Mide Kunle-Akinlaja and His Making of ‘The Next Titan’

Mide Akinlaja - Exe. Producer, The Next Titan Nigeria

From obscurity to the global stage, the ‘next titan that began five years ago has continued to re-define young Nigerian’s destinies, unearth unhidden talents and throw up young entrepreneurs to record extraordinary accomplishments with the season five winner, Ogechukwu Obah winning Forbes 30under30 in Africa 2019. As it prepares for its season six, the reality TV show is not only producing wealth creators but paving the path of leadership for emerging entrepreneurs. Funke Olaode reports

“T “The idea behind the next titans is to create Nigeria of our dreams, the roll calls of entrepreneurs with businessmen and women who will boost the nation’s economy and become employers of labour. It is not just an ordinary show but a show that transforms lives.”

With his speech, the executive producer, The Next Titan, and Managing Director, Bravopoints International Limited, Mide Kunle-Akinlaja unveiled the next titan milestone evening and season six press conference held at Radisson Blu, Victoria Island, Lagos.

In attendance were past winners, judges such Mr. Kyari Bukar, Mrs. Lilian Olubi, SSA to the President Buhari on Trade and Investment. Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, amongst others. Among the dignitaries were, Chief Marketing Officer, Heritage Bank, Mr. Femi Ibidapo, Group Managing Director, Sifax Group, Mr. Adekunle Oyinloye, and the media.

The Next Titan over the past five years has been the only major entrepreneurial reality show in Nigeria, which gives an opportunity for young aspiring entrepreneurs with good business ideas that can transform the economy to compete among themselves on television in other to win a grand cash prize and a brand new car to start their dream business. But more important, it is a platform designed to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the generality of young Nigerians who may not have the opportunity to participate directly through its regional auditions, but who can watch the TV show, and who can, as a result, take a decision to ply the route of entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

This year’s conference was different as the organizers added a twist to it by tagging it TNT Milestone an evening which was a way of hosting all the past winners and for them to share their testimonies on how the programme has helped them in accomplishing their dream in the presence of judges, sponsors, and press.
The organizer also seized the occasion to announce the upcoming season 6. And with thousands of entries from young aspiring entrepreneurs across Nigeria, this year’s show promised to be a masterpiece as these young ambitious entrepreneurs would have another opportunity to showcase their business ideas and battle one another for a cash prize and brand new car to start their dream business. This year, the winner of the season 6 will walk home with N7 million and a brand new car.
With past winners making waves in their endeavour, the Season Six promises to be more exciting; as auditions for Season 6 will start by the end of July in 4 major cities in Nigeria which are Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Lagos, after which, the Top 50 will be selected for Top 50 Boot Camp, in Lagos before the 16 final contestants with brightest ideas will be unveiled before over 300 guests at the Premiere Show in September. And it is this 16 shortlisted finalists that will live together and compete by carrying out weekly business tasks and challenges around the city of Lagos for 10 weeks on television, and with weekly evictions in the boardroom by the judges.

I am living my dreams
Iroghama Ogbeifun- Obuoforibo (Season 1 winner)
Founder /CEO, Hairven Ltd
Talking passionately on how the show has transformed her life to realize her dream, Season One Winner and founder Founder/CEO, Hairven Ltd, Iroghama Ogbeifun-Obuoforibo, said it has been a dream come through. A passionate and goal-getting entrepreneur, Iroghama, an indigene of Edo State, Nigeria, is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Boston; with Master’s in Public Health from Brunnel University, London. Today an employer of labour with over 10 graduates and other employees working with her company, HAIRVEN LTD, which is currently the only synthetic hair care product line in Nigeria.
Speaking about her journey to being an entrepreneur, she said, “My entrepreneurial journey began years ago when I set up Hairven having seen hair business in a newly emerging the market in Nigeria and I decided to set up my own brand as hair care products specifically targeted to care for hair essentials. While trying to get NAFDAC to approve my haircare products, I stumbled upon The Next Titan and I applied which I was lucky to be selected among other fantastic young entrepreneurs to go into the house.

On the show, I got engaged in numerous business tasks over a period of 3 months with other 16 contestants, and at the end of the day, I emerged the winner, and I went home with N5 million and a brand new Ford car which was a turning point in business.”

Talking about what she has been able to achieve since winning the show, she said the ability to overcome financial constraints.
“One of my biggest challenges before coming into the show wasfinance; that is, getting financial support was very challenging for me. What we have to do to stay afloat in business was to maintain cost. The prize money, and as well as the opportunity availed to me on The Next Titan is what made Hairven Ltd what it is today. We have grown from a one-man business to a company that empowers 50 other families through our workers.

“Apart from manufacturing our own products, we currently have two salons with ultra-modern facilities in Port Harcourt, as well as a spa, business cafe, fitness centres and also, facilitate training and workshop for young entrepreneurs. So basically, we are building a lifestyle brand to cater for needs of Nigerians. The confidence that I developed during my time on The Next Titan has definitely contributed to who I am today with my core values,” elated Iroghama said.

