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Frank Onochie CEO and founder of BeansList on digital black and African Caribbean culture

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 13 June 2016

Frank Onochie on BeansList, the mobile app and directory service for black and African Caribbean culture

BeansList logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there for Beanslist?

Frank Onochie (FO): I am Frank Onochie and I am the CEO and founder of BeansList. I manage and oversee all creative, strategic and commercial activities.

(SMP): Briefly, tell us about Beanslist

FO: BeansList is a mobile app and digital platform created for people who love all things African Caribbean. It allows users to find companies and freelancers providing products, services, must attend events and amazing offers from our partners. There is also a media component called MyView through which we will distribute positive, motivational and aspirational media content.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

FO: BeansList is for everyone interested in black and  African Caribbean products, services, cuisine and culture. Unfortunately, there has not been a credible attempt to cater to this community and now, more than ever African Caribbean entrepreneurs need an effective channel to promote their products and services to their community and wider stakeholders.

Photograph of Frank Onochie CEO and founder of BeansListSMP: When was it founded, how many people work there and how is it funded?

FO: The concept came to us two years ago and we have been working on it since mid-2015. It is entirely self-funded. The bank didn’t help; raising finance for new projects in this country is still extremely difficult. Luckily I also own one of the major promotional agencies in the country (REGAL AGENCY) so I basically incubated BeansList within REGAL.

How did you initially attract users to site, social channels et al and how do you do it now?

FO: The audience is rather fragmented, we are focusing on an audience aged 18-60, ultimately for us our strategy at this stage is to be aggressive, to get in front of our audience wherever they are and encourage app downloads. I also believe that content is king. Through MyView and our online channels we will be creating and disseminating premium relevant content to build awareness.

SMP: The social accounts are relatively new, how are you going to develop them?

FO: Again by creating good content and also by investing on strategic digital and offline marketing.

SMP: What sort of content are you creating and what works best with your audiences?

FO: We have a fragmented audience so we will bring them all to the table by creating relevant content for each target segment. Aspirational, informative and engaging content. There is also no substitute for funny.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Beanslist?

FO: Major challenges have of course been around technology, funding and trying to stretch the limits of what can be done with what we can afford. Ultimately by choosing partners who are also passionate and share your vision you will find that people go above and beyond. If it is not perfect I will not approve it.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

FO: Several high moments. When the app was officially complete and another was when we started getting our first paid subscribers, this was the point when I realised that it was now real, no longer an idea or concept.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?

FO: I think the biggest challenge will be an on-going challenge. I want BeansList to be mainstream so we will need to keep pushing and educating both businesses and users on the benefits of using BeansList; whether it be for promoting their businesses or for finding relevant products, services and events.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments?

FO: The challenge using social media as mentioned is the fragmented nature of the brand and the “here today gone tomorrow” or “trending” mind set. It is important that we position ourselves as an institution and not something cool to have right now before going on to the next thing. So any digital marketing will be extremely purposeful and strategic. I think we will rely more on the use of more traditional means (TV advertising, sponsorship and promotion) over social media.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding directory services (and social media) for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

We do not just see ourselves as just a directory. I see BeansList as a tool that will unify black culture under one app. We will be working with content creators and creating events etc. To be more specific to your question, I think anything (apart from Google) that is generic / general that does not have a specialised area of expertise or serve a specific target audience will struggle. With greater access to information people want more detailed and accurate information from a reliable source. In terms of social media. I believe brands (like ours) will seek to gain a better understanding of their audience through social media in order to better serve them.

SMP: What are your top predictions for directory services (and social) for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

FO: I think there will be more and more niche players coming to the industry covering a variety of different needs and I think that some major names will disappear.

SMP: What are your top overall directory services tips and why?

FO: I think that they really need to understand exactly what their calling is. That is, providing an avenue to help small, medium or large businesses to get in front of their customers. Once executives have a real understanding of this.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

FO: For now I would just say watch this space, this is an exciting time for us. What BeansList offers makes sense and there is a need for someone like us to come in and do it properly.

SMP: Best way to contact you and Beanslist?

FO: You can go to, email or call the office on +44(0)207 096 0923. We're also social from Facebook and Twitter @BeansList

You can download the mobile app from the Apple Store and Google Play.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

FO: I usually work out early in the morning around 6.30am when I get back I usually have a couple of boiled eggs and a fruit smoothie. For lunch I have the same thing every day and that’s usually chicken, blueberries and a pastry.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

FO: I try to do good things all the time when I can, but I’m definitely not Jesus.

SMP: If you weren’t working at Beanslist what would you be doing?

FO: If I wasn’t doing BeansList, I’d be doing something similar. I love being an entrepreneur and I love black culture.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

FO: I was in India in December, but that wasn’t a holiday. I like to travel with a purpose.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

FO: Read the Economist or The Voice Newspaper or something interesting.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

FO: A toss about between the ability to fly and being invisible. However, I suppose if I was invisible I could just go to the airport and jump on the next plane for free.

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