Failing all the way to success: Jason Njoku, Founder & CEO, iROKO Partners (Video)

Jason Njoku, Founder & CEO, iROKO Partners

Jason Njoku, Founder & CEO, iROKO Partners

Jason Njoku is the Founder and CEO of iROKO Partners.

iROKO Partners is the largest distributor of Nigerian entertainment (movies and music) online. iROKOtv, one of iROKO Partners’ media products, is the largest licensor of Nigerian movies (both English and Yoruba), with over 4,900 titles in its library.

According to iROKO Partners’ website, “What iROKO Partners does is brutally simple: we buy the online licenses of movies and music directly from producers and recording artists and stream them online to a global Diaspora audience. In doing this, iROKO Partners has assembled the world’s largest online library of awesome African content and has made us West Africa’s fastest-growing Internet company.”

With over 5,000 movies and 35,000 songs across its media platforms, iROKO Partners is the world’s foremost provider of African content online.

iROKO Partners offers a range of online media products, namely:

  1. iROKOtv: Movie streaming website focused on Nigerian movies
  2. iROKING: Africa’s largest music streaming platform
  3. iROKtv: YouTube channel showing exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Nigerian celebrities
  4. NollywoodLove: YouTube channel for Nigerian movies
  5. YorubaLove: YouTube channel for Yoruba movies
  6. ROK Studios: Recently-launched movie production company

The idea for iROKO Partners was born when Jason Njoku could not find any Nigerian movies, popularly referred to as Nollywood, online for his mother. A lot of Nigerians enjoy watching Nollywood movies. However, the availability of Nollywood movies online used to be quite limited.

Recognizing how popular Nollywood was and the increasing demand for Nollywood movies, Jason thought it inconceivable that something so popular was so inaccessible.

Jason moved to Lagos to launch iROKOtv, with the goal of bringing Nollywood movies online. He immersed himself in the Alaba Market, where the business of Nollywood is done, connected with the industry’s producers, and actors and started purchasing the online licences for Nollywood movies.

“Every single person thought I was mad,” Jason Njoku recounts on his early days in Nigeria.

Jason Njoku launched iROKO Partners in December 2010. Just four months into his business, Njoku had bought the online rights to 500 movies from 100 different one-man production houses.

Having negotiated Africa’s first content partnership deal with YouTube, iROKO Partners streamed full-length Nollywood movies online, under the name of NollywoodLove. The Diaspora couldn’t get enough and NollywoodLove was an overnight success.

In January 2012, iROKO Partners launched its own movie streaming platform, iROKOtv, and reached 500,000 registered users in under 6 months.

By the end of the year, iROKOtv had received 152M views with 90% of the views originating from outside Africa. Within 18 months the company had grown to include offices in Lagos, London, and New York.

iROKOtv, ‘Nigeria’s Netflix’, takes Nollywood to a global audience

In December 2011, iROKO Partners moved into the Nigerian music scene and iROKING was born. The platform showcases the best of the West African music industry. iROKING also manages and monetizes the YouTube sites for many of the industry’s top artists.

iROKO Partners is now the fastest-growing internet company in Nigeria. The company is Africa’s largest content partner on YouTube and Dailymotion, in terms of revenue, unique viewers, and total views. In 2011, iROKO Partners generated 152M views.

iROKO Partners’ brands attract over 6M unique viewers from 178 countries. 193M minutes of African movies and music are consumed every month across all of iROKO Partners’ platforms.

New York-based $9B hedge fund, Tiger Global Management, run by an early investor in Facebook and Zynga, has invested $24M in iROKO Partners.

iROKO Partners is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. The company is led by its Co-Founders Jason Njoku and Bastian Gotter, along with major investor, Nazar Yasin.

Jason Njoku studied at the University of Manchester, graduating in 2005 with a BSc in Chemistry.

Jason’s success is even more impressive considering the fact that he is the first person in his family to have attended university. As a matter of fact, after graduating from university, Jason Njoku launched a few companies that failed, prior to his eventual success with iROKO Partners. iROKO Partners was the 11th company started by Jason Njoku.

In Njoku’s words, “I was a spectacular failure. A certified failure. From 2005 to 2010, I was a complete failure.”

“I was technically homeless for like ten months in 2007,” he says. “It was humiliating,” he adds. “For three years, I couldn’t even get a bank account. Up to 2010, I actually couldn’t get a bank account,” says Njoku. “Every single job I got, I’ve been fired from.”

In the words of Jason Njoku, “On the 1st of December 2010, I was broke.”

Jason Njoku, Founder & CEO, iROKO Partners

Exactly, two years later, Jason Njoku was at the helm of iROKO Partners, a rapidly-growing multinational media organization that was the number one player in its market.

iROKOtv could become a billion dollar company by 2020: Jason Njoku, CEO, iROKOtv

Jason Njoku is an inspiration to anyone who has dreams and is willing to work hard to achieve those dreams.

Jason Njoku’s story is a microcosm for the massive business opportunities in Nigeria, in particular, and Africa, in general; not just in the media or online space but across the board.

Across much of Africa, there are massive challenges. Massive challenges are opportunities for massive capitalization. Jason Njoku had the foresight and insight to identify such an opportunity in the online media space and he is clearly capitalizing on this opportunity.

iROKO Partners is solidly-positioned to capitalize on Africa’s young and fast-growing population, which is a demographic gold mine. iROKO Partners is and will continue to capitalize, for the foreseeable future, on Africa’s rapidly-growing internet consumer market and Africa’s surging middle class, with the associated increase in Africans’ discretionary spending power.

The best is yet to come for Jason Njoku and the iROKO Partners family.

Watch more videos from African Business Central.