The ubiquitous nature of consumer needs somehow has contributed to the tech space being flooded with various solutions -- even more than are needed. Lagos -- in contrast to other markets -- for one has enjoyed a fair share of this saturation.
This simple analogy can be translated to mean different things for different startups. However, those meaning to explore uncharted territory might do well to follow in Nkiru Amadi Emina's footsteps. Nkiru Amadi Emina is the CEO/Product manager of ThinkHat, alongside her team, they are transforming the way delivery works with their flagship product, “Jalo”. And if it would please you to know, Jalo has an eye for "advantage". What that mean is; it’s excluding itself entirely from the rat race to explore a terrain where market potential not only abound but also enable it best serve its customers.
“There is a potential market in Lagos, but it is also a crowded market” she says.
Jalo – On Demand Delivery -- is a hybrid logistics and technology solution that adopts internet technology to transform the way delivery works. While others are exploring the rigid terrains in Lagos, they choose to set camp in Abuja. With Jalo, they are providing a way to conveniently move packages from one point to another by ensuring that the entire logistics between when a request is made to when it is fulfilled is powered using technology.
How Jalo works
Jalo primarily tends to the B2B market, but they also made it possible for individuals to request delivery of anything (any legal object) thereby making it a two sided solution; each providing delivery services that meet both the needs of businesses and consumers.
“Like having a venn diagram where Jalo sits right in the middle of all that” says Nkiru.
The first side of Jalo solution is extended to businesses "who do deliveries", want to extend to areas they don’t reach but "do not necessarily want to bear the burden of handling the delivery process". The focus here for Jalo is to acquire them as delivery partners. This it does with its online (this is Jalo’s "merchant's dashboard") platform where such businesses can just go on that platform (this is on the assumption that; as delivery partners to Jalo, it’s a requisite that they own an account which automatically gives them access to a dashboard); fill in their request and Jalo handles the delivery. Mind you, since these businesses are already registered businesses their office location is usually the pickup location by default. The awesome thing in addition to the aforementioned is that, the businesses can check the status of their order at every point and also track the location of the delivery agent at the point of delivery.
The other half of Jalo’s solution is built around a platform that connects consumers to local stores (Jalo Get-it). More like a hyper-local eCommerce store. Jalo partners with small local stores within Abuja who "don’t necessarily care for delivery" -- "but want to make their product easily available for their customers" -- by convincing or helping them to put their inventory online and customers can browse through the platform make their orders and Jalo handles the product delivery.
Be the smartest in the room
It’s basically a platform where customers can go make their delivery request, set their pickup location, set up their check up location, choose transportation medium to deliver the product and Jalo handles the rest.
With all the "advantage" talk, it's no brainer as to why Jalo set up base in Abuja. Asides from the fact that they clearly understand the market they are dealing with, the transportation network in Abuja no doubt is almost flawless and it has helped manage logistics effectively, and also meet up delivery within few hours. Keeping to time is as integral aspect of important of On Demand Delivery after all. Interesting.
Jalo’s pricing is calculated based on distance. For each location there’s a fixed delivery cost (drop off fee) and a fixed base fare (the cost to pickup from that particular location). For instance, Wuse 2 in Abuja has a pickup fee of₦50, while a pickup from Lifecamp in Abuja as well is₦150. These locations also have their respective fixed drop off fees as well. But generally the total cost (both pickup and drop off) of a delivery can be as cheap as₦400 or even less.
So far the business has survived through bootstrapping. Although Jalo recently picked up interest from an investor and according to Nkiru, all that remains is to finalize the modalities of the deal. Also the business was selected as part of the startups to benefit from TEEP 2016 programme and would get a sum of $5000, part – if not all – of which constitutes the business’ early stage funding.
“Customer acquisition has been the major challenge and that transacts to slow market penetration” says Nkiru. However the following statement by Nkiru describes their approach to tackling the challenge “we are trying to be fast and also move fast”. They are very optimistic about a change in trend when they finally seal the funding deals.
Jalo is looking to bolster its current figures of delivery partners and "get it" merchant/local stores -- which it hopes to expand to 200 in the coming days -- and is also staunch on exploring more uncharted territory. According to Nkiru, places like Port Harcourt, Edo and Kaduna sit on top of expansion plans.
If one by now already understands Nkiru’s concept of advantage, then Lagos is still a far cry from her agenda – something she clearly emphasises. So far, it’s been working so we have no reason to fault that.
Jalo may be new to the market, given its recent launch on the 29th of March, but sure possess an eagle eye for identifying opportunities and a technology enabled sledge hammer for nailing it.