We had the good fortune of connecting with Audu Maikori and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Audu, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
i don’t believe that businesses /start-ups need lots of money to be successful- or should I say- I don’t believe that the amount of money you raise or can access determines how successful your business will be. Instead, I believe that the key determinant of a business’s success is the amount of value that is created for an identifiable target market/audience/customer and the amount of work being put into continuously creating, delivering, and capturing value for the client/customer. The money usually comes after.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am involved in several businesses and my role differs in each of them- but for the purpose of this conversation – you can say that like every entrepreneur – when the business(Chocolate City Music) started – I was involved in a lot of the ideation, strategy and visioning alongside my partners Paul and Yahaya but as CEO I was involved in mostly executing our vision – the vision then was to create a local company that could help talented youth to achieve their artistic and creative dreams commercially without losing their authenticity. 16 years later my role has changed significantly to that of providing guidance to the respective CEOs of the companies in the group ( CCX, Bean Agency, Chocolate City Music, Replete etc) and verticals, setting targets and strategic goals that align with the essence of our company and its core values. The journey wasn’t easy- when I started 16 years ago- the problem was money, know-how and building the right team- today the problems aren’t that much more different – it’s just increased in size and value – we need to make more money as the company grows bigger, we need to recruit the best hands to run the companies and you still need to keep building your knowledge of your industry and other related ones as they affect your bottom-line as well. So as an entrepreneur your prayer is not that there shouldn’t be challenges- but rather that the you solve new and more ambitious challenges as your business expands. Some of the greatest challenges I have faced in running my business are similar to many – lack of adequate funds, financial management – how to manage the inadequate resources, then the ability to scale your business- and this is common with many businesses especially when you achieve early success- the question is how do you re-create more successes? How do you sustain it? How quickly do you expand? Should you sell shares or take loan? And the biggest question of all- What if the business fails?
Over the years I have learned to always listen to my instincts and that inner above every other voice , because the people telling you no, don’t know your vision and your capacity – if I had listened to all naysayers – I wouldn’t be here today- would probably be in some dreary job miserable as hell!
Every business comes with its unique set of problems and that can be overwhelming but I had solid partners/ co -founders each with complementary skills and together we figured out the problems as they came – so partnership is key . But the key thing that kept us going was our collective ambition and vision which was to give African talent a place in the global conversation. I recall that in the beginning when we started the record label many people wrote us off- then didn’t believe in the music industry as being viable at the time( and rightly so) but It was very clear to us that it could be- and that faith in its potentials was worth risking everything to achieve that dream. I quit my job , relocated from Abuja to Lagos, Nigeria to focus on building the dream.
I have since diversified into Esports, and film and it’s such an exciting space watching the fast-changing landscape knowing that its not only fulfilling but also creates wealth and jobs for many young people- and its even more exciting operating from one of the most exciting cities in the world – New York! And initially it seemed a little overwhelming but the same principles apply in every project or job or work- put your head down, listen, learn and work hard, and eventually things will work out. So I simply applied the principles I learned in music, transaction advisory, and deal structuring to Esports and its so very fulfilling to see the outcomes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love In New York but also spend a bit of time in Atlanta because of family – so if I was in New York I would take them for breakfast at Henry’ s located in Brooklyn and we would do lunch at Hunch and Po located in midtown and for dinner we would head to Tao Downtown for some asian fusion cuisine!
If it was in Atlanta then breakfast would be at ButterMilk located in Sandy Springs, lunch would be a Tupelo Honey and Dinner at Divans located in Buckhead..I recommend the lamp chops there especially!!
Both cities have a huge influx of entertainment people and celebrities so you could bump into them on road, subway but especially at certain bars and lounges!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shout out to Elynice Da Silva who is doing amazing things for a whole generation of youth globally and for hooking this up! Shout out to Chocolate City Group a company i founded 16 years ago to give talented people a platform to achieve their artistic goals and shout out to my business partners, Paul Okeugo, Yahaya Maikori , MI Abaga, Briant Biggs, Twizz Franklin David, Tara Enahoro, Aibee Abidoye, Abuchi , Ugwu, Rowena Gilmore and to my wife Zel! Shout out to al my female entrepreneurs changing the world one business at a time!!
1. With the Prime Minister of Barbados , Mia Motley and the Senior Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Jonathan Reid along side my colleagues Franklin David, Tiwa Works , Tara Enahoro and Michael R. 2. Delivering a keynote speech at the Harvard Business School conference in 2020 With the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Ms Amina Mohammed . 3. At the Rocnation Brunch with actress Lala Anthony of “Power” TV series fame 4. With Sean Puff Combs ( Brother love) alongside Tola Odunsi and Akins The Billionaire 5. With multi award winning visual artist Laolu NYC. 6. With Megan the Stallion at the Rocnation brunch 2020 7. Catching up with my brothers Charlamagne the God and Romelo Lukaku