Three young, enterprising and innovative young final year students of the University of Illorin, share their startup story with us as they take us through the challenges of founding a Meal delivery service in Nigeria-Mealdeal.com.ng. These serial entrepreneurs who also have under their belt, other notable tech-driven achievements like venuehub.com.ng and campusads.com.ng are poised to ensure that restaurants and eateries increase their customer base while simultaneously making life a lot easier for their patrons. In a chat with StartupNigeria, they take us through their entrepreneurial journey.
Can we meet you?
Justin: My name is Eboka Justin I am from Edo state Nigeria and I am the co-founder and CEO of Mealdeal Nigeria.
David: I am Shaibu David, an indigene of Kogi State. I am also a co-founder and the CFO at Mealdeal Nigeria.
Kayode: My name is Tobi Bello Kayode, I hail from Kwara State. I am also a member of the founding team and the COO of Meadeal Nigeria.
Please talk to us about Mealdeal Nigeria and what inspired you all to start out
Justin: Mealdeal is an on-demand food ordering startup which enables customers to place orders from preferred restaurants within their location and have their meals delivered to them through the website www.mealdeal.com.ng.
Well, as to what inspired us to start, I’d say the realization of the potentials of “the internet” gave the initial inspiration. Take a look backwards and notice the gradual unfolding of tech startups in Nigeria and you would realize the potentials of the internet in which young people especially can tap into conveniently.
Kayode: Secondly, our desire to bring an improvement to the status quo inspired us. The phone ordering system which most eateries made use of before the birth of Mealdeal in Ilorin, Nigeria had certain limitations. Mealdeal therefore provided solutions to these limitations and off course this constitutes our selling point to get eateries on board.
David: Of course, just like any other profit making organization, we are out to maximize profit, so this shouldn’t take you off guard. The expected returns, after the necessary analysis and evaluations were conducted, also served as a motivating factor for us.
A lot of people are interested in your journey so far; please talk to us about it.
Justin: The journey so far is as expected we are gradually dominating the market in Ilorin, Nigeria. We’ve faced series of challenges in the process some of which I will share here with you. I am sure everyone wants to know how the initial funds were raised since fund raising is an initial challenge which most young entrepreneurs face. I’d say we went past the initial fundraising challenge by coming together. The reason why fundraising is very much a problem to young entrepreneurs is that most often we want to do it alone, we want to own our company alone. We want to own 100%. Why not get a few friends on board to join in the ownership and financing of this startup before bigger investors come in. Allowing other stakeholders come in goes a long way in making the startup capital more realizable than starting out alone.
Kayode: Moving around getting restaurants to partner with us initially seemed like a major challenge to us. The fact that we were young and had never done something as such before, posed this challenge. But right now, we can say it was not much of a challenge. As long as you have value to offer people would listen to you.
What do you think the public’s current perception about you is and how have they received you?
Justin: So far, we can say the public sees Mealdeal as helpful. Users can conveniently stay back at home, office, school or even at the hospital and go online, search through a list of restaurants within their location, pick a restaurant of their choice, order from this restaurant and their meals are delivered to them. However, following series of customer reviews we have had, we discovered that users appreciate the fact that through Mealdeal they can compare restaurants/eateries conveniently before making their choices. Also, they appreciate the fact that they do not have to face troubles getting the delivery numbers of restaurants any longer.
On the part of restaurants/eateries, they feel Mealdeal has helped to bring about an improvement in their pickup and delivery sales. They feel that for every naira Mealdeal makes they must have made more since we are a third party, an intermediary between them and customers. We can therefore boldly say that Mealdeal has come to stay since it is has been accepted by both the eateries and customers.
What area do you think the government can come in to help boost startups?
David: From our experience so far, I think the major challenge most startups face is the issue of delivery especially for e-commerce startups which constitutes a large percentage of startups in the country. So I think if the government wants to come in to boost this industry, it should look into providing solutions to transportation problems in the country.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Before you leave, do you have any words of wisdom for the youth or someone interested in founding a startup?
Justin: My advice to those out there interested in founding a startup is straight forward; Get Started! Conduct the necessary research, planning, analysis or evaluation and get started. Yes, there are a lot of things to get worried about, things you have not done before that may scare you. Do not let this hold you back, once you start, things would begin to unfold and gradually you’d grow in it.
Secondly, do not sit back and wait for big investors, or angel investors to come before you invest in the concept or idea you have in your head. Once you get started, you add value to whatever idea it is you have. Investors invest in value and are 10 times more likely to invest in a concept that has started than in an idea.