Dare Lawanson – Passionate avant-garde of the online gaming industry in Nigeria

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On paper, Dare Lawanson is the passionate avant-garde of the online gaming industry in Nigeria.

As CEO of ReFPredictor.com and a social entrepreneur whose goal is to be at the fore front of socio-economic gaming and financial inclusion to help define responsible gaming, wealth re-distribution, job creation, uniting people and poverty alleviation.

Born and raised in Mushin in Lagos, Nigeria, with zero ties to the popular Lawanson family in Lagos, Dare has built ReFPredictor from a tiny corner in his brain and is growing it with global fangs to a brand like no other in Nigeria.

With literal tears and a clear definition of how he chooses to define success, he has stayed on his path. He had a seat at our table and we captured who Dare Lawanson has evolved to be and what ReFPredictor is all about.

When did the idea of Ref Predictor come to you?

That was in 2008, back in 2008 I already had the urge for something different. I used to be a merchant of  Kitbag back In the U.K and we used to make jerseys, branded jerseys, your name on the back and all of that, coming in from Europe through UPS deliveries, so it was very nice. And at that time debit cards use was not as rampant as they are now, almost everybody has got a card by default now. So I leveraged that opportunity to sell jerseys, I used to have a visa card, at some point I realized that my sales grew but it did not go beyond my network, its only people I knew that were buying jerseys and they would want to buy jerseys once a year, and I needed to make the sales grow exponentially, and the only way for me then, was to find something that people would do by default to start winning jerseys and I will get the money for the cost of the jerseys from their entry fees.   

It hit me-I needed to do a game, so football prediction came to mind, because what people were ordering for already was football jerseys. And sport betting in Nigeria wasn’t as it is now, it was just Football Prediction,  brands doing it majorly, so that was how I got into it, I started to study the U.K market  because that was the biggest market doing all of those things.

I realized they were all doing the same thing and I wanted to do something different, so I looked deeper into the game, studied the rules of the game and realized that there were quite a number of  things in there that football prediction did not capture, like the Referee’s decision, it wasn’t zoomed up on as it were. So I decided to take that up, the challenge was that referees are not popular, so why referee?

That was what led to the name of the brand, Ref Predictor. Before it became that, it was called Whistle game, then, it became Referee score game. In 2010, it became Ref Predictor, several years of R and D, trying to perfect the format, before we had more than twelve questions we had to reduce it, based on the rules of football, the referee’s roles, we had to eliminate things like first save, the referee does not determine the first save, it’s based on perception and it could bring up argument,  so we streamed everything to eleven, then the players started asking for the twelfth question,  which is the final score, that was how it became twelve, and that was how Ref Predictor was born.

 

I realized they were all doing the same thing and I wanted to do something different, so I looked deeper into the game, studied the rules of the game and realized that there were quite a number of  things in there that football prediction did not capture, like the Referee’s decision, it wasn’t zoomed up on as it were. So I decided to take that up, the challenge was that referees are not popular, so why referee?

 

Is Ref Predictor the regular sport betting?

No it’s not!

How is that?

First and foremost, Ref Predictor is a football community, that’s the concept, the concept of having a community of football fans come together for a purpose, shared interest. What you can liken Ref Predictor to at its best right now, is Fantasy League and LinkedIn in respect to being a community, Ref Predictor is more like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a community of business people who come together, exchange CVs, entrepreneurs, employees and employers, brands, that’s what LinkedIn is all about. It has a membership model where you go into the platform and you become a member by default after registration and later you have the option to migrate from Freemium to Premium where you have to add your card details and such, Premium has additional benefits, like, being able to access more profiles without having to send a friend request or asking to connect or come into your network, and there are other benefits like e-lecture, e.t.c.  So, Ref Predictor, in a similar mode, bringing football lovers together, the idea is to sell their ability to predict football outcomes as a skill and talent rather than as luck or chance. When you bring all these football lovers together, it becomes a network , a community on its own.

