Why and How I Started NairaBet By Otunba Akin Alabi

I think it is best to start this post by asking Otunba Akin Alabi the followings:

How did you start NairaBET? What made you start NairaBet? and What were the challenges you faced?

I get asked these kinds of questions all the time. I think it’s normal people are interested in
knowing the story behind building Africa’s most visited sports betting website and one of the top
10 in the world. It is a pretty “normal” story but I’m sure you will learn one or two things or
at least get motivated.

Before I give you the full details, let me digress a bit.

Hark on to me. My digression will make a lot of sense later.


I never thought I would own a sports betting website until 6 months to owning one. And I can sell it anytime if I get a great offer. I don’t have a preference for any kind of business. I am not addicted to any kind of business. I go to where there is money.

I know there are some people will say all they know how to do is import cars to sell. If for a reason that becomes unprofitable (maybe due to government policies or bad exchange rate) they moan and give up and blame everyone but themselves for their woes. I am not like that. I am not emotionally attached to any kind of business. If I am selling cars today and it becomes unprofitable, I can become a chef tomorrow.

If I hear and do my research that producing baby toys will make me serious money, tomorrow, you will
see me in the toy business.

What’s my point?

One of the mistakes people make is when they want to start a business, they think of the product they want to sell. For me, it’s the other way round, I will rather research a market than a product. The late Gary Halbert will say be a student of markets. When you find a market where people are willing to spend money, getting a product or service is not hard to do.

How does this relate to how and why I created NairaBET?

Calm down, will you?

You see, I used to do a lot of writing before I got very busy. I used to write ebooks for sale. I wrote ebooks on different topics from “how to register a business name with the CAC without a lawyer” to “how to design a mini website using Frontpage”. I was doing quite well with it.

Anyway, I was in the UK at a time and my brother told me about sports betting. I went to the nearest betting shop in Central Milton Keynes and asked the cashier there how to place bets. I found it interesting. I placed some bets and won. Placed more and lost. Won again. Lost again. And so on. I loved it. I said to myself that Nigerians were going to love it. I started researching how it could be done online. I looked for the sports betting websites that were accepting Nigerian residents and the ones with relatively easy payment methods.

So I wrote an ebook how it is done. I placed an ad in the papers in Nigeria and there was a mad rush for it. I made some money and I was happy. I didn’t know I had not done anything yet. After about a month, some of those that bought the ebook called me to ask me if I could help them transfer money to these foreign sports betting companies. I was like, boy, are you guys really taking this thing seriously? Then my “eyes opened”.

This is a market waiting to be tapped. We need an online sports betting portal for Nigerians. The market was waiting. With money. I didn’t think of the product/business first. I saw the market first. Then I created the product.

It was hard finding a sports betting software to use back then. These days you can even find such softwares for less than $5,000. The cheapest I found then was $250,000.00 which I could not afford. A friend of mine had to put it together for me locally and I paid him N150,000.00.

What I did next was to send a message to all those that bought that ebook from me that we now have a sports betting website in Nigeria so there is no need to send money abroad anymore. Through that, our first set of customers signed up and we grew from there.

A lot of stuffs have happened along the way that I cannot pen here. Maybe one day, I will write a book to tell the full NairaBET story the way we have books about Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Twitter etc.

For now, make you manage this one.

Source: Akin Alabi

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