GIDILOUNGE: In The Business Of Connecting Africa’s Diaspora

Olumide

VENTURES AFRICA – If you download Nigerian music often, then you must be familiar with the term “Gidilounge.” As Nigerians in the diaspora began paying as much as £50 ($80) to watch their local stars perform live, it was evident the emigrants missed and craved the music talents from home. So what did Olumide Adewunmi do? In 2009, the young undergraduate of York University built a music sharing website connecting outsiders to Nigeria’s contemporary music. That was the birth of Nigeria’s leading online entertainment media, Gidilounge, which now boasts 120,000 pageviews daily.

Adegoke Oyeniyi chats with Gidilounge founder and CEO, and 2012 Future Awards Nominnee in Science and Innovation, Olumide Adewunmi, on his music download business that has expanded into online radio, and connecting young Africans from all over the globe.

VA: Recently, Gidilounge celebrated two years of online radio programming. Congratulations.

Olumide: Thank you.

VA: Gidilounge has been hugely successful as the number one stop for contemporary Nigerian music download. Why did the company expand operations to live radio?

Olumide: The idea of live radio in itself seems daunting but we started radio because we have identified a demographic of Africans that love our music but as opposed to the music player which is really music on demand, they want an avenue where they enjoy Africa in its entirety. With our live call-in shows, DJ sets and Radio Programming, we are constantly fulfilling that purpose using Mobile and Web as a major driver of this task but gidi airs other types of shows besides music oriented ones though.

VA: How many shows are on Gidiradio?

Olumide: As we speak, we have 19 shows running, with over 750 podcasts. That’s a whole lot of content new visitors can always go back to. We also try to be diverse with our content, ranging from Relationship talk to Sports Shows and even recently News sattire.

VA: That’s impressive. How have you been able to fund GL’s projects over the years?

Olumide: Well, investments originally came from the founders’ personal funds and as GL grew, server maintenance costs escalated. We were just students in the university back then, so it became apparent we needed a business framework to maintain GL. We restructured, started talking to consultants and made bigger investments in the company. Now, revenue is generated from placed adverts.

VA: So far, no input from venture capitalists?

Olumide: No, but we recently started talking to some ‘suitors’ in regards to seed funding; we plan to take the business to the next level. Presently, Gidilounge has two studios – one in Lagos and the other in Nairobi – we want to open one more in Toronto.

VA: What is GL’s staff strength?

Olumide: Right now, we have about 35 young minds from around the world in the team – technicians, managers, writers, programmers, etc.

VA: So you now work full time on GL?

Olumide: No. You could say at nights I’m the head of Gidilounge, during the day, I double as a consultant for a Canadian firm called ‘Ideaca’. We specialize in delivering innovative solutions around Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management.

VA: Interesting. Well, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and most other successful tech entrepreneurs have been reported to have been tech geeks right from childhood. What’s your story? Were you like them budding at a tender age?

Olumide: That’s a good question, I come from a family of ‘technology inclined’ parents and siblings. My dad has a Ph.d in Computer Science and my mum is a Mathematician, so I have always had computers around me growing up.

It’s funny thinking about it now but I still have memories of punch cards and very old data storage devices.

VA: Okay. What are the future plans for GL? You could share some exclusive news with us?

Olumide: (laughs) Well, we are presently working on a product expected to replace the Gidilounge Music Player. We are very passionate about this one as our other services but this promise to serve as a music eco-system which I really think is exciting.

VA: What does this upgrade do that the current gidi music player can’t?

Olumide: The current music player essentially serves as your online jukebox where we let you enjoy the experience and we bother about the selection of the music you listen to but the new ‘service’ is expected to directly involve the listeners and the content creators (artists, labels, DJs) which is really why we refer to it as a music eco system.

VA: So previously, it was just GL administrator that could upload content. With the new service, anybody can.

Olumide: Yes

VA: When is the launch?

Olumide: 10th of November, there will be a live stream on gidilounge radio and a webcast.

VA: Thank you. We wish you success on your quest to conquer the world.