SAP 003 - Seyi Abolaji; a naira and a dream? The lemonade empire and starting the business with just $5


Seyi Abolaji on the #SocialAfricanShow

Seyi Abolaji is one-half of the dynamic duo who founded Wilson's Juice Company, a business that supplies freshly squeezed juice across Nigeria, which is where Seyi was born and raised.

The brothers, Seyi and Seun, are passionate about 'creating better' in everything they do.

Personal life

I was born in Nigeria, back in the day, my folks got a government grant to go to the United States, so they took us, me and my older brother, and then we had a couple more siblings when we’re out there and it was crazy man, like everything we did out there we were never good enough.

I finished University in 2005 I played professional football. I was supposed to go home (Nigeria) for a little visit. I hadn’t been back in over a decade, and it was supposed to be a three-week trip.

I moved back here in 2008. Got married in 2012, I found the most beautiful woman in Nigeria and we have a son.

Starting a business with $5?

It’s not even a trick, it’s just reality. You are what you are, you have what you have. You just have to know yourself. It boils down to, you could be ambitious, you could be truthful; more than anything you have to be truthful with yourself. And, starting with being truthful to yourself, be truthful with the situation. One thing our parents taught us growing up is like: What do you want? Find a way to get it. Don’t give me excuses for not getting it.

Self-awareness

Certainly, coming back to Nigeria is all about that. I know what I want with my life, I want to make a positive impact. When I got to that point, It was like; how am I going to add value? I started with that. I’m doing me. I’m not begging anybody for anything. I don’t have to call mum and dad for any reason.

The lowest of the low

I was lying in the hospital and I was like, hold on, I was in Chicago, I had my own place, nobody begged me to come home, I was trying to create something and dudes that I won’t even talk to, are harassing me and I can’t do anything about it, like what am I really doing?

So, it wasn’t the business, it was just the environment.

Mental strength

One saying, I don’t know if it’s African or not that I heard recently is and it just kind of resonated with me to my core:

cowards never started, the weak died along the way and that leaves us.

That light bulb moment when it all clicked

We were doing this thing like, freshly squeezed by hand, mixing sugar and water, everything by hand in that little kiosk and my brother, he was living in New York at that time but he was coming back more frequently. He saw what we were doing and he was like; what are you doing man, put this thing in a bottle.

What’s got you buzzing right now?

We realised that there’s a big distinction between a great product and a great company and we were so focused on creating a great product, we thought that the product is going to drive the company. Now, we have a great product we realized we have to build a great company. That’s when I started to ask myself, what is the mission, what is the purpose, why are we doing all of these things.

Lion's Den

  • What is the best African saying you’ve ever heard?

If you want to go fast, walk alone but if you want to go far, walk together.

What I got from that is; if you want to do great things you got to have a great team.

  • What was holding you back from building your brand?

Nothing was holding us back. We don’t think like that. We know where we’re going and we’re moving towards it. We don’t even think about what was holding us back. There’s nothing that can hold us back.

  • Do you have a daily routine that contributes to your success?

As soon as I get up, I work out to get my blood flowing for about 7-10 minutes then I have my little journal and I've got very specific goals and plans towards 2023, it’s the furthest I have gone. So I look at that and I am like hold on, before anything, why am even getting up today. Once I have that big picture in my head and I know where I’m going long term.

  • If you have 24 hours to live what would you do?

I will figure some things out in Nigeria, especially for the men in Nigeria. I’ll try to write a very concise instruction manual about adding value, making money, and not needing to beg anybody for anything.

Resources

  • Which is your social media of choice and why?

This is definitely Seun’s space but I know, he’s active on Instagram and Facebook.

  • What is one book you could recommend for the tribe to check out and why?

Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell.

Words of wisdom

Everything we’re doing as an organisation we have this philosophy of 'create better'. These two words are so important to us like everything we do it hovers around that. Like everybody has their unique value to add in this world no matter how crazy, stupid, foolish or unimportant you think it is like wherever you’re good, whatever talent you have, maximise that, you’re going to be creating not competing

Connect with Seyi and Wilson's juice company

www.wilsonsjuiceco.com

@wilsonjuiceco across social.