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deere president

July 18, 2012 Leave a comment

A former high school classmate, Ikenna U* with whom I recently got reconnected, informed me of project he is working on – Deere President Magazine, a publication tailored to provide adequate information on academics, entrepreneurship, health, information technology and more to the Nigerian youth. According to his research, approximately ninety percent (90%) of Nigerian youths are not thinking in the direction of job creation, and of the remainder ten percent (10%), about a third of those know what entrepreneurship entails, while the rest (two-thirds) are unwilling to pursue any entrepreneurial activities due to insufficient capital.

He is of the opinion that all that is required to start a small business is an idea and consistency, while money is the motor that keeps it moving. Hence, his plan, among other things, is to use his magazine to battle the unemployment issue in Nigeria by inspiring entrepreneurship through interviews with young, successful Nigerian entrepreneurs as well as educational notes on small & medium enterprise (SME) management; this is where I come in. As a favor, I agreed to do an interview for the maiden edition as a successful, young entrepreneur by God’s grace, and also often provide tips on entrepreneurship and successful small business management as a Small Business Consultant in subsequent editions.

I am humbled I was asked to share my story for the maiden edition. I hope it inspires many. The interview was conducted on Monday, July 16th, 2012.

Deere President Magazine Interview


 1.    Can you please give a brief introduction of yourself?

I am Sylvester II O. Kay-Adade, popularly known as Mr. Buttons, because of my first business venture. I’m the President and Chief Executive of The SKA Group Inc. I’m also a Businessman, Entrepreneur and Small Business Advisor/Consultant. I was born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria and currently reside in Ontario, Canada.

 2.    Can you tell a bit about your enterprise?

The SKA Group Incorporated is a privately-owned conglomerate with interests in advertising, education, finance, publication, real estate and more. Its subsidiaries are Café Euphorie (catering), Herança Financial (financial services and solutions), Pearl Kreations (memorabilia and souvenirs), Prestige Academy (education), RansRive Realtors (real estate), Suave Clothing (clothing and wardrobe consultation), Sylver Productions (document management and media), and Vecasyer Hotels & Towers (leisure and lodging). The SKA Group also has stakes in companies like RCubed-Merit LLC (space optimization) and Spinners Inc (advertising and branding).

 3.    At what point did you realize that entrepreneurship was “your thing” and also “the thing”?

The exact point was probably when I realized I loved providing the services and solutions that various businesses and people needed. It gives me satisfaction. I realized entrepreneurship was the best after I had this epiphany – why use your brain and get paid a fraction of what you’re making for someone else, when you could put it to work and make money for you. As a business owner, I like that I have control over my activities, have options, define my goals, set my limits and have the freedom to do as I please (within reason).

4.    We are certain that making this level of progress would not have come without some “stumbling blocks”. Please let us in on some of the main challenges you encountered in the early stages and what you had on your mind that made you keep at it.

In a nutshell, criticism from friends, masked racism from the public, rejected proposals from companies, even self – made a number of mistakes and bad decisions. I’m passionate about what I do and that keeps me going. I think if success came easy, everyone who would be successful.

 5.    It is evident that you have successfully made some remarkable progress. What would you say are the basic requirements for a successful entrepreneur?

As a Small Business Advisor, I would say it is important to be in love with your venture(s); marry it if possible. I believe if you’re passionate about what you do, people will be drawn to you. You also need to have a business plan. A business plan will help map out the life and viability of your business – mission, vision, values, competition analysis, location analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on the industry, target market analysis, industry trend analysis, sale projections, start-up costs (SUC) and so on. A good business plan may help you secure loans from banks and/or other financial institutions, even the government. One of my companies, Herança Financial helps hopeful entrepreneurs develop excellent business plans. Finally, you need to be determined and persistent; pick yourself up every time you fall.

 6.    Finally, what word do you have for young individuals who happen to fall under the category of “the unemployed”.

I’ll tell you the fact, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Some people cannot take risks and prefer the security of paid employment, some people will partner with an entrepreneur and some people will break new ground. If you decide, you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to know who an entrepreneur is. An entrepreneur isn’t necessarily a businessman. Simply put, an entrepreneur is someone who creates products and services that meet the needs of people for a profit. You need to find a void and figure out a way to close it. In order to find needs, you need to develop the entrepreneurial eyes and open them to the numerous possibilities around you. Another option is to improve upon an existing product or service. The second option is what a lot of people try to do, but most often than not, they just imitate; no originality.

You need to have unwavering faith and trust in God. You can do it on your own, but you won’t go far without God. If you’re a Christian, never forget Matthew 19:26: “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If you want to achieve the unfathomable, go with God.

Next, you need to do your homework before starting. Your homework involves taking surveys, studying your competition and researching the industry – take note of trends. All these will help bring your business plan together.

Passion cannot be overemphasized. You need to be passionate about your business; at times, that’s all that keeps you going. Believe in yourself and keep your dream alive through optimism, don’t doubt or second guess yourself; always believe in yourself and ability.

You also need to be creative. As I mentioned earlier, don’t just copy what someone else is doing. The first thing I ask an aspiring business owner for after hearing the idea is the wow factor – the quality that sets you apart. The truth is if you aren’t different, there is no reason people would switch or come to you instead.

When you decide to begin, start small, don’t expand too fast, work hard and be prepared to sacrifice sleep, but pace yourself and move steadily. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Use of every chance and opportunity to showcase yourself – be bold, friendly and network – talk about yourself, give out business cards and collect business cards; you never know who you may meet and there is no second chance to make a good first impression.

Not everyone is going to love your idea(s), so be prepared for criticism and use them as stepping stones and challenges to improve your image and/or business. The world is very competitive so keep coming up with new ideas to stay ahead.

Finally, don’t get so consumed with work that you begin to alienate the most important people in your life – family and friends may be highly instrumental to your success.

business from the bedroom

April 23, 2011 10 comments

I was contacted by The Creative Africans for an interview on Monday, April 11th, 2011.

