Wouldn’t you love the satisfaction of a perfectly organised event? To be responsible for all the “you try oh” and other words of commendation from guests as your event runs smoothly?
Event planning can almost be said to be an art requiring a significant amount of effort, money, and time for it to succeed.
Behind the scenes is meticulous planning that includes plenty waka — shopping for items, arranging for caterers, sending invites, looking for hair stylists, etc.
However, this isn’t just peculiar to weddings as other events like birthdays and parties can be as tedious.
For anyone who has to go through the rigorous activity of planning an event — first-time planner or not — Planit wants to make the process easy.
“We’ve seen friends and siblings plan weddings and work meetups and the level of stress that often comes with the preparation is one that made us question how exactly we can make the entire process better. It doesn’t have to be as stressful as it currently is,” Nkenu told Techpoint during the interview.
The pair met on a now defunct web forum Nneji created in 2014 when Nkenu was a student in Uganda. They later when on to start a student accommodation booking platform, RentHostels, albeit remotely.
The start of something new
In December 2017, Nkenu reached out to Nneji to work on an event-planning business. The latter, a full-stack developer, built the basic version of Planit in April 2018 as they launched in June. Nkenu now serves as CEO of the startup while Nneji doubles as head of development and CTO.
Planit offers a marketplace where people can search for and hire event vendors like caterers, photographers, make-up artists, and so on.
To hire a vendor on the site, all you need to do is search for the service category you want, select your location, and pick a vendor that meets your requirements.
You will then be required to enter your phone number so Planit can send you an SMS with the vendor’s details immediately.
For these options, all you need to do is fill a little form in less than 2 minutes and Planit will get in touch with you to finalise the details.
According to Nkenu, every feature on the site has its unique selling point.
“We’re focusing on becoming the go-to place for all event needs beyond just vendors and venues which we currently offer. This means that besides the user-friendliness that the site’s user-experience design is optimising for, each option has its own strategic selling point.”
From ordering small chops for yourself and friends to needing a venue, the availability of options is key in the main marketplace.
When it comes to deals, price is the selling point as you can get the best discounted services from verified vendors.
The concierge option sells convenience as Planit steps in to host meetups, plan weddings, or organise conferences for their customers.
Traction and revenue are key for survival
Given the long transaction circles that can be found in the events space, Planit has crafted a commission-based revenue model.
Via its partnership with RentYourHall, Planit intends to collect a 7% commission from any venue booking made on its platform — the same amount to be charged across all its services.
With plans to pursue revenue aggressively in the coming year, Planit has bolstered its ranks with some impressive numbers.
Across the country, Planit has over 6,000 event vendors, more than 300 venues, and up to 2,000 connections made between potential clients and vendors.
Of the more than 400 applications received, the startup claims to have vetted over 100 deals.
“We have over 100 deals that we’ve posted on the platform from our vendors. Although we have received over four times this number, not all were posted on the platform,” CTO, Nneji remarks.
However, executing quality control has been a bane for the 3-team startup as Nkenu speaks about the challenges facing the one-year-old startup.
“We’re starting to put stricter measures in place to ensure that vendor profiles are better organised. Given that we’re a team of three, this has been a lot difficult to implement but we’re working on it.”
Nkenu also notes that although it has managed to bootstrap, the startup has had to deal with the issue of inadequate funding.
The event market across the country is still huge but highly fragmented as most startups have survived by focusing mostly on event ticketing.
It is for this reason Nkenu thinks the future is golden for his young company as he believes they will need to move one step at a time and execute to take their own piece of the pie.
“Five years from now, we want to be the go-to destination for all event-related activities like ticketing, branded events, services, management tools, and more either by actually creating these solutions from scratch or by partnering with, and optimising current players.”
Nigerian startups raised $377m in 2019, more than twice what they did in 2018. Find out more when you download the full report.