We talked to Samuel Osei Mensah (Samcilla Baakojr), Founder & Chief Technology Officer at Pivot Digital Media about the merging of imagination, creative design, and technology to help brands grow in the digital age, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Samuel Osei Mensah: It has been a challenging situation for all of us at Pivots Digital Media, but fortunately, we’ve managed to avoid the COVID virus this far. With new lockdown measures rising every now and then, we find it a lot more interesting to test new fields with our works and data distributions. Explore, target, experiment, and boost some more. I must say this has been how well we’re faring currently.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pivot Digital Media?
Samuel Osei Mensah: I founded Pivot Digital Media nine years ago in Ghana but didn’t commercialize the business until five years later when the projects needed facelifts and the vision also expanded. The primary goal for us initially was to create digitalized broadcast-stations across Africa purposely for audio advertisement and marketing. Working close to the media for a few years showed me the value of research and deep understanding as a key factor in achieving this goal.
So, when my company started, we understood it was just scratching the surfaces of the advertising industry. With many challenges, we sprung up with very little resources at the time and no automation whatsoever so you can imagine all the stress from infancy but we were determined. In our early stages, we were getting a huge audience from Europe, America, and the UK even before we physically stepped toes on their soil though our primary target was Africa. The challenge for the delay in serving our primary target at the time was a major concern with mobile data and streaming issues. Back then streaming wasn’t a popular sport for most millennials on the continent. Understandably, as the bailiwick, I had some thinking to do and that’s how I commercialized with expanded digital services like web strategy, enhanced digital broadcasting, digital marketing, and web development, influencer hosting, and advertising to create awareness and content that could easily blend with what the market demanded. Since then, we’ve been working on growing our offerings and innovating on our services.
Prior to coronavirus, one would have said that Samcilla Baakojr is a difficult man to imagine confined to his house. With the new normal of a global pandemic, we do not have to imagine. A StartUp-Info interview is not quite the leveling experience one might imagine as well. But his energy – which seems part Napoleonic, part fun– is not a thing to be dissipated in an interview.
How does Pivot Digital Media innovate?
Samuel Osei Mensah: First of all, we’re a self-styled, “new era” advertising services company and that means a team and client feedback, is what drives our innovations. We often go out of our way to create impressions where necessary. We’re creators and our creativity has always been ignited by serving users with products that ease their daily stress in achieving basic and difficult tasks. In transportation, we’re building the Pivot Express to cater for deliveries (with the least wait time topped with low cost of service for the African market) and also providing jobs for drivers by providing quality chauffeur services across Africa.
In hospitality, we’re helping hotels, resorts, and restaurant managers excel beyond their marketing goals with style-packed hosting services topped with our strategic digital marketing that skyrockets their advertising spends. In brand marketing and general advertising, we’re changing the narrative with our pragmatic reverse-ads. The best SEM alternative that gives brands reasons to spend for quality leads on their digital marketing. ReverseAds was created as an evolution to search that delivers access to buyers where Google Ads simply cannot.
We’re still serving unlimited music through our digital broadcasting station where currently we’re reaching over 170 countries and some 2million listening streams. So you see, our innovation is not limited to only design and technology but includes all aspects of businesses that need to effectively add value to society through quality marketing and advertising.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Samuel Osei Mensah: We create lasting experiences for hotels and travelers while serving other industries with pick-up services and production, so we are one of the most affected pandemic sectors in general.
If people cannot travel or host events and require our advertising and travel booking services, then we cannot work. But, we’re innovating and partnering with brands to offer virtual events and also advising brands on the need to outsource some services for a greater good, and that is helping us to survive while we build alternatives to cater for the hospitality industry which seems to be the most hit so far.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Samuel Osei Mensah: Making difficult decisions as an entrepreneur, for me, is a lifestyle. It’s an everyday thing, and that’s a necessary prerequisite for growth in any industry. You don’t get the impression that Samcilla ever stays sad for long: he is too pragmatic and tough. ‘If I’ve got 500 people in the business, and on average four new businesses are picking up your ideas to re-innovate and compete, that makes 2,000 dependents on the same technology – so that’s a different scale – but you feel responsible for that.’ With Pivots in mind, over the years, I’ve come to embrace the fact that every important business-related decision we’ll ever have to make will factor in the future. We cannot lose sight of the global perspective whilst always respecting our core values in this regard.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Samuel Osei Mensah: Pivot Digital media enjoyed one of its biggest coups when 7 Minutes, its Creative content production business, won Marriott International in the African markets, including Ghana, where it had no presence until December 2018 when we helped the multinational hospitality company launch officially. “Having a name like Samcilla, who is incredibly knowledgeable, allows him to win clients even when he doesn’t have the physical looks for the job,” one person who followed the Marriott pitch says.
For us at Pivots, we’ve built our own marketing tools that are in line with industry standards or even better. We’re currently being super-efficient in our advertising because we reach where “most marketing tools don’t reach”. We can simply reach any customer, anywhere and at any time.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Samuel Osei Mensah: We don’t benefit from government grants. We’re thriving because of hard work and smart decisions. Currently, what we’re aiming for is a sizeable partnership that will cover our growth for the years to come as we seek to expand into new territories on the continent. To be able to combine unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we’re hoping to offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology, and Operations services—all powered by Africa’s largest network of intelligent operations centers and advanced technology.
Your final thoughts?
Samuel Osei Mensah: Every choice has been challenging during these Covid19 months, and we’ve had to learn how to deal with it without excuses but these challenges have also thought us the importance of communication and Listening as a vital ingredient in today’s advertising space. Listening has helped us to built trust in a time of uncertainty and communicating has also improved our way of life through engagements even though we can’t control what challenges or difficulties life continuous to throw at us.
One good thing about the novel coronavirus is how it has shot Pivot Digital Media as a resilient company thanks to our strong business model aptitude for innovation. We continue to look forward to seeing what the future will bring. Thank you for having me on your platform today, Startup info. Your questions are insightful.
Samuel Osei Mensah: “Effective Web Marketing is much more than designing a great website. Ongoing Search Engine Optimization, social media marketing, & online advertising all play very important roles in the continued health & success of a good online presence”
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