The nightclub industry is one of the most competitive. Club spring up and disappear almost as fast as they came. However, one of those few that has been able to stand the test of time is Frank Okamigbo’s D’Place by Club Papas.
The dynamic nightlife entrepreneur has built the Lekki, Lagos club to be one of the most sought after clubs especially by the entertainment industry glitteratti. In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Frank Papa’s, as he is fondly called shared his success story and a whole lot more.
Can you recall how you got into this business?
I started the club business right from my university days, I was in year three at the University of Lagos.
I didn’t just wake up one day to say I want to run a club, even though I have always been a sociable person, it was one of those days I went out partying that a guy approached me, he said he has been looking for me, he noticed I knew and talked to a lot of people, he said he wanted me to have a meeting with his partner, they were part of the management of the old K’s Place. From there I met Mr. Kamal Boustani, who later became my partner, and chairman at K’s Place. That’s how I got into it.
What did you study in school?
I studied Philosophy.
Was there any time you wanted to quit the business to practice what you studied?
My course is a grounded course, it gives you the ability to maneuver and do what you desire. Aside that, it’s basically about the passion, I’m an outgoing person, I never actually knew that I could make a profession out of my hobby, In school, I started from modelling, became popular, I brought my friends together to form an association which we called Prestigious Acclaimed Personalities & Associates, PAPA’s. We were the happening guys on campus, we were independent, models, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, everyone looked up to us and whenever we threw parties, people would always come. It’s always been a part of me.
What are some of the challenges you faced starting up?
Starting wasn’t too hard for me, the only significant challenge was that I had to combine it with school, sometimes I sneaked out of the club and read my books inside the car, but somehow I survived and graduated.
For how long have you been running Club Papa’s?
Over ten years.
A lot of people don’t last that long in this business, what is the secret of your longevity?
There are whole lot of factors. First, do you like what you are doing, are you well grounded in it, then how innovative are you. Change is a constant thing and you need to move with the flow, and stay relevant.
You have a long standing syndication with The Place?
Yes, I have a chairman, this is The Place by Papa’s entertainment management, it’s basically under Papa’s management, that is what it is.
You have been together for a long time, what has held the patnership together?
Understanding, once you have a synergy that’s good everything will come together. I know what is expected of me, my chairman believes in what we are doing and I always give it my best.
The general belief is that locating your club on the Island is more lucrative than the Mainland, how true is this?
I wouldn’t like to compare, but anywhere you are located, once you have what people need they will find you. Truthfully, cost of living is a little more expensive on the Island, and it goes to show that people who live here might be more of the upper-class, it’s not always the picture. But wherever you are if you run it well, people will come.
Your club seems to be the number one choice for celebrities, what really attracts them to The Place?
Wow…thanks for the compliment. It shows we are doing something that celebrities like, I’m most grateful to all my friends in the industry. I am a kind of person that cultivates and appreciates friendship, so it’s easier for me. To other people they are celebs, to me they are friends, most of them are my friends who I’ve known for over 10 years.
The belief is that celebrities are prone to taking drinks for free or owing, is that the picture?
That’s not true, you have to acknowledge the fact that the entertainment industry has really taken a giant leap and to the glory of God our guys are doing good, people are investing in the entertainment industry. I will tell you that my biggest customers are actually some of the celebrities, they pay good money. Gone are those days when we were trying to encourage them, but now they are my friends and they patronize me well. I love them all.
What are the basic challenges of running a successful club?
They are the challenges every other Nigerian also face, Nigeria is growing thankfully. Remove the basic infrastructure, electricity particularly, we wouldn’t have much problems. I spend a lot of money on electricity alternative and I have to remove a large chunk from my overhead cost at the end of the day.
Can you share some of your success strategies?
It’s God that makes it happen, then passion for the job, I love what I do, and perseverance, regardless of the situation.
How do you handle competition?
Without competition you would be complacent and take things for granted. It’s a natural thing, but if you know what you are doing you wouldn’t be bothered, I always try to stay ahead.
Most club owners are flashy, is it a criteria for running the business?
(Laughs) I don’t know about that, I think it’s an individual thing.
Can you divulge some of the new projects Papa’s Entertainment is working on?
Consolidation of the brand is one of the most important things on my mind, make it more global, that’s the ultimate, it’s not just the clubbing, we are more than just a club. A whole lot is happening, clubbing is a platform to roll out other things.
This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, May 19, 2013