We have a rare breed of polymath in the house. He is a Civil Engineer who is in love with Podcasting; his passion for it is second to none.
He is the Founder and Chief Trouble Maker (as he calls himself) of Podlobe, a podcast platform focused on impacting the lives of Africans on personal development and entrepreneurship. His name – Samuel Adeoye.
In this interview, he shares his inspiration behind podcasting, funding a start-up and making a career change to entrepreneurship.
Sit back and enjoy!
Tell us about Samuel Adeoye; family ethnicity, education, base/location
I was born in the city of Lagos, Egbeda to be precise, to a family of seven. I attended schools in 3 different states: started out in Lagos, then we moved to Ogun State and finally settled in Oyo State. After completing my secondary education at Living Stone College of Art and Science, Akobo Ibadan, I moved on to the University of Ibadan Nigeria; where I graduated with a distinction in Civil Engineering.
You run Podlobe. What is it all about? How did it all begin?
Because podcasting is relatively new in Nigeria, explaining what we do can be tasking at times. Podlobe is a podcasting platform that produces, manages and promotes podcast content and it related services.We strongly believe that by listening, you can think and then create the future others can only imagine.
For those new to the concept of podcast, a podcast is a media digital file uploaded to the internet on a regular basis can be subscribed to via RSS feeds and can either be played or streamed online. “As YouTube is to TV, so is Podcast to Radio.” Podlobe is a version 2 of My School Podcast, a similar platform that was shut down in 2015.
What was your vision when you started out? and what inspired it?
When you have any reason to talk about “podcast” and “innovation” in the same sentence, what comes to your mind or that of the person/people you are talking to is Podlobe. This is our vision, this is where we want to be.
If I am to tell the story from the start, I would go back to December 2014. In that month, I was in my final semester at the University of Ibadan. I was on a 5.8 and need to rise a 0.2 to get to a first class. If you know what a Cumulative Grade Point Average system looks like, you will know that a 0.1 rise is a herculean task.
On a normal day, I should only take about 8 courses in my final year. But since it was my final shot, I took 17 courses instead. Yeah, when you are on a 5.8/7.0 (6.0 is a first class). The very least you can do is to try!
Ironically, I already lost interest in academic intelligence and began delve deeply into entrepreneurship. I had spent the whole year (2014), participating actively in one student association or the other (Enactus, JCI, Press Orgs.) and also travelling from one entrepreneurial conference to another (I did travel to Benin Republic once, and no one in my family knew!)
So instead of going home for Christmas, I sat back in school to prepare for my exams in January 2015. I didn’t go anywhere on Christmas day, just sat back in my hostel reading.
As usual, people sent numerous messages on Christmas day. But there was something unusual about this Christmas: everyone was too lazy to write their own message and just kept copying and pasting! I was like: What??? You needed to see my face that day!
But I wanted to stand out. So I took out my phone, grabbed my laptop. Played a Christmas song in the background and hit record. When I was done recording my voice, I sent it to all the groups I belonged to on WhatsApp.
And for a moment, everyone stopped and began to comment on the voice note:
“Heyy Sam, you have a great voice!” “Whoa so cute” (Mehnn I can’t lie, I blushed o), “What radio station is this” (This comment was the dopiest!) and on and on.
The accolades and compliments I received that day were terrific! Before then, I had heard many people say I have a unique and deep voice, I didn’t take it serious until that day.
So, for the next 2 weeks (even as I prepared for my exams), I continued to mimic the radio. I would send series of voice notes every day to different groups and called it “The name of the group” Radio.
One blessed afternoon, Habeeb Kolade, FOPA’s Most Outstanding Student in Journalism in UI that year, came to borrow calculator from me. Since I was a member of the planning committee for that award, it just hit me that I could do an interview with him. Without hesitating, I did and shared it across all groups and it was a hit! People commented and some shared!
Then I thought, “Sam, you have access to all student achievers, there are tons of students out there who don’t know how to make the best use of their time in school. Why don’t you share the stories of this student achievers with them? You will be saving lives!”
