BusinessDay

Interview: Maintain a different account for your business — Kosi Ofodile

Kosi Ofodile is not your everyday entrepreneur. She is a dedicated creative with a strong belief that everyone has a story to tell and a passion for giving them the avenue. Her love for video storytelling stems from the magical feeling whenever she watched stories on television as a child. She leverages her experience in media production, business development, product marketing, and client relationship management to provide solutions to her clients. When she is not leading a team of creatives to do their best work, you can find her having a good time with her family and friends or glued to a screen.

● What is K21 media, and what made you decide to start a media company?

We are a video production and digital marketing agency that take an iterative approach to our media production to ensure that our videos amplify our clients’ voices and appeal to their respective target audiences. We are very modern in the way that we project the product offerings of our clients, which is why we focus on brand storytelling (i.e., we don’t do videos for weddings, bridal showers, or event videos unless it has to do with the product of the brand or the service that the brand is offering). So that is how we’ve been able to set ourselves apart from the rest. For us, video storytelling is our way of positioning brands to shoot for the skies, and our core goal at K21 is to share brand stories in innovative and thrilling ways.

When I moved back to Nigeria in 2016, I started working at one of the top broadcasting agencies in Nigeria, which exposed me to production. In 2017, I got an opportunity to work with a client who wanted to start a YouTube channel to share her lifestyle experiences in video content. After this project, I soon realized that many SMEs and personalities did not have the purchasing power/capacity to outsource video production to heavy hitter agencies and big media houses/production companies. I observed this pain point and birthed K21 in 2018 to fill this gap. The rest is history.

● In what ways are you breaking the bias?

Historically the production industry has been male-dominated. In recent years female producers have stepped onto the scene to redefine conventions and show that they are just as good as their male counterparts. I work with five-camera operators and five male editors. I lead the team in conceptualizing, directing video shoots, scouting locations, and editing the video to suit the client’s taste. This shows that women can do it too. It doesn’t have to be only female-dominated industries that we can show that we are knowledgeable and experts in this field—creating, providing solutions to clients, and thriving in production break some of the biases and stereotypes.

Read also: IWD: LAPO gifts 6 women N1.8m for contribution to Nigeria’s economy

● How do you balance your 9-5 and your business?

I would be lying if I said that I’d found the balance. However, I believe in discipline and structure. When I left the broadcasting firm I was working in, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do just K21. I was only 21, and I felt I had the skills to develop. My 9-5 jobs have instilled in me discipline and structure, and I continue to

Teach me valuable lessons that I apply to K21. Also, I firmly believe that to lead, you need to serve. Hence why I have kept my 9-5. However, It is also vital that my 9-5 is in an industry where I can gain skills that can also help improve K21. I work as a product marketing manager for a software development company. I am very privileged to work in an organization where they are fully aware that I have up. Also, one of the few good things that came out of the pandemic was remote working, which has helped, I find a better balance between K21 and 9-5. I am very good at compartmentalizing. It is also important to note that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship as my 9-5 also benefits from skills I have developed through K21

Finally, I believe prayer helps to keep me centered and grounded. Some days are good and others not so good, but I
try to make it work and have fun with it.

● Do you remember your first project? Can you tell us about it?

Of course, I remember my first project! I shot my first video in May 2017, and it was an equally exciting and challenging experience. It was shot at my house. Fortunately, my parents encouraged me to use our compound and our street. I think my first video with a red camera was of excellent quality. I still look at the video, and I’m very proud of myself for being able to execute it at the time with minimal experience. At the time when I had shot it, I was petrified, and I remember my twin brother saying, “you’ve got this,” “you have every resource that you need,” and he just said, “you know what? go for it,” and I did! I came up with the concept in a couple of days.

I remember turning off my phone, just going to work, going about my day, and then I turned on my phone, and I saw missed calls from my client, and I called back, and she said, “Kosi, I’ve been trying to reach you, like have you seen the craziness? See how the views and comments! Have you gone on Instagram?” I went on YouTube, and I saw so many views. In less than three months, we had about 16,000 views. That was my first project, and it gave me the encouragement that I needed to start K21.

5. What has been the most challenging aspect of building K21 media?
The most challenging part of running K21 media is not compromising quality on a minimum budget. Production costs are high. However, I have to consider the economy that I operate in and the purchasing power that my clients/brands possess. Another challenge would be being in a male-dominated industry. In the past, you would get the sense that some workers thought they could get away with many things in business that they essentially would not get away with if they did have a male boss. However, this is changing. Men are now learning to respect women in the industry.

6. How do we encourage more women to participate in the media production industry?

Being in media production is an outlet for your creative passion. I see many people encouraging actors, actresses, and female artists in the media space. Still, frequently, the directors, scriptwriters, voice-over artists, editors, and people who do the groundwork behind the scenes get overlooked. It’s ironic because there would be no show or movie for these people I just mentioned. Many behind-the-scenes skills can often be forgotten or steered away from in the traditional Nigerian setting. We need to see more women behind the scenes of the media industry celebrated more to encourage young girls with similar dreams and to show that there is a pathway to success.

Also, some of the more prominent media production companies can give back to the community by offering training courses that help the younger generation continue to hone their skills.

7. When did you make your first million? Any advice or young women on managing business funds and scaling?

I think I was more excited when I made my first 800K, and that was in 2017, my first project. It wasn’t my first million, but it was my first massive sum of money for a single project. I was very excited, and I remember thinking, “oh wow, I’ve arrived.” However, after that video, I did not make one million on a single project till 2019. This was a lesson in humility and understanding that it won’t always be rosy, and that life & career comes with twists and turns.

8. Any advice for young women or managing business funds and scaling?
I’m still learning, but, just with my business experience, I think it is essential to understand that your business is a separate entity from yourself. Try to maintain a different account for your business to your account as much as possible. The most remarkable advice I can give is to seek advice from friends that work in the financial sector and educate yourself as much as possible through self-help financial tools. Also, general habits that can come in handy include monthly budgeting, tracking expenses, and investing excess cash. Over the last year, I have particularly liked saving & investing in dollars (several locations now offer this service) to preserve my savings against the depreciation of the Naira.

9. Where do you want to see K21 media in five years?

That’s an exciting question! In five years, I want to see K21 media as recognized, profitable video production and digital marketing agency in Africa. I want to take brand storytelling to a whole new level through the videos I put out for my clients and our digital marketing services. I would like to have built a model creative studio in Lagos that embodies brand storytelling and enables creators like myself to produce cutting-edge content.

10. What is your message for young women on international women’s day?
● Be confident and assertive in your abilities and keep studying to improve your weaknesses.
● Always give it a try- That’s how the door gets opened for you, show up!
● Lastly, I always say this to myself, and it’s quoted from one of my favorites, Oprah Winfrey, “You have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your way, can illuminate the world.” If you chase your passion, it will never seem like work to you.

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