Meet Eddie Madaki: Principal Partner, iBlend Services
You all know him as Eddie the PR Goon, Eddie the Promoter, Eddie the MC. I know him as Eddie the multidimensional entrepreneur that is continuously evolving. I met Eddie for the first time about a year ago and I’ve watched the steady increase in his brand growth. He has been able to simultaneously build both his Personal, and Company brand, and that’s very admirable. The guy is a Legend!
Tell us about I-Blend Services ?
Since 2005, iBlend Services has been working with companies to build strong brands, which have driven increased market share, revenue growth and profits. We apply a proven, industry-agnostic brand development process that works for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. The key to our process is in-depth, up-front research that we use to assess internal and external perspectives on your organization to formulate a unique creative approach.
As an Integrated Marketing Communications company, we have a mix of communications professionals with wide-ranging expertise – including market research, design, messaging and project management. A typical brand engagement is a true team effort where our team collaborates closely with our clients to discern their organization’s true strengths and present them to the marketplace through a range of creative and innovative processes.Some of our clients include: Pepsi, Unilever, Silverbird Group, EIE, BBC World Service Trust, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Chocolate City Music Group, amongst others.
Who is Eddie Madaki ?
I’m An architect trained in the University of Jos (2005). After practicing post-graduation, I gravitated towards the financial sector where I spent the next 9 years developing competencies in marketing, sales and communications strategy, a long time latent passion of mine. The structure, discipline and multiple certificate training courses amassed during my time as a banker (though an interesting detour), has been very instrumental to the success that is iBlend services today.
Often called a man of many talents, many of which have been put to use and are evident in various ways. I like to think that my Architectural background (I won every award for free hand drawing and painting in high-school) and banking experience have melded to inform the precise and efficient planning and implementation of events and projects all who have worked with me have come to expect of us at iBlend.
As an undergraduate I was the Director of Media and Publicity Black Collar Entertainment a talent and event management company that I ran with Katung Aduwak of Big Brother Nigeria fame and Wale Akinjogbin back in Jos – we represented acts like MI Abaga at the time.
I was a participant in the “Gulder Ultimate Search” reality show 2006(My claim to fame), had a stint acting in the BBC World Service Trust “Wetin Dey” Drama Series in 2007-2008. I also enjoyed a successful modeling career, working for a number of multinational and local brands.
During My NYSC, I decided to try my hand at the mass media and became a TV and Radio Personality (OAP Aso FM), a sought after master of ceremony and now principal partner at iBlend Services , one of the leading PR and Corporate Communications Firms out of Northern Nigeria.
What was the first business you ever started? In what year did you start it? What are some of the things you learned from it?
When I was 8 years old I got my first pay check performing as part of a gospel hip hop quartet called the Hebrew boys. We would tour cities with Dr Panam Percy Paul, and Bishop Uma Ukpai. I loved music, and my parents as strict as they were let us pursue other creative passions as long as our grades didn’t slip.
Performing and getting paid to do what I love was my first taste of financial independence. Even at that age I realized that people will always be willing to pay for novelty – a bunch of kids on stage perfoming passionately to thousands was quite the rarity at the time. This was the most profound lesson for me that stuck through out my life’s journey.
What was your inspiration to start iBlend?
When I was in University, myself and a few friends started a movement called “The Black Collar Project”. We realized that we all had common interests, the arts, film, music, dance, writing etc but all of us were neck deep studing professional courses that had no bearing on the things we were truly passionate about and wanted to explore. I could draw and aced science and maths in secondary school so my path was decided for me, to be an architect, pilot or doctor, and so the story went for almost everyone I was close to.
The idea behind the black collar project was simple – study what your parents want (White collar) but don’t let what drives you, the gifts you have suffer (Black collar). We started out hosting boutique events where talent were drawn from different departments and given a platform to channel their gifts and shine. We had doctors in training who could play musical instruments, pharmacists who were dancers, architects who were event planners, mathematicians who were gifted poets etc.
Long story short, the movement grew in popularity, we cut a compilation CD of our best works and that was on heavy rotation and received massive air play nationwide.
As they say, “Life happens” – We graduated, went our separate ways , stayed in touch but it was hard to keep the movement going.
Fast forward to 2008, fresh off the Gulder Ultimate Search reality show, a number of tv and radio stints later , I moved to Abuja to shoot a drama series produced by the BBC world service trust “Wetin Dey”. Back then I was one of the few “celebrities” who came back to Abuja, everyone made it big and ran off to Lagos, who could blame them? Lagos was the entertainment capital, if you wanted to play in the big leagues, you had to move to where the magic happens.
