Interview by Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen
A country known for its natural landmarks, friendly people and the many wildlife reserves, Nigeria is still an enigma to many.
Enter DrPhoze, the Founder and Creative Strategist of TrepAfrica, to tell us more about the Giant of Africa and more than that – all that we need to know about him.
Catch my interview with this multi-talented, brilliant young man who has a vision and that is to “Reinvent Africa’s Story”
Founder, Creative Strategist
Tell us all we need to know about DrPhoze?
My name is Oluwaseun Akadiri, known professionally as, Dr Phoze; A change maker, cinematographer, graphics designer, enterprise meliorist, startup investor and creative professional. Dr Phoze is an award-winning creative strategist with expertise in brand innovation digital designs & video production. Dr Phoze helps individuals & businesses grow their brands, gain brand visibility and increase revenue growth through content production.
Dr Phoze is the founder of TrepAfrica; A media experience and lifestyle brand for entrepreneurs in Africa. With a social mission to bring inspiration and innovation to every entrepreneur, fostering enterprise culture in Africa thereby Re-inventing Africa’s Story; alleviating poverty, increasing standard of living and creating permanent prosperity. He’s the producer of TrepTalk TV series; where he has filmed, documented and promoted hundreds of thriving African entrepreneurs sharing their startup stories, discoveries, entrepreneurial journey and experience in inspiring generations to imagine more. He’s also the publisher of TrepAfrica Entrepreneurship Magazine.
Dr Phoze leads a team of young, passionate and innovative creators constantly evolving and creating new experience that are simple and impossible to ignore. Dr Phoze would love to collaborate with ambitious brands and individuals as creative Strategist. Let’s connect, share ideas and do business.
You are the founder of TrepAfrica, which was started to “reinvent Africa’s story”. Walk us through that.
Five years ago, I had an idea. I thought that if we created an innovation space that fosters enterprise culture, we could become a FORCE for sustainable economic growth in reinventing Africa’s story on the planet. When I started in 2015, I had just a vision for a brand without financial backing and conviction that fostering enterprise culture is a force for sustainable economic growth in reinventing Africa’s story; alleviating poverty, increasing standard of living and creating permanent prosperity. I knew there were imaginative ones across Africa; [entrepreneurs, change-makers, professionals, creators, misfits and rebels] who needed a platform to amplify their voices, stories, brands & more importantly, connect with like-minds and achieve more together.
Most great people care primarily about building and being part of great things. These days, more and more great people want to know; Who TrepAfrica is? What do we stand for? Where in the world do, we fit in? TrepAfrica tells African stories, so it makes sense for me to start by telling you mine.
Let me start from the chapter where I turned 11 years old and was ready to start high school education; my mother fell seriously ill and being raised by a single mum, her health became our struggling family’s financial priority. One day she summoned me and said “Oluwaseun, your admission into a high school needs to be halted and you will have to stay at home till things get financially better.” I wasn’t satisfied with the staying at home part. How do I stay at home when I should be in school? Without any parent’s or guardian’s behest, something impelled in me, with the benefit of hindsight, I can tell that it was the entrepreneurial spirit because I was not going to give up.
So, at that age, I ventured into various activities such as house cleaning business, hawking farm produce such as vegetables and thankfully, I was able to pay my fees through high school. Well, I got into a tertiary institution. There I was, a regular student with the mindset of studying hard, graduating with good grades and start an enviable happy life. But everything changed for me during my undergraduate compulsory six-months internship (SIWES Program). I noticed that some of the employees of the company I was interning under were not happy doing their job as they feel trapped in a mindset of mediocrity and limitation. Right from childhood, I detest the notions of impossibilities or limitations. I knew I could achieve more and impact more. We Africans are always seen to be limited but that is quite an erroneous narrative of who we are as a continent and as an individual, this is because we dare not to imagine more. So, I thought to myself, we have a responsibility to reinvent Africa’s story for the future and this birthed TrepAfrica.
TrepAfrica wasn’t created to become an organization. We started in 2015 in Akure, Ondo state as a quarterly business forum for young people by entrepreneurs. With no experience, expertise, capital or resource. Just a vision for a brand; a drive and conviction. With the help of the business forum, I saw a huge opportunity and need to give a face and a voice for thriving African entrepreneurs using stunning video and magazines. Because, it is sad to note that, Enterprise narrative in Africa is under-told and this has hidden the inventions of a few as well as frustrated the efforts of many.
