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This is what got me thinking:

We have such a fantastic ecosystem in Nigeria where several startups fantasize about their startups becoming the next big thing in startup wonderland. In fact, here is a recent list of possible winners for 2015.

Who knows if they will survive till 2016……?

But, iROKOtv…

At $50 million dollar valuation, iROKOtv is one of the most successful and vocal startups from Africa.  And in the startup world, valuation equals success.

[Disclaimer: Just like you, I am NOT associated with iROKOtv, I am simply looking out for StartUp Growth Hacking Stories and all data are from sources quoted]

Here are the 7 Things That (Probably) Make IrokoTV “Successful”

1. Have a strong vision

What is your BIG vision for your startup?

For Jason, he believes that Nollywood, Nigeria and West Africa deserve a billion dollar media and Technology Company. And he wants to build it. With a bigger vision, you think customers first so that you can spot several other opportunities to serve them better.

You can begin by outlining how your industry can be better and the opportunities you can tap to make this happen.

For example, in its early days, the company started out only as a YouTube channel (NollywoodLove) but has grown to embrace mobile first approach, adapted pricing severally for different markets, optimized distribution across several platforms including linear TV, telecommunication partnerships and is currently being built to optimize customer’s experience by solving erratic data issues in Africa, inspired by the fact that 76% of their total traffic from this part of the world was strictly from mobiles.

Successful startups are built over several iterations to serve potential market opportunities. This requires you to take a strategic look at your startup and when necessary, your approach to serve this new market.

2. Have a growth-focused team

How you build out your team in the first few years can have a huge impact on the trajectory of your company. My rationale is simple: everything goes wrong and only great teams can respond to competitors, markets, funding environments, staff departures, PR disasters and the like.

iROKOtv seems to have a good line-up of team members. In addition to his co-founder, Bastian, one of the early significant growth members is Jessica who was in charge of the massive PR exposure and brand messaging the startup enjoyed in western publication and in Silicon Valley.

You also need great team who can work on your tactical deliveries and have a culture that celebrates your workforce whenever the occasion demands, especially when they are in the system.

For example, here are two best practices and helpful tips to choosing co-founders and early employees for your startup.

  • Don’t hire a homogenous team. You need a diverse set of skills to succeed.
  • Start the hiring process with a clear idea of what you are looking for. Never allow a position to be posted unless there is a real job description in place.

3. Be the face of the company

Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Marc Benioff of Salesforce or Larry Ellison of Oracle all have one thing in common.

They showcased a class of successful entrepreneurs that embodied their startup.

They are always powerful, and revered because they spoke out, challenged myths, took risks and “zigged when others zagged.”

That is what you should be for your brand.

That is what Jason is to IrokoTV. He is unapologetic, he is revered, hated, despised and yet …he has earned his VOICE.

You can earn this by granting interviews, press releases and industry events….even writing a blog.

4. Find mentorship and guidance

I agree with Jason that,

“It’s super important, irrespective of whatever industry you’re in, to try and be on friendly terms with other significant players. Their successes and challenges can help to narrow your focus, shape your strategy, becoming invaluable sounding “advisory” board with invaluable insights for your business.”

That’s nicely said already.

5. Be data-driven

One of the major competencies you need to survive and triumph in the market is knowledge and interpretation of data on how to build your business. In Jason’s own words, “the vast majority of the insights and value in our platform is our institutional understanding of how to read and interpret our data”

You goal is to know your industry better than anyone else with data to play your cards to your advantage. This advantage comes handy when you sliced and diced that data to guide in smarter acquisition and decision making.

You need a system to constantly obtain and analyze in-house data, insights about your  competitors and the economy. A good understanding of these metrics will also guide you to know when competition does not matter or how to make proactive decisions that might affect business fundamentals, distribution strategy or potential competitors’ next moves etc.

So how do you get your in-house data?

On one of his post, Jason went into details of his data-driven decision making process

The arguable bottom-line is that iROKOtv has the most expansive data set around Nollywood than anyone has ever collated which means that they know Nollywood better than any living being or institution and has interpreted the data to determine how it affects the growth numbers for the startup.

There are several technology products that assist you in getting valuable data and making informed decision with your startup.

6. Have a bias for (growth-hacking) experiments — always

iROKOtv has pivoted severally, with business model redefined to adjust to market realities. That is why you need a strong emotional conviction and a startup team that is built to make radical shifts and pivot its business model based on insightful market data.

For iROKOtv, here are some of the experiments and growth models they have experimented.

A. Growth-hacking distribution

With its roots from YouTube, iROKOtv has diversified its distribution model with a strong monetization asset that stopped freeloaders. And in order to expand its distribution networks in Africa and beyond, iROKOtv has tried everything from partnership with ISP providers, Linear TV market (like StarTimes, Eutelsat’s 5WA satellite and Lebara), “frenemy” relationships with NETFLIX and having their over 5,000 movies catalogue translated to French

It is imperative to note that not all experiments will be a successful growth-hack, iROKOtv has several failed experiments like its earlier iterations of TV apps and mobile experiences on Android and iOS

B. Growth-hacking pricing model

How do you price your product across different continents? Let data guide you.

It is fun watching IrokoTV burn bridges, change monetization models and his explanations for such actions.

C. Growth-hacking PR

Be the best advocate for your industry. It pays off. The results will speak for you

As a result of a well-planned PR strategy, iROKOtv is synonymous with the success and idiosyncrasies of Nollywood, with arguably more international press coverage than any other Nigerian company.

D. Growth-hacking marketing

One of iROKOtv’s latest marketing experiments is their referral program. This is a similar experiment that helped DropBox grow from 100,000 users to 4,000,000 in under two years.

You can spy on iROKOtv with intelligence tools like BuiltWith (focus on the advertising category) and Moat to see their banner ads.

What’s your plan to make your startup equally successful? Share what makes your startup tick on Radar.

Editor’s note: Wole Ogunlade is a digital marketing expert; he is the editor of SpokenTwice.com, a blog dedicated to teaching marketing topics covering conversion optimization, growth hacking and marketing automation strategies. You can connect with him on linkedin

Photo Credit: slack12 via Compfight cc

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