Meet GSC Alumni Bemi Idowu

Published 10 / 04 / 2021

Bemi interned at GSC in 2009 and this is our catch up with him

It is always such a pleasure to catch up with GSC alumni and learn more about their exciting careers in communications, often after starting out here at Gabrielle Shaw Communications. We love taking on young and ambitious people, and Bemi was no exception. Here is our catch-up, which includes recalling his experience with GSC as well as insights into his speciality, the African Tech industry.

How have you been over the past 12 months?

The last 12 months have been unlike anything I have ever experienced. The global pandemic has changed the way we live forever and many people have struggled with the intensity and abruptness of the changes we have all had to undertake. I think we still have some way to go before things settle down again but I am just thankful that we seem to be over the worst of it and that we are beginning to see what “the new normal” may look like.

What has been the most memorable moment in your career?

I have had the privilege of working with some exciting brands and on some exciting campaigns but launching my own company has to be the highlight. Being able to build a company that represents my values and uses what I have learned over the years to help entrepreneurs and businesses tell their stories is a prospect that really excites me.

What is your favourite memory with GSC?

As an intern in those days, myself and the other interns were responsible for maintaining the clippings. We had to photocopy coverage from newspapers and magazines, cut out the relevant sections and stick them in a humungous book (something like an old school photo album). This was before there was established digital platforms for showcasing coverage, so you had to do everything on paper.

We also had to calculate the AVE (advertising value equivalent) of every piece of coverage, which was a way of quantifying the value of the media coverage. The idea was to show the client how cost-effective the coverage was by comparing how much the same piece of coverage would have cost if they had bought an advert that covered the same space. I like to tell younger colleagues this story to show how far the tools of our trade have come.

What was the most valuable thing you learned at Gabrielle Shaw Communications?

GSC was my first exposure to PR and I learned a lot about how campaigns are put together and different ways to tell a product story. Those were the beginnings of my career and the early days of the journey that has led me to where I am today.

You have just founded Talking Drums Communications – please tell us a bit more about the company and your mission.

Talking Drum Communications is a public relations and communications consultancy that helps African tech companies get more favourable publicity for the work they are doing. The story of African innovation is not new, but it is often undersold or ignored. We are trying to change this by bringing greater visibility to the people, innovations and opportunities that power the continent.

What has been the biggest challenge of starting a company in 2021? And how are you overcoming it?

The uncertainty induced by the pandemic has made the process a bit different to what I assume starting a business at another time would be like. We haven’t had any global pandemics in my lifetime so there isn’t a template for how to start a business or the processes you can follow to give yourself the best chance. However, there have been other crises that people have navigated and I have been trying to read up and learn about how people successfully launched businesses during difficult times, and trying to learn as much as I can from those experiences.

What should people know more about in Africa’s tech sector, what trends are hot right now?

Africa has one of the most exciting tech sectors in the world. From financial services and healthcare to e-commerce and logistics, there is a ton of innovation coming out of every corner of the continent and Africans are rising to innovate their way out of their challenges. For too long, Africa has been reduced to a single story of tired clichés and stereotypes but there is so much more to the continent. The pandemic has also accelerated a lot of digitisation and driven innovation across the continent which has unearthed new opportunities for both consumers and businesses.

2020 was a tough year for many people across the world but thankfully, that has not been the whole story. Africa has not been too severely impacted by the pandemic and has actually seen some positives. While COVID-19 raged, African startups, for example, continued to attract investment, with more startups raising more money from more investors than ever before in 2020. Some people are obviously paying attention but to accelerate the economic growth that will power the African continent into the brighter future it deserves, we need to bang the drum a little harder so that the innovators and businesses can get more of the support they need.

A country like Nigeria, for example, has a young and booming population (median age is 18), a thriving mobile economy and an unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit which has driven it to become the largest economy on the continent. It is home to billion-dollar tech companies and one of the most exciting tech ecosystems on the continent. There are many other similar stories across the continent, with young people driving innovation and a new narrative about the continent.

How do you predict Africa’s tech sector to evolve in the next few years? Do you have any insight on future trends?

I’m a bit biased but I can only see great things ahead for the African tech sector. There are many exciting and impactful innovations coming out of every corner of the continent and as the entrepreneurs and businesses behind innovations achieve more success, I expect more people to be inspired and for innovation to explode across the continent.

Click here to read more about the types of projects Bemi was working on.