Contacts as his staying power
Davies Okeowo, (Season 2 Winner)
Founder/CEO, Enterprise Hills Ltd
From studying accounting to becoming a seasoned business management consultant, Davies Okeowo has proved what it takes to take the bull by the horns. He is the Founder/CEO, Enterprise Hills, a business management consulting firm that provides business development services and support to Micro, Small, and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs). Enterprise Hills 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, minimizing their chances of business failure, and maximizing their chances of business growth and sustainability.

For Okeowo, the show has not only sharpened his skills but enlarged his coast through contacts as it has also opened a lot of opportunities through networking and referrals which he said has made an impact on his growth as an individual. “I have gotten a lot of referrals from judges of the show. Even Heritage Bank team has helped us in fine-tuning the number of stuff in our business after winning the show. Generally speaking, The Next Titan has been an amazing experience of growth for me and my business. I’m forever grateful to The Next Titan platform and its sponsors.

To many who believe finance is the major impediment to a young entrepreneur, Okeowo is of a different view.
“Finance is like gasoline (fuel) if you pour it on dry land it will dry up, but if you pour it into a spark it booms; so what this means is you need to start from where you are, you all have the capacity to start, by the time you start, you will find yourself up along the way,” he stated.

Turning trashes to luxuries
Marvis Marshal-Idio (Season 3 winner)
Founder/CEO, Jacmarvis Ltd
Marvis Marshal-Idio is the season 3 winner of The Next Titan with a business idea of turning trashes into furniture and furnishings. Marvis is a graduate of Architecture from the University of Uyo and with a Master’s degree in Interior Designs from Florence Designs Academy, Italy. She walked away with Five Million Naira cash and a brand new Ford Ecosport beating other four finalists at the grand finale.

Speaking on how the next titan helped transform her business ideas of turning trashes to luxuries, the budding entrepreneur said it has been a journey of fulfilment made easy by winning the next Titan. “We recycle and turn trash to beautiful furniture pieces. Before The Next Titan, I was not able to produce most of my products with machines. I have been struggling to acquire the tools to make me work effectively and with ease. I had to do a lot of things with my bare hands.

After winning the show, I have been able to acquire a lot of machines and we have started production which has made my work creative and outstanding. And our products are now available to Nigerians. Without doubt, The Next Titan has brought me this far in my entrepreneurial journey, I have also been able to do an exhibition of my products which are world-class across the country and I have created jobs through this.
Her advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is: “Regardless of every challenge you are facing, you should never give up.”

Doing exploits
Kennedy Iyeh (Season 4 Winner)
Founder/CEO, Blueleaf Farms Ltd
Kennedy Iyeh is the season 4 winner of The Next Titan Nigeria. He is a second class upper graduate of Microbiology. After winning the competition, Kennedy started his business, Blueleafs Farm specializing in herbs and spices products. His aims to own 5% of the Nigeria herbs and spices market share, and to be one of Nigeria’s largest exporters of herbs and spices to the international market thereby solving the problem of importation of farm produce and able to meet up the demand in Nigeria.

Prior to participating in The Next Titan, he has been struggling on how to get mentorship and seed capital to start his business. “Unlike other contestants who may have started their businesses in a small way, mine was completely still in the idea stage. But participating in The Next Titan was a great experience for me, and emerging the winner was a breakthrough for me in my entrepreneurship career. I had to relocate to Lagos from Enugu to be close to the judges and the organizers of The Next Titan so as to mentor me through my entrepreneurial journey and it has been an eye-opener for me in every aspect. And with this, I was able to start my farm in Ogun State which is close to Lagos. Now, I have a lot of people working with me on the farm, and we have even started exporting.”

He advised, “The entrepreneurial journey is always appealing from afar because everyone wants to take up the name CEO/Founder, but not everyone understands what it takes to be an entrepreneur. So you have to continue to evolve and don’t let your idea die in you because people will rather listen to someone who has started than someone who hasn’t started.”

Putting Nigeria on the global map Ogechukwu Obah (Season 5 Winner)
Founder/CEO, Bodylikemilk
Ogechukwu Alexis Obah, a Skin Care Entrepreneur is the winner of Season 5. Ogechukwu is a graduate of University College Ghana where she obtained a degree in Human Resource Management. She also has a Diploma in Business & Marketing, and with Advanced Diploma in Sports Nutrition & Beauty from Shaw Academy, Ireland. Her product, Bodylikemilk Skincare & Cosmetics is a NAFDAC certified company that aims to provide and dominate quality skincare and cosmetics services in Nigeria. A nurse and beauty therapist by profession, since her foray into skin care manufacturing, Bodylikemilk is solving the problem of mass importation of substandard cosmetic products, by manufacturing made in Africa quality beauty skin care range of products; and also facilitates training to other young entrepreneurs to reduce the rate of unemployment. Before winning the prize money, getting a space has always been her top challenge and also building an online store for her business have seemed impossible. She was able to achieve all these few months after emerging as the winner of the show winning N5 million and a brand new Ford car.

For Obah, winning has not only opened many opportunities it has also helped promote her products to a household name. One of her major achievements after winning the show was being nominated and winning Forbes 30under30 in Africa 2019.
Her advice for young entrepreneurs is to embrace hard work and to always have a passion for what they are doing.
She stated, “When you stumble, your passion will be your drive to never give up.”