Startup School 2018 Week 1: Notes from a Creative Company Founder

By Teria Yarhere

So having watched the introductory classes to Startup School 2018 – for context, these are the opening classes by YC Partners Adora Cheung and Geoff Ralston; Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator; and YC Partners Carolynn Levy, Jon Levy; and YC General Counsel Jason Kwon – here are my thoughts views and notes.

First and foremost, my vision is to build the iTunes of African music.

My conviction is based on the years, successes and losses of being an award-winning artiste. I’ve been at the top and the bottom, seen life from both ends.

I’ve also been an entrepreneur as I had to find a means to survive during the time I was out of music, fortunately, I had a supportive family that encouraged me to get whatever education I could regarding businesses and startups. This education and experience is my edge as not too many of my peers think like I do (duh, I’m registered for startup school…go figure)

So, the starter classes have helped me break down my challenges into manageable tasks plus exposed what I now consider to be my biggest challenge, which I never really considered as a problem before… I need a co-founder that is a developer, as I’m not.

I had built a few years back but I had the funds then to fork out N500k to get the site up and running. What I did then to get the startup up and running was to speak to a close mentor who via his links set me up to meet with Airtel Nigeria. I believe a critical factor for growth for my platform was to partner with a mobile network (Telco) as they are my biggest competition and if I am to compete favourably, I would need to tap into the marketing budget of a Telco.

Airtel seemed a great fit, 25million subscribers. MTN, GLO and ETISALAT all had their own content apps but Airtel wasn’t really pushing any one at that time plus the app would be privately owned and I was looking to deal with Airtel to have exclusive rights to the app for 1 year after which we would open up to other networks.

Our slogan is SMS, Download, Enjoy as we wanted sales of content to be SMS-based like RBT’s (caller back tune). With over 500 albums each year from popular and unpopular artistes, revenue from sales is quoted to be worth more than $150 million annually. My goal was to do 10% of that in the first year.

Apart from the fact that SMS was the easiest form for users to buy music which didn’t require an app, the 2.0 or app version of the platform was to have lots of features which other apps did not have and the key for me was to make it social, of which we had several properly researched ideas on how to do that.

Today’s classes had me break my goals into 10 tasks by which I want to measure growth until launch. My first goal is to find a fitting co-founder, one that’s a developer and willing to ride on this journey. I’ve always had temporary team members, including legal but I have seen now that I need to have a permanent team that is willing to fight for this vision.

There are many unsigned and unknown artistes depending on this. When up and running we would still partner with a telco…and being an artiste, sign-ups to the platform will not be as difficult plus my inside information on artiste/consumer behaviour for music would help us grow faster than anticipated.

I’m so looking forward to this journey.

Teria Yarhere, popularly known by his alias M-trill, is a Nigerian rapper and Creative Director of IngeniousNG, a creative consultancy company. You can find out more about him through his social media account @mtrillteria.



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