My music journey started at the age of 12 in Church, a place called Suru Lere Lagos Nigeria. A few years down the line, I joined a band with two other amazingly talented guys. Life happened and everyone went their separate ways. I started working while still going to school and became independent quite early. Business was great and I managed to save up enough money for University. A close friend in the UK assisted with the application process and I got accepted. When it was time for fee payment, I sent the fees through him and as luck would have it, I got conned. I never expected a close friend, who knew my family would do such a thing to me. This was a major blow in terms of trust but also financially.
After this ordeal, I decided I needed a fresh start. I moved to Dubai (UAE) in 2008 as a professional. A property development and investment company hired me and it was the opportunity of a lifetime. The company provided us with housing; a chef, drivers, educational development opportunities and I had the best colleagues. I was living my best life thinking life was always going to be that easy. Then, the recession hit and I found myself back at the starting line. 80% of my colleagues moved back to their respective countries because it was difficult to get jobs.
Luckily through the connections and relationships I had made, I got a job with PWC (PriceWaterHouseCoopers) in a different emirate, Sharjah. This was yet another life defining opportunity. After working with them for a while, I was considered for a promotion. By this time, I had decided to go back into music and had realized that I needed a job with more flexibility and based in Dubai. So, I was at a crossroads to either advance career-wise or follow my passion. I decided to accept another job opportunity in a law firm in DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) with flexibility however with less pay. Before I accepted the job, I called on my tribe (my dad, my mentor, my cousin plus my uncle and his wife who are like a father and mother figure to me) and told them about my predicament. This time everyone was against my decision – literally, everyone! I prayed about it and eventually decided to hand in my resignation. I worked at the law firm for about 3 years and that’s where I met a friend/colleague who would introduce me to her husband and they asked me to join their new company, which provided Global Mobility services and HR advisory for Oil and Gas Industries and where I worked for 6 years. This was where I honed my skills in business development and got an appreciation for business networking. Four years into this new job, I went back to music properly. I had already started recording some tracks when I was with the law firm but at that point, I was still finding my voice. At this job, I discovered a gap in the entertainment industry and that’s when the Art fusion Night initiative and formation of my company Kojac Legacy International came about.
Today, I have recorded over 30 songs and I have released about 6 singles and videos. Last year, I launched my first debut album “Diverse” which was the first ever Afro-pop album to be launched in the Middle East and was supported by the Dubai Tourism and other major companies such as W Dubai, Hennessy etc. To date, I have performed on big stages alongside Grammy Nominees such as Jidenna, Morgan Heritage and other artists including Wizkid, D-banj, Mr. P, Davido and many others. I have hosted my own concerts and have performed at the F1 in Abu Dhabi and at quite a number of A-list clubs in Dubai and on major international stages. My platform Art Fusion Night (www.artfusionnight.com) continues to create a lot of opportunities for creatives in Dubai. Kojac Legacy client list includes Nakheel, Davidoff, Brag, Mokha1450, and Capital Club DIFC, just to name a few.
MKO, Kojac Legacy and Art fusion Night are still growing but we have definitely come a long way since I left my job to focus on building my own brand.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
How did the idea for your business come about?
What sparked the initiative of my business is, as emerging artist one of the things we struggle with is a platform to showcase our talents. I went through that at the early stages of my career. This is what prompted me to set up my company and platform. One of the mistakes creatives make is waiting for performance opportunities to presents themselves. I took it upon myself to create my own opportunities, which is what led to me setting up my own Events Company and record label “Kojac Legacy”. Through the company we were able to run my event platform “Art Fusion Night (AFN)” which is an initiative of Kojac Legacy. AFN, is an Art, Music, Fashion, Corporate and Social Event and Networking platform that was designed to give undiscovered and upcoming creatives an opportunity to showcase their artistic talents and network with likeminded people from corporates, to business owners and other creatives so the changes we made to this business model is ensuring that regardless of your industry, you will always have something to takeaway from AFN. I have been running this for about 4 years and the progress we have made is exceptional.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest initial hurdles I faced were finding the right people with the right mindset to work with. Not everyone you approach will share the same vision with you. I over came this hurdle by working with different people until I was able to find the right partner or a partner I could work with. I also got involved in the day-to-day activities in onboarding the right talents needed. This helped me acquire a lot of experience and build relationships with the right people.
Another issue was finding people to deliver and provide results on time so I had to develop “a do it yourself” attitude. This was how I was able to over come a lot of the hurdles I faced. I have basically mastered a lot of skills myself, which helps in getting results.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read:
I read a lot of self-help books; business books and I dabble in autobiographies.
I am currently reading:
Jump by Steve Harvey (I have read this before but I thought I should give it another go)
Alibaba - The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark
For those who are into similar books I would recommend:
Rise and Grind by Daymond John
The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
UNFU*K YOURSELF by Gary John Bishop
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Black Privilege by Charlamagne Tha God (there is something about this book that appeals to me a lot)
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Never dealt with contention from my direct family as such that is my parents and siblings. Apart from when I wanted to resign from PWC which everyone was pretty much against and when I wanted to resign from my last job before focusing on my own thing. They were concerned about me giving up my professional job and the comfort if having a guaranteed monthly pay cheque to focus on music but they understood that I was willing to take the risk and they supported me as much as they could. However, some extended family told me to keep my job… Hahaha… I can genuinely say they meant well. They were worried about me so it is understandable. With friends, it was a mixed bag where I had those who gave their genuine approval and those who doubted and discouraged my decision. I dealt with this by staying focused and never giving up. What would I do in hindsight? I think I would still make the same decisions again but maybe I would have made the jump into entrepreneurship sooner rather than later.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
You can never go wrong when you are in a business that helps others grow. Any business that is positively impactful, will flourish.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I gave my music a 100% push at the early stages. I was one leg in, one leg out because of the fear of the unknown and comfort of regular pay cheque.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Failure is part of the process to success. Start small; fail big if it gets to that because you will learn a great deal… You can be afraid to take a chance, but never let it stop you. The fear of the unknown helps you stay grounded and helps you stay focused. The worst thing you can do to yourself is not to take the chances you’ve ever wanted to take. Believe it or not, I have never had so many shows or gigs in my life like I had just before the global pandemic. This is because; it wasn’t so long ago that I gave my dreams and aspirations 100% devotion and betted on myself fully. Imagine if I had realized that sooner, how far I would be today.