For many people who are involved in the event organizing sector in Ethiopia, the name Flawless Events is synonymous with success. From high profile conferences to continental summits and exhibitions, Flawless’s name is attached to many of the most successful events in Addis Ababa and beyond. LinkUp’s Tettemqe had a chat with the founder and CEO of the company Yoadan Tilahun. Enjoy!
Let’s rewind a bit. You started to get into the events scene in 2004 as a part-time gig in Virginia. What inspired that?
We were a group of friends; it was five of us. We were tired of always being broke. And because we all had a 9 to 5, this was the easiest thing we could do outside of our regular jobs. We all liked to throw parties, we liked attending parties. We would go to a lot of African events. We noticed most of the events were disorganized.
So, the inspiration was, one, purely monetary: “how can we earn more money?” And then when we were thinking about what skills we all shared and could do something with, it was events. We started brainstorming names as to what it was we wanted the business to do. Since the whole point was to better deliver events organized by African individuals or entities, through different brainstorming we landed on Flawless. So, we started the business pretty easily. In the US, you don’t need an office or anything, you just submit a document and you get a license. We started doing birthdays, weddings, fundraisings, fashion shows, just anything to put our names out there. And because the Ethiopian community in D.C. is very tight-knit, it was easy to get our name across.
Fast forward to now, your company has big names like Coca Cola and IBM in its portfolio of clients; do you remember the very first client you had back in ’04?
Our first event was a birthday for one of the partners’ sister. We did everything; we cooked, bartended, we were the DJs. And on that first event, a couple of them said “this is not fun!” But they stuck with it. Our second one was a movie premiere, I forgot the name. It was the first movie produced and directed by Ethiopians. The cast was mainly Ethiopians based in California. We did a launch of that at an independent movie theatre. That was a lot of fun.