If you’re wondering who they are, as I initially did, The Creative Africans is an online organization that conducts video interviews of African entrepreneurs with the sole purpose of inspiring African youths and helping them develop the spirit of entrepreneurship in order to help shape the future of Africa through learning from experienced entrepreneurs. They are motivated by their belief in another side of Africans – the side which is full of creative, energetic, intelligent, prudent, strong and successful people whose stories should be told in order to encourage other young Africans around the world and help put Africa on the map of entrepreneurship on a global scale.

I was humbled they thought my story was inspiring and successful enough to motivate a lot of African youths. They would have loved to have an audio or video interview, but since it couldn’t have been organized at the time, we settled for written. We agreed to arrange that (audio/video) for a later date. I got the interview questions the following Monday (April 18th) and the interview was published on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011. Here’s the interview:

Sylvester Kay-Adade

Sylvester Kay-Adade

Can you give the readers some background information about yourself and your company?

Certainly. I’m Sylvester II Olusola Kay-Adade. I was born on May 29th, 1987 to Mr. Sylvester I and Mrs. Fehintola Adade in Lagos, Nigeria. My dad was of mixed heritage and my mum is Yoruba. I have four lovely sisters- Ronke, Anthonia, Rita and Veronica.

I’m a Businessman, Entrepreneur, President and Chief Executive of The SKA Group Inc. My first business venture, Pearl Kreations, is my popular venture. It initially made just button-badges, and that is where my nickname- Mr. Buttons originated from.

I love to read and watch movies. I also love to play chess and lawn tennis.

When and how did you start your business?

I started doing business in January 2008 when I launched Pearl Kreations. I had been saving for quite some time; and when I was all set, I decided button-badges were going to be the right use for the money.

How did you come across the idea and what made you think it was profitable?

A very good friend of mine, Sombiri shared his idea to make badges for Nigeria’s forty-fifth (45th) Independence Day celebrations. We put our heads together and joggled some ideas, but there were several setbacks to accomplishing the goal so we gave it a rest.

Sometime in 2007, after moving to Canada, I remembered the buttons idea. I did the research- button designing, the type and cost of the equipment and materials required and so on. I tried to partner with Sombiri, but he had moved on to other things; so I had to go about it on my own.

I couldn’t be certain if it would be profitable or not at the time, but I felt it was worth the shot. I believed it would be better to know I tried, rather than wonder “what if”.

On your twitter you were talking about networking being the key. How has it helped growing your business?

In my opinion, networking is all about putting yourself out there. It’s about getting acquainted with like-minded people and building your contact base.

In my case, I’ve always been sort of an introvert. I also have an expressionless face, which sometimes makes me seem unapproachable.

I’m learning to grow out of my shell by smiling, meeting new people – and introducing myself as an entrepreneur and giving out my business cards. So far, I’ve met prospective clients and made a couple of deals with people I met at formal and networking events.

How have you used social media to improve sales?

After hearing that in 2009, companies like Dell and Starbucks, made additional revenue in the sum of tens of millions of dollars basically for free; by simply communicating with customers via twitter, I realized I wasn’t maximizing the potential of the facebook and twitter accounts. We started by engaging our fans and followers by throwing competitions and communicating with them directly.

Since January 2011, Pearl Kreations’ sales have increased almost fifty percent! Facebook and twitter are incredible networking tools.

You have had 3 business successes: buttons, clothing line and estate management. How did you do that?

It is all by God’s grace. After successfully running Pearl Kreations for about two years, I realized I actually enjoyed business and decided to diversify.

I wanted to go into something else; something that was close to my heart – style. Soon after, I started Suave Clothing. It is a high-end formal clothing store. We started by retailing luxury accessories like sunglasses by Carrera, cufflinks by Christian Dior and belts by Salvatore Ferragamo and the likes. As sales soared, I decided to launch Suave Clothing line of superior quality dress shirts. Manufacture has been halted, but we will resume by launching our brand of superior quality suits and dress shirts for stylish youths and young executives.

Suave Clothing also provides wardrobe consultation services; and since 2010, the company posts style articles for men and women on The SKA Blog on a quarterly basis. You can read more about Suave Clothing at in my website.

Another thing I’m passionate about is real estate. I invested some of the revenue from both businesses in real estate, bought a property, developed it and started renting. This real estate venture is called RansRive Realtors. In time, I hope it will provide temporary and permanent accommodation through the letting and sale of commercial and residential properties.

I’m able to manage these businesses through the parent company called The SKA Group Incorporated. It’s based in Canada, but conducts business worldwide. The SKA Group is into other ventures like advertising (Spinners), document management (Sylver Productions), financial services (SKA Ventures), space optimization (RCubed-Merit) and many more. Some are still projects, while others are operational. Some are privately-owned, while others are in partnership with other companies and entrepreneurs.

What cheap marketing techniques have you used that proved successful in the early days of your business?

Sponsorship of events (by offering free products), word of mouth/referrals and social networking (blogs, facebook and twitter).

What is your experience about making business plans before starting a business?

I think it is important to have a business plan. It helps you map out the life of your business – mission, vision, values, competition analysis, location analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on the industry, target market analysis, trend analysis, sale projections etc.

Pearl Kreations didn’t have one when I started, but it does now, and I strongly believe I could have been much more successful today if I knew then what I do now about the importance of business plans.

What is the entrepreneur eye you mention on your twitter?

The entrepreneurial eye is the ability of see potential, viable business opportunities any and everywhere. You can read all about my initial experience with the entrepreneurial eye on my website.

What is the worst experience you have ever had as an entrepreneur?

There’s nothing quite like having a great idea, pursuing it and then having your hopes dashed. I’ve had my share of disappointments. My worst experience would be when every single of my countless proposals addressed to film companies and banks were rejected or not responded to. It hurt, but I kept pressing on. My application to supply buttons for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was initially rejected, but I was persistent. Eventually, I was awarded the contract! So you see, you cannot afford to give up!

