‘The Next Titan Awakens The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Young Nigerians’

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Mide Kunle-Akinlaja, is the Executive Producer of The Next Titan, a reality show and the Managing Director, Bravopoints International Limited, a B2B Media Company in Nigeria. Kunle-Akinlaja in this interview with Peter Uzoho, says that the third edition of The Next Titan scheduled for next month, will impact positively on the lives of young aspiring entrepreneurs in Nigeria

The Next Titan is already in its third season, can you tell us more

about the show?

When you look at the word ‘Titan’ it means somebody who is already a

leader in his industry, a juggernaut in his sphere of discipline;

somebody who has become big in what he does. And when

you now say ‘The Next Titan’, it means you’re talking about young and budding entrepreneurs who will end up becoming ‘titans’ in their own disciplines whether in Technology, Inventions, Media, Real Estate, Fashion, Agriculture, or Productions, and so on.

As regarding the show, The Next Titan is a-10 week Entrepreneurial

Reality TV Show designed to awaken and ignite the entrepreneurial

spirit of young Nigerians, not only the participants but mainly the

generality of TV viewers.

The TV reality show which is already in its third season gives an

opportunity to young talented Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 39

years old, who have great, innovative and unbeatable business ideas,

to compete against one another in real-life entrepreneurial challenges

in a bid to ultimately win five million naira and a brand new car to

start their new business or to support their existing business.

The Next Titan is Nigeria’s only business reality TV show, and it is

definitely about changing the story of Nigeria to a story about

innovation, tenacity, and entrepreneurship; a story of people who have

the determination to defy the odds, transform their circumstances and

challenge conventional wisdom; the story of the people that is able to

build from bottom to up. And this is the idea behind the Next Titan

which is designed to ignite an entrepreneurial spirit of audacity,

tenacity, creativity and drive of young Nigerians. The show is

designed as entertainment with thrilling and exciting format but its

primary purpose is to change the mind-set of the people most

especially the TV viewers by awakening the entrepreneurial spirit of

young Nigerians thereby accepting responsibility of being masters of

their own destinies. The reality show aims at practically engineering

entrepreneurship among Nigerian youths through identifying those with the best business minds and then supporting their entrepreneurial

acumen through financial and logistical assistance, informal training,

knowledge and other requisite services needed to propel them into

successful business guys.

How do you select the participants, and what are the basic things you

look out for?

The Next Titan is open for all ambitious young entrepreneurs who are

willing to demonstrate their commercial insights, business savvy, and

entrepreneurial acumens on a 10-week TV Reality Show. But all the

contestants must be College graduates whether University or

polytechnic, and must be between the ages of 18 and 39. Another key

thing is that they must have a good, innovative, and scalable business

idea. And to achieve this, we allow these qualified candidates to

send in their entries to the website of the show, where we usually

receive several thousands of entries. And from these thousands of

entries, we then narrow them down to a sizeable number based on how great their business ideas are, before we invite them for regional

Auditions. The auditions hold in Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Lagos.

After the regional auditions have been conducted by the Auditions

judges who are successful entrepreneurs, we then prone the number down again to 50 after the rigorous auditions, which we call Nigerian Top 50. But don’t forget that we only need the best 16 to be in the house for the television knock-out stages; and this top 16 will live

together for 10 weeks to carry out different business tasks on the TV.

And this is the stage where the Next Titan Show brings the reality of

pains and gains of entrepreneurial journey into the living rooms of

millions of Nigerian TV viewers. So, to get the this best 16 out, we

would take the Top 50 to Boot-Camp in Lagos, usually at Eko Tourist

Beach Resort, Akodo, Lagos, where they would spend three days together.

The Top 50 Boot-Camp is a mixture of entertainment and learning. It

also gives us an opportunity to know the contestants very well and at

the same time help the contestants to network with one another, as

well as to receive different trainings and to learn new things. At the

end of the third day, the final auditions are conducted at the camp

where the Top 16 going into academy/reality show house is determined.

