In December of 2017, I launched a small publishing house dedicated to sharing the work of authors from the Caribbean and Africa. I felt that third world problems and all, our stories, just as they are, are enchanting, instructive and deserving of global recognition.
We often shy away from them because somehow, we believe that they make us seem less progressive. But they are necessary, for they remind the world of a simpler and freer time and in other cases, they enlighten us to paths forward.
Stories of sleeping in mud huts and kitchens unattached from general living spaces – stories of children walking barefooted to school and drinking water from standpipes – should be told with as great a pride as we share our stories of our increasing urban-ness and towering buildings. They should be told boldly and proudly without one ever having to feel the pressure to color them with metropolis in the name of more widespread acceptance.
Chidi Nwaogu has a mission linked to mine. With his company Publiseer, he is intent on creating avenues that ensure that African writers and musicians do not have to negate telling their stories for its lack of financial sustainability. Using his platform, African Writers and Musicians have the opportunity to have their work published across hundreds of digital platforms across the world for FREE.
Take a peek at his story!
What is the name of your company?
Where is your company located?
Lagos, Accra and Nairobi
What products or services does your company provide?
Publiseer lets African authors and artists sell their books, audiobooks, songs and music videos on over 400 major online stores worldwide, including Amazon, Google Play store, and Apple store. Publiseer is a lifeline for every young, budding African author and artist but it is also for established African authors and artists. who are seeking ways to sell their work on the World Wide Web. It’s critical for authors and artists to reach their fans and attract new fans that rely on trusted stores like Amazon, Google Play store and Apple store to drive their discovery experience.
If you were headlining a UN event or Ted Talk, how would you introduce your company?
Publiseer is a digital content distribution company that helps independent African writers and musicians from low-income communities distribute, protect and monetize their creative works across hundreds of digital platforms worldwide, at no charge, with just a single click. Writers and musicians using Publiseer can monitor their sales performance and receive their royalties across all platforms using our centralized dashboard.
What inspired the birth of this company?
A few years ago, I, Chidi wrote a book and my twin brother Chika recorded a song. After writing my book, I began searching for a book publisher, and my twin was hunting for a record label. For months, we couldn’t find any who didn’t demand money from us. Eventually, I became my own publisher, and Chika started a small record label. We were both successful with our projects. I was able to get my book across hundreds of platforms, generating revenue, and Chika was able to get his song across hundreds of music streaming websites. This was when the idea for Publiseer was birthed: “Start a publishing company for struggling African writers and musicians to get their works seen by the rest of the world.” Publiseer was eventually founded on August 4, 2017.
Do you have any co-founders and/or notable team members?
Yes. My co-founder is my twin brother, Chika Nwaogu, who is also a computer programmer and serial Internet entrepreneur. Chika is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Publiseer.
How did you start your company?
To start Publiseer, I knew I need an A-team, so I reached out to my friends who are great at computer programming, product development, graphic design, business management, and digital marketing. My team and I had already created, grown and sold two startup companies, so we had experience in the field of Internet entrepreneurship. However, we needed people whose strengths matched our weaknesses. By the last week of June 2017, we had a team of 6; my twin and I, Dapo Ogundipe, Ose Okojie, Steve Oduntan, and Melvin Nwabueze. With a great team, we registered the publiseer.com domain name, developed the website, set up our content distribution channels, and launched on the 4th day of August 2017.
Share with us how you do what you do or what model your company runs on
When authors and artists are accepted on the platform, Publiseer takes care of every necessary media and publishing work from start to finish. Authors get professional book covers, unique ISBN numbers, worldwide book distribution via online stores like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play Books, Apple iBooks, and more, press release drafting/distribution, standard book formatting, and EPUB file conversion for easy distribution.
For artists, songs recorded are distributed across online stores like Spotify, Google Play Music, Apple iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, and Shazam, to mention few. They also get free professional cover art, unique UPC number, press release drafting/distribution, and FLAC file conversion for easy distribution, at no cost, and shares in revenue generated revenue when a unit is sold.
Before Publiseer was created, African writers and musicians have been forced to adopt western solutions like CDBaby and BookBaby, which charges extortionate fees to have their books or songs distributed worldwide. As such, many of these writers and musicians have very little money left to promote their creative works. Publiseer was created to offer them a more quality and personal solution at no charge. In return, we share in the revenue generated from the sales of their works.
How do you think your company solves any of your village, community, country or region’s problems?
