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360: No BullS**t

Monday July 04 2011    |     Views: 5948    |     Comments: 65   |     Print    Bookmark and Share

 Noble Igwe, Antonia Abimbola Soares, Oye Akideinde
Noble Igwe, Antonia Abimbola Soares, Oye Akideinde

One is a fashion business enthusiast who painstakingly pays attention to details. Another is an IT mastermind who collects comics and stamps. And they teamed up with an entertainment and social animal to bring a wonderful idea to life and create a business start-up that has changed the online landscape. Meet Antonia Abimbola Suarez, Oyebowale Babatunde Akideinde and Nobel Igwe, the eclectic trio who weathered the storms to bring us 360Nobs.
360Nobs is one of the top music, entertainment and lifestyle websites in Nigeria, delivering prime music content and giving a voice to young and upcoming artistes. The company celebrated its first year anniversary in April, and despite the success stories, the path to success has been quite rough. In this interview with Shile Shonoiki, they talk about their challenges, aspirations and the whole idea behind 360Nobs.


Noble Igwe

You are a well-known face in the entertainment spheres. What exactly do you do?

I get this every time! I’ve always loved entertainment, even though I studied Urban and Regional Planning in school. While I was in school, I used to do a lot of social activities. I think most of the carry-overs I had in the university were as a result of my involvement in social activities! And I’ve always loved music; I believe I can sing, but I won’t want to go into it professionally. I worked in Virgin Nigeria from 2005 to 2008, starting in the call centre and ending in the sponsorship department. I left Virgin in 2008 because I wanted to try my hands on advertising and explore my creative side. I went to 141 Worldwide, an advertising agency. While working, I used to write for Bella Naija. I used to be on Facebook a lot. And I used to help people with shows. So in 2009, I had an idea to do a celebrity party, where people would come and have fun with the stars. It was called Slush. Slush was different from all other kinds of events because it was a laid-back event. Also, when I used to have my day job, I used to do artiste consulting. I worked with D’Banj, Banky W, MI. MI was actually the first artiste I worked with, from his not being known to what he is today. Tosyn Bucknor and I worked on MI’s album launch. Yeah, I’ve been in almost everything entertainment. I also do business development for places. I’m currently doing business development for De Marquee, the rooftop club and restaurant at Mega Plaza. I’m also the business development manager for Tribeca. So yeah, I’ve been really busy! And you know I’m Igbo too? So I put my hands in everything!


What prompted the establishment of 360NObs?

I’m usually in the social and entertainment circles, and I figured out that if I had to talk about my opinions, I could as well think about a platform where I could air these views. And I also realized at that point that there were few Nigerian websites that allowed people to say whatever they wanted to say. So, I decided to create that platform where people can say whatever they want to say, just the way they want to say it. I thought about having an entertainment-based website that would do music, fashion, lifestyle. As for the name, people call me Nobs and I figured that if you needed to have any kind of influence on anything you have, you might as well attach your name to it.


What were your initial plans for 360Nobs? Have they been met or have they been redesigned?

The initial ideas I had for 360Nobs haven’t changed. What we are doing is that we are modifying. We are looking at the environment, and we are changing to fit what the public wants. Change is constant. I’m pleased with the fact that people compare use to websites like NotjustOK, Bella Naija and others; it says a lot. We are just a year old! If in such a little time we’ve made some impact, if we work harder we can even make much more impact. Now, the idea hasn’t changed. We have a website that we will continue to modify to international standards and project Nigerian entertainment in the best way possible. We will continue to modify to appeal to a larger community.


What is your relationship with most artistes? How has this relationship helped 360Nobs?

Like I keep telling my team, I can say I’m friends with a couple of Nigerian artistes. At the same time, we also need to understand that some of these artistes have been working with some other websites before we created 360Nobs. So, I keep my relationship with these artistes on the level of friendship. We do things professionally. If on the 360Nobs level we cannot work together, on the friendship level we can still do what it takes to remain friends. This relationship has also helped because we have access to some of the artistes.  Work-wise, I don’t think being friends with celebs is a huge advantage to the website. We approach these things professionally. If you have a new song or video, we write to you asking if we could premiere it on the site. If you say no, we respect your ‘no.’ So we keep it at that level.


How do you make money?

360Nobs was never set up at the initial point to be a money-generating company. We are supposed to be a platform to help upcoming artistes and other established acts put their stuff out there. We make money from adverts, but you know even how that works. For you to make money from adverts, you have to be an opinion leader. We are still at that build-up stage. But we are making a little money; I won’t lie about that. We have clients like Guinness, African Practice, MNET, Fela on Broadway through Bobby Taylor, and so on. But are we making enough money to drive Range Rovers? No. Are we making enough money to pay salaries and sustain the company? Yes.


Any regrets so far?

Like I used to tell people, I didn’t buy a new car in 2010 because of 360Nobs. Why? Because it was something I believed in. I had a day job and I was making money from my other businesses like Slush. But most of the money goes back into 360Nobs. And I don’t regret it. I like the idea of investors, but you know, I want to sleep at night! So I’ll rather make money elsewhere and put it into 360Nobs. It’s about funding one’s dream. And whatever it takes to fund this dream, I made up my mind from the get-go that I was going to fund it. And the truth is that I believe that someday it’s going to pay back. How soon that is, I don’t know. And if I’m being interviewed right now about 360Nobs, that means it’s paying back already!


In April, 360Nobs turned one. How has the journey been so far?

In one year, God has been so wonderful! There was a lot we had to go through, but it only gets better. I’m working with people that I consider friends. When we started 360Nobs, I needed to make the people I was going to be working with on the project feel that they were part it. The first person I asked to join me was Tonia. I have known Oye’s wife for years, and I knew that Oye loved music. So I didn’t say to them, ‘Why don’t you work and just get paid?’ I instead wanted them to have a percentage of the ownership so they could actually approach it from the point of a director. So I wanted them to look at 360Nobs as their own company, not just something they contributed to on the side. So it’s been a wonderful one year, working with these guys. No regrets whatsoever. And it wouldn’t have been as successful without a lot of people. I want to say a big thank you to a lot of people who have supported the 360Nobs dream: Segun Demuren, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Olamide, Adedeji, Margaret(Oye’s wife; for letting Oye do this overnight and weekends), every single person who writes for 360Nobs, artistes, EME, Chocolate City, Mo Hits and other music labels who let us premiere their songs and videos, every person who has ever visited the site for one reason or the other. Some day, this hustle will pay!


What’s next for 360Nobs?

There’s going to be 360TV, 360PR, 360Management and 360Radio. There are plans underway to launch this year. 360Management already has Waje, and we are being careful who else we want to work with; we want to work with the best.



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