In 2017, Abimbola Moses Adeitan and Oretuga Adewale decided to relocate to Abeokuta from Lagos out of a burning need to kick-start their entrepreneurial career.
You wouldn’t blame the young tech-savvy graduates of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) who admit to Lagos having a growing multitude of successful companies and thought their little effort could instead contribute to the ongoing tech revolution in Ogun State.
Far from a noble act though, both Ambimbola and Oretuga are typical natives of Ogun State — Iperu Remo and Ijebu Ode respectively — so the underlying back story behind their decision is quite telling.
Still yet, one might be curious to find out what venture these two young individuals embarked upon in Ogun State — Abeokuta precisely — that would have had minimal chances of success in Lagos.
Although Pickmeup was registered in 2017 with core business in transport, laundry, food, and logistics, it only kicked off operations in Ogun State with the transport and laundry services.
As a transport business, Pickmeup started out helping users schedule rides as well as a charter vehicle for various needs. To be a driving partner, the driver needs to upload their details to the Pickmeup platform. This allows them to get ride (or charter) requests from clients assigned by Pickmeup.
However, Pickmeup merely survived through few operations within Abeokuta and around outskirts of Lagos. By August 2018, Pickmeup revenues had dropped.
In a bid to increase sales, the co-founders launched the laundry service.
“Afterall, when you say ‘Pickmeup’, it can connote anything,” Oretuga clarifies.
The laundry service (first of its vendor operation) would turn out quite the good strategy, business-wise.
“We noticed there are many vendors running laundry operations, but they do not know how to market their business. And since Pickmeup is about giving people convenience, we decided connecting them with more customers will be good business,” says Abimbola.
People can request for laundry pickup anywhere within Ogun State and get invoiced instantly. Pickmeup assigns the closest vendor who would pick up, wash and then return the item to the client. While it is being washed, the client can track progress and know when the item will be delivered.
The laundry vendors do the pickup and delivery as of now, although the long-term plan is to get their own bike services that will handle pickup and drop off.
At this point, you can’t help but wonder how much Pickmeup makes from every laundry service it facilitates as well consider the feasibility of such long-term plan holistically.
“To wash and iron a complete agbada around Ogun State is ₦250. We have a 40% markup that covers our operational cost,” explains Abimbola.
Up to 15% of the markup goes to sales representatives (mostly undergraduates from tertiary institutions in Ogun State) who help Pickmeup with marketing and sales. Even though Pickmeup has gone on to purchase a bike for pickups and drop-offs in Abeokuta, it remains clear that any serious plan involving getting as many bikes as possible on the platform would take a long time to happen.
As we’d have it at the ending of January 2019, Pickmeup added logistics to its chain of operations and adopted an Uber-like business, where it registers bike owners as partners.
“What we do is, once people (clients) request for a delivery service, we link them up with the dispatch rider closest to their destination. We abide by an 80-20% revenue share,” explains Abimbola.
This looks more like a realistic way of solving the problem of pick up and drop off for its laundry operations, without directly investing heavily in acquiring assets. The only problem is that Pickmeup didn’t launch this delivery operation in Abeokuta, its primary area of focus, it launched in Lagos instead.
The logistics operations, in a space of days, have constituted a key part of Pickmeup’s revenue.
Like Abimbola rightly noted, dispatch riders are in high demand in Lagos and that fact was hard to overlook. A burning question however is shouldn’t the businesses be complimenting each other the slightest bit?
“Transportation for us has since been doing well, and laundry is just a new addition. As for the laundry, our vendors don’t even know that our initial plan was to handle the pickup and drop-offs. They are excited to handle the logistics because we bring customers for them,” argues Oretuga.
What is however not so contentious is the state of the market in Ogun State. It is not so tech-savvy — compared to Lagos at least — and there’s no telling how that will impact on the business. But it seems Pickmeup is squaring up with the challenges nicely.
Pickmeup operates from RockSpace — a pioneering co-working space in Abeokuta — but has added another office in another location closer to its target market, Babcock University, where it introduced the laundry service part of its business and claims to have good engagement thus far.
The startup is fast closing on a similar development in Ijebu Ode, with TASUED as the main target. So far in this journey Abimbola has assumed role of creative director while Adewale has supported as the Human resource/research person.
From Built in Africa archives – MainOne: 10 years building West Africa’s internet infrastructure
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