This is what got me thinking….

We have such a fantastic startup ecosystem in Nigeria where several startups fantasize about their startups becoming the next big thing in startup wonderland.

In fact, here is a recent list of possible winners for 2015.

Who knows if they will survive till 2016……?

But, IrokoTV… 🙂

What is Iroko?

The business of iRoko is to distribute Nollywood content to the rest of the world.

It all started with a YouTube channel in 2011 and now spans VOD, SVOD, on-flight entertainment and Linear TV

Now, at $50 million dollar valuation, IrokoTV is one of the most successful and vocal startups from Africa.

And in the startup world, valuation equals success.

 This is irokoTV |


Here are the 7 Things That (Probably) Make IrokoTV “Successful”


What is your BIG vision for your startup?

For Jason, he believes that Nollywood, Nigeria and West Africa deserve a billion dollar media and Technology Company. And he wants to build it.

With a bigger vision, you think customers first so that you can spot other (several) opportunities to serve them better.

For example, in its early days, the company started out only as a YouTube channel (NollyWoodLove).

irokotv where we serve |SpokenTwice

It has grown to embrace mobile first approach, adapted pricing severally for different markets, optimized distribution across several platforms including LinearTV, telecommunication partnerships and is currently being built to optimize customers experience by solving erratic data issues in Africa, inspired by the fact that 76% of their total traffic from this part of the world was strictly from mobiles.

This is the new IrokoTV (You can check past iterations here)

irokotv homepage | Spokentwice | Wole Ogunlade


Successful startups are built over several iterations (pivoting) to serve potential market opportunities. This requires you to take a strategic look at your startup and when necessary your approach to serve this new market.

Do this and be lucky….


How you build out your team in the first few years can have a huge impact on the trajectory of your company. My rationale is simple: everything goes wrong and only great teams can respond to competitors, markets, funding environments, staff departures, PR disasters and the like.

IrokoTV seems to have a good line up (and bench) of team members. In addition to his co-founder, Bastian, one of the early significant growth members is Jessica who was in charge of the massive PR exposure and brand messaging the startup enjoyed in western publication and Silicon Valley.

You also need great team who can work on your tactical deliveries and have a culture that celebrates your workforce whenever the occasion demands, especially when they are in the system.

For example, here are 2 best practices and helpful l tips to choose co-founders and early employees for your startup

  1. Don’t hire a homogenous team. You need a diverse set of skills to succeed
  2. Start the hiring process with a clear idea of what you are looking for. Never allow a position to be posted unless there is a real job description in place.

Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Marc Benioff of Salesforce or Larry Ellison of Oracle all have one thing in common.

They showcased a class of successful entrepreneurs that embodied their startup.

They are always powerful, and revered because they spoke out, challenged myths, took risks and “zigged when others zagged”

That is what you should be for your brand.

Jason Njoku | TIrokoTV | SpokenTwice


That is what Jason is to IrokoTV. He is unapologetic, he is revered, hated, despised and yet …he has earned his VOICE.

You can earn this by granting interviews, press releases and industry events….even writing a blog.


I agree with Jason that….

“It’s super important, irrespective of whatever industry you’re in, to try and be on friendly terms with other significant players. Their successes and challenges can help to narrow your focus, shape your strategy, becoming invaluable sounding “advisory” board with invaluable insights for your business (Source)

That’s nicely said already.


One of the major competences you need to survive and trump in the market place is knowledge and interpretation of data on how to build your business. In Jason’s own words, “The vast majority of the insights and value in our platform is our institutional understanding of how to read and interpret our data”

You goal is to know your industry better than anyone else with data to play your cards to your advantage. This advantage comes handy when you sliced and diced that data to guide in smarter acquisition and decision making.

You need a system to constantly obtain and analyze in-house data (more on this later), insights about your  competitors and the economy. A good understanding of this metrics will also guide you to know when competition does not matter or how to make proactive decisions that might affect business fundamentals, distribution strategy or potential competitors’ next moves etc.

So how do you get your in-house data?

On one of his post, Jason went into lyrics of his data-driven decision making process

The arguable bottom-line is that IrokoTV has the most expansive data set around Nollywood than anyone has ever collated which means that they know Nollywood better than any living being or institution and has interpreted the data to determine how it affects the growth numbers for the startup.

There are several technology products that assist you in getting valuable data and making informed decision with your startup. (HINT: read this earlier post on TC)


Jason started out betting on the future of the internet and mobile trend to deliver superior returns than existing DTH and DTT platform.

Was he right?

The results are in…… Jason has spent the past years pivoting severally to adjust to market realities

Are all these right for your startup?

This rhyme below sums up my answer:

“Founders are always under pressure,

Bearing a potential risk of the failure of the startup.

We are always afraid……..until our BIG wins.

That’s why you must learn to fail fast

Failing fast is one of the most difficult things….but with a huge growth potential.

This requires a strong emotional conviction to pull through and a startup team that is built to make radical shifts and pivot its business model based on insightful market data.

For IrokoTV, here are some of the experiments and growth models they have experimented.

  2. With its roots from YouTube, IrokoTV has diversified its distribution model with a strong monetization asset that stopped free loaders.
  3. Launched SVOD unsuccessfully in early 2012 and getting back to it with Vodafone, Ghana deals in 2015.
  4. Selling physical DVD catalogue in order to expand its distribution networks in Africa and beyond,
  5. IrokoTV has tried everything other thing from partnership with ISP providers, Linear TV market (like StarTimes, Eutelsat’s 5WA satellite and Lebrada), “frenemy” relationships with NETFLIX and having their over 5,000 movies catalogue translated to French

It is obvious to note that not all experiments will be a successful growth hack.

You can take lessons learnt from such failure to refine your offerings.

IrokoTV has several failed experiments like its earlier iterations of TV apps, mobile experiences on Android and iOS and a sketchy OEM bundle deal with NOKIA.

That is all part of the game 🙂


How do you price your product across different continents? Let data guide you.

It is fun watching IrokoTV burn bridges, change monetization models and his explanations for such actions.


Be the best advocate for your industry. It pays off. The results will speak for you

As a result of a well-planned PR strategy, IrokoTV is synonymous with the success and idiosyncrasies of Nollywood, with arguably more international press coverage than any other Nigerian company.


One of IrokoTV’s latest marketing experiments is their “Invite your friend referral program” This is a similar experiment that helped DropBox grow from 100,000 users to 4,000,000 in under two years.

builtwith data irokotv


You can spy on IrokoTV with intelligence tools like BuiltWith (focus on the advertising category) and Moat to see their banner ads.

What’s your plan to make your startup equally successful?


CLICK HERE to receive your FREE copy of the book: StartUp Growth Hacking Stories: How successful Nigerian startups are acquiring customers and revenues Faster than Competition.

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