Q&A: Chike Maduegbuna talks about Afrinolly App

With Afrinolly App, millions of Nigerians now watch trailers of movies produced in the African movie markets, especially Nollywood. They can also watch African music videos, comedy clips and full length movies on Android, Blackberry and Nokia Smartphones.

HumanIPO caught up with Chike Maduegbuna, the man in charge of FansConnectOnline Limited, a Nigerian Mobile Application, Digital Marketing and Social Media start-up. Within one year of operation, FansConnectOnline has built one of the largest football-based social networking websites in Nigeria and developed geo-location application Naija Places.

He sheds more light on the success of Afrinolly, how it is helping the African movie industry, its agenda for 2013 and other issues related to the app, which currently has more than one million users in Nigeria alone.

HumanIPO: How did the concept behind Afrinolly come about? Who are the innovators?

Maduegbuna: Afrinolly app was conceived in May 2011 at G-Nigeria Summit in Lagos. Two members of our team participated in Google’s two day event in Nigeria. At the conference, Aneto Okonkwo, Product Manager, Google, charged participants to pay attention to the list of what Africans are searching on Google. Incidentally African entertainment, especially Nollywood, is one and he charged the participants to think of developing a product that will be relevant for such a growing industry. That inspired us to build Afrinolly.

Afrinolly was developed for the Android Developers Challenge for Sub-Saharan Africa, organised by Google. It won the first prize in the entertainment, media and games category in the continental competition.

We would like to know the business plan for Afrinolly, especially the term of reference of agreement with MTN Nigeria.

After building the different versions, we engaged phone manufacturers in Nigeria bringing about Afrinolly pre-installation in Samsung Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note, Samsung Pocket and Samsung Galaxy S3. Though we collaborated with phone manufacturers to pre-install the application, we discovered that some people have the pre-installed app on their mobile phones, but don’t know that it is there.

It became imperative that just having it pre-installed is not enough. We realized the need to collaborate with an organization that understand the benefits of apps and have the marketing capability to drive Afrinolly publicity and uptake. That was how MTN Nigeria came into the picture. It was a no-brainer. MTN Nigeria has the highest number of subscribers in the country and the app is pre-installed on the phones being purchased by their subscribers.

We met with MTN and the team liked Afrinolly, especially because it is a local app with local content. With MTN Nigeria, we signed a contract for network restriction and exclusive branding in Nigeria.

How is the content on Afrinolly collated to guard against copyright allegations?

As a rule, we do not upload or host contents on Afrinolly and users must leave Afrinolly to go to the content owner’s YouTube channel for the streaming. We only use a listing to draw users’ attention to YouTube contents, which are in the public domain thereby enabling Afrinolly users to view the content that the owners want the public to see, where the owners want them to see it.

Is Afrinolly planning to promote music which has not been made into video?

Afrinolly is primarily focused on enabling users to watch African movies and music video contents. We have no plans for non-video contents.

What has been the response of industry players?

The responses we have received from industry players have been fantastic and encouraging. Afrinolly is an enabler for filmmakers, movie producers, artists and entertainment distribution companies by ensuring that entertainment lovers know about their contents immediately. Movie production is very expensive and finding a marketing budget to publicize the movie is a big problem. Afrinolly does that for free.

It directs users to watch movie trailers on the filmmakers’ official YouTube channel. It creates publicity, awareness, and enthusiasm for the full length movie when it goes to the cinema or when eventually it’s released on DVD. The movie trailers give a glimpse of the movie and gets people excited, in anticipation for its release at cinemas.

Afrinolly contributes to efforts at reviving the cinema culture across Africa. With renewed cinema culture the industry can fight piracy. Movie trailers are essential to driving interest in cinemas and Afrinolly helps users to watch movie trailers from their mobile devices.

What is the rationale behind what appears on the home page?

The contents on Afrinolly home page are determined by the Most Viewed Trailers. It changes regularly to reflect the contents that more Afrinolly users view.

What efforts are being made to promote talented professionals that are not yet popular?

We launched $100,000 Afrinolly Short Film Competition on November 1, 2012, and entries will close on January, 31, 2013. Budding Filmmakers in Africa should take advantage of the on-going Afrinolly Shortfilm Competition to showcase their works and raise capital for feature films.

Are there plans to launch Afrinolly on other networks? And what should the app users expect in 2013?

Currently, in Nigeria, only MTN subscribers have full access to Afrinolly contents. This might change in 2013 depending on how we evaluate the market. We plan to launch Afrinolly for iOS, Windows Phone and Tablets in 2013.

Any plans to make users pay to access Afrinolly contents?

Afrinolly is a free app and we plan to keep it so. We don’t want to charge Afrinolly users. We are in Africa and are very conscious of people’s earning and purchasing power. It’s all about balancing interests and creating value propositions for big brands.

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