Having a Business in Ibadan Has Always Been a “Done Deal” For Me – George Ogunbande, Owner Metropolis Restaurant
As opposed to casual eateries, cafes or family-style restaurants, fine dining caters to an upscale clientele and provides the highest quality of food. A fine dining restaurant has a formal atmosphere, is always a sit-down restaurant, and has a fancier menu than most restaurants.
However, Metropolis Restaurant located at the heart of Ring Road, near MTN office, Mobil Ibadan is in a class all by itself. With excellent food at reasonable prices, good customer service, and a friendly ambience with a spectacular view of the area, the restaurant is a must have experience for all.
In an interview with the CEO of the restaurant, he shared some insights into what it means to be an entrepreneur in Ibadan.
Kindly introduce yourself
My name is George Ogunbande. I’m from Ijebu-Mushin in Ogun State. My family lives in Ijebu but I’m a friend of Ibadan. I’ve always been in Ibadan and I’ve always loved Ibadan. I did some part of my Secondary school here in Ibadan. I also schooled for a while at Lead City University before I travelled out of the country. Starting up a business in Ibadan has always been a “done deal” for me because I really love the city.
I run a restaurant; the Metropolis restaurant. It’s new, just a few months old but the reception has been good and I think there should be more of startups like this in Ibadan.
The idea behind Metropolis was not just for the food. Yes, the food is the primary reason why people would come here but another thing I wanted to achieve was to make it a place where people can come together and just have fun. The food would make you come but why would you pick the metropolis over every restaurant? It is because when you get here the place is cosy, cool, fun; in a nutshell a relaxing atmosphere.
What is your major role at the Metropolis Restaurant?
My major role at Metropolis is to oversee what is going on.
So, you aren’t the hands-on “eba and efo riro” guy?
I am. Most of the time, I am in the kitchen.
Did you study anything related to food or cooking?
No, I didn’t study anything related to food. I studied business and Human Resources at the university. My first startup is in Human Resource Consulting. I worked in a fast food restaurant as a manager; MacDonalds restaurant
That means Metropolis Restaurant is an aftermath of MacDonalds?
Yes, this was an aftermath of what I saw while working at MacDonalds. My reason for working at MacDonalds was because I love the food environment. After leaving MacDonalds, I wanted to do something in the food sector but this particular concept is different from what MacDonalds does. This is not a fast food restaurant, this is a fine dining restaurant. But my interest in having a restaurant came from working at MacDonalds.
Metropolis Restuarant is a fine dining restaurant. We serve continental and local dishes. We have grills, dessert, Chapman, Vodka. The reason I decided to pick fine dining over fast food is that I want the customers to have an awesome experience from the moment they step into the restaurant. Not just queue on the line, get the meal and go. We want you to come in, relax have fun with friends and family, celebrate special occasions and events like your birthday, end of the year party, get together etc.
How has it been so far? We get the “Ibadan people don’t pay” sentiment a lot.
Yes, we had and still have the challenge of “Oh! I can easily get what you are selling in a “Buka” there for less” but I tell people that, “sit down, the quality of what you eat is different. The environment you eat in is pleasantly different. The vibe you get when you are here is also different. You can’t compare our services here with any other restaurant in town and it is affordable. So if you get these prices here, with the kind of environment we give you, the kind of customer service we have, why go to any other place?”
How has the response been?
The response has been growing. Of course, we have people who would prefer to go to other places rather than come here but that’s because they have not entered. Once they enter, it is always a different experience. Once you come in, and you see what we have here, you are surely in for a memorable experience that would make you keep coming.
Is metropolis restricted within Ibadan?
Yes, for now, we just have only one branch we are a fresh startup.
On your billboard, you mentioned that you offer delivery within Ibadan. At what rate?
Within Oluyole and Ring Road axis, it is free. Outside of that, you pay for your delivery. Basically, what we do is that you just pay for the transportation of the delivery person. So the only thing you pay for is transport from metropolis down to your place and back. Like I mentioned earlier, for us, it is not just about the money it is about the experience you get.
What challenges have you faced in running your startup?
Challenges? In the beginning, funds. For most entrepreneurs, there’s always the funds’ challenge.
Another challenge I encountered is regulations. Regulations in terms of government parastatals that come here demanding payment for one levy or the other.
In the past two months, we’ve had a lot of people come here and say “oh you are supposed to pay this, you’re supposed to pay that. This is a license for this, this is the license for that.”
Most times, I’m confused as to which level of government is controlling the regulating bodies that are here to demand payment. Is it the local government? Is it the state government? Or is it the federal government?
You mean you’ve had to pay to all these government officials?
Yes, we did. Most times, I challenge them to know the rules in place as regards what I am paying for. I also ensure I know how long each payment will last (monthly, quarterly, etc) and I ensure I get the receipts for each and every payment I make.
Didn’t you do your research on existing regulatory bodies in Nigeria before establishing your business
Yes, I did and that is why I was surprised when some other government agencies said we have to pay for this and that and that again. But you know this is Nigeria, you can’t exhaust all the information you have. Some other bodies will still show up and say “oh! you didn’t pay for this, you still have to pay for this.”
