Emerging from very humble beginnings, Akintayo Adaralegbe ascended through the rungs of the ladder to emerge a successful businessman in real estate. Named as the Real Estate Personality of the year by Global Excellence Recognition Awards 2021, his breakthrough is etched on his ability to add value to infrastructural development and the environment. His company T.Pumpy Concept Limited is one of the leading property developers in the country. In a recent encounter with Vanessa Obioha, he shared his grass-to-grace story supported by the scaffold of his childhood and maternal influence.
“Have you bought any land before?” Akintayo Adaralegbe posed the question to his Public Relations agent Bolaji Salami-Ajayi who sat across from him. We were in his hotel room on a cloudy morning. His gaze never left her face, his eyes probing like a detective’s. Shyly, Salami-Ajayi responded in the negative. Adaralegbe pushed on, asking questions why she is yet to do so.
The mock interview continued for a while before Salami-Ajayi gave up helplessly. Turning to this reporter, Adaralegbe smiled as if he was expecting me to give him a good grade for his performance.
“I really want to learn how to become a journalist,” he said, still smiling. A good ice-breaker, nonetheless. The imagery of the property developer as a journalist was hard to form at that moment.
Adaralegbe comes across as a jovial person. This good sense of humour is what makes him approachable to anyone, including his employees.
Over a decade ago, Adaralegbe, a native of Ekiti had no inkling that he would be the founder of one of the prominent property companies in Nigeria. Born in Ilorin, he was raised by a father who made a living out of photography and a mother whose entrepreneurial spirit was evident in the various businesses she engaged in. Adaralegbe knew poverty as a child but refused to be stuck in it.
Till date, he has never worked for anyone. He exhibited his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit while in the university, engaging in all kinds of business. First, he worked as a thrift collector, then moved on to photography and later sold recharge cards. His business acumen came in handy when he was posted to Ebonyi State for his National Youth Service Corps. From a tender age, the real estate tycoon was guided by the principle that having a good marketing strategy is one of the keys to running a successful business. While in Ebonyi selling recharge cards, he offered customers a good price for his products and services. This was during the GSM boom in Nigeria when mobile phones were still very expensive to acquire. Gradually, his booth became a Mecca of sorts to many.
“If others were selling recharge cards for N50, I sold mine for N15 and that made people rush to my booth. I had about five phones in my booth which were constantly busy at any given time. Sometimes, about 20 people would be in my booth making or receiving calls, and some were still queuing up to use my services. My employees and I were constantly busy,” he narrated.
It was during that period that he was introduced to the real estate business as other business inclined people saw an opportunity to market their products to his customers. Sometimes, he allowed them to put up signage for their businesses which sometimes were mostly lands or properties.
“Someone walked up to me and told me that he had a property he wanted me to manage. I told him I was not interested, moreover, I have no experience in that business, but he insisted.”
Whether Adaralegbe had a magic wand that day or not, he cannot recall for the moment he stepped his feet into that property, he got someone to buy it instantly. He made N30,000 from that transaction. He was given another property which fetched him N300,000 profit. He would eventually own the first property he sold. By 2010, he registered his company. He spent the next five years buying and reselling lands until 2015 when he officially opened the revolving doors of his office in Abuja with just three employees. Of the three, only one still works with him. His staff strength now runs into hundreds and the young man admitted that he is not familiar with all of his workers.