The idea and concept of  Ref Predictor, beyond being a network itself is, like Project fame, project fame brings out the skills in respect to music, bringing people that you have never heard about, put them together and people start to vote, Maltina Dance Hall is another one that brings out the skills in street  Dancing, there are other types of Art appreciation everywhere; like Terrakulture, so we realize that football prediction is an inborn thing and it also could grow, its depends on intuition, same source as Music and Dance and art, so for us, football prediction as the ability to use your intuition is a form of expressing art, that’s the way we see it. In doing that, we have decided to make something that people can come together to compete based on that intuition and win prizes, just like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

 One particular challenge we needed to overcome was that the moment you mention football prediction, people immediately assume you are talking about gambling which is not so, here is my case, let’s assume the finalists in Project Fame were Dare Art Alade and Omawumi, people are watching them, its normal music, but the moment two people outside the scene decides to put money on who their opinion of the winner is, at that point, regardless of what it is, that’s gambling, the artistes competing on their own is not gambling, but the people who put money on it. It’s like politics too. It appears in every facet of our lives. It’s the same thing with football prediction, if you are not putting money on it, you not gambling, you are simply predicting.  Football predicting is a regular thing, it’s a common thing. Football prediction in itself is an art, it’s just a skill, if you get it right, people acknowledge you for doing that.

 

We realize that football prediction is an inborn thing and it also could grow, its depends on intuition, same source as Music and Dance and art, so for us, football prediction as the ability to use your intuition as a form of expressing art, that’s the way we see it. In doing that, we have decided to make something that people can come together to compete based on that intuition and win prizes, just like Who Wants To Be A MillionaireOne particular challenge we needed to overcome was that the moment you mention football prediction, people immediately assume you are talking about gambling which is not so…

 

The sport betting companies ask you to predict, and then you bet against them, being the sport betting companies, so they thrive on the loss of those matches, but prediction is rather different, Ref Predictor is a multi-player contest, contesting for the prize money.  Before you come into the game, there is a predefined number of winners, just like project fame tells you that there is going to be x number of winners. So you already know there is a set number of winners,  Like there can be 500 winners, and your points accumulate till the end of the season, so it’s predefined because there is a specified prize for every position on the log.  So how do we generate revenue as against the betting company? The betting company wants you to stake money on a particular odd and lose, if you lose, they take all the money.

We don’t allow you to wager or put money on anything, your prediction is discreet from where the money comes in, so what we are actually selling, is entertainment first.

 

We don’t allow you to wager or put money on anything, your prediction is discreet from where the money comes in, so what we are actually selling, is entertainment first.

 

So when we tell you to pay your membership subscription fee, it is for an entire year, for #13,600 to be a part of this platform and enjoy all the benefits. Part of the benefits include a social network, there is a payment platform, and quite a number of things as well, but the heartbeat of the platform is the Ref Predictor contest itself, so you get the whole value for just #13,600 a year then the cash prize is just an add-on, to make it clearer, you have a video game at home, PlayStation, you go to the market, you buy the C.D that you renew every year, you slot it into The PlayStation, you have spent money, because first you bought the PlayStation, then you bought the C.D,  you put it In and you start to play, the original C.D goes for #7,500, that’s whooping, that’s a whole lot, when you are playing this game, you derive satisfaction, even when you are playing with someone and that’s it, you  don’t get anything more than that,  now Ref Predictor would give you that for #13,600, because that one you could play it now, and Ref Predictor has the option of Ten Months, August to May, and at the end there is a prize money to be won for your position on the leaderboard, so it’s fun first, then prize money is an add-on, so that’s the mentality behind it, so everyone coming into the competition to prove that they are the best predictors or they are better predictor than others in Nigeria, so pretty much, that’s  how it is and that’s the difference between us and betting companies, so we are a social network that thrives on gaming.

What has been the biggest challenge with the brand that you have tried to overcome?

Well, two of these challenges I will say have been the biggest, first of all , when we hit the market in 2009, to start our RandD, every time you mention football prediction like I said before, there is this stigma coming from the religious side and the moral side, those are the two biggest challenges we have, so these challenges down into everything else, for example, you are talking to brands for sponsorship, to leverage on your platform to get, integrate or connect to consumer emotions by engagement and all of that, the first thing they tell you is, you know it’s betting, you need to first convince them because for most of the brands It’s more of the moral challenge, now,  a larger sect out of the football prediction is another market that predicts football but not for money, and in that market, you have people with moral and religious reservations.

