Jason Chukwuma Njoku is the founder of iROKO, arguably one of the most awesome internet companies in Africa. As a professional (and certified) geek he studied Chemistry at the University of Manchester and, in 2005, he embarked on the journey of becoming a modern day Capitalist. These are his opinions, he owns them and makes no excuses for having them.
My Highlights | I’ve had many highs and lows throughout my career, but signing on the dotted line for our Series A investment at the end of 2010 really stands out as a career highlight. Attracting foreign investment so early on in the journey felt like a genuine validation for the ‘crazy’ Nollywood idea I’d set out to build a business around. My children being born is also the highlight of my life – my family unit is the joy of my life and building the company for their future is extremely important to me.
A Key Talent | A strength of mine, I believe, is being unshackled from fear of failure. It’s something I’ve spoken about a lot in the past. I go into everything with a certain energy and determination that isn’t held back by any notions of ‘What if it goes wrong? What if I fail?’. I would urge all other entrepreneurs to try and unshackle themselves as well – it gives you a certain clarity to make business decisions that aren’t influenced by external factors. How they unshackle themselves depends on what’s holding them back in the first place.
Principles I Live By | Hard work underpins all success. I watched my mother work hard, very hard, to ensure there was enough food on the table for me and my four brothers and sisters when we were growing up. Her hard work ethos most definitely rubbed off on me and it’s something I have adopted in my life, in my business and also, something I expect from people who work for me.
Dealing With Doubt | When my first really big venture failed in Manchester, it failed very publicly. My entire team walked out. I owed money to family and friends and crashed and burned in front of all of my peers. I had no home and was sleeping on my last friends’ sofas, and no money to find somewhere new. I left Manchester as I just wanted to remove myself from the situation and moved back home with my mum in London. At 29. It was humiliating. I spent a couple of months licking my wounds, going over what went wrong, plagued with self doubt. And after a period of mourning, I just got back up and went on to start my next venture. That failed too, but the point is, that even in the midst of chronic self doubt, there was still something inside me that made me believe I could do it; that I didn’t just want to work for ‘the man’. The reason I kept getting up and attempting new ventures was that I had nothing to lose. I’d already crashed and burned badly and after that, I felt that I could conquer any other failure that passed my way.
The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are good at what they do will practice their specific discipline in order to become good. People who are great at what they do will obsess about their chosen area. They’ll allow it to become all consuming; to eat them up. They’ll dedicate their last breath to it and prioritise it above absolutely everything else. That’s what makes them great.
Performing At My Peak | Does anyone really perform at their peak 24/7? I’m not so sure about that. Momentum is important – combining that with a sense of urgency and intensity certainly helps keep you at your peak a lot of the time. The key is, that even when you’re not at your peak, you still keep focussed and make decisions that you won’t live to regret.
The Characteristics Of Success | By nature, I’m a fairly belligerent person – if I believe in something, I’ll argue and fight for it as if my life depended on it. Sometimes this hasn’t worked, but mostly it has. It also helps that I’m extremely resilient and I can bounce back from failures and disappointments relatively unscatathed, probably because I’ve encountered and had to endure countless business failures in the past, so now I go into everything with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, which I think has helped me get where I am today.
Advice On Building Wealth | Think about building a sustainable business, and how you can grow it – don’t think about wealth first. It will lead you into making the wrong decisions. Build your business first and the wealth will come.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | We’ve come along way in our short history, but there’s more blood, sweat and tears to come in order to achieve our ambitions of being one of the leading providers of African entertainment in the world. It’s a bold ambition, for sure, but being bold underpins everything we do.