Jason Njoku, is a Nigerian internet entrepreneur, and is CEO and founder of Iroko partners, the largest distributor of Nigerian music and movies online.
Early Life & Education
Jason Chukwuma Njoku was born 11 December 1980 and raised in Deptford, South-East London, and raised by his mother alone alongside his four brothers and sisters. He attended school in London, then moved to a village in Nigeria from the age of 12 – 15. After he returned from Nigeria, he attended college to complete his A Levels, before securing a place at The University of Manchester where he read Chemistry. He graduated in 2004 with a 2:1 and launched Brash Magazine, a student publication which ran for two years, before it closed in 2005.
When Jason Njoku graduated from his UK-based university in 2005, he was filled with high hopes of entrepreneurial success but after his business endeavors failed to take off for years, Njoku had no option but to move back to his mother’s house in London in Deptford.
It was here that he came up with the idea of starting a Nollywood distribution business having studied the industry from afar, he flew out to Lagos, thanks to the financial help of his best friend Bastian Gotter, a fellow University of Manchester graduate, and started purchasing the online licences of Nollywood movies.
He worked from a two bedroom apartment in Festac, Lagos, and struck a deal with YouTube in Germany to be the official Channel partner for Nollywood company.
In 2010, Njoku and Gotter launched NollywoodLove, a YouTube channel, which was profitable within two months of launch. That same year, thanks to a prominent article by Sarah Lacy who worked at the time for Tech Crunch, NollywoodLove caught the attention of US-based Venture Capital fund Tiger Global, early investors in Facebook, who were interested in expanding their reach in emerging markets.
Series A investment of $3m was secured from Tiger Global in 2010 and the company launched a stand-alone video-on-demand movie platform, iROKOtv, on 1 December 2011. The site drew in viewers from 178 countries around the world. Njoku and Gotter have since gone on to raise an additional $22M from international VCs, with inclusion from Investment AB Kinnevik and RISE Capital and have used the investment to build an extensive film catalogue of 5,000 movies, launch offices in Lagos, New York and London and invest in improving the company’s technology resource.
In August 2013, alongside his business partners Bastian Gotter and Mary Remmy Njoku, Njoku launched a $2m investment vehicle for Lagos-based Internet start-ups called Spark. The company initially invested in 11 companies, including a Drinks distribution company called Drinks.ng, a real-estate / property online letting agency called ToLet.com.ng, and a Hotel room booking site, called Hotels.ng, which has gone on to raise $1.2m in VC investment from EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund and Omidyar Network. In 2015, Jason Njoku in a blog post officially announced they’re letting go of 4 startups considered failed businesses. The 4 startups were Bus.com.ng (an online bus ticketing service ), Insured.ng (an insurance comparison platform), Giddimint.com.ng (an online fashion store) and Christians.ng, an online dating platform for Christians.
In 2015, Njoku decided to focus the company’s attention on an Android mobile app, rather than a streaming platform in order to combat broadband infrastructure problems that Africa poses.
Jason Njoku married Nollywood film star and producer Mary Remmy Njoku in Festac, Lagos on 18 August 2012, in front of friends, colleagues and Nollywood celebrities. They welcomed their first son, Jason Obinna Njoku on 30 July 2013 and a second child, Nwakaego Annabel Njoku, was born on 24 August 2015.
Awards & Recognition
In July 2012, Jason was cited by Forbes Africa as one of the ‘Ten Young African Millionaires to Watch’.
On 29 August 2013, Njoku was named as the CNBC All Africa Business Awards Young Leader of the Year for West Africa.
He has also been named as one of Fast Company’s Top 1000 Most Creative People in Business.
He also won the Future Awards Africa as Entrepreneur of the Year.