Dimeji Falana is the CEO and Co-founder of Hojah, the location based food app that connects busy people to food vendors in close proximity. Hojah emerged first place at the pilot edition of #StartupSouth which took place on the 28th of November, 2015 in Port Harcourt.
In this interview, serial entrepreneur Dimeji who is also the CEO and Co-founder of IT Vessels Nigerian limited, parent company of Hojah, Skypaste, Hymn Vessel and Edves.net – a one-stop-shop customizable academic portal for primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, gives us a brief insight into his company even as he talks about the challenges of managing a startup.
StartupNigeria: Hojah is a unique name, it’s catchy and its sticks, but what does it mean?
Dimeji: Well “oja’ means “market in Youruba language, the “H” at the beginning and end of the word is just a function of uniqueness.
Startup Nigeria: How was the idea conceived?
Dimeji: The idea was born out the need to solve a challenge we were facing. Our programmers found it difficult meeting deadlines as a result of quite a number of distractions at the office .After some brainstorming, we realized that the time we spent visiting restaurants everyday could be removed totally if food sellers could get our orders delivered to us directly to us at the office. We focused on food and other consumables because the need for food comes with impulsive behaviour because if you think about it, no one can postpone being hungry.
StartupNigeria: There are quite a number of online food delivery services in Nigeria who could have solved that problem, why is Hojah different?
Dimeji: Hojah is totally different from other products because of its incredible proximity factor. Hojah primarily focuses on food availability from the nearest vendor using a GPS locator system. The main idea is to cut down the amount of time it takes for the meal to get to you by showing you the closest vendors in your geographical area.
StartupNigeria: What’s the level of patronage right now?
Dimeji: Currently, we operate out of Ilorin but we are also operational in Abuja. Lagos, Jos and Port Harcourt and we are concluding plans to expand to 19 other states this year. We already have a ton of calls and enquiries from Food Vendors in some major cities and we are working towards servicing those markets as soon as possible.
Startup Nigeria: Let’s talk about your experience at #StartupSouth, what was it like for you?
Dimeji: I was at the RISE Conference in Hong Kong in July 2015 to exhibit Hojah so i came to Startup south with some expectations of which many were met. The prize for first place was connection to Demo Africa and an offer for professional business branding. We are presently in talks with Julia Jacks and Chinenye Mba-Uzokwu of Demo Africa and so far, i think my expectations have been met.
StartupNigeria: As an entrepreneur what were your initial challenges while starting out?
Dimeji: When we first started out in 2012, it was difficult to get access to market, funds and startup materials. When we created Hojah, we relied on our experience on going-to-market and launching but fund is still not enough as we are currently raising funds.
StartupNigeria: Do you think the government should do more to help startups and if so, how exactly do you think they should come in?
Dimeji: Yes, the government can help with policies to sell local content, seed capitals grants and programmes like Startup Chile. We also have Technology Incubation Centres in Nigeria but there is a need to fund them more as well as promote them.
StartupNigeria: It is no secret that a lot of startups fail even before they launch but what would you say to a prospective founder that may be feeling overwhelmed, or is currently at a loss as to what directions he should take?
Dimeji: It’s quite simple really; upcoming entrepreneurs should work with a sense of urgency, read wide, use less of 3rd parties, connect and raise funds.
StartupNigeria: Thank you for Dimeji for taking the time to have this chat with us.
Dimeji: It was a pleasure.
You can also find Hojah on:
Facebook: Hojah App
Google Playstore: https://goo.gl/vH7L6N