Episode 026: Leo Stiegeler – At the Vanguard of Africa’s Digital Media

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About Leo Stiegeler

Leo Stiegeler is the general manger of Ringier Africa, publisher of the popular Pulse media brand.

You can connect with him @LeonardStiegeler on Linkedin.

Leo is passionate about Africa’s digital media and marketing. For the last five years, he has led the expansion of Ringier, a 200-year old Swiss media giant, into Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya’s booming digital media markets. Leo is quickly establishing Ringier as one of Africa’s leading digital media brands. In July, Ringier reached a total of 169 million users across its platforms.

Before Ringier, Leo was at the forefront of Africa’s e-commerce as one of the co-founders of Jumia Nigeria. He later served as the CEO of Startup Partners Africa, a Lagos-based internet incubator.

We talked about Leo’s early fascination with Sub-Saharan Africa, his experiences in Nigeria’s budding e-commerce sector, and the vast potential of Africa’s digital media. He’s an adamant believer in local content and the power of video, saying if “a Nigerian is spending his/her last kobo, it will be on video.”

Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Leo Stiegeler.

What We Learn from Leo – Local Content Rules.

Leo says that the nature of Africa’s media consumption is local as people are interested in what’s happening around them. Local content rules, which gives opportunities to African media entrepreneurs. Local content cannot be produced out of a newsroom in London. At least not consistently with an ear on the ground. He adamantly believes that Africa’s biggest YouTubers, Instagram stars, will come out of Africa.

Leo’s Advice

  1. Be honest with yourself if something is going wrong.

  2. Revisit decisions and recognize when you’re not right about market timing.

  3. Be in it for the long run. The trends are in the favor of the entrepreneur although there are still short-term difficulties.

Leo’s Top Quotes

  • Although we have a pan-African brand, we still very much believe in national platforms driven by local editorial teams. It’s about building brands that are trusted with well-known editors.

  • What we’ve seen to take off is video. I always advise any media player or company looking at marketing to look at video as a big thing. Everyone is watching video even if there are data challenges or it needs to be downloaded from a WIFI point. If a Nigerian is spending his/her last kobo, it will be on video.

Leo’s Links/Resources

Leo’s Mentions

  • TLCom

  • Partech

  • Orange

  • ACE

  • Lidya

  • Supermart.ng

  • Jason Njoku at iROKOtv

  • Paystack

  • Paylater

Key Timestamps

  • Changes in Lagos since his arrival in 2012 [4:05]

  • How Leo’s interest in Sub-Saharan Africa was piqued [8:37]

  • His first trips to Africa [10:18]

  • Setting up an Africa-focused NGO at university [13:34]

  • Major takeaways from Zando [16:16]

  • Involvement with Jumia Nigeria [19:32]

  • How Rocket Internet had a positive impact on the Nigerian ecosystem [22:03]

  • Startup Partners Africa [27:38]

  • Why he left the startup space to join Ringier [29:40]

  • Total reach of Pulse users across platforms [32:40]

  • Insights into Africa’s digital media [33:30]

  • Why local content rules [35:45]

  • Startups he admires [37:20]

  • His biggest failure and what he learned from it [40:20]

  • The growth of Nigeria’s ecosystem and its positive impact on e-commerce [41:52]

  • A must read for entrepreneurs [44:50]

  • Advice for aspiring African entrepreneurs [46:19]

  • Where he’d go on a one-year sabbatical in Sub-Saharan Africa to learn and improve his business [47:27]

Victoria CrandallComment