Adeteju Dosekun is the force behind Event Concierge Online Tool – www.eventconciergeafrica.com an event planning platform, which provides a quick solution/ fresh perspective to the way events are planned. In an interview with Ifeoma Okeke, she speaks on how her platfoem is changing the face of event planning in Nigeria.
What is Event Concierge all about?
Event Concierge launched in 2017 with the aim of breaking the barrier of planning and executing an event. In essence, the aim is to make event planning as seamless as possible for anyone or any entity. Currently, to plan an event you need to have a lot of time on your hands, or you hire a planner. There is a lack of organisation in the industry and Event Concierge fills this gap by providing you with the most exclusive vendors thereby, saving you time (or money) if you were to go out and look for it yourself or hire someone to do it.
We work very closely with our vendors to give you the best prices which are exclusive to our service. If you are looking for a bargain, without jeopardizing the quality of your event, Event Concierge is the place to go.
We aim to improve the world of events and bring ease to the way events are organised; a world without borders and a place where imagination becomes reality. We are deeply committed to this cause.
How do you source vendors that you place on your platform?
My team and I scout for vibrant, innovate, quirky and creative vendors. Our team consists of people who have been operating in the industry for some years and have a good eye for detail. We look for individuals or companies that are doing something different or those that are surpassing all expectations in the industry. We attend various exhibitions and high profile events. Our aim is to bring our clients the best in the industry and so we pay very close attention to the quality of services provided. For example with our food vendors, we look at their style of plating, menu and the etiquette of their waiters and more. Also, you can’t just get listed on our site without going through detailed investigation.
What are the steps you take to ensure professionalism of the vendors you select?
Like I said earlier, we have various steps that a vendor needs to go through before getting listed on the platform. Each potential vendor has to fill out a detailed registration form. We also conduct spot checks, where our vendors send us a list of upcoming events they are involved in. We will usually show up unannounced just to make sure they are still providing quality services.
How many vendors are currently on your platform?
We currently have about 54 vendors and counting.
As a qualified accountant, what inspired you into the art of event creation?
I have always had a passion for events. This started at the tender age of 10, when I campaigned at school and was put in charge of organizing a Michael Jackson dance for our end of term party. This was the first of my many experiences planning and executing events. I also organised a fashion show in London during my summer holidays with a team of friends which I put together to raise awareness for AIDS, we raised about £5,000 and went on to donate proceeds to UNICEF. While studying accounting in the UK, knowing I had great passion for events creation, I went on to get a degree in Event Management.
After having a fair share of experiences of event management in UK and in Nigeria, what do you think Nigeria is still not doing right?
I believe we can work more on our coordination skills. The planning that goes behind organizing an event should be smooth and not chaotic. For example it is very unsettling when you walk into a venue and you have to figure out the seating plan yourself, while you have about three ushers asking you at once what side you belong to? To be fair, our events in Nigeria are usually bigger than the British, but nevertheless this is a part of event management that I believe we can do better. Events, I believe, should be an experience. People are usually more comfortable with the traditional, stressful way of planning events but thanks to technology it does not have to be so.
As an employer of labour, how many jobs have you been able to create directly and indirectly and how are you looking at creating more job opportunities in Nigeria through this unique platform of yours?
As we are a start-up, I have five employees and looking to grow. We are looking to not only employ but empower our staff by training and equipping them with the right skills. It is important to us at Event Concierge that our employees are passionate and hardworking. As we grow in Nigeria and outside Nigeria, we plan to increase our workforce.
In your own estimate, how many job opportunities or revenue do you think events planning and management, (as a sector) contributes to the Nigeria economy?
It is not news that the event industry is a booming industry in the country. We Nigerians enjoy celebrating. We are naturally very creative and vibrant people. According to Price Water House Coopers LLP report -The Nigerian Entertainment and Media Industry (E&M) is expected to generate revenue of up to $2.8 billion between 2016 and 2021 as one of the fastest-growing countries.
People complain about a lack of professionals in Nigeria. What is your take on this and how can it be addressed?
That is not completely true, we do have very professional event management companies in Nigeria, not a lot but however they exist. Finding these people might be difficult, because of the lack of organization in the event industry and that is why we have built the Event Concierge, to guide people in selecting the best. It is about time people stop settling for mediocrity and start demanding quality, this way it will force unprofessional event managers to work on their craft. At the end of the day, you would not walk into a store and buy the ugliest dress so why do so with your event?
How can government create an enabling environment for this business to thrive more?
Creativity is usually overlooked, but these are some of the things that contribute greatly to the growth of the economy. Our culture is rich and vibrant and we should invest in it. We should have people fly in from different parts of the world to watch a Wole Soyinka play, an exhibition and so on. The government can support this thriving industry by providing grants, training schools, and apprenticeships.
As a successful entrepreneur, what is your advice to other entrepreneurs to excel like you?
Being an entrepreneur is not easy anywhere in the world. It takes a lot of hard work, persistence, determination and force. No shortcuts, you have to be committed and ready to work hard at what you believe. Always keep your eye on the ball.
How have you been able to create work-life balance for yourself, knowing the nature of the job?
One of the biggest struggles is fitting work, family and friends into 24hours. I usually stay up after everyone has gone to bed to get at least three hours of work in. This quiet time allows me to complete projects before the next day. Thankfully I have a very supportive family. My family understands and believe I am doing what I love and they support it 100percent. They understand that sometimes I have to work late and that I might not be free to attend every family function.
What are your major challenges on the job and how have you been able to navigate through them?
The major challenge initially was sourcing, selecting vendors and getting them to sign on. We used various methods, experimented with various possibilities before we settled with our current model. In addition, getting vendors to agree was easier for me to achieve because I have worked very hard at developing a positive relationship with the vendors in the months that we’ve been working together. From this experience, I learnt the importance of thinking outside-the-box while solving a problem and the importance of developing and maintaining good relationships. Getting people to shift from the traditional way of sourcing and planning events to using the platform was another one. We dealt with this by introducing the platform to a group of key individuals in the event industry and ultimately won them over with the functionality and ease of navigating our platform.