Tell us more about your KAFF?

The Kay-Adade Family Foundation (KAFF) is a private organization I founded to support our (my family’s) favourite charities, provide free healthcare for orphans and under-privileged families, assist The SKA Group with some of its social responsibilities and support entrepreneurship. KAFF currently sponsors the Canadian Bible Society, the Juravinski Cancer Centre Foundation, missions and outreaches of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Worldwide, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and some promising entrepreneurs.

In the near future, KAFF plans to additionally fund young, budding entrepreneurs through a biannual competition called the KAFF Challenge. The winner will be awarded a cash prize to start up as well as the backing of The SKA Group, if necessary. It will also provide scholarships for prospective students of the Pearl Academy, Covenant University, Ota; and McMaster University.

Link to the Original

That’s all folks!

future of gidi

December 18, 2010 7 comments

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a former high school mate of mine- Kayode E*. He had started a dot-com signature of his own called: GidiTalking. In his words, it will be the go-to website for all current happenings in Gidi (Lagos/Nigeria).

He already had a brief write-up on me, which he put under a section of the blog called “Future of Gidi”. I found it quite flattering. I believe that post is a compilation of his knowledge, the facebook page and past interviews. Anyway, he asked to conduct an interview and I agreed. It was another opportunity to put my new “business-like, less personal info and straight-to-the-point” self to the test.

How do you think I did?

GIDITALKING: SYLVESTER KAY-ADADE

MAY WE KNOW YOU?

Yes, you may. I’m Sylvester II Olusola Kay-Adade, the President of The SKA Group. For the purpose of this interview, I am the CEO of Pearl Kreations Ltd; popularly known as Mr. Buttons.

WHAT IS PEARL KREATIONS ALL ABOUT?

Pearl Kreations is a collectibles manufacturing company presently based in Ontario, Canada.

We manufacture and supply superior quality button-badges and lapel pins for a variety of corporate, personal, professional, national and international events and purposes.

Our customer service, professionalism and unequalled prices have made the brand a household name and stiff competitor in the collectibles industry.

WHEN DID YOU START OFF?

Pearl Kreations began operation on January 28th, 2008.

HOW WAS IT WHEN YOU STARTED OFF?

It started slow, as was expected, and steadily progressed.

HOW IS IT NOW?

For a company that is barely three years old, I think Pearl Kreations is doing very well. We have an ever growing clientele and scores of contracts rolling in every month.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU STILL FACE NOW?

Production is one challenge we’re presently working on overcoming. Sometimes, we get more orders than we can handle, and this sometimes prolongs response and delivery times. We however have never turned down orders; except the Client chooses to cancel. Another issue is delivery. Sometimes, deliveries outside North America take longer than expected.

To battle these issues, Pearl Kreations has two partner companies (usually contacted for very large orders). We’re also looking into acquiring more machines, and moving into a bigger place. And, with our partnership with FedEx as well as local courier services, our delivery time is improving.

IS YOUR FAMILY IN SUPPORT OF YOU?

Absolutely. My mum and sisters are beyond supportive.

GIVE US A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF YOURSELF- EDUCATIONALLY?

I started out at St. Mary’s Private School, Agele. Then, I attended Federal Government College, Lagos (FGCL)for my secondary education. Right after graduation, I did a year at Covenant University studying Computer Science; then another two years studying Medicine in the Republic of Benin at Houdegbe North American University, Benin (HNAUB). I transferred to McMaster University through Southern Ontario College, and presently in my final year of Health Studies/Public Health.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE BOTH OF THEM- SCHOOL AND PEARL KREATIONS?

I’ve learnt to prioritize and organize my life so neither interferes with the other.

I also finally hired people. I was initially trying to run a one-man operation. After I saw what that was doing to sales, I changed the business model. It’s a good thing I did too; because the extra hands have increased our effectiveness by over sixty percent (+60%).

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR FREE TIME OR YOU DON’T NORMALLY HAVE SPARE TIME?

Between school and work, I have a couple of hours to myself. I usually spend it reading books by successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, books on management and the biographies of business gurus. I also use the time to catch up on my favourite TV shows.

ON A SCALE OF 1 – 10, 1 BEING STARTING OFF AND 10 BEING FULLY ACCOMPLISHED, HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR BUSINESS?

I’ll say a solid 6.

WHY YOUR CHOICE OF RATING?

6 is above average.

We are doing very well as I said earlier for our age, but there is always room of growth. I believe that there will always be something that can be improved upon and done better. Progress and advancement aren’t goals, but constants.

I believe that mindset has helped us stay ahead of the competition and please customers. At this rate, Pearl Kreations will be a 9 in no time.

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF COMING BACK TO LAGOS TO SETUP BIG TIME?

Yes, I do. Preparations are underway. We already make regular deliveries to Nigeria monthly. Nigeria is our second largest market with about fifty percent (50%) of our orders coming from Lagos.

WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE FUTURE- EXPANSION INTO DIFFERENT FIELDS?

Rome wasn’t built in a day; and I believe a big business error is to build and expand too quickly. That being said, after Pearl Kreations’ success, I decided to explore doing business in my other areas on interest. This is where The SKA Group comes in.

It is legal (in Canada), already profitable and growing steadily. A quick summary- It is a private company with businesses that span advertising, branding, clothing, education, financial services, publication and real estate. Pearl Kreations is one of its subsidiaries.

WHAT PROJECTS HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED WITH? – BIG AND SMALL

I would love to give you the list, but it’s a lengthy one. The list up until August 2010 is under portfolio on our website – pearlkreations.com. The notable ones are: the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Watchmen 2009 Movie Collection and the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver.

WHICH IS THE BIGGEST?

The biggest by revenue was the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WANT TO START OFF A BUSINESS?