After a year of experimenting with my idea, we moved to Lagos City in 2017 without any financial backing (but I did it afraid), to tap into the wider market as a media company; filming, documenting & publishing African entrepreneurs’ stories. Despite the challenges, the company was able to march forward, increase in revenue and ability to achieve its goals. MORAL OF MY STORY; Education does not equate to success when you are only gainfully employed but equates to success when you create values that are beyond getting paid on monthly basis and you are happy doing that. Being “gainfully employed” is beyond getting a paid job. It connotes being “IMAGINATIVE – Ability to solve problem resourcefully. Despite all the hurdles and limitations caused by the government and school systems, it is not surprising that most young people have imagined more; took the risk of starting a company, innovating products and offering services that make lives easier, safer and better.
Today, TrepAfrica has given hundreds of thriving African entrepreneurs and forward-thinking organizations the ability to amplify their voices, stories and brands through epic video production and print media. TrepAfrica has inspired and empowered hundreds of thousands of young people across the continent and we want to do more. The portfolio of our documentary narrative is centred on brands in Africa both local and international brands and through our diverse products: TV shows, Video Production, Brand Innovation Designs, magazines, Digital Media Training and Creative Co-working studios. We have been able to propel enterprise performance thereby enhance sustainable economic growth in Africa.
Our big audacious goal is to be a FORCE fostering enterprise culture in Africa by creating Innovation Spaces & Smart Cities with overall experience for Entrepreneurs to work, learn, live and have fun. We’d love to collaborate with potential partners, sponsors and investors across the globe in Re-Inventing Africa’s Story.
Heard from the grapevine you are releasing a book.
Yes, the title of the book is Re-Imagining You; Becoming the Visible Founder. This book project was inspired by my personal experience a year ago, how everything changed for me from being the guy behind the scenes, capturing other peoples’ stories and being scared of connecting with my audience. Now, here I am connecting with my audience, building my brand.
Things took a turn for me last year during the lockdown and pandemic when the Head of Communications left the company. I was living like every other entrepreneur, working behind the scenes, spending most of my time on content creation, production and innovations and delegating every other aspect relating to verbal communications. I operated with a personal conviction that I was the person that made things happen behind the scenes, focusing solely on the company’s brand and justifying my fears with the belief that I don’t have the talent for speaking.
I am very passionate about my vision. I love TrepAfrica and all the work that comes with building it. I got tired of being at the mercy of the Head of Communications every time. Towards the final quarter of 2020, I set a goal to define and develop my brand and most especially, hone my communication skills.
I can say today, that I have experienced a rapid growth rate and I am still growing and I do not have to choose between my company’s brand and my brand. I have discovered that I can build both simultaneously. Many entrepreneurs are operating with my former mindset and I would love to help them define and develop their brands by sharing my insights. Now more than ever, having a personal brand is very important for every entrepreneur, change-maker and professional. They must be at the forefront, connecting with their audience.
Best book you’ve read this year
I would love to mention three books – Losing My Virginity by my mentor, Richard Branson, Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill and Built to Last by Jim Collins & Porras.
The last music you downloaded
Can Have It All by DJ Khaled ft Bryson Thriller & H.E.R
When you need to feel inspired
I meditate and spend time praying.
Things you’ll always have in your fridge
A typical day for DrPhoze
Strategizing & content production.
What have you come to appreciate in 2020 / 2021
For good health and walking out of toxic relationship.
Definition of success to DrPhoze
Helping millions make a life, doing what they love.
Biggest inspiration comes from
From my experience [challenges overcome] and envisioned future.
One gadget you can’t do without
Country you can’t wait to go back to
Something you’ve recently discovered
Personal brand innovation
Philosophy in life
Life is not about finding yourself; it is about creating yourself. In a world where you can be anything, be yourself.
Your style icon
Tell us about Nigeria
Nigeria boasts of the largest economy in Africa. Nigeria is the most populous black nation on Earth. It is home to the second largest film industry on the globe whilst also being the fashion, technological and creative hub in Africa. Nigerians are known for their vibrant and friendly energy expressed through diverse creative expressions. Nigeria has an abundance of resources including oil and gas. The Country holds the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, and is Africa’s largest oil and gas producer.
Best things about Nigeria
Nigerians are happy. Nigeria is a land of opportunities. Nigerians are resilient. Nigerians are problem-solvers. Nigeria is diverse. Nigerians are hard workers. Nigeria has great weather.
Recommendations for a first time visitor to Nigeria
*Stay at peaceful locations
*Bargain at every purchase.
*Carry enough cash
Favorite Nigerian dish / food
Pounded yam and vegetable soup
What’s in your glass and plate for cocktail hour
Red wine and pepper meat
Favorite things to do in Nigeria
Visit lots of tourist area
Nigerian indulgence you’ll never forgo
Nigerians are resilient.
Best beach in Nigeria
Kamp Ikare beach, Lagos
Work of a Nigerian artist you collect or would (collect) if you could
Where can Fab! Luxe readers know more about your work.
Where you can be contacted