Marketer To Businessman: How Akin Alabi built NairaBet from scratch


Online Sports betting in Nigeria has become a kind of a lucrative subset of the billion naira lotto industry. Akin Alabi plays a pioneer role in that in that space with the introduction of Nairabet. As a result of this, Alabi is to online sports betting in Nigeria what Alibaba is to comedy. Of concern, Akin Alabi holds a Masters degree in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

He launched his -book Small Business, Big Money. A book that teaches how to start, grow and turn a small business into a “cash generating machine.”

ALSO READ: 37-year-old former teacher, emerges as Indian’s newest billionaire

Just like every other successful entrepreneurs, whose stories went from grass to grace; Alabi too did not have a very inspiring start, he was a boy who grew up with hopes of being rich.

In his words, he was a boy of “No particular ambition”,While his secondary school mates dreamt of becoming doctors, lawyers, and engineers, Akin simply wanted to be a ‘billionaire’ provided the source was  legitimate.

“I just wanted to be as rich as legally possible, I couldn’t care less if I was going to be a rich doctor, rich salesman, or rich whatever. I just wanted be rich.” he once said.

Notable is the fact that Alabi holds a Masters degree in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, even though this came long after he had failed 5 times to get into a University in Nigeria.

The launch of Nairabet

In 2009, he launched Nairabet, however it is noteworthy to state that before the launch,in order not to stay idle,he laid his hands on different things that didn’t yield.

’’From selling chickens on the streets of Ibadan, where I grew up, to exporting and importing of cash crops and other materials. But all those businesses failed.’’

According to him , he and a business partner had reared Chickens for the festive season with high hopes of cashing out big, only to realize it seemed like everyone else in Ibadan had also reared Chickens that season. 

After his NYSC in 2002, he stumbled on information marketing on internet. accoding to him it looked like something anyone with ”half a brain” could do and it didn’t require too much capital to start.

Soon after, The Nairabet founder  created his first information product  a Canadian immigration package which he put up on the Internet for sale in  2003 without a website and a half page  advert , and making lots of sales, he  knew he  had to repeat.

After a while, the renowned owner of Nairabet started publishing online articles on information marketing and noticed people were reaching out to him to teach them more, he made a lot of money from information marketing and seminars, which then afforded him the luxury of travelling abroad.  

”So I went visiting my brother in the UK who introduced me to sports betting. My first ever bet was placed in a coral betting shop. I put in £20 and won £35. Seeing how easy it was, I kept placing bets and learning more”.

Going with the information age

More so, Alabi added ” Soon enough, I saw another opportunity for an information product I could sell to Nigerians. I figured all the betting shops must have a website that allowed online betting”.

So he created an information product on how to place bets online from Nigeria, he said ’’I made about 100 sales (worth ₦450,000) from that first offline campaign. I don’t think the half page ad even cost me up to ₦180,000. That’s when I realised I had a hot product. When I decided to take the campaign online, sales skyrocketed”.

Nonetheless, as  sales continued to rise for the mogul, he got back to Nigeria and started receiving calls from people who needed help transferring money to the betting websites, with some wanting to bet as much as $1000, there and then he knew he had a hot market.

” I thought to myself, Rather than transferring the money abroad, why can’t I receive the money here?”

That was when he decided he was going to build his own online sports betting platform and today, the rest is history.

Interestingly, Akin after setting the pace for others to follow; has since then been doing well for not just himself but his society as well.

Finally, He founded Akin Alabi foundation. This is a non profit organization aimed at improving the lives of average Nigerian. The foundation has successfully implemented projects like building and donating classrooms to primary schools, sinking of bore holes in areas where there is scarcity of water, financial empowerment of widows and a free business and career building event.