TOMMIE EDWARDS: The Nigerian Entrepreneur Disrupting the Events Industry

Spotting a Gap in the Market:

Utilising Technology to Transform Event Planning

An interview with Tommie Edwards

Tommie Edwards is a highly successful entrepreneur and founder of tech startup Eventbee. Coming from an entrepreneurial family and having experience of overseeing multiple businesses from the age of 16, Tommie’s journey has been an exciting and eventful one. Here, we find out more about Tommie’s successes to date and plans for the future.

At the age of 16, you started developing your sense of entrepreneurship in your hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. What were your first experiences of business or entrepreneurship?

My very first business was selling African textiles which I purchased from the neighbouring country and sold to working-class mothers who had no time to go shopping.

How influential were your family in putting you on your entrepreneurial path?

Growing up, I saw my dad, who was an engineer at Rank Xerox, pursue entrepreneurship through his multiple business centres in the city, barbing saloons and restaurants. My mum who was a midwife was also very entrepreneurial. She juggled having a demanding job with running a water bagging factory and a supermarket.

At the age of 16, while waiting to get into the university, my mum decided to take a job opportunity for 4 months in America. Before leaving, she put me in the care of both her businesses. The water bagging business at the time had over 70 wholesale customers demanding an average of 1000 bags of water each day, and the supermarket was very busy and needed constant stocking up.

I suddenly realised that she believed so much in me and it will be a shame to let her down. Instantly I became an interim boss of 12 staff, and that was where my entrepreneurial journey was born.

Searching for opportunities, growing ideas and working hard at it became my thing. From travelling to neighbouring African countries to seek textiles for sale to working mums to modelling for big brands like Coca-Cola, I did it all.

How did you first get involved in the events industry?

This happened in September 2010 while planning my wedding ceremony in the city of London. I had lots of ideas for the wedding ceremony and reception and found it difficult to get a planner within my budget who had a clear understanding of my vision for my big day, so I decided to plan the event myself and hand it over to a coordinator on the day.

While planning my wedding, I was continually frustrated by how hard it was to find reliable suppliers with excellent creativity and are trusted to deliver on the day. I searched the web and found a few, but my options were limited. I resulted in asking friends of friends for supplier contacts over and over again.

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