Oluwatoyin Subair: 'Why HiTV crashed' – Founder

Oluwatoyin Subair

The founder of HiTV, Oluwatoyin Subair, has admitted to his failures which led to the loss of his business.

HiTV was once one of the biggest satellite TVs in Nigeria until it wrapped up a few years ago and now,the CEO and founder, Oluwatoyin Subair, has finally opened up on the reasons behind the crash of his hard earned brand, after taking a few years off.

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Likening his experience to that of King David who wept and cried to God on behalf of his sick son, but suddenly began drinking and rejoicing as soon as he passed, Subair, knew when to give up on a lost cause.

Putting aside his shame and apparent failure, he pinpointed the issues which he took for granted which inadvertently led to the loss of a dream.

Subair disclosed that he chose to recount his experience in hopes that he would be helping other entrepreneurs.

He began by warning upcoming entrepreneurs to be wary when choosing shareholders, admitting to the fact that a clause in the original shareholder’s agreement caused the collapse of the business.

"HiTV collapsed essentially because of a clause in our original Shareholders Agreement, which allowed a group of founding shareholders to block the company raising money or selling off a subsidiary. This right was exercised to block our capital raise because it was believed to be a possible ploy by another group to take control of the company. We the management were caught in the middle and it took us another 8 months to pursue the alternative that was acceptable to the shareholders but by that time the equity market had gone bust, leaving us grovelling all over for debt."

Subair went on to emphasize that perception is key when hustling in Nigeria and dealing with Nigerians.

"It is not what you are that matters but what others see and are saying about you.

"Once you are funded by other people’s money, either investors or bankers, it matters what they think. So your lifestyle must be measured. Even if you have access to other sources of income, you must be prudent in spending and seen to be prudent else it will be assumed that you are “extravagant” and/or diverting other people’s money for your own personal use."

He also advised entrepreneurs to train and invest in others, a philosophy Nigerians do not believe in due to their fear that they would be replaced, but which actually frees your hands for bigger responsibilities.

"Make sure the people you train and inspire do the same to their subordinates. Usually, Nigerians are scared to pass knowledge for fear of being replaced and so you have to teach them to let others fly. Reading the 1 Minute Manager meets Mr Monkey taught me not to micro-manage and get people to earn their pay so that I can be free to do the bigger things. The balance to delegation is to make sure there is a system to ensure that those who are working are justly rewarded."

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Sybair added that ignoring the government as an entrepreneur was not an option, another factor that aided the loss of his business.

"What laws do you need, or what interpretations of the laws do you require, go and get it passed or adjudicated. Don’t assume its there and don’t be afraid of offending anyone. A few weeks before we lost the EPL rights we were approached by the competition to share it with them, in writing. We agreed and were completing the approvals on both sides when we lost the rights. Since they bought it, we asked them for it on the same terms as we had agreed to give it to them just 2 weeks prior, they refused. We ran to the government to enforce the fairness clauses of the NBC Act but it fell on deaf ears.

"In conclusion of HiTV 101, I will say this, our thinking that we were doing the right things and following the patterns of all international Pay TV companies was not enough, we had to successfully domesticate those patterns and that proved difficult. Thankfully, our good intentions and hard work have helped most to get great jobs and new opportunities and challenged foreign companies to do more locally."

Subair, who has been on a long hiatus is now a Director at Dreamville Limited, which may not be anything compared to who he used to be but  is more equipped for his role now.


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