The ecommerce industry in Nigeria is growing rapidly. We’ve gone from the fashion to groceries, and the list keeps getting longer. Every industry is gradually taking ts place online, and in the next few years, we’re double sure you’ll be able to get virtually all your life needs online.
We came across Ikokuonline.com, a platform that allows Nigerians order for car parts online. Yes, car parts! If someone talked about the auto-industry coming online, we’d probably just wave it off. But, right now, it’s happening.
In this inteview, we spoke with Emmanuel Ugochukwu and Fortune Bekee, the founders of the auto parts platform, Ikokuonline, where they talked about their passion and revealed more about their startup.
Can we know a little about you guys?
Emmanuel: I am Emmanuel Ugochukwu, I hail from Anambra state, I have a B.Sc. in Computer Science B.Sc. from University of Wollongong, and I am a fan of cars and its tech.
Fortune: I am Fortune Bekee, from Rivers state, Nigeria. I am an Information Technology graduate from American University in Dubai. I am interested in Software and getting things work with a computer.
Tell us about Ikokuonline and the solutions you’re offering
Emmanuel: Ikokuonline.com is an ecommerce platform for all your automobile needs. We provide a solution for the average car owner and challenges they face when it concerns their cars such as: Time – your average working class individual have little or no time in between breaks to get to the auto spare parts market and get the parts he or she needs for their cars. On ikokuonline.com they just simply sit at the office, find the parts they need on the website, and we deliver to their preferred location at no extra delivery cost to them (free delivery currently only available in Port Harcourt metropolis).
Convenience – The auto parts market could be a stressful environment to be in at any given point in time, everyone is talking to you at the same time about different things and trying to sell what you need and do not need. Ikokuonline lets you speak to a qualified agent that advices you correctly and helps you know exactly what you are dealing with, and in the case of a product, lets you know exactly what you are getting. The, gets it delivered directly to your doorstep. A good example of this scenario would be, on a Saturday morning and you realize your troublesome battery has packed up. With Ikokuonline, you can simply place an order on our site for a replacement. If you get overwhelmed with various choices and price options, you call always us up and make us understand your needs and budget, so we advice you on the best option to suit you.
Mechanic – We have various qualified mechanics and electricians each specializing on a particular brand, hence we assure consumer of excellent guaranteed service.
What inspired the idea to begin Ikokuonline?
Fortune: The idea that brought ikokuonline.com is simply our belief in a stress-free life. You see, every car owner knows this. As soon as your car has a problem, needs fixing or some replacement part, you are never really at ease until you get it done. Now we are both car owners and one of us is addicted to knowing more about cars while the other is more of solving problems using tech. So we put 1 + 1 and one fateful evening, while sitting and discussing about the activities of the day, we both said, Let’s do it! Here we are.
How did you finance your start-up?
We self-financed our start-up
If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?
Emmanuel: If given US$1m, the company would expand its services and reach throughout the country including physical hubs in various states for a more effective transition of goods and services in no time to the final consumer.
Fortune: Yes, We shall scale our operations and source for new talents.
So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
Emmanuel: We haven’t done a lot of marketing yet, but so far, Facebook and blogs seem to shed a bit of light and exposure to our business.
Fortune: Word of mouth also.
Tell us the story behind your foray into entrepreneurship
Fortune: During my internship I worked with City My Way, a media company in Dubai. My boss, the founder of City My Way, was nothing else but a born entrepreneur. He always looked for new things to start up. I felt the same excitement and adrenaline rush he was feeling whenever he started something new. I guess that’s where I got the flair for entrepreneurship.
Emmanuel: After my NYSC program I joined the family business which was majorly based on auto spare parts. I started with the supply and delivery of parts to companies and individuals respectively. I got a big break when I landed my first supply contract and thereon, I knew being an entrepreneur was a calling I wasn’t going to ignore. So, I embraced it.
Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
Emmanuel: We had an order placed on the site, and when we saw the delivery address and realized it was an office complex, we decided to do the delivery ourselves and use the opportunity to enlighten the staff on our services. We ended up taking orders from 7 individuals on that single trip, 5 of those individuals are now returning customers.
Tell us about the challenges you faced starting out, and how you overcame them
Fortune: Our first challenge while starting was getting the entire car parts catalogue in one place and well categorized online. After some sleepless nights, we both were able to get our heads round it.
Emmanuel: Secondly, getting users to trust our products and services. But that’s getting solved naturally as there is already positive word on the street about us.
From your experience as entrepreneurs, what’s your message to aspiring Nigerian entrepreneurs?
Emmanuel: If you dream it, go for it! It’s not going to be easy, but your strive would make you stand out. Just do it for you.
Fortune: That’s true. Whatever you want in life, if you really want it, you will get it. Just take the first step.