Before I begin to advice, I’ll tell you that you can do it on your own, but you won’t go far without God. If you want to achieve the unfathomable, go with God. Matthew 19:26: “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Now for advice, first and foremost, be absolutely certain about what you want to go into. Make sure you’re going to love what you plan to do because, at times, that’s all that keeps you going!

Secondly, know your target market. Do your homework- the necessary research, take surveys, study your competition and the industry- especially the trends. All that will help you make a business plan- which will help you stay on track. Make sure it contains your vision, mission, values, customer service plan, financial plan and marketing plan.

Thirdly, find mentors. Read about and watch documentaries on them. Learn from their mistakes. Improve your business acumen and knowledge by reading books and watching business programs.

Finally, pray and commit all your decisions into God’s hands. Don’t just pray and fold your arms though; you have to work hard too. If you work hard, you won’t even realize the money piling up. As my dad- Sylvester O. Adade, would say, “Work hard, Pray hard, Play a little; and you’ll be golden”. Also, find/make the time to relax, and spend with family and friends. Don’t get so consumed with work that you begin to begin alienate the most important people in your life. They are highly instrumental to your success.

Well, those are my two cents. I wish you all the best, certainly hope to see you at the top, and may be do business together someday.

Link to the Original

young boss

January 19, 2010 15 comments

Guess who is a nominee for the Future Awards 2010 “Business Owner of the Year” Award? 😀

I did an interview earlier on and it was for a closer look at this year’s nominees. This was my close up:

Sylvester Olusola Kay-Adade
The 22-year-old owns Pearl Creations (a subsidiary of The SKA Group), which he started two years ago, after moving to Canada in August, 2006 to complete his tertiary and medical education at McMaster University. This company essentially makes two (2) products: button-badges and lapel pins. It provides button-badges for personal use, effective advertising and marketing of Companies, goods and services; promotions, campaigns, special occasions, holidays and international events
Pearl Creations, which has 3 employees, is based in Ontario,Canada, but also operational in Lagos, Nigeria. Despite poor credibility due to his race, rejection letters from comic stores, film companies, movie theaters, and cinemas when who he approached for contracts to make buttons he now supplies buttons to groups and organizations within Hamilton, and supplies buttons to individuals, international Events and Companies within Canada, the PR of China, United States, Nigeria, Mexico and England, in the past one year working with The Invisible Children, the 2010 Business Network for Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, and Cure Canada. He has also had as clients, the Hope for David Charity Show [Hamilton, ON, Canada], i-Rep Fashion Show [Hamilton, ON, Canada], Ontario Universities’ Competition for Hip-Hop (O.U.C.H.) 2008 Dance Off [Hamilton, ON, Canada], the University of Lagos Engineering Faculty [Lagos, Nigeria], the University of Windsor African Union [Windsor, ON, Canada], the Legacy Festival’s B.H.M. Event [Toronto, ON, Canada], the McMaster African Students’ Association (M.A.S.A.) [Hamilton, ON, Canada] and the Erindale College African Students’ Association [Mississauga, ON, Canada].
The Parent Company of Pearl Creations is The SKA Group; and it will be starting up “Suave Clothing” soon which will be making dress shirts, suits and ties; and selling classic watches (in partnership with LR Watches), cufflinks, tie clips and belts from reputable designers.

I did yet another interview for the Future Nigeria Awards again today. I’m told this one is for a press release for a Newspaper. I have never done so many interviews in my life in one stretch. I guess it’s important to do as many as possible. After all, it is a medium through which people can read and know my story. Anyway, the Future Nigeria Awards 2010 has been set for Sunday, February 7th, 2010. I plan to be there, but it is still uncertain. I think I should though. The publicity, not to talk of the opportunity to meet and mingle numerous Nigerian celebs and public figures. I love to make Pearl Creations and The SKA Group ring in their ears lol. Anyway, here’s interview:

INTERVIEW

I’m Sylvester II Olusola Kay-Adade, President of The SKA Group. For the purpose of this interview, I’m the Chief Executive Officer of Pearl Creations.

1. What business do you do?
Pearl Creations manufactures and sells two (2) Products: Button-Badges (All-Me Buttons and National Buttons) and Magnetic Lapel Pins (Mag*Lapels). Both are used for Advertising, Awareness, Campaigns, Personal & Corporate Use, and as Fashion Accessories & Collectibles/Souvenirs at Local, National and International Events.

2. How did this begin?
It all began with an idea a good friend of mine, Sombiri and I had planned for Nigeria’s 45th Independence Day Celebration, but unfortunately, we couldn’t actualize it due to several setbacks. Sometime in late 2007, I remembered the buttons idea and since I was in Canada, I figured I could give it a shot. I had access to a lot of the resources we lacked then so I discussed starting up the business with my friend, but he had moved on into other things so I continued on my own. I researched buttons designing, the materials needed, the machinery, company registration etc. and began operation in January 2008.

3. Your educational background?
I attended ABC Nursery Land, Ilupeju, and then I transferred to St. Mary’s Private School, Agele. I had my secondary school education at Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos. I attended Covenant University for a year, and then transferred to Houdegbe North American University, Republic of Benin and was there for 2 years. Finally, I transferred to Canada, through Southern Ontario College, Hamilton, Ontario to continue Medicine. I’m presently in my 3rd year of Health studies at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

4. Why did you choose business over a 9 to 5 job?
I never thought I had it in me, but a couple of things factored this decision. For one, I always never liked the idea of working for someone. One of my philosophies is: “Why use your brain to get paid a fraction of what you’re making for someone when you can use it to work and make money for you?”
The drive to pursue entrepreneurship was instilled into me at Covenant University through a compulsory course called Entrepreneurial Development Studies (E.D.S.).
When I decided to, an older friend encouraged me by saying, “with a job, you earn a certain amount every 30 days; with a career/owning a business, you make varying amounts almost daily”. Personally, I like the challenge of pushing myself and being my boss.

5. Was starting up easy?
No. It’s never easy and it wasn’t for me either. I had to become very thrifty and save painfully, but the commitment has paid off.

