TWB: Would you like to take us through your professional journey so far and what motivated a graduate of mathematics to transit into floatation therapy?
Tayo: My name is Tayo Orekoya, and I’m a graduate of mathematics from the University of Ibadan. Upon graduation from university, I have always been a sports enthusiast. Everything started from growing up as a young Yoruba boy from Ogun state, It’s often said that Ijebu people do not go near the water, my dad told me we don’t swim from our side so I never ventured into things like swimming. While growing up I was never into sports, I was not the type of young man that you will find going to play soccer or do athletics. When I got into the University of Ibadan, I found out about the swimming pool, one of my very good friend, Tade took me to the swimming pool, and we just went there for the fun of it. He swims and so I escorted him to the swimming pool, so I went there, and he started showing me things and then I started learning from a few other people and one thing led to the other. I joined the University of Ibadan swimming team and by the following semester, I was the number one breaststroke swimmer in the school. So, think about this, I did not know how to swim at all and in one semester only I became the number one breaststroke swimmer because of the keen interest I found in swimming and that happened to be the only sport that I play extremely well.
I studied mathematics at the University of Ibadan, and while I was still in the university, people pay me a stipend so I teach them how to swim. In fact, it’s the joy of seeing someone who wants to swim that made me want to go into the swimming business full time. Upon graduation, I started work with a business school as a clerical staff because I’ve always wanted to learn, accounting, and also to learn how business works. I never wanted to go into banking, I preferred the more technical side of things when it comes to the financial sector, then I left business school and joined the consulting firm strategy Safari a management consulting firm. At strategy Safari, I was exposed to how to use PowerPoint presentation, Excel and Microsoft Office. I mean, tremendously. You know, so I was working with Dapo Wusu and Pamela Watson, it was an amazing time at strategy Safari. Then I moved on to Agusto and Co, this was the place to be. It’s a credit rating firm, where I was trained to become an analyst. And so I was taught how to read books of account I knew what revenue is what cost of goods sold and things like that. So I learned how business is run. While with gusto Co I was able to write their oil and gas report for that year and then from there, I moved to Stanbic bank where I joined the investment banking department, I worked with Chukwuka Chukwuma, this guy is extremely intelligent Boss, very nice and, also, I learned from him a lot.
I worked directly with Yemisi Lara Phillips she was the head of research, and I was taken in as a research analyst in the investment banking unit. So the investment banking unit was building a research department for the Stanbic. The old Stanbic. So while I was there, that was when the merger happened with Stanbic and Stanbic became Stanbic IBTC. From there I’ve met Matthew Pearson from renascence capital. The renascence capital is a Russian investment bank so I was headhunted as one of the pioneer staff for Lagos, their venture into Africa was to start from Lagos, then they opened offices in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana. So, I was one of the pioneer staff still doing research, and from Renaissance capital, I joined bank PHB. At Bank PHB I learnt that impossible does not exist. So I was headhunted also to join bank PHB, and I was in the asset management business of the bank. So while I was doing all of these, I was still teaching swimming after work so on Saturdays and Sundays I was teaching swimming after work late in the evenings I was still teaching swimming, you know, the love for the sport, the love for wanting to see people learn to swim. I mean drives me and then I get to meet quite a lot of people so it was a win-win. So from Bank PHB, I joined Quadras Capital as Head of Research and Investment Strategy where I stayed for about two years and then I moved to Nigeria and Export-Import Bank, with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank I was largely responsible for Branding, I was working with Chinedu Moghalu, who headhunted me from Quadras Capital, so he called me up one day and he said hey, do you know I joined Export-Import Bank you know I got your research, and I like your work, would you like to come work with me at Nigerian Export-Import Bank? He was the head of corporate communication then.