Basically, while, they do football prediction, they don’t go into the betting side of it, and the group that watch football but, will not predict or bet. These guys are massive, they are as big as the ones that are involved in football prediction if not bigger, because, some people in that market only shifted into that football prediction market, they experience loss, they shift back, those are the people that have been schooled not to bet, sometimes they tell you, ‘we just don’t do it’, they don’t even know why, so the religious and moral reservations are challenges  and have been the biggest obstacles, because if you want to get financing, those are the things you have to face.

When you are talking to a financier he has moral and religious reservations, and the ones in the betting space will tell you, ‘what are you trying to do, come let’s just make it betting’, because what you are trying to tell them is, what they are doing is not good so, they won’t put money in your platform, and the ones that can put money in your platform, you need to deal with that religion and morals.

How have you learnt to deal with these challenges?

I won’t say we have beaten it, or that we have a recipe, because if we have, we should be a bigger brand by now, I think it’s still a continuous one, we have only been successful in growing into the minds of people, that’s why usually, the pioneers are the ones to suffer, its taking time and only time will it take because there is no particular kind of marketing that you want to give to someone that has been schooled for thirty years of his life, all of a sudden, because you have a good marketing strategy to say, it’s not prediction, the moment you say it, and it gets to the point of pay money, and he is like ‘I’m just recapping on what you said, I don’t think I want to’ and then he willingly goes away, then he starts to understand, so, it takes time naturally. But the truth is, there is no way a company will set out not to make profit. What we have done over the years is to create a business model that will be subtle enough not to spill into gambling, yet be able to generate revenue in a social manner, like LinkedIn. So, our revenue model, it’s about three to four ways we generate revenue.

First one is, through membership subscription, the members need to understand clearly, we have a growing fan base, we are talking over 50,000, going on 100,000 now, because in 2014, our first partnership with Femi and the Gang, we got over 30,000 users, in 2017, we integrated it into the World Cup, so some of the users were from 2017, and some were not, because we didn’t just carry over the data from 2014, we had to start afresh, some people heard and some people didn’t, so plus and minus, we have over 50,000. Another thing that has made us know that we are making progress is that, we have noticed that these users when they are on Ref Predictor platform, their behavior is totally different from when they are on the sports betting platform, when they are here they are very supportive, they are very open minded, they are like referees, they start to put on positive attitude, and they are not too money conscious, compared to when you go to the betting platforms, because what are you doing there, you are betting against the company, so they be like, pay me my money. But with Ref Predictor you only hear things like “my points”, “I’m better than this guy”, so they are quite a number of talking point, outside money that make it a lot more subtle and a lot more receptive to new people, so religion, moral, having to help people understand it overtime, another thing I will add to it is that, money plays a major factor, unemployment, poverty, sometimes even people that work don’t get satisfaction.

Combine all of these factors, it affects a whole lot of people, so money plays a major role, because In Nigeria, money is a need not a want, it’s not like other countries where there are basic amenities, and you know that at this age or at this point of the year the government will pay you x amount of money, you will feel free. There will be an expectation and it allows you to be creative, but here, those things don’t exist, so money becomes a need, than a want. So before you want to sell any social value money has to be in place it has to be an add on to what you are doing else you might not get the  right number, that’s what we have learnt overtime, and that’s the difference between Fantasy League and Ref Predictor, Fantasy League is all fun, all social, people just come into it and might not be sustaining it, because anything that has to do with money, can make you forget where you are not making money, not everybody is into Fantasy League, Ref Predictor is more subtle, it’s easier, with Fantasy League you have to gather 11 players, with Ref Predictor you only have to do first pass, first goal, follow your intuition, add statistics and it works for you.

 

I dropped out of school from the University of Lagos in my 3rd year, I studied Chemistry, I had just one year left, but I was tired of it since the first one and a half years. I was growing this business sense and I started dropping classes, and I was struggling till my 3rd year, I was writing more notes on business than writing notes in class, in fact, most of my class notes were more business notes, ideas, and at some point it was, like the cup was full, I couldn’t manage one more year in school, I couldn’t manage one more year.

 

What has been your experience working in the African Market, especially Nigeria?