So I shared my idea with three major Whatsapp groups belonged to (Gemstone, Enactus and JCI) and asked if anyone was willing to join me. That day, I got 21 volunteers from different groups! And that was how we started “My School Podcast (MSP)with Samuel Adeoye and Friends”
On WhatsApp. Yes on Whatsapp. I didn’t know about podcast prior to that time. In fact when I started “MSP with Samuel Adeoye and Friends*, all I knew about podcast was its definition. And even that definition was not complete.
So with a team of 21 students, my smartphone (lovely Samsung Galaxy S4) and access to student achievers, I began to do what looked like podcasting. I started without giving a damn about my final exams. Doing this was a big risk, but I did it anyway. To put this in perspective, I would interview student achievers on Saturday/Sunday and still write exams on Monday morning. Crazy, but I didn’t really care anymore.
Fast forward March, I personally got tired of WhatsApp and wanted a website. After trying to raise money in futility, I approached my IT Employer, Engr. Ajibola Obakin, and told him about my entrepreneurial project. I was broke but I just wanted to step up my game. After my pitch to him, he gave me about 30,000 naira. I was dazed though (30k is a lot of money to a broke graduate waiting for NYSC).
So we built a website at www.myschoolpodcast.com (the website still stands till today), printed fliers and stickers and launched in April, 2015. For the next 6 months or there about, MSP podcasted with 8 different channels, hosted by 8 different people. Our goal was simple: impact positive values into students’ lives. We wanted to help students make the best use of the opportunity their “student” status provided them.
This period was not smooth; it had its own ups and downs, disagreements and quarrels. And I shouted a lot in those days too. But we had our good time and success too. But despite all these and potentially more, we stopped podcasting in October 2015.
Some of our members were graduating, we got tired of podcasting with our phones (it was stressful!), we ran out of resources and managing the team from Abuja (I was serving at Abuja at that time) was becoming unbearable.
To cut the long story short, we stopped, restructured again, changed our name to “Podlobe” and went the start up route. We launched an attempt to get funding. I was travelling from Abuja to Lagos every month in search of funding opportunities.
But unfortunately and fortunately, not one kobo came from this search. Before then, I had been confident of at least winning one entrepreneurship contest (entered for 6). Nothing happened. You can imagine my disappointment. Notwithstanding, I kept on hoping.
Along the line, prize money (N100, 000) from a competition (GEMSTONE ADVANTAGE Competition) I had won earlier on in 2014 came around June 2016. That helped to set the ball rolling. I paid an app developer 35k for an app that didn’t see the light of day. That was quite painful.
The story about how we funded Podlobe is a story for another day. Anyways, we finally launched on August 1, 2016. This was eight good months after our proposed date of launch and 10 months after we stopped podcasting. Talk about how hard it is doing business in Nigeria!
All these while, we had just kept on believing. We knew what we wanted to achieve was a noble cause. Yes, we could have set up as an NGO, but we wanted to be self-sustaining, we wanted to show young Nigerians that you can make a whole lot of money from creating value that has positive social impact, that money is only an exchange for value.
We didn’t succeed the way it is painted in the media. Nevertheless, we launched and started anyways. We just believed.
“But Samuel, Start-ups don’t share their dirty stories now.” Yes, that is why many Nigerian start-ups die they moment they are born. They think it is abnormal for their ideas to be rejected, or abnormally for their proposals to be turned down just because no one is doing it yet in Nigeria. Maybe if they hear our story, they will be inspired, Inspired to persevere, come what may.
To return to the story, after launch in August we had to do many things ourselves. At Podlobe, I learnt more about running a start-up than we ever had from reading TechCrunch or TechCabal or entreprenuer.com (with all due respect). Personally, my human relationship skills had to improve greatly.
I can now code (to an extent), I know what online marketing entails, I can literally teach podcasting in my sleep, I can prepare accounting documents, and I know a lot about company laws in Nigeria. All these I was forced to learn in a short while.
I hope this story inspires you not to give up on your dream. The philosophy of “starting small and thinking big never fails”. It just can’t fail.
Why did you choose audio as your format of reach to Nigerians and what has been the response so far?
Well there are quite a number of reasons. I will go from the obvious to the oblivious. First, the file size of audio even though heavier than blog post, is not as bad as video. And considering the nature of broadband data in Nigeria, we needed a file size range that was within the reach of our target audience.