6. What challenges did you encounter?
I made a number of mistakes and bad decision, but in a nutshell, criticism, masked racism, near bankruptcy and self.

7. How did you combat these challenges?
I don’t think one can ever rid oneself of criticism. I actually like constructive criticism, i got a lot of it and it helped me improve my business. I listen to what everyone tells me, but not necessarily act on it though.
My father once told me, “people will always try to put their fingers in your business. Learn to know who’s being helpful and who’s not”.
I had a tough time proving myself as credible person as a young black man, and as a trustworthy person being a Nigerian (as we have a certain stereotype). I was turned down a lot because of this, but I pushed on and was unrelenting. Bankruptcy was partly due to bad early business decisions and self. I learnt good decisions the hard way and in time. As for self, I started living a lavishly expensive lifestyle after I made my first lump sum, but came to myself when I almost hit rock bottom. Now, by God’s grace, with more than I had then, I’m remain humble and the thriftiest businessman my age!

8. How did you source your start-up funds?
Simply saving and staking up for the rainy day. In my case, the rainy day eventually happened to be the start of Pearl Creations.

9. What are your achievements?
I have experience great growth in such a short time and I am thankful to God for that.
My achievements all started with being published in the Hamilton Spectator (one of the biggest and most widely read newspapers in Ontario); that gave me an edge and some credibility.
As a result of that, I was registered as a/the Supplier of Button-Badges for Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics; that gave me an early leverage and I was made Partner Supplier of Flag Badges (the National Buttons) for 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing with a standing contract.
I recently became a certified member of the Vancouver 2010 Business Network. Presently, a Nominee for Business Owner of the Year Award in the Future Nigeria Awards 2010.
I have also worked with the Organizing committee of the Ontario Universities Competition of Hip Hop (O.U.C.H.) Dance Off in 2009. I partnered with The Legacy Festival for their 2009 Black History Month Event, with the Invisible Children for their annual Peace of Chic Fashion Show in 2009, with the University of Windsor African Union for the 2008 African Culture Show, and its Nigerian Students’ Association for the Nigerian 48th Independence Gala, with the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Erindale College African Students’ Association (E.C.A.S.A.) for Sync-Afrique 2009, with the McMaster African Students’ Association (M.A.S.A.) for Afro-Fest 2008 and 2009.
When I introduced the buttons in Nigeria in December 2008, I underestimated the reception. In January 2009, I was awarded a Contract, to supply the University of Lagos Engineering Faculty with Graduation Memorabilia/Souvenirs. The same month, practically became the unofficial Supplier of button-badges to, Covenant University. The Nigerian youth are presently our second largest market.

10. Any low points?
Of course! I experienced some rejections; and was going to shut down.
Even with the Olympics and winter Olympics, it wasn’t that easy. I had to write letters to and call different people, pitch ideas, give suggestions etc before I was accepted. I also had a couple of brilliant ideas of new movie-themed buttons that would probably accepted and purchased from Cinema Houses, but the proposals were rejected by McDonald’s, Warner Bros, Marvel and the likes over and over again. Most Cinema Houses actually liked the ideas though, but informed most of them too late. There was a big improvement with “the twilight saga: new moon” movie. I’m hoping it was the start of a beautiful partnership.

11. Apart from God, what else has been instrumental to the survival of your business?
Optimism, determination, my Parents and Sisters, my Partners- Alice and Levi; and some very special friends like Pelumi, Mobola, Toyosi, Teni, Doris, Adeola, Fade, Nnamdi, Kasope and others that rather stay anonymous.

12. Have you reached the point where you missed a regular, rewarding employment?
This epiphany powers me – why use your brain and get paid a fraction of what you’re making for someone else, when you could use it to work and make money for yourself. I haven’t missed a regular employment. I like that fact I have control, define my goals, set my limits and have freedom to do as I wish.s much as a try not to, there times where I have had to delay some certain orders because of clashing deadlines or amounts, but never missed or declined an order.

13. Have you reached the point where you declined an order?
As much as a try not to, there times where I have had to delay some certain orders because of clashing deadlines or amounts, but never missed or declined an order.

14. What inspired you to do this?
I guess a quest for independence, to make a mark, to encourage others, and a thirst for the unknown.

15. Has the business given you time for other personal things?
I’ve learnt t manage by time efficiently though in the beginning I had very little time for socializing because I was juggling school and business.

16. A word of inspiration for others starting up?
Well, number one, have faith and trust in God.
Keep your dream alive. Be optimistic. Believe in yourself and ability. Start small.
Develop the entrepreneurial eyes and open them to the numerous possibilities around.
Make sacrifices and use of every chance and opportunity to showcase yourself, you might never get a next time. Be friendly, socialize and introduce yourself you never know you will be meeting.
Use criticism as stepping blocks. See them as challenges to re-invent and improve yourself, image and business. The world is very competitive so make sure you always have the edge. Put your brain to work and keep coming up with new ideas and innovations.
Never ever give up on yourself. Remember, winners never quit, and quitters never win.

Link to the Original

That was it! I called my mum and asked her to buy a copy, but I believe she bought 3 or 4 copies lol. I love her!

mr. buttons

November 24, 2009 14 comments

It has been a while since my last interview in 2008. I’m a bit excited and thrilled lol. I’m being interviewed by a young lady, Bunmi Adeyinka, who I got to meet through Labake F*. The interview will be published later on today, but I felt you should have a quick sneak peek. I have altered a few minor details, but it is basically the same. I feel like I might have said too much, but I tend to think that because of my reserved nature, so please let me know, okay? Enjoy!

INTERVIEW

Sylvester Kay-Adade is a force to be reckoned with and should be an inspiration to every young Nigerian. He started small, got discouraged by many, but he didn’t allow them get to him. Today, he speaks with the likes of the CEO of FIFA’s branding company on a one on one basis, he won a contract with Beijing Olympics, he’s been on the cover of the number one newspaper in Canada, The Hamilton Spectator, he is the CEO of ‘The SKA group’, and did I mention he is just 22. We at GidiNoize were privileged to have a word with the man in charge, Sylvester II Olusola Kay-Adade.

