Passion Is Bullshit (The Iroko Truth)

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LogoIf you remember, about a month ago I wrote an article that said Passion Is Bullshit and Bullshit will Not Make You Successful and then another article that indirectly warned about taking advice from Accidental Entrepreneurs.

Both articles received mixed comments from people saying that they sort of disagreed with it….to others saying “Ofili you don mad”…lol. No one actually said that but people did disagree.

So imagine my shock and surprise tpday when I accidentally stumbled upon this awesome article while shitting by unaccidental[sic] entrepreneur Jason Njoku talking about “I believe the iROKO story is a big fat anomaly!”  and “Startups are fucking hard!”

Ok ok I inserted the exclamation marks, but the words are his and the words are very true and they relate to the point I was trying to make in those 2 previous articles. But before I start over claiming … check out the article and let me know what you think. 

At the end of the day sha, it is quite a dope article! <— last exclamation point I promise! <— whoops I lied…

Article: Startups Are Not Supposed To Be Sexy

Startups are cool. Startups are sexy. Startups are where the money is at. Let me go on record. Startups are fucking hard. Globally there has been this mega trend to glamourise startups. Instagram sold for a $1B. Bam! Facebook IPO’d at $100B. Wham! What! Whatsapp generated $20M in revenue but was acquired for $19B. CaBow!

I am largely in favour of that. I feel responsible for cultivating (and benefitting greatly) by becoming something of a poster child for the internet story in Africa. It’s great and warms my heart when young Nigerians want to create internet companies rather than going down the traditional and conservative route of medicine, law, banking or accountancy. Man, Nigeria needs the jobs! But there are two sides to every story. There isn’t really a large media brand that hasn’t covered the iROKO story. From CNN, CNBC, Techcrunch, Pando, NYTimes, FT, WSJ, Variety, Reuters, Forbes, Quartz, BBC, France24, Fast Company, Bloomberg. I have spoken to them all. And they all largely cover the last 2 years of my experiences. The IROKO story. The upside. The growth story from rages to ‘riches’. The problem is before this story there was another story. The 31 years of being broke all the time. Of frustration of founding and failing at everything I touched.

Startups are the place where dreams of the young turn to ash. The default mode for a startup is survival, because most founders lack experience of anything they usually go from one idiotic mistake to another. These mistakes are usually responsible for turning dreams to ashes. Startups don’t die. They commit suicide.

But if you read the stories [my own included] one would think technology startups are a Nirvana filled with investors and dollar trees waiting to be harvested. Shikhar Ghosh, a professor at the Harvard Business School, looked at 2,000 VC-backed companies between 2004 and 2010. The unavoidable and hard truth is 75% of venture backed startups don’t return the money to their investors. Nirvana, a startup is not. It’s tough when you are venture backed. The vast majority of startups will NEVER get funded. EVER.

Failure often is harder on entrepreneurs who lose money that they’ve borrowed on credit cards or from friends and relatives than it is on those who raised venture capital.

“When you’ve bootstrapped a business where you’re not drawing a salary and depleting whatever savings you have, that’s one of the very difficult things to do,” says Toby Stuart, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Venture capitalists make high-risk investments and expect some of them to fail, and entrepreneurs who raise venture capital often draw salaries, he says. – WSJ

I believe the iROKO story is a big fat anomaly and needs to be taken with a hand full of salt for all aspiring founders. It shouldn’t be an anomaly. But if you created 1,000 internet startups in Nigeria. At least one would experience the type of growth we have. Which one? Who knows. I am trying to find out but as an investor with Spark over the last 12 months, I now have a fuller appreciation of how unsexy and bloody hard this whole startup thing is in Nigeria. For those who are throwing their hats in the arena I salute you. But prepare yourself for the pain.

The most likely end result for iROKOtv is to fail. So everyday I awake from my slumber, head down to the arena, unsheathe my sword and do everything in my power to ensure that doesn’t happen.

A beautiful death is not sexy. Unless you are a Spartan. Me? I am just an Igbo boy…

Written By Jason Njoku



Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
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21 comments on “Passion Is Bullshit (The Iroko Truth)

  1. I absolutely agree. I have read that the only reason that one may suceed is that you have failed so much that u dnt have a word 4 it again.
    Sucess is work and not bam, wham and cabahm, it involves people and u, guts, anger, peace, it involves a lot of confusion before the picture is clear.
    Thanks jason and ofili, 4 letting me know that one day, the interview will come but giving me heads up that it wnt b bham, ca bool, pow . Lol. Cheers

  2. Njoku is right on d money! Believing d next idea wud be a Zuckerberg is delusional. Doesn’t hurt trying, if u’re driven enough. BTW a pleasure meeting u at kFC, City Mall Onikan yday. Wish I cud upload d pics(not into Twitter, active on Linkedin though). Hv a week of awesome surprises!

  3. I loved passion is bullshit and I love this too. It’s time to get it out there. Bullshit stereotype rags to riches stories are why every young man wants to croon into a microphone and every young woman who has a toothpick figure wants to be the next agbani;along the line they are shocked at how much hard work it really takes. No one tells you being ambitious will not make earning accomplishments easy. Bullshit really will not make us successful.

  4. Trust Jason to tell it as it is, however I believe everyone should pursue their dreams at least once in their lifetime. They may not succeed but they’ll have one heck of a story to tell the grand kids

  5. i loved passion is bullshit and i love this too. It’s time to get it out there.bullshit stereotype rags to riches stories are why every young man wants to croon into a microphone and every girl with a toothpick figure thinks being the next agbani is her calling;along the line they are shocked by how much hard work it really takes. no one tells you being ambitious will not make earning accomplishments easy. Bullshit really will not make us successful.

