How we changed clubbing lifestyle in Ibadan —Tope ‘Topside’ Adedeji
Tope Adedeji better known as ‘Topside’ is one of the most popular night club entrepreneurs in Oyo State. His outfit, Club De Rock, owned in partnership, is one of the most patronised spots in Ibadan. He spoke to ROTIMI IGE about how he changed night life in the city, among other issues.
Your business venture can be said to be one of the biggest in town. How did it start?
It has been almost nine years now. Let me take you back to the genesis of it. The idea initially was to open a mini bar for my younger brother. So we opened a mini bar at Akinyemi area back then. But as God would have it, he got his visa and travelled abroad not too long after. So, I felt I should continue what we already started. It didn’t start as a business per se. We just did it as something we had passion for. We never knew it would turn out to be this big.
You started at a time when Ibadan was quiet and conservative. Clubbing was not part of the average Ibadan person’s lifestyle. Weren’t you wary of investing in a night club?
Anyone who knows what they are doing won’t be afraid of doing business in a place like Ibadan. It is the biggest city in Nigeria and even in West Africa. People liked clubbing right from onset so liking my own business wasn’t going to be a big deal. And our plan is bigger than just opening a club. The plan was to meet people’s demands.
Yours is a big name in the city now. How has it been for you getting people to party?
We cannot underestimate the place of consistency and dedication. At a point, people would say let’s even visit place this man has been advertising and talking about all the time. And when they do, they tend to want to back for more because of the standard on ground. So, it is the way we package the business that keeps people coming and drawing them to us.
You are about to open a second branch in Ibadan. Why?
People have been demanding for it. Ibadan is a big place, you know. For example, people staying around Akala Elebu area, they also want to be a part of this new wave of our hospitality. So, what we are doing is to bring our services closer to the people. By doing that, they don’t have to go too far to have a taste of De Rock. Actually, our plan is to have up to four branches in the city. The second branch will be opening in five days time, on the seventh of November.
Since running this entertainment business, what have the challenges been along the way?
The usual challenges every entrepreneur faces. People thought government policies would have negative effects on us but they turned out to be positive ones. You know the government could have decided to ban night clubbing but Oyo State is one of the states that embraces hospitality the most in the Nigeria.
What are other challenges?
Capital issues. It is not easy for a one-man business to get capital. But we thank God. I cannot mention competitors because there is bound to be competition. Also, I have to note that De Rock is not owned by Topside alone. It is a partnership between SSG and Topside. The narrative of De Rock cannot be complete without mentioning my pasrtner, SSG.
There is the common saying in Ibadan, like elsewhere in Nigeria, that there is no money. How is the business moving in the light of this?
This business is not just about what people consume directly. Depression is a common thing everywhere today. People are undergoing a lot of pressure and similar problems. With the option of the kind of our business, people can calm themselves down and suppress their depression with the entertainment we offer for some amount of money. So people understand the importance of this and they don’t hesitate to put their money into it. They prefer it to spending it on hospital bills
As a brand, what makes De Rock stand out? What makes you special?
It is our consistency and the standard we set up. Anyone who visits us from any part of the world will be amazed with how we run our operations here. For us, it is not just about clubbing.
As a business man, how do you have time to relax?
Running a club business is time-consuming and Ibadan’s case is different because if you are not present, it won’t fly well. But I thank God we have an able and dependable team that can stand in for us. So once in a while, we give ourselves a kind of break although our customers do want us to be around them most times. As for my hobbies, I like playing table tennis and driving.
How lucrative is the hospitality business in Ibadan compared to other major cities?
The good thing about Ibadan is that there is no amount of money that you cannot use to start business or else you don’t want to start anything. For example, the business that you will start with 200,000 naira in Ibadan, you may not be able to start such with 1,000,000 naira in Lagos. You save more money by doing business in Ibadan. In essence, the cost of running business here is better while the gains can still be high enough for the business owner unlike in Lagos where you spend your profit on the high cost of living. So yes, this business is lucrative here.
Do you have other side hustles and secondary businesses? If yes, what are they?
Yes. I’ve been into car dealing for like 17 years now and people know me for that. Apart from that, I’m also into real estate. Also, we are planning to venture into the hotel business next year by God’s grace.
Your most memorable moments as an entertainment entrepreneur…
There is a party we have been doing for like four years now. It is the CEO’s party which comes up every December. There is also the CIA (Celebrate In Advance), which is another annual event. The moment that stands out for me was when my former club got demolished, like six years back. I can never forget. When a young entrepreneur, trying to survive in life, invests millions of naira in a venture and it got demolished overnight, you can imagine the stress. It was not an easy thing at all. But we thank God that with Him on our side and with hard work, we are living to tell the story today as we have come out twice stronger.