Building Netsob: Episode 1 – The Origin of Netsob

This is the first entry in a series of entries which follows Sorbari Akpea, a young, ambitious, Nigerian entrepreneur as he tries to build the next internet giant called Netsob. The original post was entered into his journal at 9:53pm on the 24th of September, 2011.


Back when I was in Nigerian Law School, I noticed a problem – it was very difficult for us to know what was going on in school. Though the school was relatively small (you can walk round the whole school in about an hour), we still didn’t know what was happening around us. The solutions we had at the time – both the notice boards in the hostels and the school’s website – were both ineffective because urgent information was not posted on it in time.

The problem was even much worse when we were not in school because the school’s website almost never got updated. I remember this one time when the resumption date was postponed for two weeks. No one knew this because the school authorities didn’t bother to update the website for over a week after they made the decision.

As a result, some students based in other countries came to the Law School only to find out that the resumption date had been postponed for two weeks. And since some of them didn’t have any place to return to (the school refused them entry into the hostels), they had to sleep in the common room for more than a week. It was a horrible experience.

Because of this, I developed a software called Networker. Networker was a social network with several features to connect the students with each other so they could easily share information about what was going on in school. Although the software ran on a web browser, it didn’t make use of the internet because internet connection in Bwari, where the Law School is located, was very poor.

Instead, Networker used WiFi to connect laptops and WiFi-enabled phones together. And since the Law School had a wireless network that covered most part of the school, that worked fine. I had almost finished work on the project when exams drew near and I had to abandon it to prepare for my exams.

However, after Law School, I started thinking – if we faced that kind of problem in such a relatively small place, then the students in Nigerian universities must be facing a much more terrible problem. So I did a little research and found out that my thoughts were correct.

Students in Nigerian universities suffer from this same problem. Although there were several websites and blogs trying to solve this problem, I didn’t think they were going about it the right way. I thought a social network exclusive to a university where students can easily connect with each other, ask and answer questions and post and receive news updates of what was going on around them will solve the problem better.

So I went to work. I tried to register the domain name, Networker.com, but it was already taken so I settled for Netsob.com. I also bought several other domain names that I planned to use for each individual university like iUnilag.com, iUniport.com, iUniben.com and so on. The idea was to launch a social network for each school and make it exclusive to that school.

Since the University of Lagos (Unilag) was a very popular school, I decided to start there.

I bought hosting with Hostgator.

Cracked my fingers

Let the hacking begin!!!