The Nigerian market is complicated, the problems and challenges are in different facets, then to put it right, it’s all interwoven. There is a challenge from the Government, there is a challenge from the mindset of the people, there is a challenge from the market from the market you are pitching into, and there is a challenge for us entrepreneurs. I will start from the entrepreneurs because that is what I faced, the expectation of your family members from you is to go to school, graduate, get a job and that is it.

I dropped out of school from the University of Lagos in my 3rd year, I studied Chemistry, I had just one year left, but I was tired of it since the first one and a half years. I was growing this business sense and I started dropping classes, and I was struggling till my 3rd year, I was writing more notes on business than writing notes in class, in fact, most of my class notes were more business notes, ideas, and at some point it was, like the cup was full, I couldn’t manage one more year in school, I couldn’t manage one more year.

The whole of my family went against me, saying I was a disgrace and all, it was the first problem. People wouldn’t understand you, because there is a system. I was a very brilliant chap, I came 3rd once in my primary school, Always first, I had the third best Junior WAEC result in Lagos when I did mine. I had good grades and everything, in my family I am the first Grandchild, I am the first child of my mom, I had so much responsibility on me, everyone expected me to go to school, study Petrochemical Engineering, end up in Mobil, it didn’t happen, I got tired of the expectation, I myself decide to take my life, in taking my life, I had to kill the old me, which was the expectations of me, and I had to tell myself this is me, this is my life and I am responsible for the outcome. I had to take that decision back then in school then I dropped out.

 

At the end of my course my project was Ref Predictor, though without the programming,  I asked people for help, but they all turned it down because I was doing something different, only one person said yes, and he helped me with the programming, and then it became my program, and I sent it to India and it was approved , right there in I.T school people started to play the game and I would mark it manually on Excel sheets, so that project got me my distinction, I wasn’t that good in programming but I was able to make something totally different, people were building stereotypes, every year, half of the batch of students are building calculators and the other half are building Super market computing programs. So every year they see the same turn out of students building the same kind of things, only different shades, and this was different, so the lecturers gave me kudos for that and I was happy

 

 When I dropped out I was looking for something that had to do with entrepreneurship , and I had to take another course in National Open University; Small business Entrepreneur Management, I did that for two years before they went on strike, as at my second year, when I left Unilag in was on a 2 point GP, but when I started doing what I really wanted, I was on 4.38GP, my life was ,moving quite faster than I was , because I realized I didn’t keep friends my age, I had friends much older than me. So when the school went on a strike that took 8-10, months almost a year, and there was desire burning in me. I had already conceived the idea of football prediction but it was not well formed just yet so I knew my next line of action had to do with I.T so I then had to go to an I.T school Meridian Technologies (AMTEC) I did Advanced Diploma in Software Engineering, I knew I wasn’t going to be a programmer, I knew I just need the I.T experience to be an entrepreneur, so in school I would ask questions outside the curriculum in class, and everybody would be surprised, and the lecturers started to notice that I was working on something realistic.

At the end of my course my project was Ref Predictor, though without the programming,  I asked people for help, but they all turned it down because I was doing something different, only one person said yes, and he helped me with the programming, and then it became my program, and I sent it to India and it was approved , right there in I.T school people started to play the game and I would mark it manually on Excel sheets, so that project got me my distinction, I wasn’t that good in programming but I was able to make something totally different, people were building stereotypes, every year, half of the batch of students are building calculators and the other half are building Super market computing programs. So every year they see the same turn out of students building the same kind of things, only different shades, and this was different, so the lecturers gave me kudos for that and I was happy.

Then I was supposed to go to U.K to finish my first year of ADNC, but this thing in my mind I had started seeing more clearly, like a business, so going to spend one more year, was like a waste, so I didn’t go, I and another guy in my batch were the only ones who didn’t go, every other person went to the U.K. I continued working on Ref Predictor, two years down the line, most of the guys that said no and went to the U.K to finish the course came back to Nigeria looking for jobs. I met with many of them who had turned it down before said “you know what, you have really worked hard on this, I can see where you are going with it, I would like to be a part of it”. We got our first cheque as a company from a friend’s father who was happy that the recommendation letter written by the small start-up company of ours was honored, and that made me rededicate my dreams to myself. Then my friend who helped in the first place had to travel, and the guys who had just come back from studies joined me, then, it was time to build the version 2. We went into the market, started our RandD, football centers were to help us distribute. Only a few turned up to help us, even when they were doing it, they weren’t doing it because they wanted to, it was pretty much based on relationship and that was a challenge, we don’t naturally want to help ourselves, only when you are doing it on your own and people are seeing that you are almost there, then u start seeing people rally around you, so that’s a major challenge for every start-up.