As much as I knew the Odds we were up against trying to carve a career in the creative space in Abuja, I was firm in my resolve to make it work here, I grew up watching Dan Maria Jos, Sadiq Daba, Zakky Azze , Audu Maikori, Eugenia Abu and host of media personalities that had attained national and recognition from these same streets. And that’s how the seed which blossomed to iBlend took root. Initially called “The Blender Network” iblend conceptualized basically as a network of young talented individuals, with various skills, all working together towards one common goal, our collective professional progress and empowerment.
It was and is the new face of business based on social networking, and an all-inclusive common interest mindset and brand development.
The biggest challenge is getting skilled hands to work with.
When we started out, almost all team members of the iBlend network understood the importance of pupilage and self empowerment, everyone came to the table offering value. Today however, the reverse is the case, I have lost count of how many communications and PR graduate that can’t defend their degrees and are not willing to even learn because of CEO/Boss mentality that we the millennial generation are so obsessed with. We all want quick wins, miraculous results without putting in the work, research and time.
Have we overcome this? Yes, we are blessed to work with a tight knit group that are deeply invested in the business and we are growing everyday. For us passion is key, if you are deeply passionate about something, chances are you will be great at it. Passion greatly informs the selection process for our staff and even the clients we work with.
To sell believably, you must be 100% invested in said project or product. That my rule of thumb.
Did you have to convince your friends about your business working ?
Oh yeah! I worked for the first 2 years of being in business offering free services, getting cheated and ridiculed at times, all I wanted was an opportunity to prove myself, thankfully today the reverse is the case, Our business is referral driven, we hardly need to market and lobby for accounts anymore, our work and reputation precedes us now. It’s the most humbling experience. We are by no means where we want to be but the future is bright with possibilities.
Why do you think most people quit their business dreams ?
Starting for all the wrong reasons. When you go into a business that is not inspired by the need to provide solutions to a clearly identified societal issue, chances are that business will fail.
Staying power comes with the conviction that you are or can be the best at what you do, even if it is as mundane as cleaning or owning a bottled water factory, it is the motivation behind your decision to go into your chosen business that matters. Too many Nigerians just launch businesses without a clear understanding of how it works or how it will turn a profit from start to finish, going with the trend “oh it worked for Tunde, Musa, and Chinenye so it will work for me too. Then at the first bump in the road they get flustered and walk away.
The key is to find something that no matter how hard your work at it gives you joy, where the motivation is not just money, which is very important I must add (Laughs). Develop your capacity in that field, do the necessary market research and position yourself. The rest, the rewards will come with time and hardwork.
I wish I could say I have never thought of quitting, but unfortunately that would be a lie. At a point in my life I had a stable job, my business now was then just a side hustle, and I invested all my free time networking, building plans, signing up for trainings, taking briefs etc and it didn’t make sense to the people around me, my family, the relationship I was in at the time. Call it the curse of the first child always trying to do right for everyone else first. I tried but that life wasn’t for me.
So I did right by me and I have never felt more alive or been more productive.
If you had to start all over again, would you do anything different, what and why ?
Nothing at all, everything I have achieved career wise has been a direct result of the diverse influences I have had.
What excites you the most about your business?
The process of seeing an idea grow from conceptualization to the final product. That for me is why I am in this business – To Create.
Tell me about 2 interesting projects you’ve worked on, and the best thing about working on them.
- Pepsi Campus tour With Lynxxx and Friends in 2011
This project was five months in planning, but the client didn’t approve the event budget till 5 days to the events start date. We basically had less than a week to secure locations sort out logistics for a four state tour, manage the needs of 11 A-list artists, make media rounds and sell out 1000 person capacity venues in each state.
By the grace of God and skin of our teeth , we delivered and it was our initiation of sorts into the big leagues, I will be forever greatful to Godwin Tom and Chin Okeke of Eclipse west Africa for taking that leap of faith with iBlend and entrusting us with the opportunity.
The most fun and interesting parts were the road trips and after parties after each concert.
- Guinness Africa Special
This was by far the most innovative product activation I have had the honor of being involved in.
During my event management training course, one of the facilitators would always say “your guests must leave your event with one pivotal memory”.
With the Guinness Africa Special Project, every aspect of the campaign was that and more, memorable from the #TheSpecialOne new media campaign and build up, to the branding, memorabilia , performances etc. It was a huge learning experience for me, which is why I call Adaora, Akin, and Osa my bosses even though you probably hate that. Your team creates magic. There is so much more to share but I fear I will ramble on forever.
What are your thoughts about the Nigerian Brand & Promotions Industry as it is right now, and what do you see changing in the next 2-3 years?