  6. Entrepreneurs are Like parents of a Nobel laureate, before your child or business becomes a celebrity, you’ll be packing a lot of shit! With no guarantees that your kid will get it.

  7. Toonna on said:

    Ok, So i read this article , and and I read the previous one about passion, and I think either we are misinterpreting something or it all boils down to a matter of English with the meaning of the word “passion”. Jason never said passion is bullshit, he said start ups are not sexy. What is “sexy”? Sexy is the fallacy the media brainwashes the minds of people with 24/7; nothing is sexy unless you think it is. What is passion if it isn’t what keeps you going through “31 years of being broke all the time” ; from the inception of the start up, through all the bullshit the start up will definitely provide, and even after success is whatever way it is sought is finally found?

    I think the fundamental problem is what that adage says, “People miss opportunity because it is dressed up as work”; basically saying people are lazy. I marvel at how anyone can expect anything good to come easy in this world when we know there is always going to be opposition. Folks need to renew their minds to the fact that you will work very hard in the world, whether you are the richest man or the poorest, you will continue to work till you die. And work is good, only the lazy man will say there is a lion outside when there is none because he doesn’t want to work. If you don’t want to work, you don’t want to eat.

    Passion is a necessity, exactly because in this regard, start ups are not sexy. Passion doesn’t necessary mean you must like what you do; sometimes you will like it and sometimes you might not, but passion means you will continue and not give up. Why did Jason start, and why does he continue along this tough career path, if he isn’t passionate about whatever he sees as success? Even if a person hates his or her job, yet because one is passionate about acquiring money to pay bills, one must work that job.

    So I do understand Jason”s perspective, and I do understand your point also. I’ll say we are all running different races; one man’s path may seem easier when compared to another, so people will always have varying opinions on passion and success etc. But work is inevitable, and passion and motivation drawn from seeing the end goal is necessary to pull through the tough times

    May vision never leave our minds, passion never leave our heart, and power never leave our body. Can someone say amen?

    • I love this guy already. I don’t need to comment on this. You read my mind and poured it out on here. I am definitely looking u up on google or something.

    • Vics on said:

      Amen! Lol.

      In my opinion Ofili, doing what we are passionate about is an awesome thing. However, due to d nature of life -as pretty hard, you will definitely have to do other things u are not passionate about to achieve your goal. Now the problem lies where some people refuse to do necessary things just because they are not passionate about it. I don’t like writing too, but I do anyway. However I cannot make writing the ONLY thing I will do for the rest of my life (while someone else can). You get my drift?

  8. Hearing this from Jason kinda buttresses the feeling I’ve always had in my mind about being an entrepreneur and following one’s dream/passion. The whole romantic idea of making it big by starting a business has made a lot of us young people to become obsessed with “dreaming” about BIG ideas and getting rich from them. Forgetting that the Big Guys we know today who made it big, never had it so easy for a very long while on their path. I think every young person whether aspiring entrepreneur or career person should take a cue from this. On Point Ofili!

  9. I read everything and I think I understand the most part of all three write-ups combined:
    A little luck goes a long way too. No? 🙂
    Just kidding…or am I really?

  10. Larry on said:

    @Toonna: You echoed my thoughts. Some people were born to be entrepreneurs whilst others are pretty happy with the 9 to 5 grind. We all have different paths in life.

    You can’t just wake up one day and decide you want to be an entrepreneur. Its a journey, driven by passion – not passion for quick money but passion to see your dream become reality. You also need to go through rigourous entrepreneurship training to prepare you for the huddles ahead – and there will be tonnes of huddles. However, passion keeps you going, until you achieve success, even if its moderate success.

    So here’s to all the true entrepreneurs out there, please don’t let this ‘Passion is Bullshit’ post deter you. Follow your heart, don’t give up on your dreams.

    I worked comfortably as a Senior Manager in a top firm, and I was not happy because I had a business idea, but didn’t want to jeopardize my steady paycheck. Eventually I resigned, got my MBA, got a grant to start my business. Went through 6 months entrepreneurship training (one of the terms for the grant). Its been less than a year since we launched, and yeah its not been all rosy but I wouldn’t trade where I am now for anything in the world. The training helped me prepare for the rocky journey ahead .

  11. Jasmine on said:

    @Larry, I echo the last paragragh.

    Besides, most youths of today expect an express heavy-duty check to fall from the skies whilst doing what they term as “passion”.
    I feel, personally, that there’s a whole lot between interest and wanting to be successful; plus there’s an important factor here. GOD. 🙂
    So. Here’s to everyone who intends to branch out/ is having difficulties with the cash flow.


  12. Now, this’s got my heart beating like it’ll pop from my chest. What’s the hope then for a just-graduated wannabe ‘entrepreneur’? I’m dipping my head in a little bit and hoping I can dig deeper to further learn the ropes (till I grow white hairs?). NYSC Allawee go soon stop o. Nice one, Njoku.

  13. Ayodeji on said:

    Success in every enterprise is ten percent passion (my view) and largely dedication, persistence, faith and a strong sense of purpose.
    The entrepreneur-ing journey isn’t truly all the soak in your passion bullshit, most often than none you have to be your own fan and motivator even sef your follower till you make your mark but in passion posibility surely abounds.

  14. Cheenyayray on said:

    Hmmm…. Most successful people never tell you the truth of their success ’cause they’ve forgotten 🙂 So what we left with is cock n bull…

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