My name is Ian Elroy Ogonji, a renowned journalist and serial entrepreneur. I am the brains behind The Youthing Magazine and Qnow!t Digital. I founded The Youthing Magazine in 2018 with a vision to amplify the youth’s voices in various spectrums such as leadership, environment conservation, climate justice and health. We have partnered, ran campaigns and told impact stories of organisations across Africa. Qnow!t Digital, my second baby who is thriving as a digital marketing agency, came to life in 2020 when I realized businesses and organisations are struggling in packaging their message and reaching their target audience. I leveraged my tech skills and creative writing prowess to bridge that gap.Tell us about how you got started.
Growing up I really, really, really wanted to be a journalist. Armed with this passion, I began writing stuff and sharing it with various publications. Around 2017, I started a blog where I posted articles on social issues. A light-bulb moment hit me in 2018 when it came to my attention that there wasn’t any magazine that gave voices to young people. I therefore drafted a strategy and prospected how this business idea would look like in the coming years. Due to the target market that I was trying to reach, I thought it would be wise to have a digital magazine instead of the usual hard copy print. We did interviews, wrote impactful stories, organized and attended events etc. In 2020, amidst the pandemic, we started running campaigns and conducting joint training with Non-Governmental Organizations. It was at that point when I created Qnow!t Digital to handle the campaigns and digital marketing needs of our clients. With Qnow!t Digital, we started by performing an all round conversion of organisations and businesses into thriving BRANDS. We develop and design websites, run Search Engine optimization to improve rankings, conduct content marketing and manage social media pages.
We are unique in the sense that we are always ahead of trends. We have leveraged Artificial Intelligence into our services and that has made us stand out among the rest. We are always on the lookout for new technologies and innovations to improve our operations and ensure our clients get the best returns on their investment.
Towards the end of 2019, we had developed a mobile application (Youthing App) which was intended to link youths to opportunities and help them navigate life after school. This was a project under The Youthing Magazine and had seen great potential. A lot of young people had started benefiting from the application. Sponsors and partners also started reaching out for collaborations. When the pandemic invaded, it happened that most young people had free time to themselves and so we experienced an overwhelming amount of traffic on the application. The traffic was so high that it affected its efficiency and led to a lot of downtimes. One of the partners we had agreed to work with suggested that we host the app on their server so as to minimize the downtime. We blindly accepted the offer and two months into this arrangement, the application disappeared from Google Play Store. Consequently, we also couldn’t access the portal from our end. We lost the whole project and traffic. With the fast-changing digital space, we have mastered the art of harnessing the traffic and pumping it into our website and social media platforms - We have created our online presence to be a space for the youth to continue benefiting just the same way they were benefiting from the Youthing App . We have also improved our security measures for both our platforms and those of the clients that we work with. We also ensure that there is back up of data in case there is any interference.
Success to me is finding your purpose and looking forward to waking up everyday to go do what you’re passionate about. Consistency and determination has been the secret.
The Youthing Magazine will be the biggest digital-first media house for youths in Africa. We aim to channel opportunities to youths, foster meaningful relationships between organisations and young people and tell impactful stories that will positively change society. On the other hand, Qnow!t Digital will be a go-to agency for all digital marketing needs. We will be using new technologies and systems to meet the goals and needs of our clients. We will bridge the gap that exists between businesses, organisations and their target market.
There has been an extreme innovation boom; tech hubs and start-up ecosystems are emerging across the continent, fostering a spirit of creativity and problem-solving. With this in mind, Africa-focused entrepreneurs are poised to seize countless opportunities. My advice would be, start now! There is never the right time to start, but now.
One of the strategies that I use is delegation. If there is work that can be done by someone else, I ensure to give them a chance to explore their potential instead of straining myself. Also, I have a strict routine that I follow - from waking up to the time I go to bed - I have breaks in between to recharge. I use my Sundays to plan the week so as to ensure there is a smooth flow of tasks and meetings throughout the week. I use my Friday evening to attend art events and sometimes meet up with friends to just unwind. Saturdays are for hikes or just an indoor Netflix and chill.
“You will never be as young as you are today, go out there and do something.” The thing that keeps me going is the need to see young people’s voices being heard and also having them involved in policy making processes, activities and on tables where decisions are made. Also, converting businesses and organisations into brands is something that I really enjoy doing. Safe to say, good-looking brands turn me on.
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