So I went and did the interview, and I was successful. Then I moved to Abuja I did some five years with the bank and we did marvellous work with Nexim Bank, changed the logo of the bank I was in the corporate compensation department I was largely responsible for branding, making sure that our colours are beautiful, changed almost everything including ID card, change the call cards i.e business cards, change the lapel pin change the logo, changed almost everything. So, it was a pretty interesting work I went to do at Nigerian Export-Import Bank. So, I was part of the beneficiaries of the Youwin program that was set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan. And when I won the Youwin program, I won it as a swimming school so I decided to run this business full time so I resigned from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank and I started Crawford swimming World fully. While I was with Nigerian Export-Import Bank I travelled to Las Vegas for a conference, and at the hotel, I noticed there was something called floatation therapy, and I went in there and I was wowed. I was just laughing in the tub because I believe that nobody should know how to float unless they know how to swim. So, it was pretty magical to me. It was very interesting, I mean for me being a swimming coach, and for me to have been mesmerized by such a thing, it means that someone who does not know how to swim and in fact, 90% of Nigerians do not swim because actually that 90% because you could have said 70%, but it does mean 20% of people who say they can’t swim, once you put them in the water they can’t swim, according to us as swimming coaches, they can swim.
I was pretty mesmerized by the feeling and the calmness afterwards was pretty phenomenal. So I decided I need to replicate this in Nigeria, which is the reason why you find me now working on for therapy, and I decided to in January 2020. Just before the advent of Covid-19, I started putting together flow therapy in Lagos by March. It’s March particularly that float therapy was opened. Float therapy started just about 8th March, and by March 21st we were asked to close down because there’s going to be a lockdown in the country because of Covid-19, so everywhere was locked down so we did not resume back to work until August, late August, officially real hard work started in September for therapy we’ve had a huge number of people who have come through our doors with service close to 320, times. In terms of the number of floats is ranging close to half a million floats that we have done this floating pod, so people really need this therapy because it helps with calmness, he helps with mental acuity, so it’s such that he helps you to think better, it helps you to overcome mental exhaustion. Mental exhaustion, usually would come from stress, anxiety, especially, and in fact anxiety is one of the major cause of stress, and in fact when you are not in Nigeria if you want, US or UK. If you have anxiety you’ll be placed on drugs so that suppresses your anxiety because anxiety makes you not achieve many of the things that you have the capability and the ability to do. So that’s how I progressed from that stack question.
TWB: Being an SEO expert especially in the finance sector, would you say those experiences give you an edge in this new professional path?
Tayo: As a search engine optimization experts, I learned to do search engine optimization when I left Nexen bank. SEO for me is like me playing sports, because the depth of knowledge in this industry, especially in Nigeria is quite not optimal like you find in the US. I did a course with the US company, they call them the OMG gangs is called the one-man gang. The reason why they call them the one-man gang is that you will be able to do social media, you’ll be able to build a website and you’ll be able to rank the website and you’ll be able to also do videos, and also rank videos on YouTube to make money. We do it for clients so I choose which clients to do this sort of service for because if I should rank your website you will definitely fall on the first page of Google for defined search terms that the client is looking for. So I take that responsibility very seriously because I can rank a company that is not ethical a company that is not good, a company that is not competent, and I can make the company show up on the first page of Google and, which will be my prerogative.
I do not take it lightly to do SEO for any company so I choose which companies I do SEO for now but then thinking about SEO and floatation therapy. So, You begin to think, who searches for floatation therapy in Nigeria. I mean, you will search for what you don’t know anyways, you don’t search for what you don’t know you need. Floatation therapy is a bit different from my swimming business because once you go online and look for swimming lessons in Lagos, swimming lesson for children, swimming lesson for adults in Nigeria in Abuja. If you look for that you will find my website showing almost everywhere but so the strategy for floatation therapy has always been, social media strategy where you make sure you put out a lot of testimonials put out a lot of videos about therapy, without a lot of knowledge about what the therapy is about and also, then you begin to advertise. so, that has been the major way that we’ve been trying to get across to people, and also doing interviews, and like this sort of interview also in a magazine, having this kind of interview on radio or TV, those are the ways that we’ve been running it but search engine optimization will be that if you’re looking for therapy in Nigeria, if you’re stressed, or you’re looking for stress relief, then you find our website. We go by way of social media, for now, that helps with the business.
