Sports betting has become a lucrative business and in recent times, there has been an upsurge in the number of sports betting centres in the country. This is largely attributed to the alarmingly high rate of unemployment among the young population, and the fact that many young Nigerians are looking for alternative means to earn additional income.
Meet Akin Alabi, founder of Nairabet, Nigeria’s first online sports betting platform. For Akin, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, as according to him, Nairabet is his only surviving business entity after several failed business attempts in the past.
Alabi was born on March 30, 1977, in the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo State,into an average family of five. Akin is the last child.
He had his primary education at Command Children School, Ibadan, and secondary school education at the Federal Government College, Enugu.
Due to his inability to meet the cutoff marks in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams after five attempts, he opted for the Polytechnic of Ibadan, where he obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Administration.
Many years down the line, he eventually got that university degree studying for a Master’s of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and a certificate in Intellectual Property Strategy from Harvard University, Boston, United States.
His foray into business
In an earlier interview on Thisday newspaper, Alabi revealed how he had always wanted to be his own boss and the decision to be an entrepreneur was further boosted with the discrimination against HND holders in the country.
He recalled how he ventured into several failed businesses to eke out a living. The list of businesses includes selling of chickens on the streets of Ibadan, importing and exporting of cash crops, sports news publishing, business paper, a printing press and a travel company. It was usually just a matter of time before they hit the rocks.
I’ve launched many businesses that failed. I published a sports paper, it failed. Published a business paper, it failed. Had a printing press, failure. Had a travel company, it failed. And more. No one talks about them. They talk about @NairaBET. The one that succeeded. #thread
“I started as an information marketer; I was basically into writing and selling of books which I could say was like selling my knowledge and experience, both on online and terrestrial platforms. It pleases me to tell you that I still do that till now.”
After making some money from organizing seminars, he traveled outside the shores of the country.
Alabi later travelled to the United Kingdom to join his brother, who introduced him to sports betting. It was there that he studied the business model for placing bets on sports.
He later created an information product on how to place sports bets online from Nigeria. He made huge sales on the product and impressed by the enthusiasm shown, he birthed the idea of creating his own platform in Nigeria.
He recalled how he conducted an online survey to see how willing Nigerians were to patronise the business. Based on the positive feedback he received, he decided to embark on the online sports betting business.
According to information on the platform’s website, Nairabet started in 2009; although it is not the first sports betting platform in the country,Nairabet was the first company to come up with a fully functional website. That is an online website where you can actually deposit money, place bets and make withdrawals.
Getting Funding for Nairabet
Akin Alabi bootstrapped the funding of the platform.
“I didn’t really spend much to get the deal on the table. I contacted a friend who helped me to develop something very basic, almost for free – and with less than N200,000, we kicked off.”
He described Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase, the publisher of Complete Sports and Success Digest Magazine, as his mentor. He recalled saving cash to buy his magazines in order to read his articles. He also admitted that he picked the idea of information marketing from him.
Akin Alabi is a football fan. He is a fan of the Ibadan-based club side, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC). He also supports Manchester United FC. He organises the Young Enterprise Conference, an annual event where he mentors and encourages young Nigerians.
Advice for young entrepreneurs
In his book, “Small Business Big Money” he advises young business owners on how to grow their businesses from small ventures into a cash-generating machine.
In a few weeks, I will be resigning as CEO of @NairaBET so I can fully concentrate on my campaign to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives. If I lose, my seat will be waiting for me at the head office. Politics is not a do or die affair.
I repeat. You will fail 8 to 9 times out of ten. The beautiful thing is that when one succeeds, JUST ONE, it will wipe away the losses you suffered from the failures. The financial losses. The emotional losses. Everything. They come back in multiple folds. Baba restoration aye ?
Failure is normal in business. I don’t care what your pastor or motivational speaker is telling you. It’s normal to fail. It’s okay to fail. Just keep learning from your mistakes until you get it right.