How the Founders of Odiggo are transforming the MENA auto industry using tech and linked end-to-end ecosystem
Odiggo Founders (L-R); Ahmed Omar and Ahmed Nasser (Source: Ahmed Omar)
Odiggo was founded with the aim to close Egypt’s and the MENA informal and highly fragmented car repair process. Which makes it ripe with fraud and inefficiency gap by providing an online platform that links customers with established car parts vendors and car repair service providers. To date, Odiggo has earned 1.2M USD in GMV and grown its user base to 50K monthly active users. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Odiggo’s Founder and CEO, Ahmed Omar shared their journey, impact, challenges and the future for Odiggo. Excerpts.
Alaba: Could you tell me about the Odiggo journey and what sparked the interest?
Ahmed: We started off as e-commerce platform, bootstrapping our way up with no funds, until COVID-19 hit, we did not see it as a threat as much as we saw it as an opportunity, so we went to spare parts dealers and service providers that had to close down due to the pandemic, and allowed them to re-enable their online stores and channels to advertise their products. Then we connected them with service providers so customers can find those products and services delivered at their convenience at their own homes.
With one customer and has grown from the onset when we spotted a gap in the market to make people’s lives easier by simplifying car parts and services shopping. It’s a huge market need. let me explain what we mean with a huge market need, there is some number that can show you how big it is. MENA region Market size is crossing the 60 Billion USD, with a global market size of more than 1.9 Trillion USD as one of the top 10 revenue generating industries.
We are building a digital experience that is transforming the automotive and the after-sale industry, by connecting car owners with a safe ecosystem of car parts suppliers and service providers nearby to ensure convenience and network effect. Users can now find all their car needs in one single place, all their car parts and services. So we made it very easy for them to find what they are looking for.
Alaba: What competitive advantages allow Odiggo to deliver on its value proposition?
Ahmed: Team; we believe we are onboarding top notch talent with very high potential that can drive Odiggo’s innovation and growth in the past few months and this is what we will always have an exceptional team, delivering exceptional results, products and growth.
Technology/product; building scalable tech is what is making us grow very fast, everything we do is very scalable yet will be extremely hard for competitors to go at our speed.
Growth/Expansion; how fast we expand is just thrilling to watch, we built the company with a scalability mindset, yes takes more time to build such things but once you decide to open markets it just flies.
We recently had two of the top Executives of Agility Logistics Company that built it to a Billion Dollar Company, alongside, Essa Al Saleh – CEO & Chairman of Volta Trucks the next tesla for trucks joined on Odiggo’s board alongside side a billion dollar team coming from Jumia, Mackensey, Careem, Deloitte, Hyundai the next generation digital automotive support ecosystem to change the way car owners do their car parts and services shopping.
Alaba: What have been the biggest challenges?
Ahmed: There is a huge market need. Our biggest challenge is coping with that huge market need, as operations of serving that huge market need, so we do as much as we can to automate most of our operations.
Alaba: What are the biggest achievements Odiggo has had?
Ahmed: OUR GREAT TEAM, that got us the great results we reached. We’ve achieved 7 Figures ARR (Annual recurring revenue). Getting consumers to let us know how we changed their lives and how we made it easier for them motivates us.
Alaba: How is your company funded?
Ahmed: It started with a few angel investors coming from private equity firms and tech companies in the region. Latest 2 rounds were backed by Agitero AC (Switzerland VC), that’s led by Essa Al-Saleh, Chairman & CEO of leading electric trucks company Volta Trucks and former CEO of the Billion-dollar logistics company Agility.
Alaba: Kindly share the impact of Covid-19 on your business and survival strategy?
Ahmed: It was a positive impact, we did our highest day every when the lockdown happened in Egypt, and after 3 days we doubled that number. At that time, we recognized that we are in a space that has a huge market need. We are not selling a ” want ” it’s a ” NEED “. COVID-19 made people go for e-commerce more than ever before.
Alaba: What parts of the business will drive growth in the future?
Ahmed: There are multiple growth triggers that will drive growth of the company in the future. The core of this growth is understanding the customer behavior and helping them have a better experience and work on their repeatability. However, introducing more services will help customers to come back, in this case customers will have 3x of their retention.
Global infrastructure; allowing customers to buy from any merchant onboard worldwide is something that we are working on to make sure merchants that are on boarded on Odiggo is not only selling locally but also internationally.
Horizontal Expansion; not only cars, expanding into other vehicle types to support more businesses and car owners who generate income from driving their own commercial trucks or vehicles, motorcycles etc.
