Nairaland – How Seun Osewa Built Nigeria’s Largest Online Forum

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Oluwaseun Temitope Osewa is the founder of Nairaland, an online forum targeted at Nigerians. Nairaland ranks 10th most visited sites in Nigeria as at August 2018 and 4th most visited indigenous site according to Alexa.com with over 55 million internet users. It was listed among the most visited websites in Africa by Forbes in 2015. Also, according to worthofweb.com, Nairaland is worth about $97 million.

Seun was listed among the most innovative Nigerians in technology by YNaija and also among the most influential Nigerian online entrepreneurs in 2015 by T.I.N magazine. Seun is a young Internet entrepreneur, programmer, webmaster and a businessman. He has a unique personality; but still despise fame, lives in his home town and hardly showcases his pictures or attend social gathering with fellow celebrities.

Growing up

Seun Osewa was born on 17th of July, 1982 in Sango Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. In 1998, he enrolled as a student to study electrical engineering in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife but he could not complete his education. He showed interest in internet and programming while growing up.

Most times in life, we are left with no choice than to make use of our opportunity cost. Instead of being a failure on both sides, we make a pick and rather follow our dreams. But, when we can manage both sides in such a way that we are not lacking behind in any, then we are good to go. There is no right time to make our dreams come through. Seize every opportunity you get to make it work.

Seun is a very private person. He has chosen to be off camera for years even though he is the CEO of one of the largest online forum in Africa. With his achievements on Nairaland, Seun is a very intelligent young fellow but lacks social skills. I would not call Seun a shy personality because he once aspired to be a movie producer which would have not been if he were to be shy. He is just a simple guy.

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According to Seun on Nairaland, he was born into a christian family but he chose to be an atheist. His parents had to let him be whoever he wants to become because, right from his tender age, he questions alot of things about their faith and in order to prevent him from influencing his siblings, they allowed him.

Early days in his career

In 2003, Seun ventured into web development and internet business. He installed the simple technology forum but after three months, he could only boast of one customer and he ran out of capital so the business failed. He was advised by family and friends to get a regular job so he could fund the business but he insisted in focusing exclusively on his business.

Seun created three forums in November 2003 where one of the forum was for higher institution students, one for IT discussion and the last one for emerging GSM industry (called mobilenigeria.com), while he kept on researching. Although he had no capital, he was funded to access the internet and also his VPS hosting package of $15 per month was provided by a family friend who saw his creativity and decided to help him. He was also helped by John Sagai Adams and Yomi Adegoye to ensure his dreams comes true.

What John and Yomi did for Seun is rare in Africa and Nigeria. Many great talents have been wasted and gone unrealised because of lack of financial and moral support. Encourage and help to bring out the talents or potentials you see around you, as this will boast our economy some day.

Patronizing our local products and services encourages them to produce more and before you know it, those products or services becomes goods and services for export. But, when we keep patronising foreign products and services more than we buy local products, we stifle our local industries and demotivate our entrepreneurs.

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With time, Seun noticed that mobilenigeria.com was gathering much traffic as a result of its telecommunications discussions. In March 2005, Seun created Nairaland, a forum that covers topics outside telecommunications. It includes topics like romance, jokes, politics and others. Seun’s plan was to make only N60,000 monthly but fortunately for him, with time, the forum generated much traffic because the competition for such a forum was not much as at that time. Nairaland even surpassed the likes of Naijaryder and Talknaija. He also made money from Google adverts.

Surmounting setbacks

There is no celebrity today who does not have an ugly side of the story. Seun’s success did not come on a platter of gold. In 2012, Goggle disabled his adsense account due to sex – related topics discussed in the forum. Seun did not sit back and relax. Rather, he started selling advert space on the forum. This tripled his income from Nairaland. Many top brands in Nigeria advertise on  Nairaland and during elections, some politicians also advertise on Nairaland.

Apart from that, on 22nd of June, 2014, Nairaland was hacked and thus, the site went offline. The malicious hacker accessed the website’s host server and backup and deleted all its content. But after three days, some of its data were recovered from a remote backup with the help of his moderators.

From findings, Seun started as an autocrative leader, he was naive in the early days of Nairaland but with time, he adjusted and is now using the best management system. He also has web administrators and moderators who review accounts, posts and overall content on the forum.

Nairaland today

Nairaland is the biggest online forum in Africa and currently third in the world. As at September 2018, Nairaland has over 2 million registered members, 5.4 million unique visitors for the month and 244 million page views for the month. Nairaland covers virtually all about Nigeria and Nigerians.

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Image credit – Nairaland.com

Seun is among the top webmasters in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $5 million. He was listed among the best African successful entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes. He was also listed by the organisers of the Future Awards in the “Nigeria’s 100 best” list and invited to dine with other celebrities in Aso rock, Abuja but he did declined the invitation.

Seun has recently opened a Nairaland office and employs people who he pays. He organizes entrepreneurship competition on Nairaland and has given more than N500,000 as prizes to winners. He also encourage and inspire upcoming Nigerian internet programmers and designers.

The story of Seun Osewa is an inspiring one. His persistence, determination, commitment and focus on pursuing his dreams, regardless of setbacks and challenges is worth learning from. Even when he created three forums and they all failed, he did not give up, but rather  restrategised and stood up stronger and better.

About the writer:

This was written by Chiamaka Uduezue, content contributor at MyAfribusiness.com. She is a graduate of Environmental Management and enjoys learning new things and sharing knowledge with others.

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