A highly profitable multi-media firm built from scratch

Mr Oboth takes photographs during a wedding session in Kampala recently. Photo by Rachel Mabala.

What you need to know:

Mr Oboth, the multi-media proprietor shares what it is like to start a company and what it takes to bring in the money.

Tucked away in Ntinda, a Kampala suburb, Media 256, which produces documentaries, film, weddings, commercials and corporate videos was founded in 2010 by 23-year-old Isaac Oboth.

The multi-media business owner had never run a business; neither had he worked in a media company when he conceived the idea.

Mr Oboth discovered a passion in himself that he could monetiseand restructured his life, earning him freedom and fulfilment.

His entrepreneurial journey started out of a desire to keep some memories of his Senior Six luncheon.

“The people who filmed the luncheon gave us poor quality work yet the charges were quite on the extreme. So if they were paid such money for the poor quality works, how much more would I earn for doing a better job?” Mr Oboth asks.

Mr Oboth wanted to create a digital year book but the idea could not materialise so he pushed it to the following year.

His business acumen told him it had to be affordable. So he eliminated printing costs of the photographs and produced a digital alumni album.

The self-taught owner signed up for tutorials on the internet to improve his skills.

“I spent more than 20 hours a day behind the computer experimenting for four months until it worked out,” Mr Oboth narrates.

Since he did not have all the necessary tools, he teamed up with Mr Henry Ngonzi, who already had gained expertise and better understanding of the selling aspect of an enterprise.

Through the use of inter-personal skills, the business has made a breakthrough as a major media company in Uganda.

While working in Nairobi for Mara Foundation, his salary was not that impressive, but he pressed on for opportunities that could come with handsome rewards.

“We saw an advert of an event that was due in Kampala, so I called the team and shared to see if we could do the job. We gave them samples of our works and they were impressed, Mr Ngonzi shares.

Luckily, among some of Mr Oboth interviewees was the managing director of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange and she wanted someone to produce a short film with a mix of farmers, millers and stock brokers.

Through this, the exchange would emphasise the relevance of the commodities exchange on the Ethiopian market.

The concept was well built and it raked in Shs51 billion (about $20 million), which acted as a launch pad for the greater growth.

The company, which currently employs 12 people, relies mainly on referrals through which they have afforded to expand their market.

“No amount of advertising helps here. Your works have to speak for you,” says Mr Ngonzi.

The acquisition of the Ethiopia Exchange contract afforded Mr Oboth some good income, which he partly used to buy his own equipment, which before then he could hire at Shs500,000 per day.

According to Mr Ngonzi, the book - The Cash flow Quadrant by Rober Kiyosaki, is a great read for young entrepreneurs. That “Was the beginning of unlearning what I had learnt,” Mr Ngonzi says.

The company’s wedding packages range between Shs1.5 million and Shs3 million, including a 10 minute video crafted in form of a love story that is broadcast on the wedding day.

“We meet the couple a month to the wedding and create unique love notes as well as speaking to people that have had an impact on their lives. It gives us a glimpse of how the couple has built their friendship,” Mr Oboth explains.

Media 256 helped Coca Cola to launch its Africa’s manifesto that acted as a launching pad for the beverage makers programme. The deal earned the company Shs7 million (about $3,000).

Another success story is the Aqua Sipi concept that features Uganda’s Gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich. The deal earned the company Shs26 million.

“We wrote the story, shot it, edited it and it made its way to television,” Mr Oboth shares.

The 2011 Young Achievers Award winner in the film and television category, has also widened his footprint in Africa, working on a corporate video for African Leadership Academy last year.

The 2012 Anzisha finalist also lectures at Artfield Institute of design in Naguru.

He says: “The biggest advantage of being a finalist is the credibility it comes with. That to me is priceless. It means more than the financial reward.”

Although the company has afforded such enormous growth, Mr Oboth says they have had challenges.

“Sourcing the right talent is not a mean feat as well as finding a client who will appreciate how the project has been executed,” he says.

“The mismatch between what people study and what is done in the field,” is another challenge because “Uganda’s education system does not equip one with the right skills for the field,” he says.

In five years, the company envisages to produce its own content as well as widen its filming capacity.

Mr Oboth is a business statistics student at Makerere University, so is Mr Ngonzi who is still pursuing his Bachelor of commerce degree.

This company’s success has been built around dreaming big and aiming for greater horizons.