GidiNoize Interviews Sylvester Kay-Adade

1. WHO IS MR. BUTTONS?
He is a shrewd, dedicated, entrepreneurial, hard-working and positive Businessman.
He runs Pearl Creations, a Company whose primary product is Button-Badges, hence the name lol.

2. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND (EDUCATIONAL, FAMILY)?
I was born May 29th, 1987 to Mr. Sylvester I and Mrs. Fehintola Adade in Lagos, Nigeria. My dad was of mixed heritage and my mum is Yoruba. I have four (4) siblings- Ronke, Anthonia, Rita and Veronica.

My educational life was quite simple till it got a little complicated. I wanted to become a Medical Doctor then Chemical Engineer then Medical Doctor again. My primary school education was at St. Mary’s Private School, Agele, Lagos. Then I got into Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos. A lot of people are shocked when I mention my High School. I apparently behave nothing like the stereotypical “IJ” guy.

Next, I attended Covenant University for a year studying Computer Science/Software Engineering. I was offered admission into the Medical School at Houdegbe North American University, Republique du Benin (HNAUB). I accepted it after my first year at Covenant University. It was there I learnt to speak French, but it’s really rusty now. I spent two (2) years there before I transferred to Canada to continue.

I came to Canada in 2006 and attended Southern Ontario College for about nine (9) months. I got admission into the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa and McMaster University. My dad’s best friend attended McMaster University and talked so much about it, so I decided to go there…plus it has a renowned Medical School. I’m presently in my third (3rd) year of Health Studies.

3. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU REALIZE MAKING BUTTONS WAS YOUR THING?

I won’t say making buttons is my thing. It’s a hobby that became a business, but also a stepping stone to achieving the bigger dreams I have.
While I was in HNAUB, I had an eccentric roommate, Som, who always had all these interesting business ideas. We got very close and he shared his idea about making button-badges for Nigeria’s 45th Independence Day Celebrations. I put in some suggestions on the design, but unfortunately, we couldn’t actualize it due to several setbacks.

Sometime late 2007, I remembered the buttons idea. Since I was now in Canada, I figured I could give it a shot since I had access to a lot of the resources we needed back then.
I did my homework- researched on buttons designing, the materials needed, the machinery, company registration etc.
When I was all set, I called Som, reminded him, told him my new ideas and assured him we could actually pull it off now. I called him a couple of times to get the ball rolling in Nigeria, but he had lost interest in the whole idea so I went along and did it on my own.

4. DO YOU DESIGN THE BUTTONS YOURSELF?
Initially, I didn’t, I got a guy, Mike who was the local button maker in my University to do a couple of Nigerian Flag buttons so I could post pictures on the group I created on Facebook and show some friends & Nigerian colleagues. Apparently, they all saw it and thought it would have been expensive, but after hearing it was just $2.00CAD, the buttons were all gone. Then I had him make some more and for other West African Countries.

Eventually, Mike stopped making buttons. He said it wasn’t a profitable venture. That prompted me to start learning how to make the buttons. Mine were weird-looking so I looked for someone else while I sharpened my skills. Which is when I met Alice; she’s British and also runs her own Company. She supplied all my buttons. It was initially just business, but we got friendly and now we’re Business Partners. She gave me tutorials, advice and tips over time. I didn’t start making mine until late 2008.

5. WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DESIGNS?
Well, there are two (2) types of Buttons: National and All-Me Buttons, and they are very different.

The concept behind the National Buttons is from the initial idea Som had; and I broadened the idea to accommodate other countries.
Being in a multicultural Country like Canada makes you realize how much people like to identify with their ethnicities and cultures, and what better way to do that than with your country’s flag? The National Buttons are buttons bearing the national flags of different countries. This gives its nationals the opportunity to be ambassadors proudly representing and celebrating their countries wherever they are on a daily basis or as frequently as they wish!

The All-Me Buttons idea came after a friend, Petra ordered some specific designs and I had to declined. Later, I realized that people like to have personal statements, names, nicknames, favourite cartoon characters, popular sayings, photos etc on buttons as well. I looked into it and came up with the name.I made Petra’s order after I began with All-Me Buttons. So, as the name implies, it has “you” all over it. They are custom-made and created to your own taste and specifications (fonts, colors, designs and size). They are more tasking to do and time-consuming so I decided to charge an extra 50 cents for them. This makes the All-Me Buttons $2.50CAD/pin and the National Buttons $2.00CAD.

6. HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR STUDIES & YOUR BUSINESS TOGETHER?
When you start making your own money, there’s this rush and drive you get from it especially when business is booming. I was getting orders from within Hamilton, the US, Mexico, England, Morocco etc. It was crazy, but exciting. I started skipping classes and losing sleep in order to meet the demands and my customary ten (10) days deadline.
My grades began to suffer of course, so I decided to have a work-study time frame.

From 8am to 8pm, I would take orders, attend my classes and do my assignments in the Library. After 8pm, take a nap and then study overnight (which is when I assimilate best).
Fridays and Saturdays, I would design and make the buttons (which takes hours). In times of rigorous tests and exams, I type up all the orders with the specifications (which also takes hours) and send them via email to Alice. On Sundays, after Church services, I go back home to relax. At night, I watch my favourite TV series, movies and basically just chill.

When I have large orders, I contact another business partner, Levi. He’s Canadian and also runs his own company. He has a bigger press and more workers than I do. I’ve learnt to separate my education from business very effectively now. None overlaps the other and both are doing very well. About two (2) months ago, I got a BlackBerry smart phone which streams my emails and Facebook messages to my phone. Now, life and business a lot easier for me.

