Genii Games is the parent company of Asa – a growing collection of interactive mobile applications that teach Nigerian culture and languages. Asa uses animation, voice, text, colorful graphics, and interactive games to capture the interest of its target audience. These games are available across multiple mobile platforms (Android, iOS, and Blackberry.) Asa has earned recognition from the Etisalat Pan-African Prize for Innovation, the BlackBerry10 mobile app competition, and the Mobile Web West African mobile app competition.
How did you come up with this idea?
Genii Games was born out of the tech-in-education hackathon organized by the Co-creation hub in Lagos. The goal of the hackathon was to come up with solutions that addressed issues in the education sector.
I always had an interest in culture, child education, and languages so I focused on that. I wanted to start a movement that encouraged Nigerian children to learn more about their cultural heritage.
Agreed – we live in a global community but that shouldn\’t mean that we forget about our culture. These days we focus on, and want everything western. Not many African children take the time to learn their own language. Nigerians would rather learn the Chinese, French, German, or Spanish languages but what is wrong in learning Yoruba? Igbo? Hausa? Or any other local language – absolutely nothing.
I believe that our local languages should remain relevant. It is part of our identity.
What did you study in college?
I studied Surveying and Geoinformatics at the University of Lagos. I have also taken some certification courses in computer programming, graphic design, and animation.
How did you come up with the name of the company?
Do you mean Genii or Asa? well, Genii comes from the word ‘genius’ and Asa, means ‘culture’ in the Yoruba language.
Who is your target market?
Genii games serves middle to upper-class parents with children ages 2 to 12.
How have you financed your business?
I have raised funds from friends and family. The Co-creation hub has also been very helpful – connecting us to various funding streams. Also, we have received funding and support from the Tony Elemelu Foundation, the Blackberry10 Mobile App Competition, and the Etisalat Pan-African Prize for Innovation.
Customer acquisition and retention is also very important to our business. Customers pay to download our mobile apps. We charge 99 cents for each purchase. We are also moving towards mobile advertising.
What is your competitive edge?
We have a comprehensive and strategic approach to teaching language and we use interactive gaming technology to drive interest in our products. More importantly, we are content developers. To increase our customer base, the content that we provide has to be stimulating and engaging. Our prices are also affordable.
What five (5) keys things have you learned since starting your business? (1) Entrepreneurship is a journey.
(2) It is important to create value and provide solutions.
(3) Trust and credibility are crucial to building a solid customer base.
(4) It is important to build a system and product that works.
(5) To make money, have a sustainable business model.
What key things do startup entrepreneurs need to know?
(1) There is no such thing as overnight success.
(2) Have confidence in your abilities. It is important to build your self-confidence. The truth of the matter is that if you do not believe in yourself, it becomes more difficult for someone else to believe in you.
(3) Keep a journal. Entrepreneurship will make a philosopher out of you. Owning a business is an exciting journey and writing in a journal encourages you to reflect – that way you can look back 10, 15 years from now and see how far you’ve come.
(4) Collaboration is essential. Leverage on the strength of others to make a difference. Don’t be opposed to sharing your ideas.
(5) Make use of social media. Use this platform to expand your network.
(6) Know your strengths and weaknesses.
(7) Build a solid team – I don’t believe anyone can work alone. We have to learn how to work with others and collaborate. Accept that you do not need to have all the answers.
(8) Hold on to your vision, don’t be afraid, and run a purposeful course.
What challenges do you face?
1) Finding the right talent. It is not easy to find people with the right set of skills. We are constantly on the lookout for graphic designers, voice over artists, and content developers. We welcome people who can deliver and willing to work hard.
2) Marketing Support: we want to create awareness and would like more Africans in the diaspora to learn more about our work.
What advice do you have for young people looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
I want young people to know that you do not need to have money to start a business. All you need is an idea, passion, and the right set of skills. Sit down and think about what it will require to bring your ideas to life – this is where the work is.
Bringing an idea to life doesn’t require money, it requires creativity. So be creative. Don’t pressure yourself to know it all. Also, be willing to put in the sweat equity. I find that many people are unwilling to work hard for what they want, they\’d rather see all the obstacles and complain rather than the numerous opportunities.
Many young people in Africa have the erroneous notion that business is solely about retail and that’s why we have so many people in the retail industry. Our idea of business should not be limited to buying and selling clothes, shoes, and handbags. We have to think differently and dream big.
How many jobs have you created thus far?
Genii Games has created five (5) jobs. We work on a per project basis and hire as we grow.
How can we support and improve innovation in Nigeria or Africa?
Innovation is not about being perfect. We need to understand that it is okay to fail. Hubs are a starting point to spurring innovation. This is how we got started at Genii Games so I am a fan of hubs. Also, we need to revamp our education system. There are many people with potential here in Africa – we have lots of young people here and we have to work hard to ensure that their skills and talents don’t go to waste.
We are the one-stop shop for Nigerian languages.
80 percent of our customers are Africans in the diaspora.
Contact Genii Games here: