Jan. 29, 2022

Tokunbo Adetona


Tokunbo Adetona

CEO, Nairabox

By branching out into subscription models and food delivery, Nairabox, Nigeria's largest online ticketing platform, is finding new ways to remain relevant and successful.


Tokunbo Adetona is a Nigerian business executive and tech enthusiast. He is the current CEO of Nairabox. He is also a board director at Tremendoc, Nigeria's largest telemedicine platform. Before focusing on Nairabox full time in 2016, Tokunbo worked in Deloitte in Lagos as an auditor with the financial service institutions team and with the former Afribank in credit risk management before starting his first stint at technology-driven entrepreneurship with a printing solutions business for banks. In 2019, Tokunbo was amongst the CEOs presented with Lords Achievers Awards. In 2017, he was part of the team that won best app at the West African Mobile App Awards.

Nairabox innovated during the pandemic by introducing the food delivery business to its existing services. How has this initiative performed?

We had been working on food delivery at the time, and it was an obvious solution as many potential customers were stuck at home and ordering takeout. The challenge with food delivery was that the technology has to be in sync with the environment, and efficiency drives profitability. It has been a learning curve, especially as we had to retrain staff who worked in other departments. We have re-innovated the food delivery space with our findings and hope to provide something different soon. There are a few players in the market, and if we are to convince a customer to change platforms, they would need some incentive other than competing on price. We intend to provide a full new type of service when it comes to food delivery. We showed our innovation during the ease of lockdown through a subscription model for cinema tickets, a first of its kind for Africa. We have a NGN2,000-monthly charge for four cinema tickets across any cinema in Nigeria. We want to expand our model across our lifestyle offering, so something similar will be coming to food delivery in the near future.

What was your main revenue stream during the pandemic?

We had a campaign earlier in the year, and its big payout kept us afloat for most of the year. It was a challenging period for all of us and globally across most industries. Building runway capital proved helpful.

How is your revenue split between events, cinema, and food?

We are starting over again and hope to find out in the future. Events have yet to reactivate, and we are looking to expand the service to activities that go far beyond concerts. This can range from webinars and online cooking classes, to other online experiences. We will also have physical classes such as yoga, booking a trip to the beach, and so on. Cinemas are also back open, and we have our cinema subscription service. Food is almost ready. We will wait and see which takes the lead.

How difficult will be to change brand awareness to ensure you are not just recognized as a music entertainment ticket provider?

We expect to be recognized for what we are good at. The major challenge is getting people to try something new. Often converting a customer takes a while, while you build the trust between the brand and the customer. We'll gladly accept the challenge.

Will you be able to scale the business and make money for the new cinema tickets model?

We have some experience in this area, and it works like insurance in the long run. We also learn better from customers and market more efficiently. Cinemas don't sell as many tickets during the week, so we are giving them an opportunity to fill otherwise empty seats on those days. At the same time, we are learning more about our customers and able to offer tailored experiences by making recommendations to them. Had it not been for the pandemic, we would have offered more at once because cinemas are the easier option and are what we passionate about. The idea is to make money from the subscriptions, similar to an insurance model where if people do not redeem the tickets, we get that as profit. We do not pay retail price, and we also have the recommendations to monetize the data. We need to hit a critical mass to do so, and over the next couple of months we should grow our numbers. We have around 50 recognized cinemas in Nigeria and maybe another 100 viewing centers with a projector, for 200 million people, yet we still have one the biggest movie-making industries in the world. We believe the problem is affordability, and we seek to address that.