7. BEING A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR COMES WITH A LOT OF CRITICISM AND DISAPPROVAL ESPECIALLY FROM PARENTS, HOW DO YOU COPE WITH THAT?
When I started, I didn’t tell my parents because I didn’t know how they would react. I’m that quiet and content child that doesn’t ask for anything except I need it so when I do ask, they never hesitate. My pocket-money was sufficient such that I didn’t need a dramatic increase to start that would raise any questions. I had also been saving about $100 every month since the conception of making my variety of buttons.

I did have a lot of setbacks from some colleagues (I use friend very cautiously) who didn’t understand what I could make from $2.00CAD. They would say things like,” if I know 100 people and each of them buys a button, all I would have is $200CAD or $250CAD. What next after that?

I got discouraged a couple of times especially when I wrote countless letters to Comic Stores, Film Companies, Theatres, Cinemas to purchase make buttons especially for movies like Watchmen, Spiderman etc or for their Online Stores. I wrote to Banks, Companies, Conglomerates suggesting buttons as new marketing strategies or as gifts to kids & customers for Christmas, during promos. I either got rejection replies or no replies at all.

I still encouraged myself and decided to be aggressive and more passionate about my business. I decided to make Pearl Creations more legit and international, not just a Facebook group. I took an online tutorial on website designing and spent days making one. The initial one is nothing compared to what it is now at pearlkreations.com. I’ve redone and edited the website more than 50 times; I figured it would make me appear to be more driven. Even if I get it professionally done, it would look the same just with added creativity.

When I did tell my parents, they wanted to be assured my grades weren’t suffering; they were so proud and supportive, may be because all I told them were the success stories lol. My dad even gave me some pointers and lots of good business advice the last time I saw him before he passed into glory.

8. OUTSIDE THE BUSINESS SCENE, WHO IS SLY?
Right from primary school, my friends nicknamed me: “the sly guy” or “sly”. However, Sly is the nickname that has stuck through the years. Some say it isn’t too far from the description of my character.

Character-wise, I’m always composed, confident, easy to talk to, friendly, NEVER in a hurry, neat, meticulous, overly articulate and strategic in my actions.  I went through a grooming & etiquette school a summer when I was in Middle School which accounts for most of my gentlemanly character (others are from my dad).
I’ve been told I can be funny. I also laugh a lot, can be manipulative, sometimes naughty (which humours people) and quite sarcastic.

Emotionally, I can be way too generous and nice. On the flip side, I can also be callous, but also very caring towards my family & friends (very few of them). I hardly get angry and only three (3) things get me upset. When I do get angry, I must be have been really pissed. It could be terrible because I have the tendency to be vengeful.

My strong points, I’m a deep thinker, analytical, detailed, sharp memory and a good listener. I eat healthy, somewhat adventurous and I’ll try anything…at least once.

My hobbies are business, chess and movies. I’m quite the movie buff- I love watching movies! I watch stream them or watch them as soon as they’re out in the Cinema. Either way, I watch at least two (2) movies a week. I like 80s Music, Alternative, Classical, R & B, Soft Rock. I like basically anything that’s catchy and pleasing to the ears. I blog and follow a couple of blogs too. I don’t tweet…not yet though. I follow lots of TV series like Entourage, Fringe, House, How I met your Mother, The Mentalist, and Two & A Half Men.

Others, I’m a worker in church- The Redeemed Christian Church of God…an Usher specifically. Love the colours red, brown and green; and I’m usually in a dress shirt, jeans and a caddy.

9. ARE YOU SINGLE/MARRIED/ENGAGED? LOL
I’m engaged to be married in May. Just kidding! I’m neither.
After my last relationship, I decided to take a break from exclusive dating for while. I don’t think I can commit to business and a lady at the same time. Both would need my undivided attention and I don’t have that kind of time on my hands; couple that with school, and it would be a disaster waiting to happen.
I don’t want to commit to anyone if I couldn’t spend enough time with her. I recently started dating though.

10. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A WOMAN? LOL
I think I’m pretty simple.
I like cool-headed, down-to-earth, focused, God-fearing pleasant, well-mannered and spontaneous ladies. Intellect is a huge plus. I find smart, well read ladies very sexy.
Physically, I’m usually drawn to slim, toned, fit and light-skinned ladies, but I have dated a couple of dark-skinned girls. I don’t discriminate lol.
I’m a sucker for a beautiful smile and abs too.

11. APART FROM MAKING/DESIGNING BUTTONS DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER AREAS OF INTEREST?
I play a lot of PlayStation adventure and mission video games.
I love to play I love board games especially chess and ludo; and work out.
I watch basketball and soccer whenever they’re on TV, though I’m not much of a soccer fan.
Did I mention I’m a movie buff? lol.

12. DO YOU INTEND ON GOING INTO BUTTON MAKING FULL TIME?
Yes I do. I’m already into buttons full-time…sort of.
We do buttons for the Olympics, winter Olympics and lots of movies…which is a job already. We did for Watchmen, Chronicles of Narnia 2, Star Trek, Star Wars Clones, Looney Toons, AstroBoy, XMen Origin, and just concluding the Edward & Jacob Buttons Sale for the Twilight Saga: New Moon.

13. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
As I mentioned earlier, the buttons business is just the beginning.
I’m just about completing the registration of The SKA Group in Canada. It is the Umbrella Company for Pearl Creations and some others.
I hope to develop and at least operational before I turn 32 (I’m 22 presently). You may follow on my progress, if you wish to via my personal website – skayadade.com.

I think it’s healthy to dream. I think it gives you a purpose and something to live for.
I want to have a legacy and impact the world in such a way that years after I’m gone, I’ll be a reference point.
I have big dreams, but I believe they’re not big enough because there’s no such thing as impossible!

14. WHERE CAN YOUR BUTTONS BE PURCHASED?
They can be ordered on:
1. Facebook: Write your order on the wall of the Pearl Kreations’ Messenger.
2. Email: send your order to service@pearlkreations.
3. Website: send your order via the messenger on the website via link.
4. Phone:  +1 (289) 396-8864.

15. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER UPCOMING ENTREPRENEURS?
The key is to never give up and keep your dream alive. Remember, I mentioned I didn’t get replies? I thought it was because I mentioned I was Nigerian (everyone knows what the word is about Nigerians and Scams) in my letters so I left it out of my letters, but things still didn’t look up. Everything happens for a reason. I think it’s important never give up. To make sacrifices and take every opportunity you get to showcase yourself.

I’ll use myself as an example. I sold buttons at any event that would have me. Once, I sold buttons at a Festival in Hamilton called the Tiara Festival. It cost me $70.00CAD to get a table there, but I paid it. It went from 9:00am to about 7:00pm and I sold only about 10 – 15 buttons so I didn’t make anything close to the $70.00CAD back. Around 5:30pm when I was about giving up and packing up like a lot of the other merchants, a lady walked up to my table and asked about the buttons. So I told her and talked with a lot of enthusiasm, she smiled, gave me her notepad and told me to write my name, email, telephone number and about my buttons. She explained that she is a reporter & columnist for The Hamilton Spectator (the biggest and most widely read newspaper in the city) and that she would like to do an exclusive on me, I thought I was dreaming. She called me to come for a photo shoot and interview later on. In a week, I was a full page story in the Hamilton Spectator titled Mr. Buttons…He’s Right on the Button. That’s how I got more people, popularity and fans. I went with my signature bag for the shoot so when people saw me after then, they would ask, “you Mr. Buttons?”. Even at the bank one day, a teller asked if I was Mr Buttons and ordered for two (2) Denmark National Buttons. What I’m trying to say is even though I thought I had wasted $70.00CAD, I ended up making more than that eventually. It was the grace of God, that same article and the fact that I’m a Student that got me a contract for the Beijing Olympics cuz I started adding the link in my emails and letters to proof of my Company’s authenticity.

Secondly, be cautious and don’t underestimate yourself. I dared to write the Olympic Committee, and I got the contract…it was to co-sponsor, but beyond rewarding nonetheless. That opened doors I could have never imagined. I have talked to CEOs, some influential men and women. I have spoken to and have the mobile number of the CEO of F.I.F.A.’s branding Company. I met all these people because I went the extra mile. I wrote Warner Bros because I wanted to make Watchmen buttons, but didn’t want to get sued doing the buttons (being cautious). They didn’t say I couldn’t make and sell them in their reply to me, but they said they wouldn’t be able to buy them from me.

Thirdly, take constructive criticism & always ask for feedback from customers so you can improve and continue to impress. Apart from people writing the wall of the groups, there is a feedback section on the website where people put their views and comments. Complaints led me to expand and introduce the bigger sizes of 1.25-inches and 1.5-inches as opposed to just the default 1.0-inch buttons.

Fourthly, keep coming up with fresh ideas & innovations. Learn to develop the Entrepreneurial Eye that sees opportunities everywhere and in everything. You can read more about the ‘Entrepreneurial Eye’ via link. My experiences and some advice, you will find on my personal website.

Last, but not the least, please, please and please pray, have faith and put your trust in God.

16. ANY LAST WORDS FOR YOUR FANS?
I’ll like to thank everyone who is reading this, who has ordered and my faithful fans that order scores of buttons from me regularly. I wouldn’t have made it this far if not for all of you. Thanks for supporting, helping, believing in and encouraging me.
God bless you very much. Pearl Creations will always strive to give you the best quality button-badges and labels ever! We aim to please.

Link to the Original

So please tell me the truth, how did I do?

right on the button

June 15, 2008 Leave a comment

My very first interview! I edited a few things. For example, that is not the photo that was used in the article. I couldn’t get the actual photo. The rest of the story/interview is as it appeared in the newspapers on Thursday, May 15, 2008 by Suzanne Bourret of the Hamilton Spectator.

His name is Olusola Adade. His business is buttons. Not just any old buttons, his have a noble mission. They bear the national flags of different countries to promote multiculturalism. And they are an avenue to show support for war-torn countries.

Olusola, 20, is a McMaster University student who hopes to go back to his native Nigeria to serve as a doctor. Since he launched his button business in late January, he’s become known as Mr. Buttons.”It gives people from different countries the opportunity to be ambassadors, proudly representing and celebrating their countries on a daily basis wherever they are,” says Olusola, who came to Canada two years ago.

A year before, a close friend talked about a Nigerian button for their country’s independence day. Olusola suggested they make them for every country, but the means to make them was not possible in Nigeria, he says. This past year he remembered their idea, did research and contacted his Nigerian friend. But he had lost interest. So Olusola decided to do it himself. He started by making a group of buttons on Facebook, but the flag idea didn’t really fly with the younger set. Many who responded asked for personalized buttons.

Shortly after, the All-Me Buttons were born. They are custom-made, created to individual taste and specifications. Now he sells both kinds. And at a toonie for the national flags and $2.50 for the All-Me, the one-inch buttons are definitely affordable. He keeps the price low to give everyone the opportunity to be patriotic in a simple way.

In just a few short weeks, loads of people ordered them, says Olusola. It became difficult to balance the buttons’ production with his health studies and psychology course, and with “old school” equipment, he says. So he traded it off on eBay to find someone who could make them at a discount until he can save up to buy better software and up-to-date equipment. Alice from the U.K. surfaced and they have been a team since March.

Now he sells both personalized and national flag buttons at events, such as last week’s Tiara Festival. He’s also seeking interest from different ethnic groups.”My initial idea was to provide the buttons to all the different embassies all over the world so they can give them out to their nationals, especially on occasions such as independence and flag days. I will definitely get there soon by God’s grace.

He finds it amusing that a lot of people wanted to invest. “That is funny especially since I can’t give dividends and I’m not ready for a hostile takeover just yet!” For more information, go to pearlcreations.org or e-mail Olusola at mr.buttons@live.ca.

Link to the Original