Tallulah Doherty-Adetona and Lanre Dabiri had an interesting conversation centered on Building Income Streams in this Smartpreneur Live session.
Lanre Dabiri popularly known as eLDee played a pioneering role in the afrobeats music genre. In 1998, he started a band called Trybesmen which went on to be one of the music groups that popularized the fusion of hip-hop, highlife, pop and traditional afrobeat. eLDee has worked as an artiste, producer, and an interactive media consultant. He is currently an IT consultant, runs a real estate investment business as well as multiple technology startups
How did you branch out from music to real estate and tech, creating multiple streams of income?
I am always doing multiple things at any point in time. when I was a kid, I was doing art, writing songs, dancing and when I got to university, I was studying architecture, doing Trybesmen, and working with my dad who interestingly is a technology pioneer in Nigeria. My dad was the engineer that led the setup of the telephone networks in Nigeria. While growing, I had the opportunity to go on the road with him. He was the actual site engineer, setting up all of the systems, the network. So I kind of had the opportunity to get into technology at a young age. Everyone in my family is sort of an engineer. That is the background I have and I think it helped me in music because, at the time, we didn’t have the tools available today so we had to figure out how to use software to make and mix music. My technology background helped me do a lot of those things.
When I moved to the United States, I fell in love with interactive media and I got a gig as a media developer. I learned how to code and all which led me to that path. Fast forward to six, seven years ago, I became interested in real estate because my wife was into real estate. It was something I never really looked into and when I did, I was like what have I been doing my whole life? So right now, I’m doing a lot of real estate and IT.
Are there lessons you learned from doing music that you now apply in IT and real estate?
One of the things that I have always taken seriously is having an education because education is an opportunity to learn how to learn. If you know how to learn, you can pretty much learn anything. The reason why we get stuck when it’s time to move to something else or make a transition is because we don’t know how to learn. I count myself privileged to have had the kind of education I had in both secondary school and university. To be able to sustain two totally different activities and balance them somehow you have to be educated in some way. As a matter of fact, our studio was in my dad’s office which was an engineering company. So Trybes record label started in one of the rooms in that office. From a transition standpoint, I think it’s important to make sure that you dabble into other things or learn other things no matter what you do or your passion.
A lot of people go into music and then get stuck because they never learn anything else, there is nothing else they can do.
How have you been able to have multiple ways of earning?
I had a shift from being transaction-minded to being more growth-minded. As an artiste, I put out an album, I do shows, I get paid. As a contractor, I get a contract and when the contract is over, I get another and that is being transaction-focused. Being growth-focused means you have to find things that will go out there and work for you. Like real estate, it can be likened to purchasing a tree and the tree will bear fruits and if you sell the tree, you’re being transaction-minded but if you keep the tree, constantly reaping the fruits, then you’re being growth-minded. What is going to happen is that you will reap the fruits and plant more trees. The idea of wanting to grow as opposed to wanting to just make money on one transaction or the other is the reason why I’m constantly thinking of multiple streams. What are the things I can put in place that can grow into these trees that bear fruits for me to the point where I don’t have to do anything else and I can just sit back?
For example, with my tech startups, I don’t have to do anything. I already started them, got them to a point where they are smooth sailing. That investment is like planting a tree.
Do you think tech might be the saving grace of Africa?
I really think it could be because the tech space is one space where people are able to invest remotely. You are able to see opportunities regardless of where you are on the planet. Tech is that one area that has been able to tap into the available resources of investment, funding, and support for startups. All of the other industries are struggling a little bit or maybe they’re just playing with politics and everything else, or maybe technology people are more open-minded, I really do not know what it is.
I think technology is one sector that entrepreneurs on the continent have been successful at solving problems, driving value, and getting the necessary support to grow.
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