Seven years ago, when Jason Njoku moved back in with his mother into their public housing apartment in Deptford, southeast London, he felt like a failure. He was 28 years old and broke after trying and failing to launch several businesses in Manchester, where he went to university, and later in London. Then, one day, Njoku’s mother asked him to find her DVDs of some of her favorite Nigerian movies.
The first place he looked was the internet. Surprised to find no online catalog of movies from Nollywood, Nigeria’s hugely popular film industry, Njoku resorted to buying the few DVDs available from local businesses and asking Nigerian friends in the U.K. to fly caseloads of films back to London after visits to see family and friends. But the experience had sparked an idea—taking Nollywood movies from the markets of Lagos and putting them on the web. “It didn’t make sense that something which appeared so popular seemed to have no online presence,” he says.