Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO, BigCabal Media
Home African CEOs Interviews How Zikoko, Africa’s Most Addictive Pop Culture Media, was Built
Interviews - Startup - February 22, 2021

How Zikoko, Africa’s Most Addictive Pop Culture Media, was Built

Again, content is king! And Zikoko is another classic example that proves that this popular phrase isn’t trash.

Zikoko, the Nigerian-based digital media that creates the most fun, relatable, and shareable content, aimed to capture the attention of Africa’s youth population. The publication is arguably the most favourited entertainment medium by young people on the continent.

Launched in 2016, Zikoko has turned out to be an experiment that became a real deal. Its mission was simple – to touch the cultural nerve of the young people on the continent by creating content that matters to them. The publication is over-delivering on this mandate. 

The brand’s popularity grew so wide last year (2020) when its editorial team, led by Fu’ad Lawal, came up with a crazy idea to embark on a road trip of 14 West African countries. Throughout the 80-day trip, which was documented daily on (a dedicated portal), Zikoko garnered a cult-like social media following, as many scrambled to get daily updates from the team on the road.

“It was a dauntingly large project but exactly the kind of ambitious thing that excites the team”, Tomiwa Aladekomo, Zikoko’s CEO tells Business Elites Africa.

In this interview, Tomiwa shares more – how Zikoko was built, its mission, the team, and their grand plan for 2021.

Zikoko is converting young content consumers in Africa into disciples, tell us the backstory – how did you guys come up with the idea?

I took over leadership of Big Cabal Media, parent company to TechCabal and Zikoko in 2018. The business was founded in 2015 by Bankole Oluwafemi and Seyi Taylor, who built both publications to strong repute before I took over. Since then, both publications and Zikoko in particular have reached new audience heights, launched great new products and really come to dominate the cultural landscape. 

When Zikoko was first launched in 2016, it was an experiment to see if the team at Big Cabal could create content that was deeply relevant to young people but playful and easy to consume. We started out with listicles, added quizzes over.

Internally, we say that Zikoko aims to touch the cultural nerve, that is to speak to all the things that matter deeply to young people. That may be as seemingly trivial as whether Semo is food for the Gods, or something that ought to be in the trash; to sensitive conversations about money, relationships, sex, masculinity, women’s lives and more. 

And that’s all part of Big Cabal Media’s larger mission, which is to tell stories that matter, to tell African stories to Africans on the continent and around the world, and to tell those same stories to a global audience. 

Coming up with ideas is something, and finding the right people to execute is another. How did you pull the Zikoko team together?

Nothing attracts talent like the opportunity to work with other talented people and to do great work. Early on, we hired amazing people like Fu’ad Lawal, former Zikoko Editor-In-Chief. Out of his network, Bankole’s and mine; and our reputations for good work, lots of other great people began to join our team. As we grew more defined and confident in our vision, more and more talented people started to join the business, excited not only by the people they’d be working with but by our ambition, the kind of work and freedom to create that they would get. 

We work hard to create a culture that gives people freedom to experiment and grow and pursue ambitious projects, and that’s very attractive to a lot of people…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the full interview here. It’s on pages 10 – 12 of our latest edition, ’25 Entrepreneurs & Brands to watch in 2021‘.

Watch one of many relatable contents by Zikoko below:

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