‘I lost about 500 million opening a non-smoking club’, AY shares about business, love and loss #WithChude.
Nigerian Comedian and Filmmaker Ayo Makun, widely known as AY sits with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude to discuss how he found his way to Lagos and built a powerful multi-industry brand, why he shares a powerful bond with his wife and why he had spent 9 years in the university.
On his journey to building a multi-industry brand, he shared, “I have always been an all-encompassing show-biz person. Right from when I was working at NNPC Junior Staff Club. While I was a student at Delta State University, I was always an organizer. I used to organize campus beauty pageants and campus awards night. As at the time, I was a student, the pageantry I was putting together was giving out a car. This is to let you know how authentic and how solid I have been as an organizer. My strong point has always been me being an organizer. I have been in that space for a long time. What really worked for me was when I invited Ali Baba to Delta State University to be a major part of my event. And then, he was very impressed by every arrangement. He looked at me and said, ‘Your sense of packaging is very solid, what are you doing after school?’, maybe you should come to Lagos’. That was how I found myself in Lagos. I was first his personal assistant, then under two years I was promoted to his event manager. We will run shows, and I brought my own vibe into the system, and I became his favorite. The solid point for the AY brand was my background as an organizer. It was easy to put my first show together and be able to steer up an apathetic audience.”
He also shared his bid to start a non-smoking nightclub and how it failed, “I am passion driven, when I set aside to achieve certain set goals, I go all the way. All of these come from researching that particular work, it comes from dedicating my time towards that (goal). I am one of those people that do not want to fail for any reason. I know that the minute I make that decision, a lot of people are also looking forward to what the outcome will be. I woke up one day and I said to myself, ‘it’s time to open a nightclub’, ‘AY, if you can gather 6,000 people at Eko Hotel, what’s in a club that you can’t just gather 100 to 200 people buying drinks?’. I think God just wanted me to know that ‘this one is not your calling’, ‘you are the one calling yourself’. It is good to have the right partner, my wife was strongly against it. I said, ‘No, it is good for networking and PR‘. Shout out to all the guys who are doing it and getting it right. But I thought then that when I come, I am just going take all of them out of the market. It was a huge investment running to about 500 million naira. We put everything in place, the staff strength was solid, the interior was crazy and I will go there every Friday, I will look at the door and I am not seeing people coming. The opening was grand and massive. I started with a non-smoking club; I didn’t know that all these things go together. The wise ones will call me, and I will tell them that sometimes when I take my wife to the club, when we get back her hair will be smelling of smoke, and women should have their wigs neat’. Long story short, I saw my ‘period’, it was very bad.
AY also shared why he spent 9 years in university, “I gained admission into Delta State University to study Music. After I put in for JAMB, I went to Mass Communication Department, I didn’t see my name. Someone said, ‘we saw your name in music’, I was like I didn’t put in for music. There was the gist back then, that if you accept the course, you were offered and you take electives in your course of choice, once you are in two hundred level, they will let you go. I was a complete idiot from year one. I hated the department, and the department hated me because I kept saying I was not supposed to be there. When it was time to let me go, they said we were just 8 in the department that ‘if we start changing everybody, it means we will not have anybody’. Then, in my final year, I just woke up and said I wasn’t doing this anymore. This time, I chose theatre arts. Then, calamity struck again. I was in love with this lady at that time, she was the cynosure of all eyes. It wasn’t even interesting to fellow students that I was dating her. One lecturer will say, “I will not pass you till you do this or that, and then I had the boldness to go to a lecturer’s office to bang the table. All of a sudden, I didn’t know where the trouble was coming from.” He narrated how his studentship was rendered invalid, and how he had to restart the courses before he could graduate.
On the bond he shares with his wife, he said, “She connected with my story from the very beginning. When you have that type of connection and there is a vacuum somewhere, you see yourself as the person who can fill the void. You come with your own grace, coupled with the existing grace, when you have that merger, it is fire. The bond is there, and it is something we need to thank God for”. Addressing the comments from bloggers and commenters that his marriage is not going turn out beautiful, he said, “the people who do that do not even know the story of ‘these people’, they don’t know that woman has had series of miscarriages, was supposed to have the opportunity to have her baby in her hands but the baby passed. They don’t know the families were crying and waiting upon the Lord, you just wake up, and you just say to yourself, ‘who will I attack today, who will I depress today’. Then you begin to choose people because their lives are out there”.
Watch the full interview here