Omogbolahan Sheriff Shittu was a victim of circumstances. His shop was burgled thrice, leaving him to be left in depression, but he wouldn’t give up on what has been his dream. At the nick of time when he almost got financial help from his God sent helper, he (his helper) was assasinated. But then destiny smiled at him afterwards, despite all odds. Today he has more than six outlets where he sells sport merchandise in different locations.
Can you give us a brief introduction about you?
My name is Omogbolahan Sheriff Shittu. The first born in family of 6. I Am in my late 30s and hails from Abeokuta in Ogun state. I am the Humble CEO of Astro Plus Entertainment, a promotion, entertainment and event outfit.
Please lead us into your educational background?
I Did mass communication at Moshood Abiola polytechnic, Ojeere Abeokuta, Media management at NUJ and a Bsc in Mass communication from Les Cours Sonou University, Cotonou Benin republic.
What part of the business sector do you operate. What exactly is the business you do?
I sell customized jerseys for men, women and kids. I sell all sports accessories in my store named Applause Sports Palace, a subsidiary of Astro plus entertainment. My clients/customers are in and outside Nigeria.
How did your business start?
Well I started almost 9-years ago. Then I never have store but will go to Ojuelegba to purchase from sellers and deliver across Nigeria. A year after, I fell in love with the business and rolled out proposals to most tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Few months later, I go my first job which was to supply 100 customized jerseys to a particular club in Babcock University for a club party. Then, I was unble to get the 100 pieces i was meant to deliver wen I was mobilised. I ran to my godfather(now late) in the person of Yinka Mamora aka Yinka Mamock. He helped me and I got the jerseys and it was delivered. The club invited me to the event too, i was so happy seeing my jerseys on people that night. Later same year, I supplied Ogun State University and Unilag students.
As a promoter in 2012, I went for an event in Les Cours Sonou university, I met with one of their best club then and we discussed and concluded to have a Jersey party. I was to supply jerseys and bring artists to the event. This contract made me smile to the bank. One day, my godfather called me to get jerseys for his boss MC Oluomo and 8 other people, he was so surprised when I went for delivery the second day and he asked me, “bobo this was so fast, have you gotten your own shop? I replied No and we laughed it out.
Few years later, I decided to have my own store with the little I had. My woman also assisted me with her salary. I got the store and started selling. My godfather was killed same day he promised to assist me financially that is, September 30th, 2015. That’s was how I started, from nothing but I was determined and focus to actualize my vision and dreams.
If we have our fact right you said at the Lagos young Entrepreneur award that you had your store buggled thrice. What caused this?
Well, I can’t say sincerely. The store was burgled through the roof the first time and few weeks later it was burgled again through the front (glass) door. I was so depressed considering how I started but yet, I kept the dream alive by leaving the area to established in another location. To God be the glory, I have more than 6 stores across Nigeria now. Lagos(Egbeda and Abule Egba), Ogun(Abeokuta), Ondo(Akure) and Osun state (Ife).
How did it happen?
I can’t really pick point the reasons behind the burgle neither pick on any of my friends. But I know an insider is involved. Leave all to Allah to judge.
Can you tell us which MC Oluomo you were referring to?
Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya, MC Oluomo of Oshodi Isolo. He is the direct boss to my godfather Yinka Momock. Least I forget, he (Yinka mamock) gave me a slot to supply jerseys too to people during Koko Zaria’s jersey birthday party in 2015 as well. Hmmm, then he was everything to me, a brother and friend I always cry to for assistance and support. I met him at Mapoly in 2001 and we are together till he was assassinated.
What are you future plans for insurance. How else do you intend to avoid your store from being burgled?
Well I have friends who are insurance brokers/agent, they are working on that. Soon, Applause Sports Palace will be insured, I couldn’t get an insurance policy when i first started. Then it wasn’t easy.
What was getting capital like for your business. Or should we say how much did you start with?
My brother, it wasn’t easy to start then due to capital, but with small savings gathered from my entertainment and promotional jobs and support from my woman and my late godfather, I was able to start something. Then I started with just 50 jerseys which cost about N250,000, aside shop payment, renovations, designs, banners, handbills and shop decorations. But we thank God for where we are now.
What has been the challenge starting up a new company from the scratch?
So many challenges. I started in a location where they don’t really fancy new jerseys. They will prefer to bring “Akube” (second hand/used) jerseys for customizing. The electricity is another challenge which was nothing to write home about too. We basically run on generator most times and this was so expensive to maintain. Security was so poor and this was what prompted my store to be burgled twice. So many challenges bro, but with God on our side, we scaled through and forged ahead to be where we are now.
What will you refer to as success in business?
A thriving business, a profit making business where you have rest of mind. All these is what i will refer to as success in business.
What role did your family play in the success of your business?
Oh they played so well. My woman supported and aligned with me financially and for the better part of the beginning. She will always come to stand as a sales lady whenever she returns from her office. And every weekends is for my kids. They are always happy to be around the store. I have an understanding woman. Who is so supportive and business oriented. She knows when i am in and out. She knows the nature of my job and she kept encouraging me with all.
How will you know when you are successful in business?
Like I said before, making profits in my business, people getting to know my brand and the services i render and getting recognition in and outside my Local Government, state and the country at large. I started in Lagos, i have gotten recognition in other states and still counting, so its a success which was brought by my brand and services.
In few sentence what can you say to be your number one success factor?
Consistence, focus and determinations – The first day I entered a store in Ojuelegba, I was wowed by what i saw and then prayed to have a better and full store like that.
As a recipient of the young media Entrepreneur award, what do you think gave you the winning over others in your category?
Like I said, I was so consistent, so focused and determined to do more and better. I kept working on my customer relations and created a mutual understanding Between my customers and myself. Winning in such category was surprising but I knew i worked so well to get that.
What is your expansion/business projection for 2018. How best do you want to satisfy your clients in the new year?
I am thinking of having more stores in and outside Nigeria. I am working on my online platform, we are already on jumia, konga and payporte, but I wish I have my own app come 2018 Insha Allah, where the whole world can access and get all their sports accessories and jerseys deliver to their door steps.