Meet Bruce Dube, MD of Nine80 Digital and recently listed on ‘Forbes Top 30 Entrepreneurs In Africa 2017’. Bruce owns and co-owns numerous digital media platforms ranging from youth portals, eCommerce sites, reference sites, classifieds platforms, gaming sites , video platforms and online magazines in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and more.
3 words that best describe you?
Conscious, Curious and to some degree Opportunistic.
I cannot start my working day without…
Reflecting on life. Meditation of sorts where I try to remind myself of what propels me and why it’s important to remain on the path I’m on. It’s something I do on a daily basis, sometimes in more subtle ways than others, but I find it harmonizing.
The typical Nine80 Digital target audience is…
African youth demographic between the ages of 16 -26 who are predominantly urban.
What are the key elements necessary for any online platform to succeed?
Knowing your target audience, good and effective content strategies, consistency and a clear revenue model.
There is a lot of emphasis these days on entrepreneurship in schools and among the youth. What does it truly mean to be an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur means identifying challenges in our communities or spaces and creating sustainable businesses that seek to convert those challenges into opportunities. Opportunities that will facilitate job creation and add value to the community the product or service is being rendered to.
Your name has been on numerous lists including Forbes Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Africa and Top Global Changemakers in the world. What does this mean to you?
It’s great to be recognized, the entrepreneurship life can be daunting and disconnected from the world. So I’m appreciative of the recognition, because during your low moments recognition can propel you to greater heights whether it’s through new opportunities or networks. For me personally, I have drawn a lot more morale from it especially during the difficult times. I have however over the years transitioned to a place where I’m more focused on the business of business and whilst I’m appreciative of recognition, I’m no longer necessarily propelled by it.
On the flip side I think when I see myself or my peers recognized, I become conscious of the fact that there are young Africans who have the zest and determination to not only be vehicles of change, but drivers of change. They have potential to not only create profitable and sustainable businesses, but create jobs and uplift their communities. If enough opportunities and resources are made available towards empowering African youth, young people can be part of a generation of African youth who are tapping into the continent’s demographic dividend and not only seeing Africa’s growing youth population as a burden, but an opportunity.
What has been the biggest factor behind your success?
Support from family, friends, employees and mentors. Going through entrepreneurship requires as much support as possible and I believe aspiring entrepreneurs should surround themselves with authentic people who are going to be honest and real with them always. I also think it’s crucial to have mentors to guide or show aspiring entrepreneurs the ropes, it make the whole process slightly easier.
What are the ‘gamechangers’ we are likely to see in the Digital space in the next few years?
Audiences will more and more be dictating the narrative and format of what content is created and consumed, and in order to survive, institutions who directly mirror their audience interests will have a higher chance at scalability and sustainability. I also think because of this power shift most digital publishers will struggle maintaining a conscious level of autonomy. The real influencers will be digital publishers who can find the balance.
The most important thing experience has taught you?
That consistency and persistence pays off and just to always follow your heart and stay true to your values.
When I am not working I am…
Travelling the world and learning about other cultures, their vices and aspirations. Exploring the beauty that is Africa and its people. I’m fascinated by simplicity and minimalism and Africa projects those absolutes very well.