Of course, I expected the local government and some others. As a business, you are expected to pay taxes, local government levies and some other things but there were some payments I didn’t expect.
I’m not speaking just for me but I’m talking on behalf of every other startup in the city. These are things that stifle businesses and I always say, “if you keep doing these, businesses are going to just spend like 5-6 months and close down because they can’t afford to keep their head above water with the kind of regulations and things that the government brings up every time.”
Do you have any other startup apart from this?
Yes, I have an HR company. It is called “Human Energizers Consulting”. What we do is that we consult for organisations in terms of staff recruiting, training and auditing.
Where is it located in Ibadan?
It does not have an offline location. It is online for now.
Would you mind sharing more about your HR company?
Like I mentioned earlier, it a human resources company and it is called “Human Energizers Consulting”. We consult for organisations in terms of staff recruiting, training and auditing. It’s not new. It has been in operation for a few years and growing steadily.
When we first started the initial challenge was how to convince people to train their staff but as businesses grew, as the economy grew, and people became more enlightened, businesses started seeing the need to invest in human capital.
We offer different courses to companies. We have different areas we train on. It can be customer service, digital skills, human development, software development etc. It all depends on what area the company is focusing on at that particular time. We tailor our training to the company’s needs. We have trainers on ground for all courses. We call them “facilitators”.
The duration of most courses spans between a day to one month. It depends on how “deep” the company wants us to go with the training. There are some courses that can be wrapped up in a day and there are some courses that will have to take longer periods.
Who are your models in the business?
In business in general, my dad is my number one role model and inspiration. My dad is a successful businessman.
Another person I really look up to is Richard Branson. He is a business “guru”. Over the years as I tried to study his life, I realised that it only takes someone who is consistent to be able to build the kind of brand he has built over the years.
There are other people, but these two are my greatest inspiration in the business world
In the food business, I love what MacDonalds is doing. My startup is an inspiration from MacDonalds. I love what they have done and what they are doing. I know they are not into fine-dining, but in terms of the business model, the kind of business model I brought into the business was something I got from working at MacDonalds.
Every business has its trial and error stage, what was yours?
In the beginning, it was difficult to start. Why? Because…, it was just difficult and hard. Pre-startup, I realised that if we didn’t take a firm decision to start, we would never have started. We kept moving the opening date. We were supposed to start in May. When May came, we moved it to July, the same thing happened in July. By July, I had to take a firm decision that it was August or nothing.
When we started in August, we started growing. At that starting stage, it was very difficult. Different questions and doubts in my mind as to the success of the business. I always ask myself, “is it going to work out”. “Is my plan solid? ‘”Should I review my business plan again?” I was getting cold feet. The cold feet at the initial stage was the trial and error stage for me.
Future goals and aspirations?
For metropolis, as I said, we are growing and hopefully, in another 1 year, we want to have another branch here Ibadan and a few more in neighbouring cities. Ibadan is majorly the testing ground. We have plans to branch to Lagos, Abuja and West Africa. One of our 5-year goals is to branch out to other West African countries.
I have a lot of personal goals. For now, I want to develop myself in whatever way I can, within the next 3 years. I want to develop myself in whatever area I find interest in. I also want to do a bit of politics at some point. I want to be involved in raising a good nation. I feel there should be more youths in politics; not just voting but being voted for.
What is your advice to other startups like you?
Consistency is key. You have to be consistent as a businessman. It is just like when you keep hitting a nail on the head at a point over and over again. At some point, the nail enters the wall. But if you go there today and you hit the nail on the head, tomorrow, you hit the side of the nail. You won’t get any result; instead, the nail will get bent. You have to keep moving, keep going, keep doing it. The reception might not be good at first, but, trust me, if you are consistent, you will reap your fruit
I also think that as a businessman, you should be patient. Patience and consistency work hand in hand. Entrepreneurship is hard in Nigeria because of so many things going on especially government regulations which makes it hard for entrepreneurs to grow. There are so many things that should be put in place for startups which are, sadly, absent.
An example of this is access to funds. Banks in Nigeria find it difficult to give loans to startup without collateral and some documentation which might not be available to a startup. We can’t blame the banks because there aren’t enough facilities in place to ensure they would be able to get back their money but these are things that are discouraging startups in the country.
So like I said earlier, consistency, patience and finally, trust in God are all key things businesses must have in order to grow in Nigeria.
I can’t overemphasise the importance of God. Yes, work hard. “Work as if there is no God and pray as if you don’t want to work.” Do all you can to succeed. Even if you fail in a particular venture, failure is not the final point. Keep hitting at it. Definitely, you’d get there. It’s just a matter of time. Don’t give up.
Then funds. Know how to manage your funds. You might be making money but not growing. Sometimes, because you are a “one-man show” you tend to spend more. As the money is coming in, you are spending. At the end of the month, you might be surprised as to how much you’ve actually spent during the month.
As a business, keeping your books is really important. Have somebody to help you with it if you can’t do it yourself. Managing your finance is very necessary for growth. You might stay afloat in the short run but to ensure growth in the short and long run, you have to take adequate care of your spendings.