Compelling content as ‘new gold’ in Africa
Charles Edosomwan is a certified computer engineer and digital marketer, with a budding desire to improve PR practice and how it is perceived in Nigeria. The Covenant University graduate obtained a diploma in Public Relations and Image Management from the London School of Public Relations and in Digital Marketing, Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia from Digital Marketing Institute in Dublin, all in 2014. Before establishing TEKSIGHT Edge Limited, Charles served a stint at a number of reputable firms and multinationals where he put to practice knowledge gained in his field of expertise over the years such as Digi Engage Nigeria Limited, E-tranzact Limited and Bluebird Communications Limited. Charles, who started his PR journey from his living room years ago now boasts of clientele such as Tecno Mobile, Infinix Mobility, Miniso, 9Mobile, UNICEF, USAID-IFES, Afmobi, Aveon Offshore, itel Mobile etc. Nominated this month as one of the top 30 under 30 CEO’s by Forbes Africa, he told TOBI AWODIPE of his journey into entrepreneurship, how providing fresh content is going to become the new gold in this part of the world amongst other issues.
What need did you identify in this industry that led you into entrepreneurship?
I have to two startups, Teksight Edge, an integrated public relations and digital communications company in Lagos with operations in Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda and a technology news brand platform, Askifa.ng. Our areas of focus include public relations, reputation management, media relations, event management and social media marketing. We’re focused on striking a balance between the perception and reality in the technology world, hence Teksight is using its creative minds to tell compelling brand stories that inspire emotion, deliver real value and results on every level with an endgame of ultimately setting a new standard of excellence for technology and how people view and accept tech across Africa. Askifa.ng is a news platform that beams its searchlight on technology; helping people in Nigeria and Africa understand the place of tech in our modern society. It deals with technology in a demystified form.
Having worked with a few firms on certain projects within Nigeria, I saw a major gap in the industry. Practitioners were giving clients strategy, plans and drawing up budgets without any consideration of insights, data or market intelligence. Campaigns and pitches were won, and millions of dollars was spent every day, and the only reporting that was done was evidence of publishing, screen shots and pictures.
There was no intelligence on the market, consumer interest, and competitor’s data. There was no real campaign success metric to the bottom-line unless conversion that happened based on awareness or interest. The industry was not causing any major behavioral change and advertising agencies were only concerned about how large the budget is and not the impact of the campaign, so I set out to make a difference by resigning and setting up a company that was solely driven by delivering value and giving brands a competitive advantage through data driven market and consumer intelligence.
How did you get funding to start?
When I was about starting out, I had nothing but my savings, which at that time was about $500. I got my brother’s friend who was a legal practitioner at the time to help me register the company. Although registering a company then cost about $550, he agreed to do me a favour and register it for less than the actual amount. Once this was done, I started from my house at Opebi, Lagos, converted the living room to an office and bought a few files, stationary and printer. Then I started reaching out to my old colleagues, media practitioners and friends selling the idea of a new approach to communication that will change the industry. We got a few projects from brand and companies I had worked for in the past but nothing really substantial. But the deal-breaker for me was when I teamed up with a friend who was also in this line of business and was a recipient of the Forbes 30 under 30 CEOs. Together, we landed a deal with Tecno Mobile, and this opened the company up to many more clients that have added to our success story.
What is your staff strength like?
Initially when we started we were just five, by December 2017, we were more established as a brand with a Brand Value of About $3,000,000 and a staff strength of 20. Hence, we decided to get into publishing and content distribution to help the Africa market understand technology better, so we started www.askifa.ng, which went live in January 2018, and this pushed our staff strength to about 37.
Any plans of expansion?
Over the last five years, I have engaged in getting at least one certificate, degree or attend relevant conferences each year that is geared towards either gaining new knowledge or towards the industry we are about to enter or a new client field we are about to get into.
And this has really worked for us, just by sticking to the process and vision of having an intelligence data driven Africa. With this knowledge, I have come to discover that content will be the new gold in Africa so we are about to start a new project called the Lagos content hub which will be a full fledge content development for audio, video, animations, pictures development hub. This hub is set up to guarantee the quality of content in Africa and to help drive the next frontier of African youth engagement.
The hub will be a seat of infrastructure, equipment, and expertise where anyone can come with a content idea, use the camera space and resource and personnel available to create their own content and then distribute with either a free or revenue share model. This will help grow a great youth engagement community that will empower youths in Nigeria give them a real chance to bring out their creativity through a world class production and expertise. The hub will be funded by various organizations for the first three years and afterwards, hopefully will be able to sustain itself.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Our biggest challenges have been nothing out of the ordinary. For startups especially in Nigeria and other African states, challenges like electricity supply, human resources and cash flow, are usually common obstacles we battle with. However, we keep learning on the job the best way to address these challenges as they come. The challenges we have faced overtime, has resulted in enabling us put structures in place that help us tackle these obstacles as soon as they present themselves. We have a HR Structure and training department that makes sure we get the best of teams and they leave more experienced than when they came through our doors.
We also had major challenges with cash flow and payment systems working for big organizations like USAID and UNICEF that post pay, so from 2017 we started saving 50 percent of all our margins and investing it in other businesses and funding new projects like www.askifa.ng. Also running a business across Africa requires supervision and having to attend lots of meetings and the cost of travelling increased hence, we opted for virtual meeting options and making sure we keep the cost low on executions. But the biggest challenge running a data and insight driven company in Africa where there is almost zero regard for data and insight for local brands is very stressful as you have to keep selling and convincing brand managers, media and other stakeholders who prefer to make decisions based on sentiments and interest. We will not say we have totally solved this, but we realized consistency and proven results from campaign and trying new things really works and if you do a case study and prove your ideas, they will gradually buy in.