•Talks About His 27 Years Experience
In Ibadan the capital city of Oyo State, if there is one man to be described as the king of event planning, then it should be no other man than the C.E.O, Yomdex Party Affairs and Events Management, Otunba Yomi Olaitan aka YOMDEX. So big has YOMDEX become in the sector that any event that worth its salt must have his touches. The company he started from scratch almost three decades ago, with loans from his parents, has grown to become a bigger brand. He has worked with virtually all the top celebrities as well as respected corporate bodies across the South West and beyond. In this interview with City People’s Correspondent, DARE ADENIRAN, YOMDEX, as he is popularly called among his friends and on the social scene, opens up on how he is been able to hit it big in the event planning sector, his background and secret of his success in business. Not many also know that Yomi Olaitan is from a rich background, that his late father was a successful lawyer and former Minister of the Western Region in the First Republic. All these and many more were exclusively discussed in this interview. Read the excerpts.
YOMDEX has become a brand in Ibadan so much that many don’t even know your real name. How did the vision start?
My name is Abayomi Kofoworola Olaitan and my chieftaincy tittle is Otunba and that makes Otunba Abayomi Kofoworola Olaitan.
Yes, YOMDEX is the name of my company and I have about two or three companies under the name. But the most popular of them is YOMDEX Party Affairs and Events Management, which is into rental services and event planning/management.
The idea came up was after my NYSC, I went to my home town, Ilesa, for a party and at the same time we were planning my only sister’s wedding and I developed an interest in the job somehow. I said to myself, God willing, I won’t work for anyone in life, I will set up my own business and today, I give all glory to God.
Tell us about the other phases of YOMDEX that people don’t know?
Yes, buying and selling generally.
So since you started the event management aspect of the business how would you describe the experience?
When it all started about three decades ago, it was fantastic. Everybody thought it was a bad business then. In fact, I will say people looked down on us then. Even in the beginning, my parents were against it. But few years after, like I said I give God all the glory. Things started changing, I don’t have to bore you with the rest of the story today.
How did you do it?
The magic was determination, then focus, I didn’t get distracted. Another thing is as self-employed, you have to study the environment and know when business is booming or when it is slow, it really helps in planning and strategizing.
Don’t overdo things, be determined and contented. You must also have a passion for what you do or else you won’t excel. If you abide by all these and you have the grace of God, you will definitely make it in business.
Does it mean that you started the business as a kind of experiment or was something you set out to do?
It didn’t start as an experiment. When I left school, I did my NYSC in Ilorin. It was immediately I left the camp that I started the business, on a small scale. I had a pickup then, a 404 peageout. I got it from my mom and I bought few materials/items. I could remember my dad insisting I must write a proposal to enable me access loan from him. He was a lawyer and he didn’t want me to do that kind of business so he was looking for all ways to discourage me, he preferred a white-collar job. At the end of the day, I wrote a proposal and it was eventually approved. He wanted me to convince him, which I was able to do. He thereafter guided me and blessed it and wished me the best. I gave the business my all. I set out for it and God was on my side.
Why rentals of all the businesses then?
I told you earlier that I went to Ilesa for a party and about that time we were planning my sister’s wedding as well, and the party was to hold in Ilesa. I was in Ilesa around October and my sister’s wedding was to hold in December. Could you believe that everything we needed for the wedding in terms of chairs, cooling van, tables and canopies had been fully booked for the period.
We wanted to make some deposit but we realised everything has been booked. We went to Ife, which is close to Ilesa, the same was the story. So, we had to come to Ibadan and got what we wanted by chance. I said to myself, if an event is coming up in December and we are finding it difficult to make a deposit in October then there must be an opportunity in it, Coupled with the fact that I studied Marketing in school, that was what enticed me.
What was the experience like on your first job? Did you meet the expectations?
Fortunately for me, my first job was for a friend. I met up with the expectations and we did perfectly well. I drove the pickup there myself, the setting went well, It was a marriage reception and I was so happy and fulfilled I was able to achieve what was on my mind. The after-party feedback was so encouraging.
That must have given a kind of inspiration to forge ahead?
Within two to three years the story changed totally.
What job really gave you the major breakthrough in business?
I can’t say precisely because when I started the business, everything was just falling in place for me to the Glory of God. We were moving at a very fast pace. You can’t compare then with now. By the first week in December, I close my office for bookings because we must have been fully booked, even overbooked sometimes.
At what point did you introduce other phases of the business?
Around six years down the lane.
We have two problems in Nigeria, getting the fund to start a business. I was lucky because of my family background so getting assistance wasn’t a problem for me. So, I was getting gifts and loans from my parents. Even whenever bank was not forthcoming I fall back home for assistance.
Another problem is that once you experiment a business and people see that the business is doing well, a lot will start rushing into the business. I didn’t start Rentals, I joined along the way too but the wagon wasn’t too much then. But after some time, people rushed in and that necessitated innovation and diversification.
How did the event planning aspect start with you?
The event planning aspect came later, about fourteen, fifteen years ago. That was as a result of the evolving market then and the vision I had and still maintain till today, to always give value for money paid for any job by my clients. We thank God for His grace.
