Bankole and Tomiwa from Big Cabal Media here. Ask us anything (Thursday 10am)


#1

Hello, Radar community.

I am a co-founder of Big Cabal Media (BCM), the company that publishes TechCabal, Zikoko and hosts Radar. I took a bit of a hiatus from BCM in 2017 and spent some time backpacking through East Africa and bouncing around people’s couches and Airbnbs. But I’m back.

I am here with Tomiwa Aladekomo @tomiwa_aladekomo, who joined BCM as CEO earlier this year. An experienced media and marketing executive, he’s led digital for Nigerian Breweries and led the team that remade The Guardian Nigeria’s digital operations. He’s bringing that experience to help take Big Cabal Media to the future.

We’ve had a busy and exciting year, doing a lot of work on BCM behind the scenes. We’re keen to discuss the past, present and future of the business with you.

Ask us anything about Radar, digital media in Africa, TechCabal, and Big Cabal Media, this Thursday 11th October from 10 am WAT.

Click here to add the AMA to your Google calendar.


#4

This thread is open for questions, feel free to ask away. Replies will start coming in from 10 AM or earlier.

We hope to use this medium to address the concerns @techscorpion, @Diakon, @Uduak, @ibroheem, @favour121, @87_chuks, @Chaigogo, @onyeka and @giokobani raised on Radar Community Update 5 :slightly_smiling_face:


#6

Currently negotiating with Uber and Taxify to take me to the office, but I’m here and ready to do this.


#7

Hi all. Tomiwa here. I joined the BCM team at the start of this year. It’s been a fascinating year of behind the scenes work so far. Long way to go but excited about the team we’re building and the work we’re doing. Happy to answer questions about any of it.


#8

Quick questions:

  • Bankole’s dreadlocks are growing longer…what’s the secret ?

  • Don’t agree with latest community update. Methinks @techscorpion is right. But am curious to know the idea behind the invite-only option for Radar

  • Any specific plans on getting the forum to its it “glorious past” ? Some announcements will help

Good luck guys.


#9

Hello everyone, I will be joining Bankole and Tomiwa for this :slight_smile: as your host and Radar’s community manager.

I have been managing communities for a while now, over 8 years I believe. Just, before Radar, I helped build Devcenter’s community to over 2,500+ members from about 100 in about 1 year, while working with key brands like GitHub, Ingressive, Google and a few others. It was a very wonderful experience.

I started working with BCM in September this year. Before then I worked with AFF, Maliyo Games and Flutterwave on different short-term attachments after I left Devcenter.

Looking forward to taking Radar from a community into a thriving platform, and I happy to answer any questions about this.


#10

I can’t exactly speak to what @lordbanks’s dreadlocks’ secret is, but I think @locitude have something to do with it. I recall hearing him say their name and heaven in the same sentence.

As to why invite-only; it is easier to clean a room when you know what is in it. We needed to do an audit of the community, who are the current members, what do they do, what do they like, why did they join Radar, why are they here.

Knowing that makes it easier to see how best to design a proper experience (onboarding and recurrent) for members when they use Radar. It may not be the best idea, but we think it can work. We plan to open it up soon though, once we properly set up Radar and put in place a few things to make sure it works well.

Let me post this, while I try to answer your 3rd question.


#11

Why don’t you guys start with giving an overview of what you’ve been doing, why you went silent, and what the actual, detailed plans are for the future? TALK to the community. You said you had an exciting year, doing what? Getting info is like pulling teeth, you should offer this to us, we shouldn’t have to ask for it. It’s YOUR site.

At this point in time, BCM needs to convince people to come back to their properties but I am still getting a very closed-off vibe. Everything is vague. In the past couple of weeks, the company leaders have only swung by this forum to post rules and announce that they’re here. @sprime has been nice enough to reach out and engage a bit but I initially joined Radar because I believed in Bankole’s (and Seyi, who I guess is no longer on the team, but I had to deduce that, no one announced it, or why) vision. This god-sitting-on-a-mountain approach is not the way forward at this point in time.


#12

How to make your dreadlocks (grow longer)

  1. Win the genetic lottery. This is a thing.
  2. Don’t cut or comb your hair for three years.
  3. Visit locitude. Ideally in the first year.
  4. Slay.

Real name policy.

This was difficult. Like I have acknowledged on the forum and in person to whoever has waylaid me and asked, we didn’t do the best job of preventing bad actors from degrading the experience for everyone. This was largely because we didn’t have the bandwidth to do it ourselves, and we had a ridiculously hard time finding someone who could it with the right amounts of dedication and nuance in the early days. This is why @sprime is now here. But I still believe that self-moderation is just as important as community moderation, and that people should be able to speak as themselves. It might result in a smaller community, but if it is a healthier community, we believe that is an acceptable tradeoff.

EDIT: On Radar’s glorious future plans, @sprime has the conn, he’ll speak to that.


#13

Generally, I have been going through Radar’s past conversations. A lot of wisdom and information has been shared here. Our first step is to see how we can better help people better access and utilise this information.

I am thinking summaries of some key threads, re-arranging the way information is seen using categories and tags, resource guides and a few programs.

I have other plans, and it might take a while to explain everything in detail. For a high-level overview please see this sheet.

Do let me know if my answers were helpful :slight_smile:.

P.S. If you are a startup, service or business owner (online, IG, or a physical establishment) looking to see how you can get visibility, we are starting a Radar Business Visibility program. I am looking to see how I can utilise Big Cabal’s media brands (Zikoko, TechCabal and TC Daily) and clout to help individuals starting in tech or business, gain a presence online. Send me a DM if you are interested in something like this.


