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Olawale Adetula wants to be the king of online content

Leo hires Tade because apart from his (over)qualifications for the role, she is the only woman in Lagos who is not attracted to him. However, this does not last very long as his defenses crumble just as their working relationship begins to blossom.

Lots of fun to take from the first season of little black book — which launched last year on YouTube — is about watching Tade and Leo navigate the sexual tension that’s clearly brewing between them. Fans of the web series, responsible for 15 million impressions and 2.6 million views, all but demanded a second season, which arrived in August this year. For Olawale Adetula, co-founder of TNC Africa, these steps were validation of the decades-plus work that had gone into building an audience-facing media company in step with the times.

It was the beginning of blogs. I realized that there was no place for young Nigerians to go to discuss painful things or a society considered risky.

Adetula began building the business that would become TNC Africa in 2010. What started as his personal blog soon turned into The Naked Convos website – a community platform for young people to gather and discuss some of their most intimate concerns.

The creation of the little black book on the website was a series of blogs published by writer Sally Kenneth Dadzie. Adetula says, “It was the beginning of blogging. I realized that there was no place for young Nigerians to go to discuss painful things or a society considered risky. Whether it was sex, sexuality or religion, I wanted a place to vent and a community for like-minded people.

Naked Convos have become a safe space for people to express themselves through articles, opinion pieces and news. It was a success, especially with a certain type of young people on the rise. Reflecting on the good old days, Adetula said, “Now think back. Twitter was fairly new, there was no Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. We would publish an article and in 15 minutes we would get 1000 comments.

The conversations started on The Naked Convos would regularly spill over to other social networks and Adetula – who came from a digital marketing background – would also host offline events to drive engagement. Despite the early success, Adetula felt The Naked Convos weren’t viable in the long term because platforms like Twitter and Instagram were getting bigger and more popular, reducing engagement and profits.

The Naked Convos experimented with different ideas. A podcast, plays and book publishing. None of these stuck. It was not until 2017 that the idea of ​​the web series took hold. Adetula has partnered with United Bank for Africa-owned REDTV to create the drama series, Our best friend’s wedding. In its first three months on air, the series about a young man who buys an engagement ring without thinking of a bride garnered around 3 million views on YouTube. Video was one thing, it seemed.

Adetula left The Naked Convos and with new partners Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi and Daniel Aideyan created TNC Africa which officially launched in January 2021. “Because we launched on YouTube, a lot of people think we are a web series company. TNC Africa is actually a technology content production company. We are committed to bringing original African stories to the world,” says Adetula, in reference to the new company’s mission.

Following commissioned research into the film industry value chain, it made more sense for TNC Africa to focus directly on content for digital. It helped that a lot of streamers were coming in at the time and it became clear that there was a dire need for Nollywood representation on these platforms.

The big idea behind TNC Africa is to deploy technology to enrich storytelling. Adetula says, “We have an advanced internal data analytics system that uses machine learning to take advantage of all kinds of data points. We use this information to enrich the content of talent for hire to trace threads. We are in an attention economy and the more engaging your content becomes, the more money you can earn.

We enrich the arts by adding science. We always start with the arts, never with science.

This reliance on technology to produce content has been frowned upon in some quarters, as algorithms replace human intuition, leading to media that feels detached and impersonal. For filmmaker and actress Belinda Yanga-Agedah, who directed two seasons of little black book and also worked with TNC Africa on the second season of Our best friend’s weddingthere is some value to this method, especially for Nollywood where the tendency is to rush to shoot first drafts of scripts.

She says The Africa Report“After reading the little black book script i found it [lacking] some major changes. I expected a repression of my thoughts, which is normal for the course, but to my surprise, Wale accepted my notes and we decided to workshop on the scripts.

Adetula – who has been named one of 26 talented African creators to join the Black Voices Global Creative Class of 2022, a program designed by YouTube to provide resources and opportunities for black creators – insists that instead to interfere with the creative process, TNC Africa’s work is to enrich it. “We enrich the arts by adding science. We always start with the arts, never with the science,” she says.

Demand for content from Africa is growing exponentially and for Adetula and TNC Africa, the goal is to add value by sharing this technology with other actors, whether they are companies or aspiring comedians. TNC Africa is set to launch two products: an app – Premier – which instantly puts data and information in the hands of creators; and the robust Foresight Stack, which caters to large growers.

If anyone can make a dent in the quality of content coming from Nollywood, Yanga-Agedah thinks it’s Adetula. She says, “I got a little glimpse of Wale’s vision and the guy is tenacious. That’s what I admire so much about him. He’s an actor, and my belief is that actors [inherit] Earth. He speaks and then he does. [Do] do you know how few people like that there are in our industry? »

For Adetula, the end goal is to bring original African stories to the world. He says, “We want to make hyper-engaging stories that can resonate all over the world. We want to create the next squid game from Africa.