TWB: Being the first in Nigeria to be doing floatation therapy how would you rate its acceptability?
Tayo: In Nigeria right now, first of all, you will think that because people do not know how to swim, so they might find floatation therapy to be something that they will not take to, but I’ve been surprised as 90% of everybody that has come through our doors, do not know how to swim. So in fact, The people that enjoy this session the most have been people who do not know how to swim. The flotation effect makes gravity not to act on your body so you are aloof. It’s like you are levitating. It’s like you’re in space and there is no pressure on any of your joints or your muscle, that’s the flotation effect of it. The flotation effect is also similar to the scenario when you feel like you want to pray or you go on the mountain where the pressure is different. It reduces the pressure off in your body, kind of, it’s like someone is carrying you but you can’t feel the person carrying you, it’s like going back into your mother’s womb again.
But, the therapy, itself, is not the floating, the therapy itself is the salt, the magnesium, the Epsom salt, the magnesium sulfate seeps into your skin. When it seeps into your skin, it makes inflamed muscles and joints feel relaxed. That is why you find athletes, you find people with arthritis, joint pain, muscle pain, hip pain, leg pain and neck pain come around and then when they do the float in four or five sessions they begin to feel relieved and then even with magnesium you find magnesium oil being sold out there, you find it in small bottles and people with arthritis rub it on their joints and by morning they begin to feel better. So, that is the same liquid you’re coming to lie down in, 1200 pounds of it. So when you lie on the salt it seeps into your skin and eases the pain so the acceptability has been pretty wonderful, but we find ourselves educating people and at the same time marketing so it’s a pretty tough thing to do, but it is enjoyable because I love to teach. I love to impart knowledge, and that has always been my gift.
TWB: What kind of relationship exists or is expected to exist between this form of therapy and the Nigerian health sector?
Tayo: In Nigeria, stress has been one of the major reasons why we find a lot of ailments showing up, ailments in the human body are extremely closely linked to stress, the stress in the body begins to show up from your digestive system. When you are stressed, you will find out that even your digestion of food will be altered. When your digestion of food is altered, you begin to have constipation, you begin to store unnecessary waste in your body which in turn begins to show up as things like colon cancer, bloating, being fatigued, being tired and not knowing why you are tired, So you begin to use supplements, you begin to use a lot of medicine to cure those kinds of problems but then the symptoms go away, then the same problem continues to stay because your digestion has been altered, human beings are digesting machines. So when you take in food and the food does not digest properly, and then so but then we begin to ask ourselves, how do we then digest the food, who controls the digestion of food in the body, who controls the breathing in the body, who controls the blood in the body that is your subconscious mind when your subconscious mind is stressed when your subconscious mind is made to believe that you are under a lot of pressure.
Then it will not function optimally, the reason why stress is removed in the course of meditation and stillness, waiting and just being there doing nothing, where your subconscious mind begins to get a lot of calmness, that leads to that stress relief, and that stress relief will lead to you, not having to go to the hospital a lot. Let me also put it this way, anxiety is the leading cause of heart attacks, heart failure if. Once you become anxious.
Before you know it, you begin to have panic attacks from panic attacks, you begin to now notice a more prominent thing called high blood pressure, this is why you find many young adults also have high blood pressure, you begin to find people who do not have high blood pressure in their family begin to have it, why? Because anxiety can be taken away by attending this sort of therapy so that helps the health sector.
TWB: The major percentage of the Nigerian population that experienced extreme stress can barely afford health care services. Would you see this form of therapy, be a relief route for the populace?
Tayo: Oh definitely, Because this is preventive, this is a holistic way of ensuring that you do not end up needing to go to the hospital. Because, as I mentioned, your stress.
Once your stress level is not so high once you do have anxiety in your system, you’ll begin to calm down, you will prevent having high blood pressure, you will prevent having panic attacks, and your productivity will increase not just because of your health but also because of your productivity. It’s like a holistic approach to your health, you need therapy in order not to become sick, prevention is better and cheaper than cure.
