At the beginning of his entrepreneurial career in 2010, Zubair Abubakar had probably no idea of what was coming: his company, Pledge51, has been named start-up of the year by the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, his mobile application Nigerian Constitution has been downloaded about 1,000,000 times, and the just-launched gaming platform ChopUP has engaged 100,000 subscribers in less than 6 months.
This story of success proves once again that when dreams meet talent and determination, everything is possible. Zubair owes his start in the mobile business to his dream of making the constitution more accessible and clear to all Nigerians. With the support of Indigo Trust UK and Co-Creation Hub Nigeria, the Nigerian Constitution app has already changed the way citizens access legal information and inquire about their constitutional rights. The concept behind the application is simple but very effective: the app lets users consult the latest version of the constitution, while a forum section gives the opportunity to share experiences, opinions, and precious advice. One of the greatest advantages of the application is that users can access all the documentation even offline; this is particularly important in a country like Nigeria where mobile penetration is very high but uninterrupted Internet connectivity is still limited in many areas.
After the impressive success of the Nigerian Constitution app – about one million people are currently using it -, Zubair and his business partner Bayo Puddicombe continued the work on their second project, the gaming platform ChopUP. The platform has been developed to allow developers across Africa to monetize their gaming applications through upgrades and premium functionalities. Members of the ChopUP community will have access to several free mobile games that will offer the option of purchasing extra game features via premium SMSs and mobile currency.
Zubair and Bayo are currently testing this innovative business concept with their own ChopUP game, Danfo. The game takes the user into an adventurous bus ride on the streets of Lagos. By sending premium SMSs to their local telecom provider, users can purchase special features (such as exclusive designs for their bus), as well as unlock new game levels.
The platform, which already counts about 100,000 subscribers, will soon host more free games from other developers. “This platform will not only let people play hundreds of new games; it will also provide game developers across Africa with the opportunity to monetize their applications,” said Zubair.
The infoDev’s Mobile Innovation Program is providing Zubair with training and networking opportunities. In November, Pledge51 was invited to participate in the international Mobile Startup Camp organized by infoDev in Washington DC. After a series of lectures and hands-on workshops, Zubair had the chance to pitch his innovative business ideas before a panel of industry experts and angel investors. Currently, Zubair is exploring new collaborations and partnership opportunities as entrepreneur in residence at the infoDev’s headquarters in Washington DC.
“I learned a lot from the people presenting and by listening to other entrepreneurs from Africa.” Zubair said commenting on his experience at the infoDev’s Startup Camp. “I also really appreciate that [infoDev] recognizes the need for entrepreneurs in residence. This a good way to learn from each other’s experiences and exchange important insights.”
Pictured above: Zubair Abubakar