Many years down the lane, have you achieved what you set out for in the business?
Certainly yes, my dreams came to past and I cope with my responsibilities without stress. But the keyword for me is contentment; I am not rich neither am I poor but I am contented. So, I give God all the glory.
Has being a socialite helped your business in any way?
Yes. Rentals and event planning are more of socials. You have to be sociable if you want to make it big in the sector. Even if you are not the outgoing type, you must have a manager who will be doing that for you, you can’t be indoor and make money.
Fine, some are introverts while some are extroverts. But you can’t be indoor completely and make it big in this sector, you need to move around. I am not saying joining social clubs or being sociable is the ultimate but I am very sure it helps.
How have you been able to make it big in the event planning sector? What is the secret behind YOMDEX?
I am not seeing myself big, I am just doing good relatively so to say to the Glory of God.its all about dedication, commitment and the grace of God.. I have been in the business for almost three decades now. Naturally, the name YOMDEX has been ringing a bell for about twenty-six or twenty-seven years. So, in Ibadan, YOMDEX is synonymous with what I do. In fact, many call me YOMDEX, they don’t know my real name. I am a Christian, a Catholic and I believe so much in God that I serve. I give all my success and everything I have achieved in life to the glory of God.
Can you remember the amount of money you started your business with?
That is a big question! Years back, let’s say about 800k
As an event planner which was your first major job?
I had planned events for a large percentage of the socialites in and outside Ibadan, and say another significant percentage of the corporate bodies. That is how I can describe my level in this sector. We have covered many areas both within and outside Ibadan as far as Abuja. So it’s difficult to say which is my major job.
At what age did you make your own first million as a businessman?
I was less than thirty years old. I said so because I had my first building when I was in my very early 30s. That was a couple of years after I started my business. A nice building in a serene environment. So, if I could have achieved that few years in business, it means I must have made my first million when I was less than 30.
What is the difference between YOMDEX and Yomi Olaitan?
The two are entirely different; YOMDEX is my business name while Abayomi Olaitan is my real name. Yomi Olaitan is a cool, calm and collected guy, he minds his business at all times.
But YOMDEX could be another person on the field. As I speak with you now, if there are situations beyond what my team could handle, I will go there and work with them. That is how passionate I am about my job. I still work and stay overnight with my team if need be. That makes the difference between YOMDEX and Yomi Olaitan. I am passionate and dedicated to my job. Some clients/customer finds it surprising and unbelievable seeing me work like a casual at times, this really won the patronage of many to us. In most cases they will be like even at this level you are still doing this and I will tell them what I have just told you. I don’t see myself as being big, it is my job that I am doing. You paid me so I have to work for you. The name YOMDEX is important to me because it’s my means of survival. I have done and still doing everything to protect the name. But off duty, Yomi Olaitan is a simple easy going man and happily married with kids
What has been keeping you going in business?
Being focused and being able to study your environment are key things. You must know what comes in or goes out. Don’t overdo things, you have to know your limit and limitation. Be focused and be prayerful.
You have handled events for top celebrities and corporate bodies, how do you do it that you don’t run into trouble?
Event planning is teamwork, you can’t do it alone. When you have a big job you invite people that are specialists in their areas. You can’t be an island, it is not possible. I am a master in this area, some are masters in other areas too. You would have over the years relate or work with people of like minds, that won’t disappoint. People that take their job seriously, with a strong passion. So when you have a mega job, like an event that you will handle from A-Z; right from the printing of invitation to getting the venue, arranging the food vendors, drinks, decoration, etc. A situation where your client just has to come and check the level of work occasionally. In such situations, you must invite few people that are professionals in their various fields that have to do with the event.
What stands YOMDEX out from other event planners?
I am passionate, dedicated and honest about my job. For whatever job I take, I take my time to supervise and that makes a lot of difference. Yoruba will say Ten eyes cannot look/see like yours. Thank God for technology, I am always in charge of my jobs, and I don’t spare anything to make my clients happy.
Tell us more about your background?
Am from an average background; one of the best in my own way. My father was a successful lawyer, Chief Oladiran Olaitan. He was also a former Minister in the Western region. My mom was a successful businesswoman as well. She was a major distributor of Trophy, Larger beer, Coca Cola and one or two other products. I am the last of six. So, my growing up was fantastic. I attended Alafia Nursery & Primary School, Mokola Ibadan. That was among the top-rated, private primary schools then. I went to St Patrick’s Grammar School Basorun Ibadan, I was also at Oyo State College of Art & Science (OSCAS) briefly for my A-LEVEL. I left OSCAS for the Polytechnic Ibadan, where I obtained my Higher National Diploma (HND) in marketing. I am happily married to Adedotun Bolanle Olaitan, a broadcaster.
Has ever been a time that you can describe as the lowest point of your life as a businessman and how did you manage it?
Not really sincerely. Naturally, one must be prepared for challenges and also pray to overcome. I give God the glory that I have been able to cope well.
How rich is YOMDEX?
YOMDEX is relatively comfortable and contented.
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