On rare occasions do you have couples run a business and even more do it successfully. The Obebes are pretty excited about all that comes with doing business together. Asides fulfilling marital responsibilities, media and corporate responsibilities bring fulfillment to them as well. Enjoy the interview with EM’S DAMILOLA SHOTE:-
1) Tell us about you and your Educational Background?
Yinka Obebe:-I have bachelors in Electrical Engineering degree, and also courses in copy writing but I have developed most of my education reading by myself and keen observation. I read about almost any or everything. I have had most of my experience on the job, so I’d say I have had the most exciting of an ongoing educational background.
Bola: – I studied Bsc Economics from the University of Ilorin. I hold a certificate in Fashion design & garment construction, a certificate in Branding and advertising, as well as in Copy writing. All of my education afterwards has been through personal research, situational analysis and observations.
2) How long have you been in business?
We have been at this since 2010, when Yinka resigned from his last employment. Started a production company as Yinka Obebe Media, which has changed names through the years until we finally got RedboxAfrica registered, then bola joined full time in 2014.
3) Tell us about the service you provide?
We provide creative and production services to a wide range of clients, from Advertising Agencies, brands, Television stations, radio stations, government agencies and individuals. Sometimes we get direct briefs to shoot television shows, channel branding and TVCs, etc. But gradually clients have started asking us to create their complete campaign ideas from the scratch to finish. So our offerings have spanned ideation, creative, production and experience. We also created an entertainment platform called POPCENTRAL for young people.
5) How did you find the business when you first started?
Yinka Obebe : It was a dream come true to start my own company and work for myself, but I soon realized it was way harder than working for someone else. There was a lot to it, getting the jobs was one, funding it was another. And far from the entrepreneur fantasy, I realized I had to do a lot of the jobs for the money and not exactly because I wanted to. Then we moved into employing people, which turned out to be a totally different ball game. We found the business taking us to a completely different level of challenge than we were used to, it was exciting, promising but not a walk in the park.
Bola Obebe: My task at the time was to build structure to the business. It was at a time when we needed to move the business from a one man business to a proper firm. I found it exciting to be channeling the path for a would be most sought after creative and production company in Africa. As the days went by, it became more intriguing. Starting out was exciting and it still is, thankfully.
6) What are the challenges you faced?
Some of the core challenges was getting to the point where you were taken seriously enough to be trusted with jobs. There was also the part of working hard on having the company stand with an identity of its own-that’s the freelance to proper organisation stage. After that it was mostly about getting the jobs and funding it, employing the right people and creating the organization culture.
7) What is your staff strength, and how do you manage them?
The staff strength is about 20 people at the moment. Managing them has been rather interesting than difficult. It’s a creative space and it comes with it’s challenges and trappings. What we have done is to create a fun place to work, yet duties are taken very seriously. To borrow from our sister company, we work hard and play hard. We are getting to a place where we are looking to hire an organisational psychologist, not because our people are problematic, as it is not very common in Nigeria, but because we want to make the best of them and help them make the best of themselves. Staff health is not just about paying salaries, that is an essential, but there is a lot more to keeping or infact setting freeing to have a most productive employee.
8) Did you have to train your staff so they can effectively advice your clients?
Yes. And before the clients, most of the training is usually done to help them open their minds to possibilities and problem solving. The training is constantly ongoing.
9) What is most exciting about what you do?
The fact that you have no idea where the next job will come from or what the brief will be is the most exciting.
10) What is the vision for the company?
To be the most lucrative home-grown Media company business in Africa, creating the best working environment and paying the highest across any category of employee.
11) What word of advice would you render to women and men who want to start a business in your field?
Give it a shot, if it doesn’t work, give it another shot. Give it 21 more shots then do something else if it still doesn’t work. Beyond the excitement of creating cool stuff, there is the consistency you have to develop, and you will not love all the projects you work on. Talent is not enough.