Publiseer is turning struggling but talented African writers and musicians into gainfully employed and professional authors and artists.
Many young and budding authors and musical artists in Africa live on a dollar per day, just as in any third world nation, and thus can’t afford to publish their creative works by paying for the publishing process. These breathtaking works remain undiscovered for years, and the talents of these exceptionally talented authors and artists are put to waste because they don’t have the money to pay for publishing. Publiseer was created to publish these beautiful works for free, generating revenue for these writers and musicians, and for Publiseer as well.
We are elevating them from poverty and helping them earn a living from doing what they love doing the most. As well, we are helping them climb the ladder of success in their career.
What would you say has been your greatest challenge as a company thus far and how have you overcome it or how are you working to overcome it?
Copyright and piracy are huge problems in Africa, and this has been one of our greatest challenges as a company.
It affects our business as a digital publisher. When we notice a different merchant selling a book or song in our catalogue, we contact our author or artiste to verify if they are aware of this, and if they aren’t aware of this, we take legal actions against such merchant. The reason why we contact our author or artiste first is that Publiseer doesn’t take away the publishing rights of our authors and artists. We let them retain their rights, which means they are free to republish or redistribute their creative works elsewhere without our permission or our help.
What would you say has been your greatest triumph/achievement as a company thus far?
Our greatest achievements as a company are:
- Being inducted into the International Publishing Distribution Association, becoming the first African publishing company to join the organization.
- Emerging a finalist at a Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.
- Being accepted into the Venture Incubation Programme by the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town.
- Emerging a finalist for the 4th AppsAfrica Innovation Awards for the ‘Media & Entertainment’ category.
What would be your advice to other African entrepreneurs?
Dream like a beast, and chase your dream like a possessed demon. When you come across obstacles, crush them down, and if they prove difficult, bend around them. Make sure you’re always on the move.
What is your vision for entrepreneurship in your country or in Africa?
The average start-up founder in Africa is no longer passionate about the problem their start-up is solving. Rather, they’re passionate about the investment potential their start-up has. It’s no longer news that fin-tech start-ups are taking the lead in seed investment in Africa, followed by agri-tech start-ups, with e-commerce start-ups just behind.
Knowing this, many start-up founders have abandoned their present start-ups to build a new start-up in fin-tech or agri-tech, since that’s where the money is. This is a terrible trend because many of these founders have little or no interest in the new field they’re venturing into. As such, they become robots trying to copy already established brands in fin-tech and agri-tech and slapping their brand name to it.
I strongly discourage this trend and I encourage that they only venture into things they are very passionate about or things they have much experience in. That’s the only way more startup founders can thrive and create unicorn startups in Africa.
What would you say has been your most valued entrepreneurial lesson during the journey so far?
Failure is success only if you learn from it.
The Man Behind The Company
Country of Birth
Country of Residence
Favorite Music Artist
Locked Away – R.City ft Adam Levine
What is the book/books that you’ve given most as a gift and why?
The Holy Bible, because you can draw all forms of inspiration from it.
What are the three books that have most influenced your life?
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
What recent purchase of yours has most positively impacted your life?
Outside Insight by Jorn Lyseggen
How has a failure of yours set you up for later success?
I believe that failure is success when you learn from it. When creating our first startup, LAGbook, a social networking website for students of our university, we weren’t focused on how it would make money. We were only interested in how fast people would adopt it. However, it became increasingly expensive to run it because it was a popular social network that wasn’t generating revenue. With one million registered members, we didn’t generate enough revenue to pay the bills, so we had to sell it to someone who could continue in its success.
What is a quote that you think of often or live your life by?
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” by Friedrich Nietzsche
What is one of the most worthwhile investments that you have made?
Learning to code from the age of 13.
In the past three years what belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?
Working hard, playing hard, and praying hard.
What advice would you give to a school leaver in your country about the braving the uniqueness of the entrepreneurial environment in your country?
Advice: “Never say I tried. Keep trying until you get it right.”
Ignore: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
When you feel overwhelmed/unfocused what do you do?
I go on my knees and pray for inspiration, strength and focus from God.
Who most inspires you? What about their life, habits or model have inspired you?
Who inspires me: Jorn Lyseggen, Norwegian serial entrepreneur, patent inventor and the founder and CEO of Meltwater and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology.
Why he inspires me: He discovered that talent is evenly distributed but opportunity isn’t, so he founded Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a Pan-African training program, seed fund and incubator in Accra, Ghana. MEST provides training, investment, and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa.