Q&A with Doyin Adewola CEO Box Office Incubator

Doyin Adewola, an SME Consultant and trained Civil Engineer is passionate about and naturally drawn towards entrepreneurship and economic development, and has sought different ways of expressing his talents in the Nigerian Business Sector.

Here is the story of Doyin in a Q&A format from “WOW! You Notice!” Podcast hosted by Lawson Omoruyi

Good day Sir. Can you give us a brief preview about yourself?

  • My Name is Doyin Adewola. I’m an entrepreneur, obviously I’m Nigerian. I have a background in Civil & Water Resources Engineering. I have not practiced much, have been in business for quite a while. I’m the Founder/CEO Box Office Incubator, launched about four years ago. Apart from being directly responsible for leadership of the organization am right in, I also coach businesses and work with small businesses to improve their productivity and performance.

Please can you tell us what values you hold dear and the origins of your organization?

  • As an entrepreneur I guess the values that make any entrepreneur succeed are about the same, irrespective of where they find themselves. From a very young age I have been self reliant and very independent. A lot of times, when I was younger I loved to solve problems for people. I think a good value to start with is to be independent, to take responsibility and to be able to own problems. I do not give excuses, I like to tackle problems head-on. I like to do what am meant to do, and leave the rest that I can not do. I like to take control. So it will start with hardwork. Perseverance is also a key attribute I hold dear. I like to get things done, anything committed to me hands, you would be sure it would get done, especially if it’s in my capacity to do that. Secondly, would be Integrity. I stick with my words, I love to be quoted, so I try as much as possible to stick to whatever I say. If I have promised something, I like to go the extra mile to deliver it. I’m Excellent, I believe excellence is an important value every entrepreneur should have, a lot of times it has become a distinguishing factor for me and my business. Creativity too. I’m creative, and I believe that has played out a lot of times in my business, so I believe that would just be fine.

Doing business in Nigeria how were you able to secure funding for your startup from Day One?

  • It wasn’t so easy to be sincere with you. My challenges would not be different from the everyday struggles of a Nigerian entrepreneur/businessowner, am sure you understand the peculiarities we have in this country. It’s not that entrepreneurship is easy, anywhere in the world it is tough. It’s just that being a Nigerian and being an entrepreneur in Nigeria makes it tougher. So from Day One I was able to hinge on my relationships, meaning family and friends. That was where I got my initial funding, my initial support. I leveraged so much on my network, especially my family. I remember for 2, 3, 4 months of starting the business, we didn’t have money to do anything, even to pay staff. So it was just family that was supporting and the people that got around me at the time. Well, people in my network my friends that believed in me and all that, so it was a bit easier for me to operate. I believe the bottom line is family and friends, and that’s how about most entrepreneurs make it through the beginning stage.

Besides epileptic power supply in Nigeria, what are the challenges you struggle with in the day to day running of your enterprise?

  • You know when you take away Power, you’ve taken about 70% of the problem. The truth is that there are more issues, bigger issues than power. One of them would be access to finance in business. I have a business that is very capital intensive(Real Estate), and if you are not the owner of your property you would be paying a lot for rent especially if you want to be in a good location. Our comparative advantage at Box Office is that our facilities are easily accessible at the centre of the town, and that comes at a cost. Finance is one of those challenges, cost of money is so high in Nigeria and entrepreneurs at some point need lifelines, so I would say I struggle at that place. Number Two is that when it comes to partnerships, part of our major partnerships has been with facility owners. Like I said since Box Office does not own these facilities and we have to pay a lot of rent. These owners of facilities all they are majorly interested in is MONEY, and when that does not come as at when due it becomes a problem. Other issues may be about Human Resources, not being able to find the quality you need in people. I must say our Educational system has dropped a lot and you have to go the extra mile to train people, and when you train them, shortly they leave. So there’s high turnover. So I think pretty much that would just be it. Cost of Money, and also partnerships.

How has your business being able to cope with the Government challenges, and are there policies in place beneficial to young businesses?

  • I think the Government can do more in respect to supporting entrepreneurs. I can give you an example: Access to finance, we may not necessarily need the government to give us cash, but if Infrastructure is in place then small businesses will do better. Internet is still a struggle for most businesses, good internet comes at a cost. In some countries(South Korea) access to the internet has become more like a right for every citizen. Healthcare is also a basic overseas, good roads, Power, education these are basics elsewhere. Also tax incentives, we should be able to enjoy tax breaks as small businesses. Government needs to understand that the beginning stages are most critical for any business and they need to do all they can to help. It would go a long way. I also understand that because of Forex problems in Nigeria may businesses collapsed, many could not cope. We are import dependent, everybody needs to buy dollars to import things. We are a Business to Business model, and so when businesses fail it affects us. We thrive when business stay in business. So I think Government policies should be better and they should address the Infrastructural gap.

They say Vision is an entrepreneur’s greatest tool, where do you see your organization 10years from now? Any Exit strategy?

  • Funny enough most people go into business here, when they can’t find a job. So business has become a Plan B. For me, business is the main deal, either it works or it works. Even if my business fails, all I can do is to begin something else again. I don’t have any Exit strategy. Well, there can be diversification in the following years. Right now we have only one kind of revenue source which is Office Space rental, we see ourselves moving into residential & apartments real estate and servicing those apartments. Yes, in 10years time Box Office would have grown and we would like to expand to important cities within Nigeria and the continent. Because our solution is prevalent in Africa, where small businesses can’t access ideal work spaces. There’s no quitting.

What words of wisdom would you give aspiring entrepreneurs looking to set up in Africa?

  • We have heard this quite a number of times: Start Small. The Reason people give this advice is that people have failed, and business owners fail because they are exposed to too much risk. So when they say start small, they want you to reduce your risk to the barest minimum so you can learn as you go. That’s the story of Box Office, we started very small with one office and today we have created workspaces for over 200 businesses in Abuja and cities across Nigeria. Number Two is that entrepreneurship is tough, not because you are a Nigerian or African. So don’t take things personal, you have to persevere. Perseverance means you are able to move on in the face of difficulty, tough times will come but don’t last but tough people do. Try to pick up lessons in tough times and make sure you stay in business. It’s when you keep moving irrespective of the difficulty, that you have a chance at success. It’s easy to quit. I have thought about quitting many times. Sometimes, the reason why I could not quit is that my business is not easy to quit because a lot of businesses depend on me. For me, I’ll say Persevere second. Number three, try to acquire as much knowledge as possible, because we’re in an Informational world and knowledge is critical. I’m also trying to get further education, possibly an MBA. So you have to learn, the world is changing very fast. Twitter was just in 2006 and today they are controlling the world. To the point that the President of America communicates with America and the world through Twitter. That’s just someone’s imagination, so you must be able to learn and see what’s going on in the world. You must leverage on technology. One thing technology does for you is that it aids efficiency and the scalability factor. Investors all over the world are interested in businesses that leverage on technology. There are many factors that make businesses to succeed but the basics will just be around what I have talked about.

How is your business contributing to the development of Africa? Any Corporate social responsibility schemes in place?

  • Yes, we do have corporate social responsibility, but that’s geared towards younger ones. You will also understand that there’s that gap of knowledge of entrepreneurship in Nigeria. We speak to students in schools on basic entrepreneurial skills, business training. We also provide management training for small businesses. Like I said our clients span across a long range. There are those who need workspaces but don’t know how to run their businesses. So we have some packages that help them grow. Basically, our corporate social responsibility is in providing training and hands on information on running a business. Also mentorship, we do a lot of mentorship at Box Office. How we are contributing to the Nigerian economy won’t be far from that. Once Box Office Incubator can fulfill it’s goals, objectives and vision then more jobs are contributed and it means more wealth for the economy. Two things are important, at the forefront Job Creation and Wealth Creation

If you are given the chance to start all over from scratch, what would you do differently?

  • First, I would manage my partnerships well. Also because I did not understand these dynamics from the beginning, it was difficult for me to do that. I now understand that key partnerships are important in a business model. Number two is to get a good grasp on finance. Finance is beyond money: what comes, what goes out. Finance is strategic. You must be able to think through your business for 3, 4, 5 years. So I think strategic partnerships and better understanding and grasp of finance will be the two things I would like to do better if I had the opportunity to begin again

Thank You very much for your time. Really appreciate the good work

 

 

Doyin Adewola

Founder/CEO Box Office Incubator

Nationality: Nigerian

Phone: 07036988937

Email:doyin@boxofficeng.com| cc: adedoyin.adewola@gmail.com

Skills: Mentoring | Project Management | Communications | Strategic Planning

Education: Civil & Water Resources Engineering, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria (April 2009)

 

 

Doyin Adewola, an SME Consultant and trained Civil Engineer is passionate about and naturally drawn towards entrepreneurship and economic development, and has sought different ways of expressing his talents in the Nigerian Business Sector.

Doyin, through a challenging journey has remained steadfast as he believes that the Nigerian market promises rich rewards for innovators that are dynamic and responsive to its needs. His sincere desire is to see a Nigeria that favours entrepreneurship which will greatly benefit the attainment of Nigeria’s economic development goals.

 

In December 2012, Doyin launched Box Office Incubator, with a vision to create innovative business ecosystems across Nigeria through the provision of functional and inspiring co-working space and business incubation services.

Within 3 years plus of business operations, Box Office Incubator has grown to providing an array of services and support for about 178 innovative Start-ups and Organizations including BudgIT, The British Council, RenMoney MFB, AEDC, Youngstars Foundation, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, amongst others. 67 of these organizations are domicile across 3 Centres in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Doyin seeks to grow Box Office Incubator to be at the forefront in the creation of innovative business ecosystems by consistently creating the environment, services and opportunities ideal for business growth, synergy and entrepreneurial development.

 

Doyin serves as a speaker, trainer, career counsellor and mentor to youths across Nigeria through platforms like the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation (TEEP), Mara Mentor, Junior Achievement (JA), HRelieff Foundation, Teenagers Growing Business Foundation, Young CEOs Business Forum, HolyhillCapital and many others.

 

Doyin loves music & plays the saxophone. He is happily married to his wife Victoria Adewola and they are blessed with their daughter Dara Adewola.

 

Comments
  • Segun
    Reply

    Wow… This is really inspiring! I love your passion and drive to make success of business against all odds, helping businesses grow and most importantly, your commitment to ‘passing it on’ to the next generation!

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