How Nigeria’s Festival Coins is filling an Eventbrite-sized hole in Africa

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For the last six years, Nosa Oyegun and Folayemi Agusto have run the Eat Drink Festival, Nigeria’s biggest food festival, in Lagos. Managing the gates has been the the biggest headache since the beginning.

“Eventbrite had a suite of products we needed at the time, but they didn’t serve Nigeria. You can’t receive payments from Eventbrite in a local account in Nigeria or anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, to be honest. When local organisers put up their events on Eventbrite, you literally have to email your bank details to your guests so you can get paid. That’s very tedious,” Oyegun told Disrupt Africa.

“The local ticketing companies weren’t any better either. Sure, they can settle you locally but you have to send them emails to get your event listed on their platform. When they offer a DIY service, the user experience is tragic. All they do is sell tickets, take their commissions, and that’s about it.”

The pair decided to fix their own problem, building Festival Coins. An end-to-end event technology company, it offers event ticketing, RFID access control, cashless payments, event staffing, and device rentals to event organisers across Nigeria.

Festival Coins helps event organisers reduce costs, maximise revenues and harness granular data from attendees, via tools and services that help them efficiently plan and execute events, with features including online ticketing, access control, cashless payments, and event reporting.

“We can help you sell your tickets like the other guys, but we’ll also manage your access control at the gates. We’ll bring our team in, and we’ll take all that stress off your back,” said Oyegun. 

“Our cashless product was also a result of our struggles as event organisers. Payments are the lifeblood of many big events. From merchandise to food, there’s always some trading going on. We noticed how unreliable the Nigerian payment infrastructure can be, so we had this idea to fix that as well.” 

Using RFID chips on wristbands that it sources for customers, Festival Coins builds a closed loop payment system for events. 

“With this, we can give you 100 per cent uptime, and it’s completely offline,” Oyegun said.

“Finally, because there are so many data points, we can help organisers harness granular data on their event. This is very important when you have to prove value to your sponsors. It’s easier to win a sponsor over when you can provide clear ROI.”

The startup was self-funded until late last year, when it secured investment from early-stage VC firm Microtraction, which invests up to US$65,000 in startups at the very earliest stage of their development and has so far backed the likes of Accounteer, Riby, ThankUCash, CowryWise, Wallet.ng, Schoolable, 54gene, Termii, and Bit Sika.

Customer-wise, Festival Coins reports strong interest, especially from event planners in Lagos. 

“Events are very big thing in the country and planners all experience these gate challenges,” said Oyegun.

The startup is working was over 100 event organiser accounts, and has processed thousands of dollars worth of transactions in sales value thus far. It has also started receiving enquiries from Ghana and Egypt. 

“As far as expansion goes, we definitely want to get into the Ghanaian market properly in the coming year,” Oyegun said.

The startup takes a commission on each ticket sold, while for the larger events it manages it also charges a technology service fee and device rental fee. 

“We also source and supply RFID accessories including RFID wristband, cards and lanyards for our clients’ events,” said Oyegun.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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