Now, the government on its own is another challenge, things are even better now, back then, it was very hard to register a start-up company, it was a big deal. I had to go and do the registration myself because what the lawyers were asking for was ridiculous, it took a long time, it eventually came. In every advanced country, China, America, when you see a particular Industry that the country does not have strength in, it pumps money into Research and Development; they help people in such industries.

 In Nigeria, we have gaming companies with indigenous technologies, but when it comes to football prediction there is none, yes they have apps where you predict and they give you the score line, but nobody will pay for that, any programmer can do that, we knew that and we decide to build a platform. Right now, Ref Predictor is the only platform in the predictive gaming space that has an indigenous technology, and this is not just us saying so, we are regulated by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and we are the only ones there, and that’s why they are giving us that support. The government in terms of funding, it’s a no, there is no heaven here in Nigeria, I will say that because I have been around, and sometimes you hear certain projects that the government says they are funding start-ups, I wouldn’t want to say those things are not true, but the truth is, if you fund so many start-ups, where are they? When you fund a start-up, you push their success into the market. Instead they use companies that got foreign investment as the pride of the Nation. There is nothing wrong with foreign investment, but what is wrong with local investment? What you are going out to source for funds, they all have down side and it causes a repatriation, which comes back to affect our Naira against Dollar state. Because its foreign investment, most of the big companies move their money as soon as they sense any economic issues, most companies don’t even leave their money in Nigeria overnight. Every night they close the account and send it out of the country, how will the dollar ever stabilize? But if the monies were sourced locally, where are they taking the money to? No matter how bad the economy is, the money stays here, this money will pay salaries, they can’t just sit in the bank accounts, and even if they do, the bank will loan it out to some other people who would get interest, it would work, but the truth is, everybody is saying foreign investors, when you are looking for a million Naira, you still need Foreign investors? When people are buying cars? Keeping money in tanks?

 

I will say that because I have been around, and sometimes you hear certain projects that the government says they are funding start-ups, I wouldn’t want to say those things are not true, but the truth is, if you fund so many start-ups, where are they?

 

 Those are the challenges. Corruption is a big beast, and you wonder, what does corruption have to do with entrepreneurship? It has a lot to do with it, because a system that does not appreciate hard work and intellectual property won’t sell.  Phillip Emegwale, one of the most brilliant scientists, is a Nigerian, he didn’t grow up in America, he was here in Nigeria till his Teen age, and they took him there and he never stepped foot here again, he built the super fastest computer. Part of his innovation was used for the exploration of oil, Nigerian oil, many of these things will come back and then we have to start paying for what an indigenous person has done. Another example is Mbappe, his father said his son would have played for Cameroon but the F.A were asking for a ridiculous amount he couldn’t pay, so he decided to let his son play for France, they were not asking for anything, now look at him, imagine the glory he could have brought to Africa, now he is doing so for France.

These are the challenges we are facing as start-ups, when you go to banks and other industries that could support you without a sweat, they would rather put their money into CSR, you don’t blame them, because when they put it into CSR, there is a tax cut in the back end, it is some form of marketing. But is the government giving them tax cut for investing in local and indigenous contents? If the answer is NO, then it won’t interest them. And if the government wants to give grants to these start-ups, then it goes through these banks, commercial banks, interest rate is how much? Even when you meet certain requirements, they criticize your work because most of these guys have never started anything of their own, they have always been on payroll, so you should put who have built and own their own businesses, not people who have never  owned a business, so when you are pitching your ideas, they will be pitching you against the system that they have already built which is not meant for entrepreneurship, they ask you, what are the numbers you are bringing to the table, it’s just like asking someone who is 18 years old to bring you 25 years’ experience.

