Before the ‘proliferation’ of startups in Nigeria, OkadaBooks has been existing since 2013. The startup won the MTNApp challenge in 2013. Fast forward to today, the startup is not resting on its oars as it was recently selected as one of the startups to participate in the Google Launchpad Accelerator. In this interview, Magnus Okeke, the Chief Customer Service Mechanic of OkadaBooks talks about the Startup, challenges and much more.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Magnus Okeke. I am OkadaBooks’ Chief Customer Service Mechanic – It’s a cool name for The Lead Customer Support who has a technical experience. I Studied Computer Science at Yaba College of Technology.
Can you tell us what OkadaBooks is all about?
OkadaBooks is a fast, simple and fun way to publish, read and sell stories without ever leaving your couch. We believe in telling our own stories. We believe everyone has a story inside of them that could be turned into books, scripts and something bigger. Our Job at OkadaBooks is to help you get your story out there to the world. Currently, we have over 200,000 users who read, tell their stories and make money through the platform.
What is the motivation for setting up OkadaBooks?
OkadaBooks was born out of frustration with the Nigerian publishing industry. Before OkadaBooks, It wasn’t always easy for Nigerians to get their stories out there. OkadaBooks is not just putting books on mobile phones for everyone through the app, we make it easy for writers and publishers to publish and sell their stories. No documents or sign up fees required.
We recall that you won the MTNApp challenge in 2013. How will you describe the business so far and how will you describe the reception by Nigerians?
We were excited to have been selected as the winner of the MTNApp challenge and were motivated by the acknowledgement.
It’s been an amazing journey. A huge percentage of our authors are in the north and they are making a lot of money monthly from their stories, one of them is Musa Ajayi. Apart from winning the App challenge, we were recently accepted into the launchpad Africa program by Google. We are excited about the opportunity and we hope to leverage on it to do more for writers, readers and publishers on OkadaBooks.
What are some of the challenges of running your startup?
NEPA. I’m kidding. But it’s one of the challenges we have because some of our employees work remotely.
Is it really true that there is a decline in reading culture in the country? What kinds of book do you think Nigerians love reading?
It is true that there is a decline with the rise of technology, mobile phones especially. I’m not saying it’s the actual reason for the decline in our reading culture but one of our goals is to put books in every mobile device out there through OkadaBooks because most people don’t have access to books and this is why there has been a decline in our reading culture. Nigerians love romance and Political Non-fiction.
Where do you see your startup in the next 5 years?
We will be the Kindle of Africa. Our mission is to put books in every mobile phone in Africa, through the App and website.
What do you have to say to budding entrepreneurs?
Feedback is important. Don’t build a new feature (or app or Idea) and save it somewhere on your computer. Roll it out (on beta, perhaps) and get feedback from as many users as possible.