Yesterday, Andrew Airelobhegbe, CEO of OgaVenue took to his personal Facebook page to announce the company's first international expansion.
When Andrew started OgaVenue, he knew the events booking industry in Nigeria had huge potential. What he didn't envisage was that it would be worth $20 billion. A pioneer of its kind in Nigeria, OgaVenue offers events and venue booking services across the country.
The journey to conquer the Nigerian market started with 17 of the 36 states. Lagos, of course, was the epicentre considering the huge demand the overly populated state presented.
Lagos alone is said to generate a whopping $3 million in annual revenue, from hosting over 20,000 events every month. So with OgaVenue well positioned to reap a good share of the revenue, by virtue of its reach in Lagos, one would possibly question the motive behind testing uncharted territory.
It is never easy for most startups moving to test international waters as an estimated three-quarters of startups fail, and some bets don’t even pay off at all. When you play in an unfamiliar territory, the odds might even be higher. This makes running a startup quite a notoriously unpredictable business.
However, the thrill could be tempting enough to make one take a dive. Andrew perhaps is taking his chances. We can tell how far he’s willing to go from this comment.
“It's only normal for us to think fast about growth and stop the Lagos/Nigeria only mentality. We decided to take the bold step a while back which the result you see today,” he tells me.
OgaVenue would however not forget in a hurry that its big brother and one-time investor, Hotels.ng tried the Ghanaian market and got stuck. Even with a war chest of $1.2 million at their disposal, Hotels.ng merely managed a single listing and most likely abandoned that project.
With over 200+ venues already listed on OgaVenue's Kenyan platform, it appears the company has done its homework well. Kenya hosts a lot of internationally-funded corporate events, “if not more than Nigeria,” Andrew chips in. “The market seems good based on our research and we had less barrier to entry. Traction from the market will validate the product in there,” he adds.
Also, Kenya has a very robust entertainment and event management sector that is crawling with big players. OgaVenue's biggest advantage may lie in the possible fact that the sector easily gives way to upcoming players to thrive. That is something the company would have to take full advantage of.