Car connection; understanding and reading the car data, will allow us to educate the customer on what needs to be changed, allowing them to make those purchase actions from the platform and making it very easy for them to place those purchases on Auto, so they would not need to confirm again.
Introducing all the DIFM – Do-it-for-me services like, to drive convenience and obsession to the app/platforms.
Alaba: What is the set milestones and future for Odiggo?
Ahmed: It’s mainly coping with the huge market need in the region. Based on research the market in GCC is more than $11 Billion USD. So we are mainly going to expand to the MENA Region mainly, with a focus on GCC starting with UAE and KSA. In addition, Africa is a huge market we are targeting for the future as well.
Be the No. 1 source of car parts and services with a great experience through automated error recognition. Acquire 5% of the global market size in one of the top 10 revenue generating industries which is 100 Billion dollars, that means being a trillion dollar company. Between Mid-2020 to Mid-2022, we are looking to expand and earn the highest market share in the digital marketplace in terms of car parts and services in three markets UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
We are working on various testing environments and R&D ourselves that will allow us to always elevate the company and grow beyond our stakeholders expectations
Alaba: How do you feel to be African entrepreneurs?
Ahmed: First, we believe that Africa is the next big thing, we’ve seen great success stories that came from Africa that made it to billion dollar such as Jumia that went IPO at NYSE.
Second, is there a lot to be done in our industry, there are a lot of ideas that haven’t been applied to the region yet.
We believe that entrepreneurs make people’s lives easier so that’s our main objective. We feel so proud when we get a message from a customer saying how we made his life easier and how much time and money we saved him.
Ahmed Omar CEO & Co-founder grew Odiggo traffic from 0 to 100K+ with no marketing team. He started his e-commerce career and made first eCommerce sale at 14 years old in 2017 with his e-commerce channels in Egypt selling through marketplaces like Souq, Jumia & social media channels making thousands of dollars during his college. While graduating back in 2014 he built what is called Seyanty a car maintenance booking platform, not knowing anything about tech product or venture capital. Omar have been involved in Find My Pic, which is an app that helps customers save images with keywords so they can easily find it, again.
Omar did not research the market well enough to know that Google Photos have launched it in their new app led to Find My Pic users to leave no reason to use the app anymore. Omar’s passion to solving the customer’s problem and disrupting industries as long as making people’s life easier always kept him hungry. After his last visit to Cairo, he decided to join a team building an aggregator marketplace called KasrZero.com, which was the first used cars (pre-owned) marketplace in Egypt during 2017/2018, They never made any money selling cars, the only money they made was when one of their customers asked for Car Parts, That was the start of Odiggo’s story.
Ahmed Nasser, COO & Co-Founder drove the growth of Odiggo’s revenue from $5K to $100K monthly in 11 months and transformed Odiggo’s performance to make 8x more during COVID-19. Nasser grew small traditional companies and digitized businesses to be top ranking companies in their industry in Egypt. He started helping businesses at the age of 16 and pursuing patterns that would make successful management. His obsession to how companies grow and building great products have carried him along every step of the road.
Nasser read over 500 books during his career trying to understand the right patterns to create successful businesses, yet he found the answer in execution. This is where he decided to be part of building a startup or build his own. Results speak louder than words! Since joining Odiggo the company has been on top of the list of any candidate looking to grow and be part of this disruption, the company was able to grow 40-50% month over month in GMV, transactions and Userbase.
Senegalese Agripreneur says digital marketing key to luxury tea startup success
Senegalese businesswoman Adja Sembene Fall said she had no choice but to launch her start-up business online because her new Contanna fair-trade tea company only had $200 to its name.
“Due to lack of finance, it was not possible to get a physical shop. We started out in the backyard of my brother’s house. We sold our teas via social media for three years,” said Fall. She says her line of luxury brand tea products is about more than taste. Fall says Contanna teas sell a “Senegalese experience” that promotes a women-owned, 100% locally sourced and processed product based on recipes infusing family and cultural traditions.
“Digitizing our buying process was really important. We were also able to present and adjust packaging of our product online, [to emphasize] it was premium and different from what was available in Senegal,” the 29-year-old added.
Contanna says its first year of operations, a focus on Instagram and its website drew $5,000 in online sales. As the online business grew, Fall said, Contanna hit $12,000 in sales and established a community of around 2,000 clients.
Contanna recently opened a pop-up stall at Dakar’s Sea Plaza shopping mall. In January, it was named a winner of the African Development Bank’s AgriPitch Competition, which supports African youth agripreneurs by improving their business bankability and ensuring that they are “pitch ready” for potential investors.