I remember in those good old days of My School Podcast, the sizes of a 10 minute podcast was only about 5MB. It is easy for a student to download that, when compared to a 15MB video.
That aside, this is the main reason why we choose audio: its unimaginable power of creating a closer relationship with those who consume it. Podcast allows us to go to places with our audience that text and video cannot go to.
For instance, you can’t shower and be watch a video, well except you are super rich. And even at that, it will require you to stop and watch. Intimate activities like jogging, sleeping, chilling in the couch, doing chores can only be done in the company of a podcast not video or text.
What are the three biggest benefits of Podlobe to your target audience and why?
For now, we run two channels: Swiych and Razzor. Swiych Podcast is focused on entrepreneurship for youth while Razzor Podcast is focused on personal development. We also have a very active blog segment that teaches podcasting.
Our three biggest benefits runs along those lines for now. With Swiych, an aspiring entrepreneur can learn how to start a crowd funding campaign (or any other entrepreneurship related matter) from a Jide Ipaye who raised 8 million naira from a campaign, while stuck in Lagos traffic or while doing personal task. With Razzor, a student can learn how to win friends over, while rushing off to class, or waiting for a lecturer. With our Blog section, you can learn all the things you need to know on starting a podcast in Nigeria.
We live a very busy, busy life, even though that does not always translate to productivity. No other medium allows a user to learn so much without having to leave with they are currently doing for it; no other medium offers the level of control and flexibility that podcast offer.
How have you effectively leveraged the power of social media to push your message?
I would say it has not been easy and we have not done our best. However, we are quick to understand that these things takes time and requires consistency, especially when you don’t have the money for consistently running ads. We are going back to the basics: focus on creating great content, involve and engage with the people who already know us or know the people that know us.
What are some of the major challenges you have encountered in obtaining interviews with Nigerian Entrepreneurs and how did you overcome them?
Hahahaha! This is an insightful question. So I host Swiych Podcast, a podcast brand owned by Podlobe. This podcast channel requires that I interview established entrepreneurs on a regular basis. My biggest challenge is getting these entrepreneurs to show up on the agreed date. More often than not, you fix a date, and they simply don’t show up. In one particular instance, an Entrepreneur did not answer his call on the set date. I never called him back.
And well, they do have tangible reasons for that. And I am never frustrated by things like that. If you are worth it for my audience, then I have no choice but to chase you till you say yes. I know that in the beginning, it won’t be possible to command the kind of attention we want until we have grown a name for ourselves. Another thing I do is to follow up with calls, and emails regularly before the deed day.
When it comes to running Podlobe, what is your inspiration?
Whoa, the feedback we get from people can be amazing. And to be honest, only the vision and the dream is exciting about running a start up; the rest is hardcore hard work and a constant pressure to innovate.
It is my own responsibility to keep myself inspired, not God. He has created an environment around me and filled it with inspiration. I try my best not to draw my inspiration from man. All of God’s creations are reliable except man, so I draw my inspiration from the other things God has created.
That is not to say, human’s actions don’t inspire me, they do. But I don’t make it a constant source of inspiration as I would make the mustard seed a source of inspiration.
Where do you see Podlobe 5 years from now?
I desire Podlobe to be the largest innovative podcasting platform in the world, small enough to provide you with resonating podcasts that lifts your spirit and inspire you to act. We hope to have achieved this in Nigeria five years from now.
Oh yes, Engr. Ajibola Obakin, Dr. Mrs Oladejo and Mr Remi John. They follow up on what I do and give their time and ears to me freely.
For you, Life is …
all about the moments we create for others and the ones we enjoy.
Inspire a young African in a sentence
The concept of starting small never fails.
Many thanks for sharing with us, Samuel
Quite an insightful and inspiring journey so far shared by Samuel.
You can follow Samuel on Linkedin and Instagram: @Samuel7Adeoye
Get the latest inspiration from Podlobe on
You can also reach him via email – Samueladeoye@podlobe.com
Thanks for reading this interiew.
© 2017, Damilola Awosusi. All rights reserved.