If content truly is king, then Oluwaseun Adegoke Oyeniyi wants to become the kingmaker and is building a platform, Hankara, to make this a reality.
As the number of tech startups increases globally, it’s becoming apparent that technical talents aren’t the only ones in competitive demand. Marketers, especially content marketers and writers who can help established companies and startups tell their stories in a way their audience understands, especially in Europe and North America, are also much sought after in the market. In fact, a Technavio 2020 report projected that the content marketing industry would be worth over $400 billion in 2021, and would grow another $269 billion by 2024, bringing its total worth to over $600 billion in that year.
But as the demand for good content writers increases, the supply invariably decreases. The problem for American companies empirically is: Their fine local content writers are either too expensive or unavailable, leaving them with the option of delegating content tasks to engineers or UX designers or look outside of their regions for great and affordable writers. According to Oyeniyi, most content on the majority of American software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies are written by engineers or designers whose content skills are primitive. This is the problem Oyeniyi discovered as far back as 2018, which led him in 2022 to quit his job as editor-in-chief of TechCabal to work on its solution full-time.
“There’s a huge demand for great content writers in Europe and America, and we have lots of good writers out here,” Oyeniyi told me over a call. “So, we are matching these two sides together.”
According to Oyeniyi, the business model is simple: He is building something like Andela, but for content. His voice got livelier when he likened his startup to the talent unicorn. Andela was quite pivotal in Oyeniyi’s 10-year media career. In June 2015, about seven months after the unicorn was launched in Nigeria, Oyeniyi wrote one of the most in-depth stories about the startup to date. The piece would go on to be one of many people’s favourite bylines from him. In that story, Oyeniyi narrated how he spent almost a week going around Lagos, Nigeria with Andela’s founders, familiarising himself with their itinerary and picking up their stories and that of the young people they had set out to help create thriving careers in tech.
Oyeniyi believes that non-technical talents like content writers can be onboarded for training or for outright outsourcing to companies in need of their services, and that a sustainable business can be built around this. The content marketing outsourcing market size is $103 billion and expected to grow by 15.1% year-on-year. Currently, content marketing opportunities are being outsourced from the US and Europe to China, India, Pakistan, etc, countries where English isn’t even the first language. Nigeria and many parts of Africa stand a good chance of dominating this space and carving out jobs to mitigate the alarming unemployment rates they are currently experiencing. Meaningful Gigs, a tech-enabled marketplace connecting skilled African designers with international companies seeking high-quality digital design, raised $6 million in March. This hints at the vast opportunity available in the gig sector, as a whole.
He launched Hankara in June this year, and a month after, announced a talent acceleration programme where undergraduates and fresh graduates would be trained in business writing for four months. This is a trick borrowed straight from the Andela playbook: train, outsource, and manage.
“We curate, vet, and train talented content marketers. Currently, we have in our network over 1,100 talents. We plan to expand to other African countries by the end of the year. Our mission is to connect 200,000 Africans to the global digital economy and help 10X their earnings,” Oyeniyisaid, just before excusing himself to take a client call.
It was a rainy Monday afternoon in Lagos the day we spoke, so the weather was a little bit chilled. Oyeniyi’s voice cracked at first, due to the bad network connection. His voice is familiar to me, even though we worked together for just about six months and he’s been gone from TechCabal for nine, his influence in the newsroom remains potent. TechCabal’s reporters continue to reference Oyeniyi’s calculative contribution to conversations, eagerness to learn and try new things, and constant demand for original human-angle stories. Under his leadership, the new TechCabal came into existence, and he hired some of the best editorial talents in the company today.
Oyeniyi prides himself as a versatile problem solver. From diving blindly and headfirst into blogging after university to remedy unemployment to building a failed social media platform and two failed publications, to building a rich career in tech and business journalism with YNaija, Ventures Africa, and then TechCabal, Oyeniyi knows what failure and success look like. And he’s reaching for success while preparing for its antithesis.
As though hedging his bets, Oyeniyi now runs two businesses. Besides Hankara which he actively runs himself, there’s also TechPR, a public relations company that helps African tech startups tell their stories right and reach more audiences, run by an appointed CEO. According to Oyeniyi, these two startups, even though they predominantly serve different markets, were birthed with a single mission: to help startups scale through storytelling. TechPR counts the global accelerator Techstars as one of its clients, while Hankara has Canadian, American, and French companies as clients, including Magic Fund, a venture capital fund backed by a number of startup founders.
Hankara makes money from the commissions it gets on every talent match. Without revealing their numbers, Oyeniyi claims the business is already raking in “decent revenue” and wishes to push further faster with a pre-seed raise. The company also plans to open a US sales office, because most of the businesses it serves are based there.
Oyeniyi believes that Hankara is creating a win-win market for all stakeholders. The company currently boasts of more than 600 content writers currently going through screening, and more than five international companies. He is optimistic that the number will triple by the end of the year, after all, the business is only four months old.
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