Carpe Diem is a latin term which translates into ‘Sieze the Day’, originally found in a poem by Horace. The phrase is part of the longer Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero - “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next [day]”, and the ode says that the future is unforeseen, and that instead one should scale back one’s hopes to a brief future, and drinks one’s wine.
Now I am not advocating the drinking one’s wine part. But what I do believe in is seizing the day and owning your market. Today, not tomorrow. Today. I love the line ‘putting as little trust as possible in the next [day]” Most people I meet are full of excuses as to why they are waiting to do something. ‘more experience’, ‘raising financing’, the ‘next promotion’, ‘traction’ etc. The more smart you are, the more logical your excuses are likely to sound.
The future is unforeseen. Scale back one’s hopes to the brief future…
There are a number of naked opportunities in Nigeria today. Distribution of entertainment content was a naked opportunity in October 2010. Now it’s gone. From iROKOtv, iROKING, Spinlet et al. the opportunity has largely been exploited and as copy-cats rush into the market the alpha has disappeared. Bastian and I have these thinking exercises where we sit down and discuss the best ways to crush iROKOtv or iROKING as an outside competitor. It’s impossible without a boatload of money. To muscle into the distribution of Nigerian digital content will cost you at least $2-5Mn for music and for iROKOtv to actually reach where we are today in terms of team, brand awareness, revenue, technology, traction, library etc. with iROKOtv, I would say at least 12-18 months and about $20Mn. And of course it’s not like iROKOtv would stand still. It would be 12-18months down the road with the obvious ability to react via raising further funding, content acquisitions, marketing etc. to counter any insurgency. It just gets more expensive along the way. We built iROKOtv when no one knew the potential of the space. We built it quietly at a fast and furious speed. We built it cheaply. A movie license (if available) could be bought for $100 in 2010, now the same license would cost $1-3,000. Even if I personally left and attempted to rebuild a competitor to iROKOtv, I would probably fail. Badly.
Ecommerce was another naked opportunity a year ago, today that opportunity has disappeared. Done. Between Jumia and Konga, I speculate they have raised $50Mn+ in the last 10 months. All of the future funding will be absorbed by those two as they duke out to be the number 1 in Nigeria and Africa. Everyone else, the 60+ guys racing around attempting ecommerce should polish off their resumes or go niche. I would rather go niche. There are big businesses within the cracks of the big bland consumables. Search there for your alpha.
Today is today. Stop the delusions of grandeur of a successful future. Some distant alignment of events which will connect to make you the next Dangote. The future is 5mins in front. What can you do today to own your market tomorrow and thus control your future. I rarely plan more than 4-6weeks ahead. It keeps me nimble and able to react to things much faster than if I was married to some 12-18 month delivery plan. Perhaps in 2-3 years that will change. But as long as I am in fast and furious startup execution mode. Then 24hrs to 4-6 weeks it is.
Stop with the excuses. Carpe Diem.