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How the Founders of Odiggo are transforming the MENA auto industry using tech and linked end-to-end ecosystem

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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.

 

Founders Background 

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.

 

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Afripreneur

Theo Baloyi on building a sneaker brand for Africans

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Theo Baloyi, Founder of Bathu (Image: Supplied).

This entrepreneur created a 100% African shoe brand to wage war on Nike and Adidas. His name is Theo Baloyi, and he is a South African entrepreneur. Judging the market shares of the shoe giants too high in Africa, he decided to leave an important position at PWC in Dubai to launch Bathu Sneakers. 

After months of feasibility studies, and being rejected by 13 different shoe factories – Theo Baloyi’s perseverance pays off and the Mesh Edition Sneaker is born. Bathu, which means shoes in townships across South Africa, is a sneaker brand launched in 2015, in a local township (Alexandra), whose colors and patterns are inspired by Africa. Bathu bought its first delivery vehicle and opened its first physical store in Newtown Junction Mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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Part of Theo Baloyi’s pillars for Bathu from the start was to create 100 meaningful jobs. In 2020 this was achieved. The brand has been a dazzling success, with more than thirty stores now in South Africa, and numerous distinctions.  It has now grown exponentially over the years, with 32 stores nationwide and a staff complement of over 300 employees, who are predominantly youth. 

The Bathu story is more than just a story of sneakers. It’s a story of owning your destiny, staying true to who you are, persevering, following your dreams and doing something you are passionate about. It’s a story of walking your journey. The brand is more than just a sneaker business but a beacon of hope that each person has valid and attainable dreams regardless of background and unfavourable personal circumstances.

The Bathu tagline, “Walk your Journey”, is centered around its mission statement of reigniting hope and creating sustainable employment. We believe everyone is on a journey; ours is to equip, ignite and enable that journey.

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Afripreneur

Ideas Origin Media: Unearthing Innovation and Transforming Brands With Disruptive Creativity

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Ideas Origin Media CEO, Israel Obatunde (Image: Supplied).

Ideas Origin Media is a creative powerhouse disrupting the advertising industry since its inception in 2022. Led by the creative juggernaut, Israel Obatunde, the Originals as they are popularly called, are making strong waves in providing solutions for people and businesses who need unique strategies and creative innovation that can help their brands break through clutter in their industries.

In today’s competitive business landscape, brands are constantly seeking inventive ways to engage their target audience without breaking the bank. Against this backdrop, creative agencies with unique strategies are bending the rules and changing the game. One agency that stands out from the lot is Ideas Origin Media, a trailblazer reshaping brand narratives and consumer connections.

Driven by a profound comprehension of consumer dynamics, Ideas Origin Media’s strategic framework rests upon meticulously gathered insights. At its core, the agency champions originality, data-driven creativity, and innovative storytelling, catalyzing brand visibility and resonance in an interconnected world.

Israel Obatunde, the visionary CEO of Ideas Origin Media, believes the agency’s operational ethos is emphasizing a culture of risk-taking and collaboration. By prioritizing client-centric strategies and ongoing skill development, the agency ensures tailored and impactful creative solutions that transcend traditional advertising norms.

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Central to its organizational ethics is the acronym CANVAS: Creativity, Ambition, Novelty, Versatility, Accountability, and Support. Elizabeth Adesina, the Business Director, underscores these values as guiding principles, driving the agency’s mission to effect meaningful change in the industry. Shedding more light on this, she added that Adaptability and flexibility form the bedrock of Ideas Origin Media’s competitive edge. 

Recognizing and swiftly addressing operational inefficiencies such as bureaucracy and accountability gaps, the agency has fostered a culture of transparency and nimbleness within the agency, ensuring prompt, top-tier deliverables. 

To remain relevant amidst evolving consumer trends and technological disruptions, Ideas Origin Media prioritizes continual evolution. And by harnessing cutting-edge technologies, embracing industry trends, and championing originality, the agency sustains its innovative edge. 

