Beside the road along Adeniyi Jones Ikeja, Lagos, is a blue canopy where multitudes of customers are catered to by a handful of individuals, every weekday morning. At first glance, you’d think that it’s a typical Mama Biliki akara or dundun business. But then you’d be dead wrong because this joint is a snack startup which averages a return of about a million naira monthly.
“This is a snack startup owned by O’Event Concept,“ said the manager, Bashiru Muhammad Babajide.
O’Concept, as it is also called, is a 7-year-old company established by Mariam Olugbemiro without a bank loan or private equity placement. The company has another breakfast outlet within the same area, and its head office is located at Ogba.
The company is one of the 65% of small and medium enterprises in Nigeria managed by sole proprietors. It began as one of the many SMEs that explored personal savings to raise startup funding of less than N10 million.
Overcoming early stage challenges…
Within the company’s second and third years of operations, it struggled to keep head above water, and to create a niche for itself, while competitors like 12 Baskets were waxing stronger in an emerging market.
But all that has changed now. According to Mr. Babajide, the company has a signature taste which maintains customer satisfaction. This is backed by their motto, “Quality is our signature.” According to him:
“So we try and build up quality first. With the quality we’ve built, we believe no matter how we come out, we would still break even in the market.
“By God’s grace, we’ve been able to meet up with it to a certain level, and that has really brought our business upright in terms of customers coming continuously because they are getting the taste [they expect]. There’s nothing different, so we’ve been able to stabilise a lot of things.”
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Reengineering snack-on-the-go business
O’Concept is not your usual snack company such as Mr. Biggs or Tasty Fried Chicken. This is not only because it operates under a canopy, but due to its nonconformity with traditional snacks like donuts and meat pies. The company deals in small chops, grilled fish and chips, asun, fried yam and plantain, among many others.
Daily, about N200,000 is budgeted as cost of operation, with its snack packs priced at N400, N450, N500 and N550. The startup averages about 100 customers during its operation hours of 8-10 am, with Friday being its peak day.
Oftentimes, being a late entrant to a market denies companies, most especially small and medium businesses, sizeable customer base, leaving them a bit of the market share, as first movers usually control the base. But for Mr. Babajide, the market is still far from maturity and there are enough innovative ideas to extend the company’s lifecycle.
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Due to its reengineering of snack-on-the-go, O’Concept has experienced significant growth in the QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) business. Its innovative path has led it to profitability in recent years despite the presence of competitors.
“We are the ones affecting their business now. We are springing up. 12 Baskets has been in the market for a while and they have all the facilities; we are just gathering our facilities together… But we are using our products to penetrate the market. The business has been challenging, and at the same time, it has been profitable.” Babajide stated.
Cashing in on location…
While the company is eyeing expansion, its current location is a strategic move that has aided its growth and profit making. Already, there are plans for a third outlet in Opebi to break new ground.
Nairametrics learnt that the roadside has increased the company’s visibility and accessibility to customers and prospective clients. “We are working with everybody,” said Babajide. “For example, we are working with Jumia, Access Bank, we working with banks and other companies around this area.”
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Although, the company currently has about six employees, startups like O’Event Concept is the reason small businesses in Nigeria have created about 59 million jobs. The company also hires contract staff, depending on the level of demand and supply needed.
Undaunted by saturation
O’Event Concept is currently in its growth stage, and the company is far from intimidated by the influx of more small and medium businesses. The entry barrier of snack-on-the-go business has continued to drop, giving room for a saturated market, but with competitive price keeping them in check, O’Concept is depending on innovative ideas and quality assurance to continue switching customer-loyalty to cash in.