SATURDAY PLUS STORY
By Ngozi Madueke Dozie
- I wanted to be a Lawyer until I found I needed a first degree before studying Law
- I am big on Learning. I’ll rather be respected than be feared.
- Fulfillment for Me is Ted to What I Give.
Ngozi Madueke Dozie is the CEO and Country Manager of I-flix, the world’s leading Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service for emerging markets. The hard-working and dedicated head-honcho whose deep experience in scaling technological products in Africa has high hopes hinged on Nigerian youths, rapidly growing internet and smartphone penetration, and huge appetite for digital contents and entertainment to grow the I-flix brand, reputation, adoption and market wallet in Nigeria. She speaks with Adedayo Adejobi about her dream, fulfillment and achievements of the enterprise she leads
|How have you been able to make a mark with just two year in Nigeria?|
Iflix global is two years old; we began operating in Nigeria just last year and we launched in August 2017. However, Nigeria has the privilege to be the first country launching in Africa, but our doors have been open with focus on getting the right people. Our content acquisition is handled locally by our employees. We bring in people who understand that we work hard and play hard. We enjoy being playful, simple, curious, brave, and those are the ethos of our company. I believe these have helped us achieve much.
What plans do you have to make the best contents available on your platform?
The content we offer is quite different from any of the other players who operate in this region. One of the things we offer is a variety of content from Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, Korean movies, and kids’ shows. We have strong content partners in Viacom, Voxel, Nickelodeon and the likes. We don’t have competitors who have the breath and length of the content that we offer. Telenovellas are coming on board in a couple of months.
Your model company, apparently the world’s streaming giant, presently claims a valuation of $60billion. How much are you worth and can you pull such weight against deep pockets in this clime?
We don’t do comparison. We are similar because we are subscription video on demand (SvoD), but different in purpose and value propositions. We are the leading emerging markets (SvoD) service provider. The differentiator is our focus on emerging markets. Data compression, share wallet, affordability, payment challenges, cost, and infrastructural challenges especially when it comes to data are important to us, and make us different from other players in the market. In terms of value, we just closed a second round of fundraising at $133m. Considering being two years old, we have raised over $200m this year alone. In terms of age, we can boast of over five million subscribers and iflix Africa will increase iflix’s global footprint to 23 territories worldwide, with additional regional markets to be added over the coming months. We’re transforming the way emerging markets consume contents.
How well are you positioned toward fulfilling your ambitions?
Our goal is to transform how one billion people consume contents in certain regions with specific challenges. We deploy global technology with local execution. Our content acquisition and marketing is very local.
Do you see the future of TV in Nigeria being internet-driven?
The reason mobile technology has catapulted the way it has grown in the trajectory is because it’s the platform everybody has. The truth is TV never got the level of penetration that it has got in other regions of the world. By 2020, the ratio of TV to phone would be 5-1.
With poor internet penetration in Nigeria, have you figured out your brand would use the same unstable Internet connectivity, to make a great consumer experience?
Internet is one of the challenges we face in Nigeria. Timing of market entry is crucial to our success. If we came in four years ago, the story would have been different. There was a time the telecom firms had their prices high, but now the cost of data is significantly low and to our advantage.
Your global template is well known for a no-vacation policy that lets workers set their own hours and time-off schedule. Are you adopting the same approach to creative freedom?
We have a certain age of our talent pool, and there are certain expectations they have of their employers. You also find out that the tech companies that focus on innovation, pay attention to those who deliver, as opposed to people that clock in and out. We care about being responsive. We use different platforms to communicate from the phone to, software, WhatsApp and email. Considering we are a global company, it’s all about being responsive. With a solid culture, we are productive and we thrive. It works out such that people have flexible schedules that also help because Lagos traffic is unbearable at times. The focus is on people that understand that delivering is more important than clocking in and out.
Where would iflix be five years from now?
