Seun Osewa whose full name is Oluwaseun Temitope Osewa is a Nigerian internet entrepreneur.
YNaija listed him as one of the most innovative Nigerians in technology. He was also listed among T.I.N Magazine’s top 10 most influential Nigerian online entrepreneurs in 2015.
He is the founder of Nairaland, a popular internet forum launched in March 2005, which was projected as the biggest African forum by Forbes.
The platform is an online community targeted at Nigerians, and with more than 1 198 439 registered accounts, it is currently ranked as the seventh most visited site in Nigeria according to Alexa.com. The site receives more than 6-million unique users from around 16-million visits, and it reportedly has more than 60-million pageviews monthly.
Osewa was admitted into Obafemi Awolowo University, but dropped out of school to concentrate on internet business.
How Nairaland Came To Be
The founding of the platform and the company that followed happened almost by chance.
Osewa said that the process that led to the decision to start Nairaland started when he stumbled on a website called hotornot.com.
The idea of rating the opposite sex (and seeing how other people rated as well) was a simple concept that Osewa got addicted to very quickly. Soon enough a business idea was born.
He learnt that the creators of the site made money by selling ads on it. That was the first time he realised that one could make money by building a popular site and selling ads on it.
The journey to monetisation was a little trickier for the new community. The task for Osewa was figuring out how to make money out of the growing traffic. Learning about ad networks and how they could help him circumvent having to sell ad space directly to clients was key.
Seu said, he read a blog post titled “blogging for dollars” where a blogger described how he made thousands of dollars monthly by just joining the biggest advertising network,” . “This was essential, because using an ad network allowed him to focus on growing Nairaland’s traffic knowing that if he could make Nairaland popular, he would automatically make a lot of money. It allowed him to be focused on traffic.”
It was only years later that Osewa began to introduce the idea of forums to the site as mobile telephony became popular in Nigeria. At the time, Osewa said that
“the government had just allowed private telecom companies to build GSM networks”.
I noticed that the forum had something no other Nigerian forum had at the time — it was focused on issues that Nigerians at home cared about. Other Nigerian forums online focused on issues only Nigerians living outside cared about, like racism and US politics, but on that little forum, we discussed truly Nigerian issues.”
For the internet entrepreneur, this was the last piece of the puzzle to his multi-million dollar empire. So instead of just a rating site, he decided to build a forum that all Nigerians at home and abroad would care about and use.
According to Osewa, the goal was to gain enough traffic to be able to turn a profit through advertising. What happened, however, surprised him.
“I didn’t expect it to become the most visited Nigerian/African website and hold that position for many years,” .“That was a pleasant surprise.”
Making lots of money via ads wasn’t that easy for Osewa.
“Initially, monetising the forum was very easy,”. “I had some previous experience with the best online advertising network available at the time, so I knew that they could convert traffic into money reliably.”
“It wasn’t entirely cost-free, of course: we were required to censor our content to make sure that nothing they didn’t approve of would appear on any page of Nairaland. Some of our members didn’t like this censorship — nobody likes to be censored — but we thought it was a small price and didn’t really have any choice, anyway.”
But censorship wasn’t the only problem that the platform had to find a way around — it was also becoming a victim of its own success.
As the platform grew bigger it became harder for the team to guarantee that none of its millions of pages wouldn’t contain any content that the advertising network didn’t approve of.
The team scrambled to “more aggressively” censor what they could in order to remain part of the ad networks but in end it was no impossible — the members of the community would have the final say.
Osewa recalled that the ad network kicked Nairaland out.
In the end getting kicked out did wonders for the platform, as the team decided that it would be better to build their own ad platform and keep Nairaland as free of censorship as possible.
The Future Of Nairaland
When it comes to Nairaland, Osewa feels that doing the same thing over and over in different locations makes no sense — which is why he feels that Nairaland is likely to remain a very Nigerian forum and not expand to other parts of the continent.
“For Nairaland to expand outside Nigeria, we’d have to change the essence of what Nairaland is about,”