Segun Adewumi Gabriels, known in most circles as Api Lifestyle, is a Nigerian-born entrepreneur, mover and shaker of entertainment in Africa who through his company, Apitainment challenges the idea of ‘a good time’ through events, businesses and social gatherings.
The Abuja-based entertainment industrialist and social reformist is a graduate of Theatre and Performing Arts from Ahmadu Bello University.
The Nigerianpost reports that with the influence Api Lifestyle wields, it has become obvious that he shouldn’t be taken lightly as a social entrepreneur and nightlife influencer who has not just come to stay, but to rule
You described yourself as a social entrepreneur and nightlife influencer, what exactly does that mean?
Based on the dictionary definition of “social entrepreneur”, this is a person who starts a business for the greater social good and not just the pursuit of profits. With regards to me, even though people make a lot of money doing what I do, what keeps you relevant is passion, and I have that in abundance. The feeling I get when I see people at my events or parties, cannot be bought with money. You can feel their mood, and its like for a few minutes you are responsible for their happiness. Like I influenced it. Pun intended.
You are a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University where you studied Theatre and Performing Arts. Why did you deviate to join the hospitality sector?
Deviate? I don’t think there’s really any deviation from my field of study in my current career path. This business of entertainment I have always seen as my stage. Nightlife is my art, Tokyo Nightlife Abuja, my theatre, so enjoy the performance.
With your over five years in the industry, what are your high points so far?
With over five years in the industry, I have brought some of the top artists through my events such as Davido, Mayorkun, Burna Boy and others. But beyond this, my brand has created jobs online through hiring promoters across Africa who push awareness and get rewarded for it, as well as teaching people how to navigate the industry and providing them with possibilities and skillsets to tackle the luxurious sector.
Also, I hosted Nights Like This, NLT, every Sunday at 345nightlife which gave me the opportunity to put up the much-needed structure for my forthcoming night club, Tokyo Nightlife, of which I am co-owner.
Can you tell us about Tokyo Club and what it contributes to nightlife in Abuja?
Without stating the obvious, which would be employment and revenue, Tokyo Nightlife Abuja is bound to be a brand that will resonate with people from all walks of life. Backed by a team of like-minded creatives, we intend to change the game, or better yet, give it a facelift. Every night giving a different experience, and inserting new ideas from a world-standard perspective.
At Tokyo Nightlife Abuja, we will maintain this world-standard, from how your bookings are made, to your arrival when you are received by our experienced valets, then ushered in by our pro-concierges, how you are served and treated by our our well-trained wait staff and hosts, and to the premium entertainment by our array of versatile DJs and performers, both foreign and local. Tokyo Nightlife Abuja is like no other experience you have had and we are ready.
The COVID-19 phase was one I hope and pray we never get to experience again. A lot of people didn’t see it coming, myself included. However, we had to adapt because there wasn’t a restriction on doing business, the only restriction was if that business did not adhere to the protective guidelines. We had to curate events that didn’t disobey the set practice and that became our reality.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it has influenced your growth?
I come from a very humble background and upbringing, but also had the mindset that even though education is key, I needed to do more to avoid a life of mediocrity. Studying Theatre and Performing Arts did a lot to put me in a place where I can not be scared to try new things, approach people, and be daring. Incorporating those qualities I learned over time, as well as my background in the nightlife and entertainment business was the ultimate formula for success.
I did not just appear where I am today. I came into the entertainment game as a PR, and at some point even demoted myself to a sub-PR when I changed my environment all because I wanted to learn from the very best, so you can say I was something like an “apprentice” for a long time. I set my goals way beyond what was conceivable or achievable, and worked my butt off.
So how do you balance the hospitality and creative sector?
To be honest, I already feel like what I do is the balance between hospitality and the creative sector. I may not own a hotel yet, but I do consider Tokyo Nightlife Abuja to be a tourist attraction, which provides food, drink and entertainment. So what else is missing? Nothing! In other words, Tokyo is the spot, while the bold ideas that make it the go-to place is the creative part of it, and that is the balance.
Any strategic partnerships that helped you to actualise your business growth?
Of course, there have to be people in the background who partner because they believe in your vision and see it too. This is what makes everything probably seem like its magic, and that clearly makes me the magician. And these partners are in the background for a reason, because a true magician never reveals his tricks.
Can you share some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt as an entrepreneur that has kept you going?
This can be summed up to one word; discipline. One of my favourite quotes by a well-respected actor puts it clearly and I’ll quote him…“Without commitment, you’ll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish. It’s not easy… if it were easy there’d be no Denzel Washington. So, keep working, keep striving, never give up, fall down seven times, get up eight. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.
So keep moving, keep growing, keep learning.”
What is your definition of success and what it means to you as a person?
I used to think success meant having money or material things, but I’ve been on this journey and met a lot of people who have so much money, they don’t know what to do with but some of them still feel there’s something missing. The question is, are you great at what you do? Do you love what you do? Do you touch people’s lives? Does your story inspire people? If your answer is yes, then you are successful.
As a player in the hospitality food-chain yourself, how do you unwind and refuel your batteries from burn out?
First off, if you are in this line of work, you need to set limits for how much you partake of the “enjoyment” that you provide. Putting it straight, health is wealth, and body no be firewood. I needed to learn not to lose focus, which is part of that discipline I spoke about.
Finally, what are the critical challenges confronting hospitality sector? What thoughts do you have on how to navigate through?
I believe different geographical locations possess different challenges. Like how Lagos is more populated than Abuja, especially the self made entrepreneurs you find there as opposed to the abundance of civil servants in abuja. Or like how there are so many nightlife entertainment centres opening up but not enough clientele. So competition is fierce and the rewards are only for the strongest. However, the biggest challenge which affects all geographical locations is the economy.
Without commitment, you’ll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish. It’s not easy… if it were easy there’d be no Denzel Washington. So, keep working, keep striving, never give up, fall down seven times, get up eight. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. So keep moving, keep growing, keep learning