The 2022 AgriPitch competition, which started last October, received nearly 750 complete entries from entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector – or “agripreneurs” – from 38 African countries. The judging panel comprised women- led enterprise support advisory firm, Private Equity Support; the Private Financing Advisory Network, a global network of climate and clean energy financing experts; and EldoHub, an education, innovation, and technology organization targeting youth and women.
The competition, which this year awarded $140,000 in prizes, is a key activity of the Bank’s ENABLE Youth Program.
“African youth have great ideas. It was exciting to see the high level of innovation and passion from these young agripreneurs, particularly the large number of women-owned enterprises like Contanna,” said Edson Mpyisi, the Bank’s Chief Financial Economist and ENABLE Youth Coordinator.
AgriPitch organizers selected 25 semi-finalists, 68% of them women-owned or led businesses, to attend a two-week business development virtual boot camp. The boot camp culminated in a pitch session to judges, who chose 9 agripreneurs to advance to the finals.
“I was pitching in front of my shop – where customers were passing by. They were so encouraging when they discovered that [my business] is a 100% Senegalese company and especially that the founder was a woman,” said Fall. She received $25,000 as the winner in the AgriPitch competition women-owned business category.
Fall says she’ll use part of the prize money to upgrade a digital payment system and for computers and digital skills training for Contanna employees, all women.
“We don’t eschew hiring men. The women were first to apply and were qualified. They currently log their work production and stock building in paper books. We are training them to build capacity to use Google Sheets [and other digital software],” Fall said.
Contanna and the two-dozen other competition finalists will retain access to the AgriPitch “deal room” to avail of post-competition digital expertise, business development, and investor engagement.
“We look forward to working closely with the entrepreneurs in the coming months through individual business advisory support and investor engagement in the deal room,” said Diana Gichaga, Managing Partner at Private Equity Support.
Helping a friend to acquire her first home ignited my interest in real estate – Ayodeji Kehinde
Ayodeji Kehinde is a real estate entrepreneur and founder of KFAO Corporates Services, one of Nigeria’s leading real estate and brokerage firm. She prides herself in her passion and heartfelt drive to serve her clients’ best interest. Ayodeji is dedicated, knowledgeable, and committed to finding the perfect fit, whether space for residential or office/commercial, for her clientele. Naturally, she loves the subject of architecture, designs, property and environment. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Ayodeji shares her entrepreneurship journey into the real estate industry and how she is helping her clients acquire their dream properties. Excerpt.
Alaba: What makes KFAO Coroporates and Formidables standout?
Ayodeji: Integrity is key in whatever one does and that is our core value! Buying Real Estate is not like every other goods you see on the shelves you point at and you make payment. Real Estate involves Due Diligence. When you allow lack of integrity and accountability take over you as a Real Estate Service provider, then you are close to doom.
At KFAO and Formidable Corporate Partners, we are dedicated to providing world-class service and market-leading expertise to our clients. We are passionate about providing the extra value that others simply will not when it comes to due diligence with integrity and accountability.
When you approach us with your products as a developer, we do not rely on the documents cited, we go extra miles to verify and do searches on the property and where we found that the properties are in the handcuffs of government or any other encumbrance, be as it may, we back-out even when money has exchanged hands, we refund.
A whole lot of properties are out there being sold by some other brokerage firms without due diligence. Some would after finding out the property isn’t good to sell, still go ahead thereby putting investors’ funds to waste. We are not keen about what money we want to make but the security of our investors’ funds is our concern.
Alaba: What are the 3 things that excites you about the real estate industry?
Ayodeji: In simple terms; Money, Meeting people and Solving people’s housing need.
Alaba: If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Ayodeji: In Nigeria, the most important document to property buyers and landowners which is the Certificate Of Occupancy , C of O as it’s called has become very difficult to get. The document is issued by the state governments in Nigeria and verifies that you own the land or property in question. Property purchased without a Certificate of Occupancy is the equivalent of purchasing a vehicle without a logbook.
As a Nigerian landowner or property owner, this is not the kind of situation you find yourself. The administration is faulted. Understanding the top skills for those that want a career in Real Estate can be helpful hence the need to get a handful of skilled labour.
If I had the opportunity to reform the Nigerian Real Estate Sector, the above are what I would face squarely and make sure I achieve them.
Alaba: Why should property buyers engage a professional realtor?
Ayodeji: You might be far out of your element when it comes to reviewing and understanding the multiple documents involved in a real estate deal. You should have a thorough understanding of what you’re getting into regardless of whether you’re buying or selling. Purchase agreements alone can top 10 pages.
A realtor will be far more familiar with all this paperwork than you are. Consider this if you’re still thinking about saving money: Some mistakes or omissions in these documents can cost you as much as that commission you were trying to avoid paying or even far more.
