Both young and older generations of Nigerians will be familiar with the name Akin Alabi, first as the founder of Nairabet, Nigeria’s first modern-day betting company that has become a second home for many young Nigerians; and secondly because of his foray into politics. And some people revere him as a marketing guru and a successful internet entrepreneur.
On March 31, 1977, Akin Alabi was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. He had his primary education at Command Children School, Ibadan and attended Federal Government College, Enugu for his secondary education.
He returned to the west for his tertiary education and obtained a Higher National Diploma in Business Administration from The Polytechnic, Ibadan. He proceeded to the University of Liverpool, the United Kingdom, where he studied Marketing. He obtained another degree in Intellectual Property Strategy from Harvard University, Boston, US. At this point, you may be tempted to call him a book wonk, but not yet.
Becoming an entrepreneur
Akin Alabi’s first business in 2003 after school was selling books and writing information manuals. By this time, we can say he is not deserving of the ‘geek’ title, but Akin saw himself more as an information entrepreneur.
He later launched his seminar and training business, where he taught and consulted for startups. He also ventured into newspaper publishing when he floated Income, a business opportunity newspaper for small business owners. He tried out his hand on other ventures like selling live chickens, importing and exporting cash crops, and even a travel company.
Akin Alabi moved on to launch a weekly sports newspaper – World Soccer News.
“I started as an information marketer; I was basically into writing and selling of books, which I would 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” Akin once posted in a tweet.
Akin Alabi later founded Nightlife.Ng, an online platform that focuses on the nightlife industry and the economy that revolves around it in Nigeria. He is also the founder of Over The Top Entertainment, a record label that has signed some ace Nigerian musicians, including Skuki.
The Genius Move
Operating and thriving in his various ventures, Akin Alabi never stopped thinking of newer business ideas. During a trip to his brother in the UK, Akin remembers accompanying his brother to a betting shop on this particular occasion, where he encountered sports betting first-hand. Alabi decided that he found the business model of sports betting really intriguing, especially since he knew Nigerians to be really interested in European soccer. Upon his return to Nigeria, he wrote and created an information product detailing how people could place a sports bet online in Nigeria. This product recorded massive sales and profits that Akin was forced to shore up the momentum for something bigger.
He thought to himself that if people were willing to pay to learn about placing sports bets online, there was a market for the business in Nigeria. And with a lot of enthusiasm among the younger populace, it made it clear that they would be an absolute target for a sports betting platform. Akin Alabi decided that he would be the one to set up that platform.
In 2009, Akin launched Nairabet, which ultimately became the first business to develop a fully functional website where people could deposit money, place bets, and make withdrawals. The company has now grown to have over a thousand outlets across Nigeria, with headquarters in Lagos. The National Lottery Regulatory Commission regulates its operations.
Alexa.com, a traffic ranking site, has rated Nairabet to be the most visited African sports bookmaking website. Alabi stayed as the CEO until he resigned in 2018 to pursue his political ambitions.
A Vibrant Lawmaker, a Chief and a bestselling Author
In March 2019, he was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC). He represents the Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal Constituency in Oyo State.
He was appointed as the Mogaji of Ajiwogbo compound in Ibadan by the Olubadan of Ibadan, HRH Saliu Adetunji in December 2016. Due to his philanthropic acts, he has been honoured with the chieftaincy title of the Otunba Atunlushe of Igbole Ekiti by His Royal Majesty, the Olugbole of Igbole Ekiti, Oba Emmanuel Adetiloye II.
He is credited with several philanthropic activities towards the youth and widows, carried out through the Akin Alabi foundation.
Akin Alabi is an entrepreneur who is not afraid to thread a new business path, and the result of this is his diversified business interests, which bring in big returns. He is touted to be one of the wealthiest internet entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
He is the author of two bestselling business and marketing books – Small Business Big Money and How To Sell To Nigerians.
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