Ibrahim Kamara is co-founder of GUAP, the world’s first video magazine. He’ll be speaking on NME’s Skills To Succeed In A Digital Age panel at our #Lifehacks event on November 23. Ahead of the big day, we contacted Ibrahim to find out about his creative journey so far.
How would you describe GUAP to the uninitiated, and where did you get the idea from?
“If you’d asked me when we started, I’d have just said GUAP – which stands for great understanding and power – is the world’s first video magazine. But asking me today, I’d say we’re an innovative platform for discovering emerging talent with music, fashion, arts and business. We create visual content, events and experiences for young people to be both inspired and entertained, and we’re all about profiling and connecting with young talented creatives and entrepreneurs through our various platforms. The idea came from the need to showcase young people who are doing amazing things as tangible role models for other young people to aspire to. We felt there was a need to shed light on those individuals who normally don’t get the credit they deserve. We wanted to be the platform that would profile the next generation of successful creatives and entrepreneurs – not just whoever is the ‘in thing’ right now. We – my business partner Jide Adetunji and I – decided to do this through video articles rather than written articles, partly because I hate writing, and partly because we knew young people would be more interactive with video.”
What was the most challenging aspect of getting GUAP off the ground? What did you learn along the way?
“To be honest, it wasn’t really challenging. The most challenging thing was probably managing my time as GUAP was birthed while I was in my final year of university. Balancing the time between the two was difficult. One had to suffer for the other to grow and I chose GUAP. I still did well though. I learned that if you believe in something, you have to make sacrifices, and you have to back your sacrifices 100% or there’s no point doing it.”
GUAP is the world’s first video magazine. How will you stay ahead of the curve when other video magazines inevitably follow suit? Obviously you don’t need to give away any trade secrets!
“I think it all goes down to the narrative we’re pushing. Other video magazines can come but they won’t be pushing the same message we do, as organically as we do. A lot of our content comes from organic relationships with our features way before they’re the hot topic. As they grow we grow. As we grow they grow. It’s more of a community type thing rather than just picking up a camera and recording interviews. We really do connect with all our features on a personal level. We will continue focusing on keeping things authentic and organic and doing that really well. It’s our own lane and I don’t think anyone can be in it.”
You’re talking on a panel focusing on the skills you need to succeed in a digital age. For you, which of these skills are the most important?
“One of the most important skills is branding and using social media to work for you. The world is based on perception – and in a world where we take in so much information daily, how do you stand out? Branding is important because you can choose who you want to be and make the world believe in this.”
What advice would you give to a young person who wants to pursue a career in digital media?
“I would say stay original and don’t compare yourself. Focus on your own journey and just religiously work at it even when you don’t see results straight away. In the digital media landscape someone is always watching your output, but only time will tell who.”
Later this month, Ibrahim will be speaking on an NME #Lifehacks panel discussing Skills To Succeed In A Digital Age.
The panel forms part of a full afternoon of talks and activities designed to help you kick-start your career in the creative industries. NME has teamed up with University of Salford and youth initiative Create Jobs to lay on the #Lifehacks event in London on November 23.
Also speaking on the How To Succeed In The Digital Age panel will be Lauren Thomas from tech education specialists General Assembly, Niran Vinod, Creative Strategist at Instagram and Lyndon Saunders from Univerity of Salford’s School of Arts and Media. It will be hosted by NME Digital Editor, Charlotte Gunn.
One the day, you’ll also be able to connect with the NME team and our partners at the dedicated Hack-Space. Plus, there will be free food and drink, and the event will culminate in an exclusive secret evening gig. At last year’s #Lifehacks launch event, Tinie Tempah wowed the crowds.