For those looking out to get a realtor, I’ll advise they don’t get weary of what’s going to cost them but look out for the expertise like we have in KFAO and Formidables which is a sure security for their investment.
Alaba: What are some common myths about working in your industry?
Ayodeji: “You don’t need them to get a property”. Yes you can sell your home without an agent? In fact, you can even buy a home without them. Many underestimate the value an experienced Realtor / Broker like KFAO and Formidables can bring to them.
The truth is, Realtors/Brokers have a duty to put your best interests in the transaction at the forefront. They can provide you with knowledge about the current market conditions and use their expertise to negotiate the best deal for you. You can trust us in that aspect. We ensure that you have all your ducks in a row regarding paperwork and walk you through the process.
Another myth is “If Your Home Isn’t in Great Condition, No One Will Buy It”. It’s true that some remodeling projects can increase your home’s value. But if your home is outdated or needs major repairs, it doesn’t necessarily mean no one will want to buy it. The Truth is that there are people that only buy homes that are in poor condition and require updating or major repairs. These are typically local real estate investors and professional home buyers who update and renovate properties as a business. If your current home needs some work, consider selling the property to a professional home buyer.
A common seller myth is that offering a lower commission will net more money. What this will do is cause agents with the most qualified buyers to go to the higher listed commission properties first and show the lower commission properties with less enthusiasm. The result is that fewer interested buyers will see your property and fewer cooperating brokers will show it, and the longer your property stays in the market, the more frustrated you become and you might end up selling on distress.
Alaba: How are you thriving as a real estate entrepreneur and a mum?
Ayodeji: Let’s face it, women must play many different roles at the same time. Being a mom, partner, friend, sister, daughter not to mention employee or business owner or household manager requires multitasking and prioritization skills or else you won’t be able to do it all. As a Real Estate Entrepreneur and a mother, the ability to manage my time effectively has always been my saving grace.
Alaba: What skill do you think all women should learn and why?
Ayodeji: Women today are blessed with many opportunities to explore their passions and make their mark. You can be a homemaker, lawyer, programmer, or whatever you so desire. You can get married if and when you choose, to whom you want, and have a family that takes many forms. The options abound. At the same time, though, as a woman, you can face unique challenges and barriers to getting what you want.
Financial skills to me are the most paramount I’ll want all women to have. Learning the basics of simple addition, subtraction and multiplication is essential and the reason being that this will help you with all the financial skills you need to create a household budget and live within your means, manage all resources at your disposal. Master the art and science behind investing and building your wealth. You’ll be set to live comfortably now and save for retirement.
Goal setting skills are mandatory in the business world and life. You can’t get what you want unless you envision it. Give yourself the space to dream and imagine what you want. Then, be able to identify priorities and tactical plans to make things happen.
Alaba: Do you have a specific advice for women wanting to get into real estate?
Ayodeji: What has really helped me this far as a Real Estate Entrepreneur is the fact that I had always wanted to be in a position where I could really own my time and space and drive my own business. You’re only going to be successful in real estate if you want to have the sales skills and entrepreneurial drive to build your own brand and always be available to book businesses. For every woman that wants to be a Real Estate Entrepreneur, my best advice is that they must have an inexhaustible desire to see success irrespective of the challenges encountered.
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Exclusive: Damilola Felicia Badmus, Author, “How LinkedIn Works”
Damilola Felicia Badmus is a multi-talented individual with several areas of expertise, including personal brand photography, consulting, writing, and speaking. She is also recognized as a LinkedIn Influencer.
Her main area of interest is helping people build their personal brand on LinkedIn through the effective use of images and content strategy. Damilola understands the power of visual storytelling and how it can be leveraged to create a strong and impactful presence on LinkedIn. And she strives to share this knowledge with others through her work as a photographer and consultant.
In addition, Damilola is a Nigerian based in the United Kingdom and she aim to help people effectively use LinkedIn to build their brand and reach their goals, which is evident through her book “How LinkedIn Works.”
Alaba: You recently launched your first book, “How LinkedIn Works”. What inspired this?
Damilola: The inspiration behind my book came from my desire to provide comprehensive and in-depth information to people who are seeking to understand and effectively utilize LinkedIn.
I recognized that teaching people in a one-on-one setting through masterclasses may not fully address all of their questions and concerns, so writing a book was a way for me to reach a wider audience and provide them with a comprehensive resource that they can refer to. This desire to help others understand and succeed on LinkedIn is what motivated me to write the book.
Alaba: For brands new to LinkedIn, what is the platform all about and why is it so important?
Damilola: LinkedIn is a social network platform that caters to professionals and enables them to connect, network, and showcase their work experience, education, skills, and accomplishments.
