Gone are the days when you needed to wait for months before you can get your books published. This unpleasant wait can be attributed to several barriers ranging from financial limitations, disappointments from printmen etc. But the truth is that you can now get your books published for free within seconds whilst having access to several thousands audience. And of course you get paid instantly.
“We believe everybody has a book inside of them. And our job at okadabooks is to help get it out. Simply cut and paste your story or convert your blog into an ebook all from within the okadabooks web app. Discover the magic of writing today. With OKADABOOKS, publishing a book is as easy as publishing a blog. You can create your books in the cloud and reach thousands of users with a single click.”
Here, meet the master-mind behind okadabooks
Can we know you sir?
My name is Okechukwu Ofili. I am a mechanical engineer by training..I studied at the University of Houston, my primary school education was at St. Leo private school and I attended Corona secondary school. I started a company called okadabooks.
What do you do presently sir?
I am a full-time project design engineer, an author, a motivational speaker;I speak at schools and I also work in the community when I am free and I started okadabooks as an entrepreneur.
Tell us about your journey to becoming the founder of okadabooks.
When I returned to Nigeria in about 2011, I started selling my book ‘How Stupidity Saved My Life‘ at different bookshops, I got a lot of sales but the problem was when I went to collect the money at the bookshops, I started getting foul stories,they’ll tell me ‘..the manager is not around’,’..come another day to collect your money’ and all that. It got a point where the bookshops were owing me up to #1.5 million so I had to go on social media and run a campaign,people put pressure on the bookshops to pay me my money…with that effort, the office of the bookshops called me in and told me to stop the campaign and they paid the money.
After I went through that experience, I realized that not everybody will be as lucky as I am because I had a huge social media network which I was able to leverage because there are thousands of authors that doesn’t have that kind of network and being abused by bookstores and being frustrated when their money is being kept so I said how do we simplify this prospect? That’s how the idea of okadabooks came in, out of frustration with the industries in Nigeria. Okadabooks give authors the ability to have a real-time analysis of every single books organization and with the mobile app wherever the books are sold, they (the buyers) get it immediately..whenever they want their money, they’ll get it in their bank account as soon as possible.
What’s behind the name ‘okadabooks’?
There’s traffic jam in the book publishing industry…like when you’re caught in traffic, the people who can weave through it are basically okada riders so we created okadabooks to weave through the traffic in the book publishing industry.
When was okadabooks founded?
What part of your job,with okadabooks, do you enjoy the most?
What have you learnt that you think every forward thinking young people should know?
When we started okadabooks and we were marketing it to people,we met people who said “oh! I was thinking of that idea and I wanted to do it..” There’s always someone thinking of ideas so the lesson is “it’s good to have ideas but it’s better to execute them”.
Have you won any award or special recognition as an individual or on okadabooks?
Yes. Venture Africa recognized our work,we were among the top 40 innovation. We won a 2013 MTN app of the year award,a million naira and a car.
What were the defining moments when you started?
There were so many defining moments; when we hit 200 thousand downloads,when we won MTN award, when we got Toke Makinwa’s book ‘On becoming’ and we saw the amount of sales we were able to get in a day..that was mind-blowing!
What were the obstacles you encountered during the initial years?
NEPA! The usual thing in Nigeria and Nigeria is not a business-friendly country by any sort of imagination. You don’t get anything for your business to flourish; rather they give you incredible taxes even if you gain or lose. Also having to pay employees and they disappear… but most part is we’ve been able to weather the storm. By and large,we survive.
The major issue with startups in Nigeria is capital. How did you cope?
I didn’t have that problem because my partner and I used our savings to start and last year for the first time,we were able to run the company on 100 percent revenue where we didn’t have to put in.
Was there any special skill you had or had to learn to build okadabooks?
I am not a technical person but my partner is,he works in Microsoft. I am more of the general idea and in terms of skills,I had to develop leadership skills because I have to motivate different types of people.
How do you define success?
Doing what makes you happy. When you wake up everyday and you feel fulfilled but it’s not as simple as being broke. When you’re broke you won’t be happy so success has a financial part to it…do what makes you happy and at the same time,don’t be broke.
What legacy do you want to leave?
I just want Nigerians to tell their stories, when you’re thinking of 200 million people and of that,Nigeria publishes only less 2000 books per year, it’s ridiculously low,so we want to increase that number to publishing 100 thousand books per day a year,that’s where Nigeria should be so the okadabooks legacy is to organize the publishing industry base in Nigeria.
Interview by: Oyerinde Baraqah Oyeyinka.