#14

Hey guys ,

Thanks for doing this.

  1. What is the future of BCM and what should we expect from you going forward?

2). How can someone with no name / connections in the media industry break into consumer tech reporting and build a real brand , something like gsmarena.com , phonearena.com , e.t.c ?

I know the interest is there and quality content will help in a big way , but i’m talking in terms building an audience and monetizing that audience.

We all know it is easier to market entertainment than tech. Any ideas?


#15

Hi Onyeka,

I’ll cover the history briefly. 2017 was a challenging year for BCM on a number of levels. Building a self-sustaining startup in the media space is challenging work and the team came under a fair bit of pressure. Between financial and management challenges, we ended up letting the majority of our team go, with the resulting break in activity across properties, including Radar.

Bankole took a break from the business, famously becoming a big fan of East Africa. During that period, Seyi and I started a conversation about having me join the BCM team. Given the scale of the challenges the business faced, some big changes were clearly needed - refinancing and more experienced management capacity among them. That conversation between Seyi and I evolved into one where I took over the role from CEO from him, with the blessing of our board and existing investors.

Bankole came back from East Africa in February and we’ve spent most of this year fundraising to drive growth, recruiting talented people like @Chidi, who heads Business Development for us, @TheFuad , who has taken the role of Zikoko Editor In Chief and of course, @Sprime, who is working on Radar here.

What are the plans? Sprime and Bankole are working on rebuilding Radar. The new rules are based on our lessons about community management and managing bad actors. I agree with you that we did drop them fairly abruptly, but they are informed by conversations with a range of people who have been engaged with the community in the past. The goal is to build a revitalised forum that allows a wide range of audiences to find access to information and have critical conversations about the African tech ecosystem.

Ultimately some of what you enjoyed about the previous iteration of Radar, with Bankole and Seyi personally leading the conversation, is simply unsustainable. One of the key challenges of BCM 1.0 was that in building platforms that depended on the presence of one or two people, we were unable to scale and eventually wore out those people as they tried to juggle far too many hats. We’re need to build a forum with broader based management, moderation and conversation drivers. There is an actual redesign of the platform in the works, one which we hope will be built on feedback from members like you about what elements of the platform are most valuable and what elements need refining or improvement.


#16

This might have something to do with sitting in traffic on Admiralty Way for 45 minutes and being in the second Uber for the same trip (first one went kaput). But we move. Anyhow, what he said. Even with all the help we had from everyone, and I’ll never forget it, it became obvious that we needed to find people to do this full-time, in a way that scales.

@onyeka We don’t have any delusions that we’ve solved anything by simply reappearing. We do hope that this time around, things will shake out differently than they did. We can only hope that we can eventually get people to believe again, by what we do as much as by what we say.


#17

Hi Kelz,

Our goal with BCM is to build a formidable African media and content business. TechCabal, Zikoko and Radar are all undergoing significant work and we hope that within the next 12 months they will be rejuvenated brands growing like juggernauts, setting the pace for media companies across the continent and generating significant revenue. Each of these platforms obviously has a different focus:

With TechCabal, we aim to provide the most insightful coverage of technology, startups, investors and the effect of our technology ecosystem on people across the continent. With Radar, our goal is to host the most interesting conversations around technology and be a valuable resource for people along all levels of the technology journey (people seeking an entry point, developers, entrepreneurs, investors, designers, researchers and more). Zikoko is the capital of joy, where we curate and create the best parts of African youth culture. We’re in early stages of the work on all these platforms. Per @Jason_Igwe_Njoku’s recent interview with @dotun.o on the Starta, we are a really early stage ecosystem. Building formidable companies here, in media or any other tech enabled space, will require many years of focused work, overcoming of stumbles and critically, just f*cking surviving.


#18

Interested to understand a little more about TC’s editorial policy going forward - any particular areas you guys will be focussing on? Any long-format deep-dive articles focussed [read as @lordbanks PLEASE KEEP WRITING] :slight_smile:


#19

To your second question, do consistently great work and the audiences will come.

Monetising and building great brands are a longer and more complex process, that we are still trying to master ourselves :joy:


#20

Any plans to bring back TechCabal Live broadcast?


#21

Hahaha, we are working on a number of shows and things. One series drops in December. But we might not do another live show for a while :frowning:

PS: I still have your Faaji Trooper t-shirt oh.


#22

On building a brand, look at an already existing brand that is a picture what you envision for your brand, then deconstruct that brand:

  • What made them work
  • Where did they start from
  • How did they do it

Then replicate EVERYTHING! Good artists copy; great artists steal.

This is based on a process called the First Principle, it works.

We particularly like Vox Media in-house so let me leave this here as something you can go through - https://product.voxmedia.com/2016/11/2/13497862/creating-a-pop-up-restaurant-brand-from-scratch

On creating a name and connections:

  • Clean up your online presence, they say presentation is half the work. Check out other individuals, how do they look, deconstruct and emulate.
  • Attend events in the industry you want to break into and network. Meet people and converse. Do read up on this industry so you are knowledgeable and can have deep intellectual conversations with people.
  • And when meeting and talking to people, just be interesting and engaging and people will be drawn to you. This post may be helpful to you as it was for me.

Do note that this is just a very small overview. I hope it helps point you in the right direction. You can research on growing communities and community marketing to help you learn more.


#23

Thanks, Jess! The answer to this got rather long, and my second Uber went kaput on 3rd Mainland bridge, no kidding. But I’ll post it here shortly.