It looks like yesterday, but one decade has passed since Tunbosun Kola-Daisi quit banking to pursue his passion for entertainment. Vanessa Obioha reports that his modest investment in leisure activities has multiplied manifold
Te sauntered in unaccompanied by security guards, head bowed, briskly greeted the reporter and walked into his office. No one stopped what they were doing or kept mute at his arrival. Only the receptionist routinely followed him into the office and returned almost immediately.
It is easy to mistake Tunbosun Kola-Daisi as an employee of the company he founded 10 years ago. His quiet mien suggests simplicity. There is nothing about his disposition that suggests his unbridled passion for entertainment.
Even his office – a spacious room adequately furnished – did not betray his keen interest in entertainment except for a painting on the wall. At first glance, he gives the impression of a banker or a doctor with his bespectacled eyes and tall gait. Interestingly, his first paid job was in the bank. He started off in First Bank London, moved to Oceanic Bank before finally settling down in Fountain Trust Bank which is present-day Heritage bank.
He finally left the finance world during the Sanusi-era of bank merger after 12 years. That period signaled a defining moment for Kola-Daisi as he dumped his suit and tie to pursue his real passion: Entertainment.
It has always been a part of him. For some unknown reasons, he had his first degree in Geography and a Masters in Business Administration. Nonetheless, he never shied away from entertainment. During his bank days, he was the go-to man for social events, the perfect man for the job. On such occasions, the soft-spoken entrepreneur steps out of his gentle shell.
“I like music a lot, good quality music. I think that’s where it started from. I like seeing people enjoying themselves, being happy, celebrated, although I don’t really celebrate myself but I like to celebrate people.”
Out of this uncanny proclivity towards music, Kola-Daisi veered into the entertainment industry. But not as an event manager or musician, rather in a different turf entirely: audio-visual equipment.
The use of LED screens or super-quality sound system at social functions were almost non-existent then. What was obtainable was substandard owing to the stupendous cost of the equipment. The industry suffered from poor structure system and lack of professionalism.
Kola-Daisi would prove to be the game changer with the launch of his company Mobile Screens and Sounds Limited. Tapping on his banking experience, he was able to identify the vacuum and worked out a solution to cater to the evolving technologies in the entertainment industry.
Expectedly, funding was an issue for the capital-intensive venture but through a partnership with a UK company, ADI, the Oyo-state indigene was able to set the ball in motion. Till date, the partnership is still solidified with plans to penetrate West African countries.
Some of his revolutionary equipment included mobile LED screens that can be used any time of the day, irrespective of the weather, line array speakers, digital video cameras and more recently stage and lighting, which he did for the music reality TV show, The Voice Nigeria.
From a humble beginning of a small office in Awolowo Road, Ikoyi with two workers, Kola-Daisi now occupy a vast property in the industrial environs of Ilupeju, Lagos, with over hundred people in his employment. There is also an office in Abuja and probably more will be spread across the country soon.
His business has grown from just supply of this equipment to companies to maintenance, repair and training.
“What we do is to maintain and repair LED screens for some clients who bought them and have no prior knowledge of maintaining it, so sending it back to the supplier maybe very expensive. So we come in handy here because do maintenance and repair. Also we train.
“In fact, it’s part of our plan to open a training school where we can teach youths on how to maintain and repair this equipment because there is a high demand for it. At least, it is our own way of getting people off the streets. We will also work towards opening an assembling store. I think it is one project the government will be happy about.”
His services are spread across the entertainment industry, corporate bodies, religious bodies, NGOs and others.
With the daily demand of his services, Kola-Daisi and his staff members work round the clock. He is fiercely committed to his passion which explains his tagline wherever, whenever and however. “Events come in different shades and demands. Some people are doing an overnight thing; the corporate will do during the day. In the social sector, we have wedding or engagement. It all depends. The wherever, however, means whether you are here or in Kaduna, we will be there.”
While he has recorded impressive success since inception, the journey has not been a smooth one. From funding, lack of power supply and road infrastructure, to limited expertise in the country, Kola-Daisi swam through all to build the technology company he has today.
However, the current hardship in the economy is also biting hard on his business. “It is very difficult and challenging now, unlike in the past eight years where we buy one equipment every six months or the other to add to our stock to change the ones that have fully depreciated. But in the last one and a half years, we have hardly bought them because of the high rise in dollars, which is contending with import duties, clearing fees at the end of the day. People are no longer patronising the industry like before. However, I believe things are going to get better with the new exchange rate.”
For his tenth anniversary, the banker-cum-entrepreneur gave his client a treat with an exhibition and rewarded old employees. Coincidentally, the anniversary was marked on his birthday, July 16.
Certainly, the landscape of the entertainment industry has changed in the past ten years. Kola-Daisi shares his thoughts on the future of the burgeoning industry.
“The entertainment industry is competing with agriculture now but I know it will be the next big thing if government pays attention to it. For instance, according to statistics in 2014, the industry is growing in an average rate of almost 20 per cent on an annual basis, that is about four billion dollars’ worth of the industry.
“What contributed to this growth is the music industry and Nollywood where we were able to export some of our materials. The projection therefore is by 2019, the industry will be worth close to a billion dollars. Of course we can do much better if things like piracy are curbed because the intellectual capital these guys put in are not properly tapped.”
He continued: “If we have good equipment, both audio and visual, the quality of our production in terms of Nollywood will be much better and higher than it is today. I believe if there is funding and enabling environment, and also with the government and right authorities doing their own part, we can achieve the projected figure we talk about. Because, if you look at it, the industry helps in a way to curb crime, unemployment, and other things; among the youths. The government should really focus more on this industry,” he said.
Although, he may never hold the mic to sing or go to a recording studio, he however runs a record label company Blue Note where he hopes to achieve his music ambitions.