We have been growing organically and though it’s not been easy, we are pushing the frontiers.
How is Booklify funded? Bootstrapped, or otherwise?
Funding in Nigeria is hard whether you’re Bootstrapping or having an Angel believe in your dreams except you’re Funke Opeke who can raise $3.2m from family and friends or Iyin Aboyeji. Things are however getting better. We were part of the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program.
How do you generate revenue from the startup?
Publishers can promote their books or content on different sections of the platform from the newsfeed to the Quotes section. We also take commission on the sales of books made on our platform.
Are there plans to go into the sales of books or do you do that already?
Users can already sell their books on our platform. All they have to do is add a book from their Dashboard and upload. We are also working on developing our own exclusive content.
Tell us how you’ve been able to deal with competitors
For every Solution, Product differentiation is key to success and staying relevant. We are interested in solving problems as they occur for our users. So for us, it is flexibility and being available to listen and understand our audience while building a community for every book lover to interact and learn.
Have you made moves to get people, especially Nigerian youths to read more?
The whole essence of Booklify is to bring together Nigerian youths together within a community to read and share knowledge. We have been reaching them online and offline to embrace reading for self improvement.
What are your short term goals as a startup?
Our aim is to increase our users by 600% and also get more people talking and sharing content on our platform.
Advice to Nigerian youths?
We need to stop over consuming and start producing. Strive for knowledge, self development, read a book, write a book, take a course, solve a problem, and just do something productive. As youths, the future is yours if we are futuristic in thinking and doing.
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