Equipped to Explode

“All passengers on board Air Nigeria to Lagos should proceed to the boarding gate. The plane is delayed due to bad weather in Nigeria. Welcome to Murtala Mohammed International airport. Thank you for choosing Air Nigeria and enjoy your stay in Lagos.” After all these messages, I was filled with excitement and couldn’t wait to get to Oriental Hotel in Victoria Island which was about 45 minutes drive. The sight of the hotel alone sent the signal to me about how rich the content of the conference would be.

After picking my identity tag, I walked gently, confidently and carefully into the conference room full of participants. The environment spoke for itself about the caliber of people present. After the first session of talks, it was time for the round table discussion and that was when I realized my confidence wasn’t to the peak. I couldn’t contribute a word. But thank God there were others to help you contribute to topics freely. This was another form of indirect mentorship. I quickly adapted to the environment. We started to discuss what local content really meant and what makes a good local content. From this I learned that, there is more to local content than using local language to serve the user. The discussion was so intense that we couldn’t even finish before time was up. The interesting part was how non-techies were contributing so well to the discussion.

Jason of IROKO Partners made me realize how users are very important in the creation of content. I have come to understand that users normally and indirectly determine the content of applications. Their experiences can make or unmake any mobile service. As much as developers seek to provide content, its quality should never be compromised. The MIXit presentation engaged my mind. I was surprised that an African mobile social network can have 50 million registered users and 12.5 million active users. At that moment I was ashamed that I never heard of MIXit. I was a lost guy in the mobile industry. Could this statistics be real? What am I doing in my own little corner? Can I also have a product like MIXit? Ask me this question now and I will tell you I have the keys to even become greater than MIXit.

Networking lunch? I hope I can network too. It was easier than I expected. Everyone was in the networking mood and all I had to say was hello and the rest followed. The first person I spoke with was the CEO of iConcept. Wow! The right kind of contact I wanted. I was so elated because I had what will make me push into the Nigerian market. This is it. Now, I became too confident and approached a whole lot of people.

Marketing and monetization was so interesting and revealing. This is an aspect that developers find difficult to overcome. I realized getting numbers to use your product is crucial in monetization. Also making your product to sell itself with less advertisement is important in generating a lot of income. When the session on entrepreneurial development across West Africa started, I took keen interested because I knew as a young entrepreneur and a start up in this competitive industry, it will be of great help. Bosun of CC Hub, Florence of Mobile Web Ghana, Jean of AllDeny from Cote D’Ivoire and Idemudia of Mobile Monday were on the panel for the discussion. They inspired me so much that I felt I was only making excuses to myself and being my own obstacle. They spoke about start ups breaking through the market. They made me understand that as a startup I also need to understand the ecosystem I operate in and failure is part of my road to success. The networking session on Thursday was another big opportunity for me. Now it’s time to go Francophone. Meeting and interacting with Jean from AllDeny put a big smile on my face. Then I realized the other side of the conference and what Florence said during the panel discussion: as a startup, you don’t necessarily need money to break-through the market but getting contacts, networking and attending conferences like this can help you pitch your idea to someone and he will help you succeed.” That was exactly what happened to me. At that point I felt like I have over stayed my presence. I have hit a jackpot. One that people will take years to get.

Branding? What has branding got to do with my mobile app? Yes, branding is not just for organizations but products should be brands on their own. Seeing the Guinness VIP app and Eskimi gave me a second thought about application branding. They spoke about making applications more engaging, monetizing it and having a growth model for it. Ayo of Eskimi said “branding is creating emotional connection between your users and product”. Take note.

When it was time for the open mic session, there was nobody from Ghana (the gateway to West Africa). Although I was proud of the young Nigerians presenting their ideas, I was also disappointed that no one from my beloved country was on the podium. This struck me to try hard to develop all the wonderful ideas I gathered and wrote down during the conference and make sure I also make wave like the Eskimis, InMobi, MIXit, Rancard and all the others so that I can always showcase my skills and country at the next Mobile Web West African conference.

I felt so reluctant to leave just as my other colleagues. MWWA 2012 has opened another chapter in my life and I pray this heightened spirit to succeed with the right knowledge gained will never die.

With joy I left Oriental Hotel seeing myself at greater heights but with sad heart I left Murtala Mohammed International Airport (read paragraph 1 again and see the irony). My experience at that spectacular airport of the 1970s wasn’t anything of joy at all (see me in chambers for more details). But, as the mayor of Accra said at TedX Accra; every challenge is an opportunity, I met a renowned ace journalist in Ghana at the airport and I have learnt that time management goes beyond being on time. See you at the next Mobile Web West Africa. Stay developing apps.

By Fafa Akligo