Jackson Nwachukwu’s Exclusive Interview
with Yookos CEO, Tomisin Fashina
Jackson Nwachukwu Tomisin Fashina
Founding Editor, NaijaTechBlog Chief Executive Officer, Yookos Inc.
Few weeks back, I was contacted via my blog NaijaTechBlog [www.naijatechblog.com] to come over to
Maryland, Lagos, so a date can be fixed for me to host an interview with Yookos CEO, Tomisin Fashina.
It was really an opportunity for me to meet one on one with the boss, but as at the time the call came in, I
had already left Lagos for Uyo for a seminar which I was invited as one of the facilitators.
However, the good news is that we later rescheduled the interview to be in form of email conversation,
so I was given some basic information on Yookos profile to work on so I can come up with questions for
the CEO. Apart from the corporate profile which I worked on to come up some of these questions, I also
did a thorough search and study on Yookos.com via Alexa, where I cross matched it with other popular
social networking sites.
Finally the questions pulled through! Just yesterday, I got a mail bearing all the answers to my questions.
Below is a full transcript of the email interview which I held with the CEO of Yookos, Tomisin Fashina:
Jackson Nwachukwu: Can you share with me the vision and mission of Yookos?
Tomisin Fashina: Our vision is essentially to be a global, values-based social network that bridges
the digital divide. We want to create a social network that helps people to connect, interact, socialise,
share information and access entertainment that is relevant to them, whether they’re living in London,
New York or a remote village in Africa.
Jackson Nwachukwu: You just listed the core vision and mission statement of Yookos. Tell me what the
mission is today for Yookos, considering the fact it has grown with over 6 million users globally within one
year of its launch?
Tomisin Fashina: We think our rapid growth highlights the fact that the Africa social media market is ripe
for a new entrant, and we’re aiming for 20 million active users within a year. Social media penetration
remains low in many African countries precisely because it lacks local relevance, and Yookos has a vital
role to play in breaking digital barriers by connecting the social media-savvy diaspora with family and
friends back home.
Jackson Nwachukwu: When did you (in person) actually start in social media?
Tomisin Fashina: I’ve been dabbling in social media for a couple of years now – Facebook, LinkedIn,
the usual suspects. But I must admit that heading up Yookos has really focused my energies in this
regard, and I’m tracking trends and developments far more closely than ever before.
Jackson Nwachukwu: How do you measure the impact that we now believe social media play in
churches, businesses and the society at large?
Tomisin Fashina: For me, the real impact lies at the level of connecting people and communities. The
old cliché about it being a small world has never been truer, and suddenly we’re finding that social media
is helping us create vast new communities of like-minded people, and give them a sense of belonging to
something bigger. It’s also about conversations, and getting people talking about issues and things that
mean something to them.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Before taking over as CEO of Yookos, you had worked in several financial
institutions in and outside Nigeria. How do you intend using the experiences gathered from these fields in
Tomisin Fashina: The obvious advantage is my experience of finance and business management,
which helps me run this rapidly-growing company. But my previous career also exposed me to diverse
cultures and experiences within Africa and across the world, which have helped me set a course for
Yookos that is all-embracing and inclusive.
Jackson Nwachukwu: When you set out as the CEO of Yookos, did you have a belief in a certain
culture as to how you want Yookos to be?
Tomisin Fashina: We’ve always wanted Yookos to be seen as a values-based platform. We don’t want
pornography, foul language or violence. This is a place where people are comfortable to come and talk
about everything from football to music in a comfortable environment. We want to be about things that
add to you and lift you up, not things that pull you down!
Jackson Nwachukwu: I read in your profile that you are aiming for 20 million active users within a year.
How do you intend to achieve this?
Tomisin Fashina: We’ve launched marketing and awareness campaigns in several parts of Africa
already, as well as an office in London to talk to our African diaspora in the UK. We think there’s a huge
hunger for a more relevant social network, and will be spreading the word using as many platforms as we
possibly can! So far, the numbers are growing very well indeed.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Speaking of 20 million active users, how do you define “Social Media
Tomisin Fashina: For us, a social media campaign is all about getting messages out to communities
using social media platforms. The important thing to remember is that it’s not something you do in
isolation: most conversations still take place offline, as it were, and word-of-mouth remains an incredibly
powerful tool in spreading messages and creating awareness.
Jackson Nwachukwu: The Yookos profile reads “for you own your cosmos”, can you throw more light
Tomisin Fashina: When we were casting around for a name for our new social network, we decided to
run a competition with our early users, and the winner was Yookos, for “you own your cosmos”. We liked
the name because it reflects our ambition to get people to connect broadly around them while being able
to define who they are to the world outside.
Jackson Nwachukwu: What inspired the creation of Yookos?
Tomisin Fashina: Yookos was initially born as an online platform for Christ Embassy head Pastor Chris
to share prayer points with his followers, but we quickly realised the potential of the platform to be
something far bigger. The result is that Yookos is rapidly forging its own identity, independent of Christ
Jackson Nwachukwu: Where in Africa is Yookos officially stationed?