The agency’s Creative Director, Segun Ayinla highlights the agency’s commitment to crafting culturally resonant campaigns that connect with diverse audiences. He elaborated further that by leveraging Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, Ideas Origin Media delivers authentic narratives that captivate and inspire.

With a portfolio boasting impactful campaigns like the 2024 DStv-AFCON and Jack Daniel’s Jack and The Beat campaign where the brand partnered with Hilda Baci, Ideas Origin Media continues to consistently push creative boundaries and deliver unparalleled brand experiences. Its recent expansion into the United Kingdom also signifies a bold stride towards global competitiveness, underlining the agency’s commitment to excellence and innovation. 

The CEO, Israel Obatunde has re-affirmed the agency’s ambitious growth trajectory, with plans for further expansion across Africa and beyond. Built to stand the test of time, each campaign undertaken by Ideas Origin Media is not just noteworthy but a glowing testimonial to the agency’s unwavering dedication to transformative creativity and unparalleled impact. 

As Ideas Origin Media charts new territories and cultivates strategic alliances, its journey unfolds with promise and potential, poised to redefine the contours of brand communication in Africa and beyond.

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Afripreneur

WaxPrint Media and AfricaNXT Unlocking Growth for African Founders at NY Tech Week

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WaxPrint Media partnered with AfricaNXT to present #dmaAfrica (Download My App), an interactive platform for African founders to foster meaningful connections with potential customers and investors. The program was held at Linkedin Social Impact HQ at the Empire State Building in Manhattan, NYC.

Each of the 5 startup founders engaged groups in 2 rounds of flash focus group sessions where attendees downloaded the apps or engaged the website for onboarding and provided feedback in real time. Following the focus groups, the founders pitched their early stage startups to a panel of investors/experts which included:

The featured founders represented diverse startups focused on tourism, sustainability, networking, and cultural experiences:

  • Isaac Otoo, founder of MigranX, the cultural copilot connecting immigrants and international students with authentic cultural experiences
  • Cavaughn J. Noel, MBA founder of daap, “Connect better”
  • Ibukunoluwa Adebayo, co-founder of Greensol.io, an All-in-One App focused on Utility bills payment and Solar Sales, Maintenance and Management
  • Marwh Nabil, co-founder of Easy Meets, a marketplace that simplifies planning hangouts & trips for groups or individuals and provides businesses with valuable information about potential customers.
  • Yoma Onosemuode, founder of Travelbay, the best way to plan, curate, book and experience travel across Africa.

“I have worked with African tech startups and founders over the past 10 years and have a deep understanding of their needs to achieve growth. A viable product and a community of loyal ambassadors can determine their capacity to scale and we sought to create that bridge for these founders with a focus on Africa during NY Tech Week,” shared Muhammida El Muhajir, #dmaAfrica co-host and Director of Strategy at WaxPrint Media, a boutique digital/communications agency with clients in over 22 countries.

#dmaAfrica co-hosts: WaxPrint Media Director of Strategy , Muhammida El Muhajir and Ngozi Odita, founder of AfricaNXT

NY Tech Week is an “unconference”,  an unbranded week of events sponsored by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm and  hosted by various members of the tech community all under the umbrella of “Tech Week.” NY Tech Week was an opportunity to showcase what makes the New York tech community special, meet people from across venture and startups, and learn from the best founders and companies.

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“The #dmaAfrica  event was an extension of our mission at AfricaNXT where we serve a global community eager to connect to Africa through diverse programming, immersive experiences, high-level conversations, and game-changing connections. We were thrilled to collaborate with Linkedin to support us in making an impact for these innovations from the African tech community in NYC,” added Ngozi Odita,  founder of AfricaNXT one of Nigeria’s leading innovation conferences.

The program closed with panelists iterating on each startup and answering the question “Will you download my app?”.

“Participating in #dmaAfrica was one of the best event experiences I have had as a founder. It was unlike any other and allowed me to intimately exchange with users and investors, share my story and see how they experience my web app. It forced me to go deeper and rethink how I communicate my vision and product,” said Yoma Onosemuode, the founder of Travelbay.

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