Last week was a great one for Nigerian startups — for the second year in a row, they filled up more slots at DEMO Africa than any other African country.
If that wasn’t enough, one of the eight startups representing Nigeria at the continental event quickly followed up with seed investment from the co-founder of one of Africa’s leading hotel booking platforms, Jovago.
The startup is Talking Bookz — an online audiobooks publisher and retailer. According to its co-founder Damilola Aransiola, its recent achievements can be attributed to the simple pain point the business is trying to solve.
“Everybody understands the business,” Aransiola says. “Talking Bookz is trying to make the whole reading culture a better experience for people.”
Aransiola tells Ventureburn that him and the co-founder Kolapo Ogungbile got the idea for the online shop while they were at university.
“We thought of a way of providing a simple solution that would solve the problem faced by a large number of people. We also decided to move to human voice because what we were using back then was text-to-speech,” he said.
The team behind Talking Bookz no longer consists of students, and the idea is being transformed into one that could potentially be a continental success:
“For our future goal, we want to be the largest retailer/distributor of African audio books across Africa. When you are looking for any African book in audio format, you will not go to any other place, you will come to Talking Bookz. And that is our goal.”
To achieve this, the ecommerce startup is acquiring a lot of content, from local to international bestsellers. This is where most the recent seed funding is going.
The co-founder also notes that they are getting impressive feedback from its market, especially among those using audiobooks for the first time. Aransiola explains that people are learning how to use audiobooks because it is not necessarily something they are acquainted with in Nigeria or Africa.
Religion is a big deal in Nigeria and across Africa. It’s then not a big surprising that the startup is expanding its collection of 3 000 audiobooks to include some of the continent’s biggest religious leaders like Nigerian pastors David Oyedepo and EA Adeboye.
“We are acquiring the religious content because we found out that people are much closer to their pastors these days, and we are going to see people asking for more. But for now, people are getting more international self-help and business content.”
The co-founder adds that since Talking Bookz launched at Mobile West Africa earlier this year, it’s had more than 500 downloads. The price tags on the audiobooks range from 500 Nigerian Naira to 2 000 Nigerian Naira.
The co-founders are confident that more people will use audiobooks in the near future: “I believe as more people embrace technology, I expect that there will be a paradigm shift towards audiobooks.”
While Talking Bookz got rejected from DEMO Africa last year, it didn’t get in the way of further its vision this time around.
“With hard work you can get whatever you want and you can get it done. We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights, and we’ve had a lot of setbacks. Any startup that desires success should be persistent and do a lot of hard work and a lot of prayers too. They need to make sacrifices.”
At DEMO Africa, he said they are seeking to get partnerships, raise funds and become the number one in Africa.
“Until we become the number one distributor of African audiobooks to the rest of the world, we can’t rest. That is what we think of anytime and every time we wake up,” the founder concluded.