As a start-up how do you get numbers if you haven’t gotten the funding? A company is called a start-up that needs money to probably even do the prototype and you are asking them for numbers? Banks are supposed to come in, see your idea and help out, abroad it’s not like it’s so easy there too, but it’s a lot easier, that’s why you see start-ups like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , Yahoo, it’s not a coincidence that they are all coming from a particular country, it’s because there, intellectual property  thrives, they appreciate hard work. A Nigerian sold his company to Apple for billions of dollars. He wouldn’t have sold it here, because one venture Shark would have taken his ideas for 60 or 90 percent. When the government does not lay down certain principles, then it’s hard for start-ups. Sometimes they even do these competitions where everything is a fraud. They take your ideas and that’s it, sometimes all of these makes you go back into your hole, it makes you do it your way, I am fortunate to be one of the few entrepreneurs to hold on to his ideas and turn down 300 -400 million Naira investment.

The market itself has a problem, but you really can’t blame the market, it’s like a chicken and egg kind of thing, if the market supports you, and you become big, do you in turn treat the market well?

 

As a start-up how do you get numbers if you haven’t gotten the funding? A company is called a start-up that needs money to probably even do the prototype and you are asking them for numbers? Banks are supposed to come in, see your idea and help out, abroad it’s not like it’s so easy there too, but it’s a lot easier, that’s why you see start-ups like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , Yahoo, it’s not a coincidence that they are all coming from a particular country, it’s because there, intellectual property  thrives, they appreciate hard work.

 

The investors too are another issue, they take advantage of start-ups, if the banks knew that all these grants coming from government through them, would stop soon, they would have helped more start-ups and entrepreneurs because that is the future. It was recently that the CBN made moves to stop the free flow of money, Government money sitting idle in the bank and can’t even make money off them, so they enjoy free money and the drive to go into the market and look for new products is not there. We need to have a society where hard work thrives, a company like ours should not be the one looking for funds everywhere, for building something that was recognized globally in 2016, we were shortlisted in Pitch Eyes  for global innovation in gaming, when we had not even achieved much, the foreigners recognized us, but here, those values are not there, we have gotten opportunities in U.K, in Australia and Ireland to move our company down there, but that would entail being citizens and paying taxes there so there was a voice deep down telling me not to, because, while it would be hard to start-up here,  the idea was given to me for a reason. Because nature didn’t just give me the idea, it also gave me the ability to carry out the idea, abilities like, perseverance, doggedness, if you had a good idea and you don’t have the ability to be dogged and remain consistent, the never say never spirit, then the idea would die, naturally.

 

Sometimes they even do these competitions where everything is a fraud. They take your ideas and that’s it, sometimes all of these makes you go back into your hole, it makes you do it your way, I am fortunate to be one of the few entrepreneurs to hold on to his ideas and turn down 300 -400 million Naira investment.

 

So the venture capitalist is a challenge too because many of them want flight money ideas, they do not want to invest in your idea and make it grow, and the ones that are ready to help want to lower your standards, some might ask you to make incubators telling you that they are not ready for the big one yet, thereby fixing you into a system. It’s the same problem with our schools, you graduate from one system to another, these processes filter your creativity, because the teachers that teach you are not nature, nature has given every one a set skill, but when they structure you into another system, nature takes a back seat  and gradually, with time, these things fall out. Great inventors, most of them didn’t go to school, it’s because its nature’s skill in them, nobody can teach you what nature has put in you, because it is different. Just like the Nigerian woman who lectures now at Havard Business School, she didn’t go to school, but she is a lecturer because of what she learnt from her grandma. This stereotype model of schooling is affecting our nature given skills.

The challenges faced are multi-faceted, everyone has a role to play, so as an entrepreneur you need to fix yourself and not depend too much on any one person or institution. Go out there do your thing, if the government decides to help, leverage, if they don’t, keep doing your thing! Nature that gave you the idea will help you nurture it.

 

Great inventors, most of them didn’t go to school, it’s because its nature’s skill in them, nobody can teach you what nature has put in you, because it is different. Just like the Nigerian woman who lectures now at Havard Business School, she didn’t go to school, but she is a lecturer because of what she learnt from her grandma. This stereotype model of schooling is affecting our nature given skills.