Tomisin Fashina: We’re headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a strong presence in Lagos.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Yookos, to my knowledge integrates a combination of features from the two high
ranking social networks, Facebook and Twitter. What do you intend to achieve bringing in the features of
these two social sites to Yookos?
Tomisin Fashina: We’re not consciously trying to imitate any other social networks, although I think the
nature of the medium means there will be some similarities and crossovers. Mostly, we’re being guided
by feedback from our growing user base, and we’re making changes all the time based on what they’re
Jackson Nwachukwu: Tell me the 3 most distinctive differences between Yookos, Facebook and
Twitter. [What is the Yookos culture?]
Tomisin Fashina: I think the big difference lies in the fact that we’re values-based. What that means is
that we’re looking to reflect generally good values which sometimes get overlooked or diluted on other
platforms and networks. Another big difference is the fact that we really try and promote discussions and
conversations: people talking to each other, rather than at each other.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Yookos, unlike Facebook and Twitter is a Christian social networking site. Are
there any future plans of integrating other religions other than Christianity?
Tomisin Fashina: We’re proud of our roots, but what Yookos is, is a social network designed to reach
out to everyone, regardless of religion, politics, gender or where one is. This is a meeting place for
everyone to come and be educated, entertained, and interact. We’re hoping to grow that significantly.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Yookos is being projected as an online social platform for all Africans to meet.
What is it about Yookos that Africans and African Diasporas would want to talk about it?
Tomisin Fashina: Yookos is merely a platform to talk about the issues that Africans and the diaspora
would want to talk about. I think our aim is to really talk about the good news stories that come out of this
continent, and focus on the values and ideas that make us proud to be African.
Jackson Nwachukwu: It is my understanding that more than 40 churches [excluding Christ Embassy]
and community organizations are already using Yookos. How do you align the available Yookos
resources with these churches and their members?
Tomisin Fashina: We’ve made a conscious effort to reach out to other churches and community
organisations to use Yookos as a platform to connect with their communities. The resources are the
same for all of them: they create their spaces on Yookos, and are free to work within those.
Jackson Nwachukwu: As an African focused social networking site, how does Yookos improve the lives
of Africans and African Diasporas?
Tomisin Fashina: In the long run, our emphasis is on social development and impact. Our biggest
challenge in the continent is illiteracy, and we’ll be looking to find ways to be part of the solution. We care
about Africa and uplifting the people, whether that’s through giving students access to educational
materials or putting families in contact with their loved ones on the other side of the world
Jackson Nwachukwu: I read in your corporate profile that Yookos offers a vibrant place for businesses
to connect with existing and potential customers. What businesses are we looking at here?
Tomisin Fashina: We believe that we offer a very real value proposition to any business that wants to
use our platform to talk to upwards of 7 million potential African consumers of their services.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Apart from advertisement which is common for big sites like Yookos, do you
have future plans of running affiliate programs?
Tomisin Fashina: Most certainly. As a fairly young platform we have already made considerable strides
to infiltrate the African market through our current campaign which include advertisement. We are
constantly looking to find innovative ways to get our name out there and affiliate programs are just one of
those things we are currently exploring.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Taking you back to the Yookos offerings, one of them is that users are allowed to
create a fun and existing social networking micro-blogging platform. Does it mean users have the
freedom to publish and share at will whatever kind of content they like on the Yookos network?
Tomisin Fashina: Absolutely. As long as it conforms to the values-based norms and standards that
define our site, and make it a platform that our users feel comfortable with. So we won’t accept
pornographic images, or posts that advocate violence or intolerance – but you’re free to engage in robust
debate, or share your views and content. Ultimately, we’re finding that the site is self-regulating: the
community makes it very clear what is acceptable or not. And that guides us.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Is there a provision for users to follow one another? If there is, do you have a
limit in terms of how many friends a user should have or follow?
Tomisin Fashina: Yes registered users can follow and allow others to follow them on the platform. We
currently don’t have restrictions in place limiting the number of friends a user can have.
Jackson Nwachukwu: What is the valuation today of Yookos?
Tomisin Fashina: Right now we’re a privately owned company that’s only been in operation for 18
months or so, so it’s hard to put an exact valuation on the company. What I can tell you is that a listing is
not out of the question in the medium term as we consolidate our operations and start reaching our user
Jackson Nwachukwu: As big as Facebook community has become online, it is still not broadly available
in China. How did Yookos managed to penetrate China? Does it have to do with religion?
Tomisin Fashina: I must admit, China is not a primary market for us right now. Any penetration we have
had has been largely through the interest of individuals in that country, and their desire to get connected
with friends and communities halfway across the world.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Last I checked on Alexa, Yookos was ranking 28,580 globally and 178 in Nigeria
with 677 links pointing to it. Could this be a sign that your target of 20 million active users within a year is
Tomisin Fashina: We certainly think so. I think we’ve found a niche that can really appeal to African
users of social media, and our popularity is growing by the day.
Jackson Nwachukwu: We will be talking more on Alexa ranking for Yookos for the next 30 minutes or
more. Before setting up this interview, I did an Alexa check on Yookos; some of the results I got were
impressive, while some were not. So I will be putting those problems on your desk via this interview.