The Top 16 are then unveiled at a gala event which is the Premiere

Evening of the show before a quality audience made up of CEOs, public

sector leaders, celebrities, entrepreneurs and so on. These are all

the processes before the emergence of the best 16 contestants who will live together for 10 weeks in order to compete against one another for the ultimate prize of five million and a brand new car to kick start

their business.

In what areas can you say The Next Titan is contributing to the

economic growth of Nigeria?

The importance of The Next Titan to the Nigerian economy lies in

igniting entrepreneurial spirit of young people, and showcasing the

possibility of entrepreneurship in transforming lives and our

societies with just an idea that can be scaled to greatness. By

scouting for young talented people who have entrepreneurial acumens,

grooming them through a rigorous task and boardroom process and

eventually funding a winner’s idea, leading to an opportunity to

create jobs for themselves and others, is indeed a big contributor to

the socio-economic development of the society. And what is more

compelling is that a broader audience, that is millions of TV viewers

are able to watch directly on their TV sets, therefore getting their

entrepreneurial spirit inspired to take their destinies in their

hands. The multiplie effect of this is that the young graduates whose

mentalities have been earlier conditioned to seeking for jobs after

schools, would now have a change of mind sets of creating jobs for

themselves and others. Nigeria is incredibly a big market for any

products or services to succeed even religion. The show is indeed an

inspiration to millions of young people, delivered through an

entertainment channel but with the main purpose of oiling the interest

of young people to think entrepreneurship. And like I said, The Next

Titan is not only about the prizes for the winners, but about the

generality of youths which we need to ignite their entrepreneurial

spirit. When they watch an innovative show like this, it gets them

intoxicated and restless, and the next thing they would want to do is

how they can turn their potentials inside of them into money making

ventures. What Nigeria needs at the moment is to get the young

graduates to think about starting business but you can’t get this done

without touching their spirit. They need the motivation and anything

that will ignite their spirit to take the step. Every business or

multinational you see around today was once an ordinary idea of

somebody. Some are self-motivated to start something on their own with their God-given talent, while some need the motivation from others.

One of the reasons America, Japan and China are ahead of other nations in the world lies in the innovative programmes including

entrepreneurial reality shows that originated from these countries

which are specifically targeted at igniting the entrepreneurial spirit

of their younger generations in getting them to take their destinies

in their hands. And this has birthed new innovations, inventions,

businesses, and products in USA, Japan and China. Examples of these

shows are Dragons Den, which originated from Japan, and The Apprentice UK which originated from United States, and many others. You can see today that Nigerian music industry is doing pretty well. Do you know the reason? The reason is as a result of the different musical reality shows that our youths are watching. This has influenced their minds, and it has brought about the questions they are asking themselves ‘if these people on TV can do it, Can’t I do it also?’ And you can now see how everyone is rushing into the studio to make music regardless of

the courses they studied in schools. Now the question is, what about

other several young people who can’t sing or dance but who are also

talented to be a great business guys, and have a good business idea?

So, this is where The Next Titan comes in.

Who are the judges of the new season?

The Next Titan has been absolutely lucky to have judges who have been

consistent with the show from inception. Despite their busy schedules,

they always create time for the 10 weeks show. The main judges of the

show are Mr. Kyari Bukar, Chairman Nigerian Economic Summit Group; Mrs.

Lilian Olubi, CEO, Primera African Securities Ltd; Mr. Tonye Cole, CEO,

Sahara Energy Group, and Mr. Chris Parkes, Chairman/CEO, CPMS Africa.

These respected personalities I just mentioned are the ones behind the

success of the innovative show. They have continued to hugely invest

their time and ideas in the show. I think one of the secrets of

entrepreneurial success is ability to market right products to the

right people. In this case, my team and I were fortunate to discuss a

right project or product with the right people whose daily lifestyles

centre on how to add values to the lives of future leaders like our

contestants. So I didn’t need to struggle to get their support for the

show. We have judges who have widely travelled across the globe as

business leaders, and who know the exploits the young entrepreneurs

are doing in other continents of the world, and who believe that

African and Nigerian youths can do the same if only they are

motivated. Their support and that of our Guest Judges for the show has

been phenomenon.