 

What has been your greatest loss as a person pursuing your dreams?

Relationships, I will say relationships, I am 34, and I wanted to be a father when I was 28. I conceived Ref Predictor when I’m was 25, naturally, I am a sanguine, I am a mixed introvert and extrovert. So I am happy, most of the times, and my happiness reflects in other spheres of my life, so you would never take me too seriously. But at a point in relationships you have to get serious, and that seriousness comes with responsibilities, and you are going on 2-3 years and the lady is expecting you to take the next step, and she is also facing pressure from her parents and you facing pressure from your own parents, but because you have a dream that has not come to pass yet, everyone is also advising you don’t go into a relationship handicapped. I have faced such decisions many times to either let go of the relationship or the dream, and I made such decision as recently as 2016, and sometimes you just don’t want to go into another one just yet. And not just spousal relationships but familial relationships too, like my younger one who is always in between saying I’m not serious or I don’t know what I’m doing. I have also lost relationship with my mum at some point. When everybody gave up on my business idea, my mom did too, but she turned around again and told me, “you are mine, if everybody should give up on you, I shouldn’t”. That helped me reinforce and she became my greatest supporter. I have also lost relationships with friends, you know, sometimes there are certain friends you care about but because things are not working out for you, they take a long walk. But what do you do? You move on, but sometimes it hurts when you lose such people that you care about.

What structure do you have in mind, to keep Ref Predictor alive for long?

We are structuring it around two companies; FIFA and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn; because in a sense, we are generating revenue through membership subscription fee. We don’t do wagering, we don’t do betting, just membership subscription fee. Another way is sponsorships brands can leverage on the numbers, for example before you can be able to submit a game, a 10 second video comes up that you have to watch before the submit button comes up.

 

I conceived Ref Predictor when I’m was 25, naturally, I am a sanguine, I am a mixed introvert and extrovert. So I am happy, most of the times, and my happiness reflects in other spheres of my life, so you would never take me too seriously

 

We have built a membership model like linkedIn, and adopted a sponsorship and collaboration business model like FIFA, unlike blogs with random adverts, we pick one brand per industry as official partners, just like FIFA does and the English Premier League, which is not only exciting, but lucrative. We want Ref Predictor to be the Premier League for football fans, instead of having Chelsea, Manchester United on the leader board, we have people’s names on the leader board competing against each other for a guaranteed cash prize.

 But for the corporate government there is really nothing much there it’s the usual C.E.O, Board of Directors, e.t.c.

In terms of behavior, we operate like an I.T firm, the work ethics, the culture and the behavior, we are different. Because what Ref Predictor is, it’s an entertainment and technology company. So asides being a technology company, we are also highly entertaining. We are a fine tune of saying we are a corporate entity and at the same time an internet company.  So we are two things merged into one, though we are not where we want to be yet.

Do you have anything that you do to help you stay focused?

I have been very fortunate to have a purpose in life, life itself is like music, it is like dance, it’s not a destination, you are not listening to it because you want to jump to the end. So I tapped into that.

If you have noticed, for every inventor, there is this connection they have with nature, if you have read Steve Jobs story, you will notice that he was in tune with nature, like there was a time he took a break and went to India, passed through the religious systems, even took certain herbs, became one with nature, just to get closer to nature, if you listen to tapes from Albert Einstein, Tesla, people like that have a supernatural side to them. It is important to know also, that we are not physical beings trying to have a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings, trying to cope with the physical experience. The moment we understand this, it reshapes your life, because; you don’t see yourself competing with anyone person, you don’t see yourself running  a race, you don’t see yourself struggling with everything, you tend to believe that nature is in control.

 

I have been very fortunate to have a purpose in life, life itself is like music, it like dance, it’s not a destination, you are not listening to it because you want to jump to the end. So I tapped into that.

 

At the point you realize this, you need to start practicing it, and it starts to shape your life. I realized that even if I pushed this dream to the end and don’t get anything out of it I didn’t lose anything. It is the experience you get out of life that is life itself, not living your life for the next phase based on man’s assumption of Heaven or hell. The point at which you see the positivity in negative situations, then you can live life without worries. Believing that God exists in humans through nature. It’s what has made me focused all through the years.

By Elizabeth Daniels

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