Things have been moving quickly for video production company founder Moyin Oloruntoba since she won the Rising Star award in 2016.

The Nigerian-born entrepreneur launched her YouTube channel The A1 in 2015, which focused on African youth culture and celebrity news. In less than a year, her channel had amassed 100 000 local and international views.

‘We’ve grown a lot since then. The channel itself turned four in October last year,’ she says. ‘We branched out and our company is now called A1 Productions. We create content for ourselves and other brands.’

Moyin’s channel now has over 13 000 subscribers and three million views. And if she looks familiar, it’s because you’ve probably also seen her on talk show Expresso, where she was part of a regular segment on African entertainment. As if that’s not enough, she has also partnered with SAA and Showmax. ‘SAA is one of our clients – we create their in-flight show,’ she says proudly. ‘When we started, no one was doing YouTube in SA. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to achieve so far.’

In 2015, influencer culture had yet to penetrate South African screens; very little was known about what would eventually become a lucrative cultural phenomenon. ‘When I won the Rising Star award, it was a big validation for me,’ she says. ‘I never told people that the channel was mine until after I won the award. I was still nervous about putting myself out there and being on YouTube.’

While she is proud of being a social media influencer, she is aware that the word has negative connotations nowadays. ‘The influencer space has changed because people now know what they stand to gain as influencers,’ she explains. ‘We did it purely for the love and passion of it back then. We went through highs and lows. People don’t realise that you can get paid today and then not get paid for the next three months!’

While she admits that influencing can be viewed as ‘frivolous’, she points out the need for a solid business acumen. ‘When I started, I had to pitch content to brands, and this idea of influencer marketing was a foreign concept to them,’ she says. ‘People forget the hard work and contracts signed behind every video or post. When you ask brands for a lot of money, you need to tell them why. You must educate them. I am not just an influencer, I am a businesswoman.’

She has also started hosting events at universities all over South Africa, where her followers have the opportunity to listen to panel discussions on digital content production. Last year, Moyin partnered with a group of fellow influencers and creatives to host the A1 Creative Table Tour in Joburg, Cape Town and Durban.

‘In Cape Town, we had the event at the University of Cape Town and over 500 people came to meet-and-greet,’ she says. ‘The Tour was free but the A1 Creative Table had a fee and we were worried about whether people would be willing to pay. But they did, and that was amazing.’

What’s next for the young entrepreneur? ‘We’re planning on rebranding. The channel will have a new look in 2020,’ she says. ‘When we started, no one was doing what we were doing in South Africa and now people have caught on to what we’re doing. Technology is always changing, and we need to stay relevant and on top of things.’