Iflix global is two years old and we have five million subscribers. It’s such an unbelievable achievement. It stems from the ability of the founder and co-founders to dream big. We are brave enough to dream it and go for it. I don’t think they thought two years ago, they would be launching in over 20 countries. Five years would be three times exponential growth from now. We want to transform the way a billion people consume contents.
What drives you?
Doing what nobody has done before. Cracking the nut of SvoD in Nigeria drives me. Trying to do what nobody has done before and that means we are doing things differently.
What was your journey like to get where you are?
When I moved back to Nigeria, my journey started at Interconnect – the backbone of porting, moving to another network maintaining your number. I then moved to MTN, Facebook, Iroko, and Viacom before I moved to iflix. I happened to have worked in the three major sectors that have now converged. This seems to be the place I was ultimately preparing for, unbeknown to me.
Every CEO is constantly faced with new tasks and challenges. How do you learn?
I learn from challenges and everything around me – the big and small ones. There is nothing learned that is a waste of brain space. Sometimes, it’s how to connect better with people; at other times, it’s to solve a problem.
Would you be rather respected or feared?
I’ll definitely rather be respected.
How old were you when you had your first job?
It was my sophomore year, and because I was an international student, I couldn’t work outside campus. My first job was calling Alumni office and soliciting funds to raise money for the university. I had never had so many people hang up on me mid-sentence. I had to time my calls because people were working and couldn’t call at work. So, I called after work between 5-8 pm when it’s family time. I got to hear random responses like, ‘I just lost my job and don’t have anybody.’ ‘I blame you guys.’ I also had some callers who were so happy to give money. So, at the beginning of every week, I had a target I am supposed to raise, and what I was hopeful to God for, is that my first few calls are those who have so that I’m able to reach my target before midweek.
What are you really into outside work?
Outside of work and being a mother, I’m an avid runner.
What was growing up like for you?
It was interesting. I went to Queen’s College. Going to a Federal Government school kept me grounded, as I interacted with people from all parts of Nigeria from all spectrums of the economic strata. The moment you start to feel too big or too small, you see a middle ground and it makes you appreciate what you have. That taught me contentment. And my dad has always been big on being grounded, regardless of what you achieve or how far you’ve gone, you must remember that it’s only because you were lucky. I believe and like the idea that intelligence is given randomly. What sets you apart will be linked to your parentage, quality of education, parental training, love, care and support through finding your potential. A lot of times you look around, it lets you know how blessed you are when you see people with potential not fully harnessed.
While growing up, did you have an eye on where the future might take you?
Yes, I wanted to be a lawyer. My dad would say, ‘You say one, and Ngozi would say 20.’ I was always ready for an argument and in fact, I lived for it. So, they felt surely law was my future. Until I found out in the United States, you have a first degree before you do Law. There was a lot of reading involved than talking. I immediately looked for another course. It’s so not where I want to be. It’s such a departure.
Looking back, do you find fulfillment where you are now?
Yes, I find fulfillment where I am able to add value. If I am going to walk the earth, I must say what my contribution is. Fulfillment is not necessarily in my office. It’s about how I’m able to encourage people. I learn from every single interaction I have. I learn when I take my kids to school when they ask random questions like why is that girl on the street. And I have to explain to them that it’s because she doesn’t have a home. My daughter teaches me. I like learning. Fulfillment for me is tied to what I give.
Women are nowadays in big roles men used to play. What’s your take on gender equality?
I wonder if that’s true. I would say though that I have never, at least here in Nigeria, something wasn’t given to me because of my gender. It still exists and it’s not men that do it to women. It’s a general perception of women in society. Women do it as much as men do it. I do look to the day when a man and a woman are evaluated and you don’t have to adjust for gender. Society sees us differently, and I think that to a large extent does impact the decisions we make – good or bad.
What advice do you have for young ladies who are aspiring to be great?
I’m a mother of girls, and so what I’ll tell them is whatever they want to do they can do. I do not let gender determine what careers they want. Even when they are choosing curricular activities, I support them. That is what I would tell any woman. Dream; don’t let the society stop you from being the version of yourself.