Inspiring Stories | Akoma Media | A Journey of Reinvention By Zain Verji

Posted August 15, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Business ~ 3,450 views


Introducing aKoma from aKoma Media on Vimeo.

zain verji

It’s been a two-year breathless roller coaster going from Big Name Global Corporation to Just Me LLC. After an amazing fourteen years at CNN and magnificent personal and professional life experiences, it was time to reinvent myself. I was at the top of my game, but I had flat-lined. There was no more growth. I needed inspiration. I needed to regain a sense of control. I joined CNN at 25. I was 40. I could no longer see a clear path forward.

The only avenue where I felt in charge of myself was writing. I was accepted into a two-year Masters program in Creative Writing at Oxford University. It offered me a psychological outlet in prose and poetry, which also allowed me to pivot professionally and seek an alternative path forward.

Months after leaving CNN, there was a moment of deep dread when I realized reinvention was not simply hitting reset. Revival does not come without the hard work of self-reflection, stripping away self-perception, standing naked in front of your fragile self and determining a meaningful course forward.


The transition to being an entrepreneur has been tough. After all, who would I really be in the world without the power of a recognizable brand by my face? I’ve always needed it to define myself, I thought. I’ve learned that I do not.

There were many times I was sure I would sink. While stuck in quicksand, I questioned my choices dozens of times. I was throwing myself off a cliff into a technology start up, that almost all those who loved me told me not to pursue, and instead recommended that I parlay global recognition and my Rolodex into lucrative contracts. After all, I had no idea how to do it. That part was accurate.

But my passion trumped my fear. A desire to realize a vision was stronger than all the skepticism thrown my way. A belief in my own ideas became more important than executing someone else’s. I would rather try and fail, than not try at all.

Each day brings with it a large dose of self-reflection, self-motivation, self-flagellation and self-doubt. The range of skills, discipline, and steely self-belief called into play in building a start up from the trenches has been mind-blowing. The extent of loneliness involved in this enterprise has been harsh.

Leading a TV show team was not leading a business. I knew I wanted to build a digital media network focused on African storytelling. What was it exactly, what gap were we addressing specifically, and what was the business model? An incredible core team has built

aKoma Media

We are an Africa-focused content and storytelling platform. We are fostering a community where a combination of user-generated content and original content about Africa and its diaspora is being created, published and shared with the world. We want to capture the diverse and creative energy of the continent, and from our own local African perspectives.

We have built a content management system called Myst (My Studio) that allows for easy content creation on mobile phones for video, writing, photo storytelling and audio podcasts.

We have developed our own talent network called ‘Tribe’, where we nurture talent and give them our expertise, and access our professional contacts, to develop their skills. We provide the blank canvas for their work.

Creating aKoma has taken patience, something I have had to learn. I have ditched reading novels for books like, ‘The Lean Start Up’, ‘Creativity Inc.’ and ‘Traction’. I’ve had to understand market size, value propositions, the lean canvas; digital product development tools such as pivotal tracker, data analytics, hero images, legal releases, marketing plans and much more. It’s been terrifying. It has been exciting. It has been all consuming.

Source — Akoma Media

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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