Most businesses are gradually seeing the need to include consumer feedback and needs in the brand development and marketing processes of their offerings, and as such this has created a point of entry for younger brand communications professionals. Seeing that the youth and mass market segment drive profitability for most brands.
As result the Nigerian Brand and Promotions industry is at its most vibrant and creative at the moment, with competing brands constantly coming up with gimmicks targeted at winning the most market share. We still have a lot to learn and a few structural and service standardization issues to improve on that will give us “mad men” the free rein to truly delight our clients without corporate red tape frustrating the delivery of the solutions they, “the clients” have already paid for.
What is your biggest advice to businesses in terms of their brand positioning?
Cut through the clutter by focusing your communications to your target audience and adopting relevant messaging that is informed by same market segment instead of trying to force feed consumers.
Do you believe in Collaboration? How do you make your collaborations/partnerships work?
I totally believe collaboration would be the key element to the growth of the Branding and market communications industry. No one has monopoly of knowledge. One of my favorite quotes is by Joseph Rain “The greatest achievements come when people work together.”
For healthy and productive collaborations, I’d rather engage professionals within our industry and sphere of influence whose services complements ours, that way one reduces the risk of strained relationship through aggressive competition and potential intellectual property theft. Where there are shared benefits, projects would ultimately yield more productive results.
What’s your typical day?
Wake Up, Hit the gym for a couple of hours, Shower, Hit the office or work from home (I do my best work in isolation) on my computer till late.
Weekends are for family, that’s me time that I don’t compromise.
What is your vision for your business in the next 5 years.
My vision is for iBlend to be a global brand in the next five fires, with a presence and impact in all leading economies .
What are your biggest strengths?
I am fearless, I never take no for an answer or see walls, just temporal obstacles that could be overcome with the right approach.
Are you happy ? What does Happiness mean to you ?
I am happy. Happiness to me is being able to see my work create jobs, and solve problems. It is the opportunity to be able to use my voice and skill set to inspire, inform and add value to society.
Travel, Eat, and workout (hike, combat sports, swim)
If I checked out your playlist, tell me 3 songs that have the most Plays, and is there a reason why ?
Right now it would be any and EVERYTHING by Mr Eazi, Patoraking’s No Kissing ft Sarkodie, and Tekno’s Pana. Those 3 are on repeat right now because they are upbeat feel good songs and I like working out to them really.
Tell me 3 things that people don’t necessarily know about you
- I am a recluse. After all the noise and activity, at the end of the day, I am most at peace alone. Its almost like a Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde Scenario. On one hand Mr Outgoing for work, on the other, couch potato and video gamer.
- I was very sickly and shy growing up, I literally developed an extroverted personality as a defence mechanism.
- I hate phone calls. Text, Emails, Messenger that’s more my speed. My phone never stops ringing , which is a good thing but it can be overwhelming at times.
Have you had any ‘Turning point’ in your life ?
In 2005 When I was going back to school, I designed and built a property for a close family member and he refused to pay me, “after all we were family”. That was millions of Naira magically taken a way, and man hours I would never get back. It was at this point that I resolved to ensure that whatever I do will be so valuable that people will beg to pay me for my services. Till this day if I have to make justifications for my fees or the service we render, it rubs me the wrong way, but hey, the show must go on right?
Do you watch any TV series? What’s your favorite one, and why?
I was stuck on Mad Men then it got boring , now I am Team THE ORIGINALS!!! I think I may have been Klaus in a former life. I am always drawn to the tortured misunderstood melancholic artist. I can relate to such characters , and this series is loaded with them.
What was the last book or material you read? And what were your thoughts about it.
“The Moment- Real time marketing for any brand”, I think it’s an essential work tool for any publicist or brand man. It basically covered topics I’m already versed in but with real life case studies and applications that created a whole new picture about effective marketing in this day and age.
Mention 3 people that inspire you and why?
My Dad: Ex Military, PHD Law, Insatiable traveler and adrenaline junkie, always living life to the fullest.
Audu Maikori: Chairman Chocolate City, he paved the way for all of us social and create entrepreneurs , especially those of us with roots up-country.
Muhammad Ali: When I was 6 years old, I read Ali’s autobiography, “The Greatest” , it was a compelling classic underdog story of one man’s growth from nothing to becoming one the most iconic and influential figures of all time. The lesson that stayed with me was that Ali never compromised his values and beliefs in his quest for greatness, and that’s a mantra I try to live by.
Give me one of your favorite quotes and what it means to you.
“Success is never ending, failure is never final” – Robert Schuler
For me this means there is always a silver lining in whatever situation you find yourself, as long as you don’t give up hope .