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Ayo Olagunju: A tech solution that could save ‘Detty December’ in 2020?

The lofty aim is to be like Uber for events.

Meet Ayo Olagunju, team lead at FaajiApp, the company that aims to be Nigeria's Uber for events and parties. [Pulse Nigeria]

By July 2020, companies like Live Nation were reeling from losses. Other event centre owners were also leasing their places out to make whatever they could make back for mortgage. Live events are not just a source of billion dollar revenues though, they are also a means of alternative entertainment - the best form.

The only reason they are profitable in the first place is because people attend them and buy things at those event centres. In Nigeria, December is associated with several live events that thanks to Mr. Eazi has now been tagged, ‘Detty December.’ But this year, there will be little to no major events.

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Scheduled events like Livespot Xclusive, which was set to feature superstars, Wizkid and Burna Boy have posted and so has The Basement Gig, organized by the Osagie Osarenz-led The Zone Agency. But it’s not all doom and gloom though, events are all around us; there will be house parties, intimate gatherings and beautiful events - we just need to find them.

After a tough year of being cooped up at home and witnessing the gruesome events of the EndSARS protests, young Nigerians need to unwind. Enter Faaji…

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‘Faaji’ is Yoruba and in English it means ‘Pleasure.’

In September 2020, Ayo Olagunju and a couple of his techy friends started FaajiApp after they encountered a personal problem. A month prior, Olagunju who is a product manager and reluctant nucleus of the group had a party at Ilashe around Ajah-Abraham Adesanya parts of Lagos. But sadly, turnout was low and so were enthusiasm and venue spirit.

In that moment, Olagunju saw an opportunity, “I thought that instead of the regular major events where Davido, Naira Marley and Wizkid would be headliners, we would have a lot of decentralized parties. We then decided to bet on an app that identifies and aggregates parties for young Nigerians with a need to party.”

Olagunju and his team of 10 techy guys were right. Earlier in December 2020, Pulse Nigeria did a report on the state of ‘Detty December’ events in Lagos. It gathered perspectives of event organizers, event centre owners and a high-ranking member of the Lagos State Ministry of health. The notion was pretty clear, “There can be events, BUT…”

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Currently the app is run by three tech engineers, three designers, photographer, graphic designers and Olagunju himself.

FaajiApp basically aims to aggregate events and present to registered users by doing the following;

  1. Learn the preferences of users based on party/event type, type of music, number of people, location, proximity, affordability, anti-COVID-19 measures and so forth. 
  2. It sources events from the biggest, most credible event promoters in Lagos. It then gets all of these party organizers to register their respective parties on the app with location, party type, maximum capacity, drinks available, food available, time of event, gate fee, attraction and so forth. 
  3. It also helps event organizers potentially generate revenue from their events. 
  4. FaajiApp then aims to generate a cut from every event that runs through its application. It also generates funds by making sure that its users commit financially before they can be serviced. 

According to Olagunju, “Our approach to user interests is gamified. Once a user is registering on the app, their interests are noted. Equally, whenever they need to go to a different type of event to their initial interest, the app also helps them navigate that. Our job is to be dense enough to cover bases and all the types of events these young Nigerians want to attend.”

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Olagunju says that the aim is to provide a partygoer with a list of parties with a 50% match rate. The partygoer can then decide which is for them. Currently, FaajiApp is a web app.

“It’s also our job to present the closest matches and offer alternatives to what the partygoer might have signified to us,” Olagunju continues.. “As I speak, we already have 120 events in Lagos alone and it’s a lot of variety; we have sip-n-paint, silent disco… and even sex parties. I didn’t even know they had those in Lagos [laughs] - someone has four of those.”

What helps Faaji is that it has 38 event types. The company just wants to sell events on the concept of subjective ‘Faaji.’ Olagunju elaborated, “We are very aware that Faaji means a lot of things to a lot of people.”

Unlike Eventbrite, FaajiApp says that it aims to take a more personalized approach. Olagunju says that the app intentionally cuts out all the serious stuff and limits its model to the brand, ‘Faaji.’

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“We are not into webinars. The design of our website is even geared towards 18-30 party animals. You can’t see the design and think about webinars or lectures [laughs],” he jokes. “The type of party animal you are is a psychological question. We use animals to symbolize the height of party animal instinct. Obviously, if you are a tiger you must be A1 so we suggest your type of party for you.”

First off, Olagunju and his Faaji team understands that security and safety are integral to parties and their model. AirBnb is something to learn from in a lot of ways. In fact, Olagunju is a product manager who spoke with women and got their perspective on how to improve the app’s features.

“If a person has a house party in Lekki for example, whenever they submit their address to us, we verify it and let them know about verification or otherwise before we proceed,” Olagunju clarifies.

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He then goes on to say that key focus is on party hosts by collecting their BVN, running background checks, watching social media activity and so forth. However, their most potent safety and security measure is that Faaji only works with 20 reputed party hosts for now.

Like any other business, Faaji wants to make money. The first gateway to its monetization model is that it doesn’t show its users the full address to parties upon a commitment from its users.

“It’s a party right, we even have house parties. If you really like it that much, you can put your money where your mouth is and pay us N1000,” Olagunju says. “After ‘explore party’ is clicked while a user is looking for a party, he will see ‘join a party.’ That’s where we demand payment. This is where you see the number of people there and the maximum capacity of the party.”

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The model also includes a monthly subscription of N5000 because Olagunju and his team don’t think N1000 to access directions to any of those events is feasible for most Nigerians. What remains to be seen is whether N5000 will only apply to December as a monthly plan because most people are not as particular about events across most of the other months in the year.

Faaji has also done partnerships with companies like Sea Lounge and BLG. So if any subscriber goes to an event in any of those places through Faaji, they get discounted service. Faaji is also in talks with Uber to get discounted rates for its subscribers.

“The plan is to transcend Detty December. The aim is to be the home of ‘party-on-the-go…” Olagunju says. “You know how Uber or Bolt is now intrinsically linked to Nigerian transportation or Jumia Food is now that to food, we want to be like that for parties.”

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The aim is to use this COVID period as a springboard, Faaji will continue and expand into other endeavours as it grows and scales. Olagunju says that he feels something Faaji was always needed in Lagos - COVID or not.

At this time, Faaji needs to improve certain things around language preference to increase its market share, security and safety measures that stretches far as well as its pricing post-detty December. In fact, safety and security measures for the app must be more elaborate.

There has to be a witness programme, a time and location tracking feature like on Uber and Bolt as well as a timing feature. The company will also need to work overtime in Lagos, where the legal and security systems are dire.

But for now, Faaji App could serve a purpose. Especially when Nigerians need events to attend.

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