Star Spotlight: John Adewusi Co-Founder Of Funny African Pictures
It all started as a funny Instagram account. Funny African Pictures (@funny_african_pictures) It has now grown (450,000 followers) from that to a full-scale content services company. Behind this company, is a new generation of creative entrepreneurs, one of whom we speak to here. Before now, they had deliberately remained anonymous. While in the shadows, they have been busy. Recently, they have leveraged their online influence into kicking off a pan-African website for all things funny, a content production company, called Gree-Oh. (Which has produced content for the likes of Skye Bank etc) They also have a huge holiday project that is currently under wraps. In a stifling, heavy odds creative industry, they have proven that everything is possible. Today, we speak to one of the co-founders, John Adewusi, on how they are living, telling and creating and selling their African dream…
Who is John Adewusi?
He is a computer scientist by academic training who eventually decided that developing software, apps or piecing together computer chips were not his dream. Telling stories was his dream and in various, exciting ways that make you think or stick to your memory. He has a background in marketing, a passion for merchandising, film-making- his chosen brands of link to tell stories.
Why have you decided to be in the shadows until now?
The brand didn’t need it at that point. It was important we stayed in the back to build it up and because I feel it’s important that in telling the story, the teller doesn’t overshadow the story. I believe the product is way more important than who is selling it.
For those, who do not know, tell us what Funny African Pictures is and what it does.
It’s basically a social media account on all platforms where people can go for laughs and entertainment. While on our platform, they share with their friends and loved ones and it becomes a family affair of cracked ribs. We are a portal for humour on the go; the jokes are quick and relatable. You get the joke and move on. Although we cannot promise that some will not stay with you the whole day or two or maybe even three….. and the anticipation continues.
How did the idea for this come about, describe for us that light bulb moment?
It started when my business partner Rotimi Akinyele, an IT specialist, after the stress of work or while working, would look for an avenue for some quick humour/entertainment and he wouldn’t find any. So he started creating interesting display pictures on BBM. Soon it moved to Instagram (in it’s early days) and from there we realised that there was a huge gap in the market for humour/entertainment that required quick wit and most of all was mobile…
Did you ever envisage that it would grow to be this big?
Once we crossed 5,000 followers, we knew it would be big. It was just a case of how much work we were willing to dedicate to its growth. The goal was always to be that familiar friend that has all the entertainment you need at the end of a long day.
There has been talk of your company scaling up…
Yes, for all things humour, we have scaled up into Funny African Content. Over time, we’ve built a strong team and decided it was time to depart from being just another social media page. We are in the process of launching our website FunnyAfrica.com. Under our larger storytelling / content production umbrella, Gree-Oh, we are creating engaging, branded content for TV, consulting for brands on better ways to tell their stories, that is conversational as opposed to the monologue that has been the status quo in the past. Amidst all of this, we are also working on documentaries (2 in production at the moment that should be released in the first quarter of 2016) with emphasis on original Nigerian stories that are relatable and conversational. Finally, we are launching a book just in time for the holidays. Of course, we have a dream team that makes everything work, starting with my co founder and myself to the editor of FunnyAfrica.com who has the keenest eye for humorous content to our ideas/content development team who is bent on changing the narrative on how we consume brands, visually and literally, to telling authentic, often ignored Nigerian stories. It’s all very exciting, working with these people. Forgive this political plug but anyone who says this millennial generation is not serious, or will not take over, hasn’t seen anything yet!
What will the Funny Africa website be known for?
Funny Africa is going to be the hub for everything funny in Africa. We are getting content from across the continent with the goal of satisfying the continent’s need for humour in several forms and also to be a meeting point where the world can come and experience the beauty that is African humour.
Why do you think there’s a need for a content production company given Nigeria’s already robust production / content creation industry? What different thing is Funny African Content bringing to the table?
First of all, I don’t think we have anywhere near enough. Content creation here is still growing and 80 percent of supposed content creators here are social media influencers/personalities (basically anybody with over 1000 followers has content creator in their biography) and there’s more to content than trends on social networks. It’s about telling a story that people are a part of either-as spectators (with their opinions) or through their own experience. I think the difference is that we combine “story” and “marketing” which is what has been lacking.
Getting the right amount of both on the same project is often the task. In Nigeria we often see cases where the story is good and then the marketing is shoddy, and so the project suffers. So for us we are telling authentic Nigerian stories in ways that everyone is happy to be involved. Our goal is to create content that people have an opinion about; either they love it or hate it but most importantly there would be a ‘Hmmm’ factor to it (meaning they see it from a particular view). The worst thing that can happen is for people to still be indifferent or confused as to where they stand after encountering our content regardless of where it might be- TV, online, print.
Do you think Funny African Pictures sometimes encourages tribalism (and such) with the kind of people it chooses to make fun of?
No! We make a conscious effort to ensure that no one particular person or tribe or race or sect is being made fun of by our content. Does that mean we would not touch on such issues of tribe, religion? No. These matters play big roles in who we are as human beings and so we would not shy away from involving them in our material for entertainment. I as an individual am of a certain race, tribe and religious sect, and over time all of these in one form or the other have been put up in humorous ways and people have been able to relate to it. The content on our pages are things we all discuss and experience in our daily lives and that is why the page has been such a success; because we actually simply project our reality in the most humorous way and “laugh at ourselves”. All in all, the intention is never malicious and what is the point if jokes are taken seriously?
Would you say today that this (content creation / curation) was a viable career path?
It is. I think most people see content creation as one facet but it is very broad and so it goes beyond tweets, hashtags, it goes beyond online presence and visibility. It has everything to do with keeping the conversation on whatever platform the consumer is interested in engaging. The process to building/creating content is the most fulfilling because you get to meet and engage people and sometimes are lucky enough to live vicariously through their journeys. It’s definitely been fulfilling to be able to earn a living doing what we love and are passionate about.
What are your thoughts on the future of creative entrepreneurship?
It’s a long walk. I think it’s at a defining point, one where the scale can tip either way. On one hand there’s a lot of people getting into the creative entrepreneur route but there are few mastering the craft of story telling in their respective fields. So I think it’s important to master the craft and this is applicable in all kinds of entrepreneurship. I think that in the realm of creative entrepreneurship, especially in Nigeria, attention paid to the mastery of the craft will take us far.