The advent of internet technology has introduced different opportunities into all spheres of life, particularly in the aspect of industrial innovation. Though the opportunities that came with it were not visible to all initially, a few discerning people were able to harness them to become success stories in the Nigerian e-commerce space, and one of such discerning few is Sim Shagaya.
At a time in Nigeria, there was a need for a revolution in the country’s commercial industry. This was probably what Shagaya had in mind when he founded Konga.com, an e-commerce platform that changed the traditional method of shopping in the country and in Africa at large.
Though Nigeria was an emerging market for e-Commerce, Shagaya arguably led an unprecedented e-Commerce boom that paved the way for the next Internet wave the country experienced.
With Konga, Shagaya has successfully addressed the primary challenge that Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) were facing — visibility. It is in this view that Nairametrics features him on this week’s Founders’ Profile.
Early life and education
Shagaya, who hails from Plateau State, was born in 1976 into the family of John Nanzip and Paulina Shagaya. Being in a military household, he spent his childhood years, moving around the country.
Shagaya completed his secondary education at Nigerian Military School and served in the Nigerian Army after for two years.
He graduated from George Washington University, Washington DC with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in Electrical Engineering. He proceeded to obtain a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from Dartmouth College, and later obtained an MBA from Harvard University, Boston Massachusetts in 2003.
Shagaya had worked as a banker in South Africa under Rand Merchant Bank. He later moved to Nigeria where he became Google’s Head for Africa and went on to found a Lagos-based billboard advertising business, E-Motion, in November 2005.
He has over 11 years managerial and entrepreneurial experience which he had since been leveraging on as an investor.
Shagaya always had a knack for creating business platforms online. Even before the launch of Konga, he had created other websites and platforms like Alarena, Jobclan, Gbogbo and iNollywood.
He however started DealDey in 2011 after successfully convincing the Board of the billboard company he owned to invest in it.
Eventually, Shagaya launched Konga in 2012 and oversaw the company until he stepped down as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Under him, Konga grew to become one of the continent’s e-Commerce powerhouses, competing with Jumia in Nigeria.
Shagaya is also known for championing KongaPay, one of major efforts to encourage Nigerians to pay upfront for ordered goods instead of the cash on delivery payment option.
Shagaya’s Konga at a glance
The entrepreneur had known he was really on to something with Konga when their “servers crashed at 8am that morning during Black Friday, or Yakata Sales, of 2013,” he explained, recalling Nigeria’s largest e-retailer’s near sales miss at the start of the 2013 holiday shopping season.
Shagaya was quoted to have stated that Konga’s sales revenue had skyrocketed at an astounding rate within 6 hours. Since then, Konga’s sales have grew at a meteoric pace.
Fast forward to Konga’s 2014 Yakata sales, N50 million (USD $273,201.46) worth of orders were processed every hour with more generated from the e-tailer’s mobile app. “We received a total of USD $3.5 Million worth of orders during 2014 Yakata Sales. This compared to USD $300,000 for Yakata in the previous year. We were particularly pleased by the fact that a large part of the volume was channelled to small and medium-sized businesses,” said Shagaya.
According to SimilarWeb, in 2015, Konga was the most visited online shopping site in Nigeria, surpassing competitor Jumia. The region’s leading e-tailer was listed in the top 10 most-visited websites in Nigeria and stood at number 8 ahead of Jumia which stood at number 10.
Shagaya’s exit from Konga
About three years ago, the media space was occupied with the news of Shagaya’s resignation as the CEO of Konga. He subsequently appeared to have completely exited the company he founded, after news surfaced on the internet that he was no longer Chairman of the board two years after.
As founder of one of the most valued eCommerce companies in Nigeria, Shagaya led Konga to what was a successful showing in the Nigerian e-Commerce space, overseeing many funding rounds worth $127 million combined.
Shagaya’s new foray
Earlier this year, the erudite entrepreneur announced the launching of his latest project, uLesson, a platform that makes learning more individual-oriented, thus helping students maximise learning individually.
Shagaya won the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the CNBC/All Africa Business Leaders Award in West Africa. Similarly, he won the Leadership CEO of the Year award at The Leadership Conference/Awards, 2014.
In 2014, he was listed on Forbes’ list of “10 Most Powerful Men in Africa”.