Can you give us insight into the last two seasons; who the winners

were and what they are doing now?

The winner of the Season One is Iroghama Ogbeifun, an indigene of Edo

State. She was auditioned in Port Harcourt. She is a graduate of University of

Massachusetts, Boston; and I think she also has Masters in Public

Health from Brunel University, London. She is today an employer of

labour with about 15 graduates working with her company, Hairven Ltd

which is currently the only synthetic hair care product line in

Nigeria, also distributed by Jumia. Iroghama Ogbeifun as the founder

of Hairven Ltd is living her dreams, and has equally been able to

create jobs for other graduates. Her company is located in Ogudu,

Lagos but now has a branch in Port Harcourt. Also, the winner of

Season Two is Davies Okeowo, who holds BSc in Accounting. He did his

audition in Lagos. The dream of Davies Okeowo is already coming

through and he is today the founder/CEO, of EnterpriseHills, a

business consulting firm located in Lagos which provides business

development services and support to Micro, Small, and Medium Scale

Enterprises (MSMEs). EnterpriseHills provides accounting services to

businesses within the MSME business category by leveraging on the

power of modern technology to create diverse solutions to suit the

needs of its market thereby making them more structured, minimising

their chances of business failure, and maximising their chances of

business growth and sustainability. I can tell you that these guys are

doing pretty well.

Presently, the country’s economic climate is very volatile, as

an entrepreneur, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs in

this harsh economy?

The greatest asset of an entrepreneur is his ‘Mind’ let me start from

the first business that God gave man to do, which is farming. Farming

is the first business we read about that God gave to a man, Adam. Now,

my analogy is this, Do you know that the same God that created farming

was the one that created weeds being an unwanted plants. When a farmer

plants, before you know weeds have overgrown the plants in an attempt

to destroy the plants. But have you noticed that farmers don’t cry

when unwanted weeds and animals come to destroy their farms. What

farmers do is to clear the weeds and also set a trap for the animals

that want to destroy the farms. So, what is important here is; the

same God that gave farming to a man as a business, also created weeds

and animals that will destroy the farms. But God is not wicked, He only wants man to be innovative and creative and hardworking to solve his problems in life. This same approach is applicable to all businesses, having their own ‘unwanted plants’. The solution is not to cry, the solution is to be innovative to solve the problems.

An entrepreneur is a different specie, and he is different from other normal business people. An entrepreneur solves problems no matter how difficult the problem is. An entrepreneur is somebody who believes that he is in charge and in control. An entrepreneur has his own tools that other normal business people don’t have. These tools are innovativeness, audacity, persistence, creativity and most importantly resilience.

And when you talk about harsh economy, this would not be enough to stop any entrepreneur. The truth is, there will always be day and night; dry season and rainy season; surplus and recession; and these are principles, and therefore depends on what government or individuals have learnt so as to prepare for the days of dryness.

Some dryness are natural while some are self-made, like the one Nigeria is facing presently which has been attributed to corruption of our leaders. However, it is a time for entrepreneurs to stand out and solve problems.

My major message to young entrepreneurs is that it’s not everybody that can be an entrepreneur because you will face some challenges and the best thing you may think you should do is to just give up. If you are an entrepreneur, you must face challenges, but resilience is what is required. And we should not think that even the big entrepreneurs don’t face challenges. The level of their success determines the level of their challenges.

So my advice to entrepreneurs is that they should never think that there will be a time they will never face challenges and they begin to think they have gotten to their resting place. Entrepreneurs should be innovative and resilient; the ability to stand up when they are falling and never to think think there is a resting place where there will be no challenges again.

Still on The Next Titan, who are your major sponsors for this year’s season?

We really want to appreciate Heritage Bank for being consistent with us. They are the major sponsor of Season Three. They were also the major sponsor of the previous season. Heritage is a bank that believes so much in wealth creation and adding values to the lives of talented youths. A bank that wants to help those who never thought they could have story to create, while helping those who already have stories to preserve it. We have other supporting sponsors such as Lagos State Government, BriscoeFord Motors, and the official Airline, Aero and many others.