For brands, it provides a platform to reach a highly targeted audience of professionals and decision-makers and establish relationships with them by sharing relevant content and showcasing their products and services.
Additionally, it’s a crucial tool for individuals to build a strong personal brand and establish themselves as a thought leader in their industry, leading to increased visibility, credibility, and career opportunities.
Alaba: What was your process for writing this book, “How LinkedIn Works”?
Damilola: The idea to write ‘How LinkedIn Works’ came to me through the Holy Spirit, and I was encouraged by some of my friends to write it. I then took a structured approach to write the book, starting by outlining the chapters and adding subtitles to them. This allowed me to have a clear vision for what I wanted to achieve with the book and helped me to bring that vision to life in an organized and manageable way.
Alaba: What’s the most interesting reaction/feedback you’ve had about your new book?
Damilola: The most interesting feedback I’ve received about my book is that it is highly informative and easy to understand. People have appreciated the fact that they were able to learn new things about LinkedIn and that the book provides clear and self-explanatory information.
I’d also say the feedback suggests that my book is serving its purpose as a comprehensive resource for people looking to effectively use LinkedIn. It is always rewarding to hear that your hard work and efforts have had a positive impact on others.
Alaba: Which part/chapter of How LinkedIn Works was the easiest or trickiest to write?
Damilola: Chapter 3 “Create content like a pro” was the easiest and trickiest to write. This is because creating content is one of my areas of expertise therefore it was easy. However, the ability to share my knowledge and experience on this topic needed to be put in an effective and clear manner.
In this chapter, I shared my insights on how to use content pillars to create compelling content on LinkedIn and generate ideas for posts that will engage your target audience. By breaking down this often-challenging aspect of using LinkedIn into manageable steps, I made it easier for readers to understand and implement the advice I was providing.
Alaba: What do you hope to achieve with this book?
Damilola: My goal for this book is to help individuals and brands effectively use LinkedIn to build their personal brand, establish their presence and authority in their industry, and reach their professional goals. By providing comprehensive and actionable advice on how to navigate LinkedIn, I hope to empower others to succeed on the platform.
Alaba: Do you have a favourite social media platform? What and why?
Damilola: My favourite social media platform is LinkedIn, and the reason for this is its opportunities for self-expression through writing and its positive and inspiring community. One of the key ways I have leveraged this community is by organizing three successful networking events in Nigeria.
Through these events, I have had the chance to meet with over 100 individuals and connect with like-minded individuals who share my interests and values. I find LinkedIn to be a powerful tool in supporting my professional goals and helping me build my personal brand and establish myself as a thought leader in my field.
Alaba: As a LinkedIn Influencer yourself, how has the platform added value to your growth?
Damilola: As a LinkedIn Influencer, the platform has played a significant role in my growth by providing me with a platform to share my expertise and knowledge with a wide audience. By leveraging the power of LinkedIn, I have been able to build my personal brand, establish myself as a thought leader in my field, connect with individuals who share my interests and values and help brands bring their products/services to the face of my audience.
Through writing and sharing content on LinkedIn, I have been able to demonstrate my expertise and knowledge, and engage with a growing community of followers and supporters. This has helped me to establish credibility and authority in my field and has opened up new opportunities for me to connect and collaborate with others.
Additionally, LinkedIn has provided me with valuable insights and data on my audience and the impact of my content, which has helped me to refine my approach and improve my results over time. The platform’s emphasis on professional networking and connection has also been invaluable, allowing me to build meaningful relationships with individuals and organizations in my field.
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Alaba: Lastly, your advice to new entrants to the platform or those still navigating their way?
Damilola: For new entrants to LinkedIn or those still navigating their way, my advice is to focus on building a strong personal brand. Start by crafting a compelling and accurate profile that showcases your skills, experience, and values, and be sure to include a professional headshot and background image.
Next, start connecting with individuals and organizations in your field and find people with hashtags. Consistently share valuable and relevant content, whether it be your own original content or content from others that you have curated and added your own thoughts too. This will help you establish yourself as a thought leader and build your authority in your field.
Another key aspect to success on LinkedIn is to network, network, network! Reach out to people you admire and want to learn from, and actively engage with others by commenting and liking their posts. Collaborating with others on LinkedIn can lead to new opportunities, mutually beneficial relationships, and even new business ventures.
Finally, be patient and persistent. Building a strong personal brand and establishing yourself as An influencer on LinkedIn takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. Stay focused on your goals, be consistent in your efforts, and never stop learning and growing. The possibilities on LinkedIn are endless, and with the right approach, you can achieve great success on the platform.