In this interview, Kelechi Udoagwu and Tolu Agunbiade, Founder of Skrife tell us about their company and what they plan to achieve.
About Kelechi Udoagwu and Tolu Agunbiade
We (Kelechi Udoagwu and Tolu Agunbiade) met at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in 2014. We bonded over a shared love for writing and freelancing, and have been friends ever since. It was funny to us that we both studied Accounting in university and now have absolutely no enthusiasm to pursue it. We noticed that we think similarly about a lot of things and have stuck together since then.
We’ve grown a lot since 2014 though, I (Kelechi) am now Communications Manager at MEST and Tolu is currently an Entrepreneurial Leadership Faculty member at ALU.
How did you come together to start Skrife? And what do both of you do on Skrife?
We’re both startup enthusiasts and communications experts who have worked with Africa’s top incubators/hubs: Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) and MESThub, MEST. We’ve even gone as far as South America – Chile, where we participated in the S Factory and received $15000 equity-free funding.
As a startup in its first years, I and Tolu have our hands in every role Skrife-related. To broadly categorise, I’ll say Tolu handles most of the client-related responsibilities and I handle most of the writers-related responsibilities. At this time, the Skrife core team has grown to become more than just us though. We now have an in-house editor-in-chief and two interns, one for Tech and the other for Digital Marketing.
What is Skrife?
Skrife helps entrepreneurs, brands, digital agencies and startups create consistent quality written content by leveraging on our exclusive community of freelance writers and editors.
Given your background there are so many other technology driven businesses you could have done, why content creation?
We practically fell into Skrife. I and Tolu have been professional freelance writers for a combined 7+ years. We love writing and reading engaging stories, and then talking about them. That’s literally how we became friends, so it made perfect sense for us to create a business focused on content writing and creation.
The idea for Skrife literally started with a random conversation one day, where we realized that we both, at different times in our lives, had thought of how to turn our writing skills into a larger-than-life business.
There aren’t so many companies doing what you do in the way that you do it, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this for you?
We think of it as an advantage 100%. It gives us room to wiggle, iterate on our product and be crazy innovative in our approach. For us, Skrife is all about the customer. We don’t really give mind to competition or the lack of it. Our sole focus is creating value for clients, providing income for writers, and thinking of new ways to streamline our processes.
Many businesses still believe in using services of in-house communications teams or ad agencies to provide content; do you think the Nigerian market is ready for the service you provide?
We are not solely focused on the Nigerian market. We’re lucky to have a product that transcends borders. Since December 2015, we’ve completed over 150 requests for 20+ clients from 7 countries, including the United States, Australia, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritius.
Worldwide, using freelancers is becoming more normal than hiring full-time workers. When companies use freelancers, they don’t have to worry about taxes, insurance, health benefits, nothing. Look at Uber and how fast it’s grown precisely because they use “freelance drivers.” More companies are beginning to see the sense in simply ordering for skilled labour they need it.
We are positioning Skrife to be the trusted company every smart entrepreneur and individual turns to when they need to create quality content that resonates with their audience. A good size of the Nigerian market will use Skrife in coming years, especially startup founders and diasporan businesses/entrepreneurs who want to connect with the market back home.
According to Forbes, by 2020, 50% of the US workforce will be freelancers. Where America goes, the world follows. By 2020, we’ll have built Skrife to be a name to reckoned with in the communications/content market. I can hardly wait for the future; we’re so glad to be in on it early.
What unique advantage do you think Skrife offers?
Our biggest selling point is our emphasis on quality and originality. When you come to Skrife, you can be sure that you do not need to worry about written content ever again. We also give all our clients two rounds of revision. Meaning that if you receive a submitted job and don’t like it, we will listen to your edits and make them, twice! At no extra cost to you.
How do you ensure the originality of your work, especially as you are open to having writers join?
So, when we first started Skrife, we had writers take a qualification test and write a sample post before accepting them into our community but we realized (pretty quickly) that we were too lenient in the process. We were accepting freelancers based on enthusiasm, potential and positive vibes instead of competence. It got so bad that at some point, we had to rewrite a large portion of client’s requests because our writers’ submissions were not up to par.
Now, we head-hunt writers. If we see an article we love on the internet, we reach out to the writer to join our community. We still have writers applying to join, but we’re a lot stricter in letting them in. The quality of work we produce at Skrife is our strongest selling point and we don’t compromise on it.
We check for plagiarism on every content our writers submit before passing it on the client. Plagiarism is an unforgivable offence to us. Our writers are well-aware of this, so we haven’t had any offenders yet.
What gives you satisfaction about your company?
I get the most satisfaction when clients love the work we create for them. I love it when they publish it and get rave reviews. And I love it even more when they refer other clients and keep coming back for more.
I’m also very satisfied when I have good meetings with my team. It makes me feel like not only have we created a business that generates revenue but we’re also creating a home, a source of income and a community for young, smart, driven adults.
If you were a client looking to use the service of Skrife, what are the top three questions you will be asking?
I’d definitely ask for samples of work they’ve done
How quick I can get a first draft
And what happens if I don’t like the submission
What do you see in the future of Skrife?
As Skrife grows, the vision is to train aspiring African writers and connect them to paid writing jobs all over the world. In the near future, we’d like to see Skrife evolve into a trusted and diverse writers’ community that not only provides alternate income to writers but also trains, mentors and supports them on their career journey.