Tomisin Fashina: By all means.
Jackson Nwachukwu: An Alexa Statistics Summary that was made by comparing the overall internet
population revealed that Yookos.com users are mainly high and low income women with postgraduate
educations, childless and that they browse mostly from work. Now two things can be picked from this
summary- one is “Gender Inequality” and two is “Childless feature” Have you ever been approached with
this statistics before?
Tomisin Fashina: We’re constantly trying to understand our users better, including their demographics
and usage patterns. Our own research suggests a far more even split between men and women, with a
growing trend towards entire families signing up for our service. And while many Africans access the
internet from work, I think we’re seeing a steady shift towards mobile as becoming the access channel of
choice, and we’re meeting that demand by providing a mobile version of Yookos.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Have you ever noticed any report on the average load time of Yookos? Last I
checked it was as slow as 5.718 seconds.
Tomisin Fashina: Our load times depend on numerous different factors, and I can assure you that our
programmers and engineers are constantly working on ways of making Yookos as quick and easy to
access as possible.
Jackson Nwachukwu: As a Computer Engineer, how do you attract developers and engineers to
Tomisin Fashina: We’ve had an overwhelming response from people across Africa who want to be part
of this exciting new social venture – so much so that our headquarters looks like a veritable African
Jackson Nwachukwu: I visited Yookos.com severally before setting up this interview, and discovered
that the “About”, “Privacy”, “Terms”, “Rules’ and “Help” links when clicked does not respond. Are you
aware of this?
Tomisin Fashina: No, I’m slightly disturbed to hear it! As a young platform, we do have occasional
teething problems, and I trust that the links will be fully functional the next time you click on them!
Jackson Nwachukwu: One of the easiest way of getting to know a site for the first time is reading the
message posted on the “About” page. While on Yookos, I discovered that there was no straight message
or information posted on the “About” page. Is there any explanation to this?
Tomisin Fashina: Try again!
Jackson Nwachukwu: Alright, Let’s talk about the future! Google commands respect when it comes to
internet world. Do you have any future plans with them?
Tomisin Fashina: Indeed, Google is the 800 pound gorilla of the Internet – and I’m happy to say that we
already work with them around advertising, search engine optimization and helping Yookos features in
Jackson Nwachukwu: How do you intend to wield the fame Yookos will make for being the
No.1 and foremost African Christian social networking site to exist?
Tomisin Fashina: Our aim is not to be Africa’s top Christian social networking site – it’s to be one of the
leading social networking sites, full stop! Obviously we’re very aware of our Christian roots and grateful
for our vibrant Christian community, but our vision is to use our influence to spread positivity and uplift
the lives of our users in different ways, whether that be through providing educational material online or
helping small businesses connect with new markets.
Jackson Nwachukwu: In Silicon Valley, it is believed that there are four platforms existing
competitively; Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. Do you foresee this for Yookos in Africa?
Tomisin Fashina: While we have great ambitions for Yookos, I think we can realistically look forward to
a medium term scenario where we co-exist comfortably with more-established players in a social media
universe. Ultimately, we hope to be the African choice, and we like to think that’s because we offer
something different to the other players you mention.
Jackson Nwachukwu: The Facebook “Like button” is one powerful tool Facebook has over other social
sites in the world, is there any such tool in Yookos?
Tomisin Fashina: Yes, this function is already available for users.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Let’s go to privacy terms and rules. How do you manage or treat abuses
reported on the Yookos network?
Tomisin Fashina: We have a very engaged community that partners with us to keep the site clean.
Onsite, we have a report abuse button for every bit of content that is posted on the platform, moreover
users can also make use the firstname.lastname@example.org emails alias to communicate any abuse issue on
Jackson Nwachukwu: What is the statistics like ever since Yookos mobile App was launched?
Tomisin Fashina: We are currently sitting at just under 5000 downloads of the app across a number of
devices since our first release in February. To date we have released apps for the Android, IOS and very
recently Blackberry markets.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Finally, Yookos is my belief has gone viral on the African network. What does it
mean to be Tomisin Fashina; in terms of attention, popularity, how you assimilate, make sure that you
are always in charge of it all?
Tomisin Fashina: I’m very content to take a back seat and allow this wonderful platform to gather the
lion’s share of the attention! I’m still the same man I always was: my faith grounds me and guides me,
aand I’m just incredibly blessed to be part of this incredibly exciting journey.
Jackson Nwachukwu: What final message do you have for Africans and the world?
Tomisin Fashina: Africa is the sleeping giant that is finally awakening, and ready to take its place at the
top table of the world in terms of being a global social and economic powerhouse. We simply have to
believe that we are worthy of it, and that we can do anything we put our minds to.
Jackson Nwachukwu: Is been wonderful interacting with you sir. Thank you for your time!
Tomisin Fashina: Thank you very much for the opportunity. It is much appreciated.
NaijaTechBlog is an independent technology news blog that provides qualitative news and articles on
Social Media, Technology, Blogging, E-business, and General Online Trends.