TWB: Are there professional skills required to be able to function as a floatation therapist?
Tayo: Firstly, to become a floatation therapist, you need to, first of all, understand the chemistry of water and the chemistry of the salt itself. So, this is one of the things that we are doing currently in 2021 were beginning to train people who want to open their floatation therapy centres in Lagos outside Lagos and Abuja in Port Harcourt, so if you have interest in doing something like this we do training for people. We train on how to ensure disinfection of the salt itself, keeping the salt pill, keeping the purity of the salt. I mean, so, in terms of the chemistry of the salt cell, we teach how to ensure that the salt is kept pristine.
Secondly, you just need to be a nice person you can. This business is a business of customer service, you can be trained to be better at customer service but then also the fact that people that walk through our doors are Christians, Muslims, people who do not believe in the power of the mind, people who begin to see how the mind works, people who believe in mystic stuff. So, you begin to become very open, you begin to increase your knowledge because in fact when you begin to study about the human body and how the mind works, you need to be able to converse with people on things around you.
Read the books such as The Secret, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind and The Power of Habit, all these are the sorts of things that you need to empower yourself with. You need to know this deep truth, how to know that you are indeed a spirit man that houses a body, not a body that houses a spirit, that is very deep, you begin to open yourself up to this sort of knowledge. You are there to help the people, when they get into the pod, when they do their float, how to set up the music, how to set up out to help them with their earplugs, and these are many other things. So these skills are taught, and these skills can be learned.
What is the future like for floatation therapy?
For floatation therapy we’re going two ways one, we’re already starting the production of fluid pods for people who want to set up their own float centres, and also, for people who want to have this float pods in their homes. You want to have your own audio booth that you’re listening to, you want a quiet area where you can get into to grow and think, you want a place where you can get a dose of magnesium into your body where this thing is extremely healthy for you. Also, it helps you with your mind, with your concentration, so that you can now meditate which is what you have always wanted to. As a Christian, or a place where you can go in and go and have your prayer time, speaking in tongues throughout, you know. So, this is how you begin to shape your life differently. So, we’re producing the pod and then secondly, also we are moving from our current location into a bigger two-bedroom flat where we can have multiple footages, I mean floating pods running at the same time, have a massage place, also in the same venue such that when you finish your float session, you can have a massage, a lounge where you can sit down, have green tea and just think through the session. These are the two things that we are thinking of right now.
TWB: What challenges have you had to encounter in this new professional path and how have you been able to manage them?
Tayo: Electricity is a major one. I find it all joined because I’m a techie kind of person even though I read mathematics, I’ve always loved physics, electricity, plugging things together. So the depth of knowledge from technicians has always been a major problem, you have to always think of them. And then also, Covid-19 is at the top of the list, then you also have marketing problems, people, not knowing exactly what this is about people thinking, it’s only for people that know how to swim. So those are the major challenges that I would say we had, finance is also a major problem but then in Nigeria as an entrepreneur, your major problem is not financing rather, many of these other things that I’ve been talking about. If you can sell well, then you will be able to afford many things.
What is your advice for young entrepreneurs out there who might be considering trodding this path?
For people who will be able to afford to have the float pod installed, once you have it installed then the expansion begins to happen. So, for people who are interested in running a floatation therapy business, since we already have the technology in Nigeria you don’t have to import the pods from the UK. If you are importing the pod from the UK, you will be paying close to 9,500 pounds. That’s a lot of money in Nigeria here we sell the sport for 1.6 million naira, you just need to rent space with the right ambience and then begin to market it. As a stay at home mom, you can have your float pod at home, and then your friends can come for their float sessions in your house. This is what happens all over the world in America and the UK people have float pods at home, and then people pay them to come to their house, I mean you feel more comfortable in your friend’s house. So, you go to the house to take a shower, they go into the float pod, they float, you come out used to chit-chatting your palate before you go. So, this is the dream.