By Vivian Onyebukwa
What started as a passion during his days in the university has blossomed into a full time business. Today, Frank Okamigbo is the brain behind one of the leading nightclubs called D’place by Papas’ located in Lekki, Lagos. He told Sunday Sun what makes entertainment business tick, and how the government can help in improving the business.
Why did you venture into club business?
Entertainment has been part of me. When I concluded my secondary school career, I got my first job in a mega video DVD club, the same Mega Plaza owned by my aunt, Mrs. Marylyn. I was the supervisor of the movies. I learned public relation, networking and entertainment skills. When I got to the university, the social side of me started to manifest. Apart from being a model, which made me popular in school, it became an advantage. My friends and I formed an association called Prestigious Acclaimed Personalities and Associates (PAPAS). I was the founder and president of the association. PAPAS were the movers and shakers of the social life of the University of Lagos. Our events were sought after. Nobody wanted to miss Papa’s party. It was at one of the events that we attended that someone told me that he liked the way I was handling the guests. To me, I wasn’t doing anything special; just making sure my guests were comfortable. That person became my partner. He is Mr. Val Nwokobia. He discovered that side of me, because I am a very reserved and shy person. He told me he had a club that he was managing. He also introduced me to Mr. Kamal (Boustani), who is the guru in the business. So, the rest, we say is history.
What inspired you in the choice of this field of career?
I am a happy person. Anybody who knows me can testify to it and that transformed to this. I do it effortlessly; it’s not something that I learnt, it just came. What I’m doing is just a passion that translated to business.
How’s Papa’s Foundation doing?
It’s doing well. We take the entertainment side to the less privileged and the destitute. It’s our part of taking the dance and club life to the destitute. It gives me joy doing it. We plan doing it with Jimmy Jatt. We usually do it with DJ Humility, DJ Spicy, not only taking gifts to them. We organize dancing competition, give the winners scholarships as well.
What actually do you intend to achieve with this?
It’s not something I learnt, it is a way of satisfying my purpose for living and giving back to the society. It gives me joy and I like to give no matter how little.
What are some of your experiences with your customers?
It is an interesting place to be. You know at night different people come, so we filter the crowd. There are about three security points you have to pass through before coming into the club. We deal with about 500 people per night, so you are bound to see different things. The reason anybody comes to party is to be happy but what makes you come to the club might be different from why another guy is there too. It could be different moods, so we have to make sure that for whatever reason, you leave the club satisfied.
Who are some of your clients?
The Place by Papas has been associated with elites, top businessmen, and politicians. It is a convergence of who is who. You know at night, you loosen yourself, you do not care who is sitting next to you.
What were some of the challenges you had when you were coming up in the business?
The challenges are basically what any other entrepreneur would face. The challenges were basically how to communicate with people to let them know about what event is coming up, security and power situations. But some of these things have greatly improved.
Have you ever thought of living this business?
Why not? Like I said, this business came as a passion which means I can do something else while still having entertainment as my core thing. Maybe one day I would, but the passion to make people happy regardless, will be there.
If you have the opportunity to change the face of entertainment in this country, what would you do?
The little entertainment has done in the society cannot be underestimated. It has given jobs, money, fame to people who never dreamt of it. If I am in a position I would make laws that would bring it closer to the people. For instance, I can bring studios close to every artist that needs it. Government should as well give something like soft loan to talented people. It would go a long way in taking people off the streets, and then we become employers of labour.
Have you ever been embarrassed by a customer?
Several times and also when you handle customers who are tipsy, and you are trying to take care of them, they can react the way you don’t like. It can be embarrassing you know. All the same we just make sure the job is done while taking care of every client.
Who do you think is a success and how would you describe a successful person?
Success is being able to achieve your dreams and being happy with yourself. A successful person is one who has achieved his dreams, being happy and that happiness translates to the good of the society.
What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in life?
I am a work in progress but there has been a whole lot of moments when you remember; you just but be grateful to God. Such moments like when I graduated from school and when I’ll meet my wife.