It is true what is said of necessity, of it being the mother of invention. No one would agree more with that proverb than an innovator and start-up founder like Okechukwu Ofili, whose frustration with the publishing and distribution industry in Nigeria propelled him to create OkadaBooks, an e-publishing platform that is revolutionising book publishing in Nigeria.
Prior to establishing the platform, Ofili was an engineer who wrote and made illustrations part-time. “… Because I was an engineer, when I faced publishing and distribution difficulties, instead of sitting down and complaining I said ‘how can we engineer a solution?’ and that’s how I stumbled upon OkadaBooks.” In an industry that is plagued by piracy, fraud and a dearth of adequate publishers and distributors, Ofili’s OkadaBooks is a breath of fresh air, the refreshing change that the industry so desperately needs.
In this exclusive interview with Ventures Africa, Ofili, who had recently quit his job to focus solely on growing his platform, discusses not just the challenges of running a start-up but also the fascinating surprises that make the hustle worth it.
Ventures Africa (VA): What’s the story of Okada books?
Okechukwu Ofili (OO): Okada books started when I moved back to Nigeria in 2010. I had just published a book called How Stupidity Saved My life and I did what every author would do, I went on radio to promote it, I put it in bookstores and I was lucky enough to get my book to sell. But there was a point where I was being owed over N1.5 million and every time I went to the bookstore, I was told, “Oga come back tomorrow, the manager is not around.” They kept posting me. So I did a social media campaign where I said: “XYZbookstore, pay me my money.” I did that and it got a buzz because I was writing for Bella Naija and Ynaija at the time and I had a large followership.