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
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
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.