The logistics industry has become an active space in Africa’s tech ecosystem, with several startup entrepreneurs leveraging it for service delivery and profit making.
In Nigeria, there has been a surge in the number of startups trying to use technology to bring greater efficiency to the sector. One of such startups is Kobo360 which was launched two years ago with the sole aim of solving problems associated with logistics by SMEs and companies in the country.
This week on Founder’s Profile, we look at Obi Ozor, co-founder of Kobo360, a logistics platform that enables individuals and businesses to request or schedule pickups of packages and track the drivers till they reach their destinations.
Early childhood and Educational Achievements
Obi was born in a farming village called Abor in Enugu State and experienced serious health challenges as a child.
Obi was admitted into Sacred Heart Seminary Nsude, for his secondary education. This was however interrupted when he was diagnosed with second stage kidney failure. His battle against this disease lasted four years. After surviving the protracted illness, Obi relocated to the United States where he completed his high school education.
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He also went to the University of Pennsylvania where he bagged a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Finance.
He started work as an investment banker at JP Morgan in 2014 and after he quit in 2015, Obi resumed operations at Uber Nigeria as the Director of Operations for the ride-sharing platform.
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Obi’s journey into Kobo360 is somewhat linked with Uber. While at Uber, he played a prominent role in its expansion drive across Africa and with all that he learned from the ride-hailing company, he decided to venture into delivery logistics services and left Uber to do so in 2016.
Why Logistics Delivery?
According to Obi, his initial plan was to be the major supply partner for big corporations in the country. However, he discovered the need to ease the burden of logistics on SMEs in the country.
As with most great companies, Kobo360 was launched when the country was facing economic recession and most SMEs operating in the country were struggling to stay afloat.
Faced with this challenge, but with a resolve to wade through the tough period, Obi and his team decided instead to go into a beta launch of the platform for one year while trying to figure out what the needs of most SMEs were.
In August that year, he entered key markets across Nigeria and learned from business owners about the exact challenges they were facing in their distribution chains and how Kobo360 could provide solutions to those problems. This survey helped the company to build a lean but efficient operation which has been affordable for several businesses.
Since its launch in 2016, Kobo360 has continued to serve SMEs and eCommerce platforms, leveraging existing infrastructure in providing cost-effective logistics solutions for these Nigerian businesses. This has been made possible through partnerships with key logistics players in the country such as Chisco Transport Group, DHL, UPS, Air France, KLM, SA Airlines, and a network of drivers all over Nigeria and Ghana.
Kobo360 has also served close to 442 businesses, aggregated a fleet of 5882 trucks and moved 53.9 million kilograms of cargo since 2017.
Funding for the Platform
Kobo360 was recently admitted into Y Combinator’s (an American seed accelerator, which started in 2005) class of 2018, receiving a $120 000 equity investment from the seed fund and gained some working capital in the form of $1.2 million in pre-seed funding led by Western Technology Investment. Africa Future Limited, a Lagos-based angel investment fund, also contributed to the round. Lagos-based Verod Capital Management has also joined to support the logistics platform.
According to Obi, part of the sum will be used to pay its drivers and buy more trucks which it will rent to firms that wish to transport goods via an online platform that works like Uber.
Plans for the future
Obi has revealed plans for Kobo360 to expand its services to other countries, with immediate plans for countries such as Togo, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal.