Abiodun Oshinibosi calls the shots at Abelinis, an events, activation and production company that is currently leading in their sector. Easy going and sweet-hearted, the father of three who prides himself as the Project Marshal of his company (situated on 12, Erinola Salako Street, Ogba, Lagos) had a beautiful session with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s AZUH ARINZE. He talked about his life, his work, his family and more. Enjoy…
First, let us meet you.
My name is Abiodun Oshinibosi. I was born on the 24th of March, 1975, into a family of five. I am the fourth child. I started my education in a nursery school called Estate Nursery and Primary School in Ilupeju, Lagos; from there, I went to Okota High School. I didn’t pass my exam at the first sitting. So, I had to re-take. I went to Ogba Grammar School and my grade was good enough to get me into Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, where I studied Statistics. Then, I went to The Polytechnic, Ibadan, for my HND, before I started working as a Field Supervisor in Tequila. Obviously, before I got that first employment, I had been working with my brother who is into events – Tunde Oshinibosi. He’s known as La Face in the industry. He’s been very supportive; he taught me quite a number of things. So, while I was in school, I was working with him, I was learning through the curves at that time as well. After I got into Tequila, I was with them for 2 years when someone called me; Wale Oluwaleimu called me, because I had told him that I needed to move out of Tequila to get a better pay and all of that. So, he called me to ask if I was still interested; that there was an opening in one organization called IDCI. They were looking for an event manager. I said I was available, so we met with the chairman and instantly he employed me based on experience and all of that…
What does IDCL stand for?
Industrial Development Communication Company. They do events and production. So, I came into the company at a point where they wanted to delve into events proper. I was like the pioneer on that beat. I coordinated the team; I developed the structure basically to where it is now. To God be the glory, I rose from the manager level to the GM of the company before I resigned to start Abelinis. Of course, I had to further my career. I went to Villanova University, USA to acquire more skills. I did a Project Management certificate exam. So, I’m a chartered and certified project manager.
What did you study at Villanova University?
Project Management as well.
What year exactly did you start Abelinis?
So, what gave rise to Abelinis?
Basically, after my Project Management certification, I saw the need. We were handling projects by management and we needed to incorporate the principles of Project Management in the Marketing Communications industry. I saw that was lagging; it was missing, so it was an opportunity for me to meet that need at that point. So, that was the main brain behind it. So, we started off Abelinis, incorporating those principles into our processes and into meeting clients’ needs effectively.
So far, how would you describe the journey?
Well, we’ve enjoyed God’s grace and mercy; I must be frank with you, because when I was leaving, it was a tug of war between me and my boss because of my responsibilities. I got his blessing eventually to go, but before I left it wasn’t easy. So far, it’s not been too easy, but we’ve been floating and floating well because as we speak now, we work with two multinationals and let me be humble to say this, because we just got the MTN account. We are handling their Lagos and South West region trade activations.
Other than MTN, who are the other companies that you work for or that you have worked for?
Okay, we started off with British American Tobacco. They were our first client; they absorbed us when we were very fresh. Aside British American Tobacco, we currently work for Haier Thermocool; we’ve also been privileged to do one or two stuff for Airtel before now; we have a contract with Procter and Gamble that is running. We run their activation in the South West. So far so good. Those are our major clients.
Which company would you like to work for but has not been able to attract?
(Laughs) – I think it would have been MTN, but to the glory of God, as we speak now, the brief just came in. We just got the approval. We went through a pitch process and they just appointed us as one of their agencies.
Which is the best company that you have worked for?
I will say all of them have been very resourceful. There’s no best because what we do is we come in when there’s a need to be met. And we leave them at the point where they are satisfied. So, in all of those, all of the companies we’ve worked with, we leave them smiling and calling us back.
Most people do not understand what exactly you do at Abelinis, can you shed more light on your line of business?
Okay, just like I said earlier on, Abelinis is a project management company that has special interests in events, activation and production. As we speak to you now, we have a very fresh and unique concept called United 3 Championship. We’ve done the pilot and all over, they’ve been saying this is wonderful and so, it’s going to go into a TV series very, very soon. So, for us, we’ve got strength in events, activation and production.
Most of those who started out at about the same time with you have closed shop; some are not doing as well as you are. What will you say has kept you going and waxing strong?
Aside God, because God is the No 1 factor. Aside God, our strength is in the kind of skill and the people that we attract. In this organization, we are very, very young guys, versatile and ready to go at any point. We are very creative and that has been the strength for us. Again, like most businesses, like the pure water syndrome, everybody wants to come in; ah, this is the in-thing. But they are going into it without understanding the processes and rudiments. So, for us in events, we’ve seen the need, we’ve seen what is lagging, we know what our clients want and so we have the expertise to deliver exceedingly.
What is the toughest challenge that you’ve faced since you started this business?
Finance! The truth is that when we started, we had ideas, we had this, we had that, but you need the fund. We needed to get office space, we needed to get this and that. So, those were the key challenges for us in starting up. We got POs, we got purchase orders, we got referrals and okay, you have the approval to do this job, how do you want to fund it? We went to a number of banks, look at this stuff, we can do it, we’ve done it before and they said no o! You have to do like one year, run your account for 6 months, go and bring collaterals. So, those periods were really trying. But we were lucky enough to get someone who funded us, but at a very ridiculous percentage. So, it was like we were making ten percent and we were ceding the ten percent almost like that.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt about business since you started?
Hmmm! That’s very technical, because I’m still learning. But so far, it’s to be honest; not to let your emotions over-ride objective decisions in business. For me, I’m a very emotional person, so the key learning so far has been that. I’ve learnt to balance my feelings.
Who are your business mentors?
I must be fair enough to say this. Beyond business mentors, I have individuals that I look up to a great deal. I’ve mentioned my brother, La Face. I also have another brother called Toyin Oshinibosi. He’s relocated to London now. He actually facilitated most of my trainings, so I owe him a lot. In the industry in Nigeria, Wale Oluwaleimu is someone that when I write my history, I can’t erase. There’s also Dele Olukoju. He has been very supportive. I must say most of the things I do now I learnt from him indirectly. I was understudying him but he didn’t know. I owe him a lot. Also there’s a guy called Tunde Madayase. Madayase gave us our first office space for free. So, for one year of our operations, we were using the space for free. He’s also someone that I owe a lot. But in terms of mentorship, Tunde, Toyin, Wale Oluwaleimu and Dele Olukoju.
What’s your dream for Abelinis?
My dream for Abelinis? Like our vision says, it’s to be the most preferred agency when it comes to meeting events, activation and production needs globally. So, for us, we intend to be at that point and we are always striving to be at that point.
Can you tell us about your family?
Oh, I’m specially blessed to have a chartered accountant and a loving and very caring wife called Morenike Nwanneka. Her dad is Igbo and her mum is Yoruba. She used to be Morenike Nwanneka Chizor, but I changed that to Oshinibosi and we are blessed with three kids – Oluwadamilola, Anjolaoluwa and Oluwafikuayomi who came barely 3 months ago.
Away from work, what do you do for relaxation?
I hang out with friends a lot, though my wife complains a lot about that (Laughs). But we need to network. So, aside hanging out, I play table tennis and snooker for relaxation.
What is the greatest thing that God has done for you?
Hmmm! Greatest thing? He’s always doing great things in my life, so there’s no particular one that is up there. Everyday I’m blessed newly, but my wife, my family; I think it’s a great pleasure having them, because I couldn’t have gone this far without them.
What hasn’t God done for you, what do you still want God to do for you?
A lot o! (General laughter). We have a vision, I have a family vision and I have organizational vision, so I will be fulfilled if I attain those visions. Like my family, I want to see my kids; we don’t have money, but I want to imbibe that culture in them that they can also succeed. So, for me, I want to live and see them do way beyond me and influence their generation as well.
NB: First published January 2014