Folayemi Agusto is the co-founder and director of Eat.Drink.Lagos, a company that made its debut in 2014 as a food blog. In 2015, the blog extended to include a food festival tagged: EatDrinkFestival. In its short period of existence, the festival has become one that Lagosians and other guests eagerly look forward to attending every year. In this interview, Agusto says the firm’s partnership with Sterling Bank has helped the festival to expand its frontiers and horizon.
What inspired the idea of the EatDrinkFestival?
The idea to start the project came while I was working in the formal sector and I was familiar with many food industry professionals that sold items online but did not have any physical locations.
It, therefore, grew out of a desire to create a platform for food vendors to meet customers that they will ordinarily not meet in their regular course of business. At our first event, most of the food vendors were just starting their businesses. Many did not have physical locations, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to grow their businesses and customer base.
How has the experience been almost five years after?
For the first time, we took the festival out of Lagos to Abuja. We have been able to deliver a 100% technology-driven event. Last year we introduced a reloadable wristband system powered by RFID technology for guests to complete payments seamlessly.
The innovative payment system, which was implemented at the last festival in Lagos, helped to mitigate transaction failure and allow guests either on arrival or online before the event, to purchase wristbands and load up with funds to make payments at the event. Vendors will thereafter scan the guest’s wristband to collect payment.
It has been a great experience, we have been able to grow from a one-day festival to a two-day festival. Given our numbers, you can say there’s been significant growth.
What were your expectations for Abuja?
There were several reasons we took the festival to Abuja. Firstly, it was in response to requests from our online community to take the festival outside Lagos.
Secondly, our intention with the first edition of EatDrinkAbuja was to bring together a carefully curated and varied selection of Abuja’s talented food and drink vendors because our festivals are primarily about promoting local culinary talent. The festival brought hidden gems and new culinary experiences from all over Abuja to Harrow Park, the venue of the event, in one day of feasting.
How has the project impacted the Nigerian economy?
The project has helped numerous businesses to grow because some food vendors without physical locations that attended the festivals have been able to set up in various locations over time and others have expanded outside the Lagos metropolis.
Why did you choose to partner with a Bank?
Our choice of partners was based on our brand values. What we are doing has not been done this way before and it was important to us that we partnered with equally innovative brands. Working with Sterling Bank has been a great experience. They are open to exploring new horizons and opening new frontiers which is very important to us. Many financial institutions may consider Abuja as a small market relative to Lagos but Sterling Bank has supported our vision regardless and has come on board for the second time to support the EatDrinkFestival.
Who is Folayemi Agusto?
I’m a problem solver. In terms of my background, I am a graduate of Sociology from the University of Virginia, USA. I have worked in a number of industries including finance as an equity research analyst, telecommunications, media and now, I am firmly at the intersection of digital media and technology.