'My decisions put me in prison – so I started making better ones' – Kent Online

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A former drug dealer who turned his life around to become a successful entrepreneur says he loves “solving problems” by filling gaps in the market.
AdeDapo Michael Dalley, from Maidstone, started an event management company after he left a life of crime which landed him in prison.
The 28-year-old – who grew up in Thamesmead, South London – came up with the idea of Events Meets World when he tried to organise his own celebration.
He said: “Events Meets World is an event management company and came out of the need to simplify event planning.
“We found that a lot of individuals and businesses had issues with planning their event projects and making sure it was delivered on time, on budget and within the resources that were available.
“I started the business back in 2019 but I officially registered it in 2020.
“A lot of business has come through word of mouth. The idea started around my 25th birthday where I was looking to rent a marquee, and I found that renting one was around the same price as buying one.
“Being the witty business-minded person I am, I purchased a marquee, used it for my birthday and from there I started telling my friends and family that I have the marquee available.
“If they were interested in hiring it, I would do them a reasonable price that’s cheaper than everyone else.
“I spotted a gap in the market for affordable equipment for people having events, that’s how I started.”
AdeDapo said his “business mind” developed at an early age, growing up in London.
He said: “In school, I tried to hustle, I definitely would call myself a hustler.
“I would buy things and sell them. I was into marketing, buying things cheap and selling them at a reasonable price.
“Adding value to people around me and also solving problems, I would definitely call myself a hustler, entrepreneur, a business-minded individual.
The entrepreneur explained how the environment he grew up in affected him.
He said: “I grew up in London all my life. It was definitely good, very diverse, mixed with different communities and it allowed me to become street-wise.
“It allowed me to deal with different situations, even with the journey of going to school.
“Seeing people get robbed after school, you’ll see innocent people who weren’t involved in a lifestyle being taken advantage of.
“People getting bullied and not being able to stand up for themselves, it made me want to stand up for other people.
“It also made me not want to be vulnerable and just be two steps ahead.
“It made me understand that prevention is better than cure. There’s situations where I saw people fighting over material things.
“If a group of people want your phone or one of your items, you’re going to fight, but your life is more valuable than that.
“You have to learn to analyse situations and see if it’s worth it, because you don’t want your life being taken over by petty things.
“Growing up around people that were into different things, you get to kind of see what works for you.”
The salesman said this environment led him to make decisions which ultimately resulted in him going to prison at the age of 21.
He said: “I didn’t have a lot of role models. I had a lot of people around me who were older and into different things, whether that be legitimate or illegitimate.
“Me being young, wanting to make money, wanting the finer things in life, the new designer stuff, the Nike trainers, Gucci, you can get caught up if you’re not mentally strong.
“And if you don’t have a strong support system around you, growing up in the wrong environment can lead you to the wrong things.
“Me myself, I’ve taken those left turns instead of the right ones.”
AdeDapo was given a one year sentence for dealing cannabis for which he served a six-month term when he was 21.
He continued: “When I was 21, I ended up going to jail. I was sentenced. It definitely changed my life because I never saw myself going there.
“I was into a lot of things, doing what I could to get ahead in life and make money, but I always thought I was too smart and it wouldn’t happen to me.
“When I did go to jail it was a life-changing moment because I got to sit down and be still.
“Up until that moment I was always active and energetic.
“To be in a place where I was stagnant and couldn’t do anything, it forced me to think.
“It forced me to sit down and really plan what I want to do with my life, and understand that my decisions got me to this point, so I told myself I need to start making different decisions and turn my life around.
“That inspired me to turn my life around, pick up books and start reading.”
AdeDapo developed daily habits which gave him a stable routine to plan his day and his life.
He said: “I started reading one book in particular which was the Bible, Proverbs, gaining wisdom and knowledge.
“From this I went back to university, finished and from there things have been good.
“Today, when I wake up I like to pray. I have a list of habits which I like to follow.
“I like to wake up, pray, read, meditate, study, plan, get started with my day. Waking up early has been very important for me and has played a pivotal part in my life.
“It’s very fulfilling. I love helping people. I believe business is all about adding value to others.
“It’s all about solving problems, it’s amazing to have these concepts in your head and seeing them come to life.
“It shows the power of the mind and the power of ideas, and that anything is possible.
“At the time it’s also very time consuming, difficult, hard work, you might feel like you want to give up, or that there’s no solution.
“It might seem draining, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love what I do and people can see that.”
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