Do you know who Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith are? Probably not. Okay so do you know Hotmail? Probably do. Hotmail started as a an idea between the two of them and after raising seed capital of $300,000 they started in 1996 and 18 months later (20 million customers strong) they sold the company and service to Microsoft for 440 MILLION DOLLARS.
When we started 33000 we set out to create a service that would be used nationwide on the only platform that would was available to fulfil the potential for revenue generation and excellence in service deployment. The challenge? Marketing and a lack of curiosity. Would the service have been an instant hit outside of Nigeria? Probably. Do more people use our service now? Yes they do. The real lesson here is to take the stories like Hotmail and place them in the context of our emerging economy.
ADVERTISING SUCKS; the phrase ‘word of mouth’ marketing is self explanatory. If I like something then I tell someone else about it and the chain goes on. The real challenge is that in Nigeria we are almost dormant in our response. When last did YOU see a Nigerian website advertised and actually check it out? If you wrote a list of ten websites that you regularly check, how many of them are Nigerian? When last did you see an advert for a Nigerian product and on the strength of the ad alone you actually looked for that service/product? Exactly!
SMALLER AUDIENCES; Want to start something new? Start small. In every sense of the word you are better off targeting 100 people aggressively and coaxing 10 of them into becoming regular customers. The Nigerian consumer is peculiar in the sense that you literarily have to beat us over the head to respond to new services even when they are free!! So seek out a smaller audience and work them over. That audience will grow..
SERVICE PROVISION; probably the fastest growing start up business in Nigeria. Why? The initial investment is minimal and you don’t need an office. You use all your clients’ cash to lay out the event and best of all you run almost no costs when you have no work. The question to ask though is if we would have paid for event planners or life coaches 15 years ago? Probably not. The truth is that as consumers we are finally keying in to paying for SERVICES along side goods. This is an emerging aspect of business in Nigeria that we should not overlook.
BUSINESS MODELS; Certain businesses work in Nigeria. They have worked for 20 years and continue to work. Study their business models and apply to your business. Do not mock the person who sells recharge cards on the street. It is an effective business model that generates revenue and makes a profit. Study and learn what makes the Nigerian consumer tick. These lessons are hard but invaluable when it comes time to turn a profit.
PLUG OF THE WEEK; please check out http://www.wed.com.ng and
QUOTE OF THE WEEK; Success is the child of audacity …. Benjamin Disreali