‘Govt needs to encourage more technology startup firms’
Oluyomi Ojo is a tecnological start-up entrepreneur, who graduated in 2008 from Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho with Btech in Applied Mathematics. With experience in graphic design and printing gained from family business prior to graduation, he and his team established Printivo.com, an online one-stop print shop serving SMEs and blue-chip firms. The firm recently got a grant from EchoVc, a Venture capitalist. In this interview with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, Ojo spoke on the challenges and prospects of being having a startup firm in Nigeria, with a clarion call on government to support business developments. Excerpts…
What inspired the establishment of Printivo.com?
Printivo is an online print shop offering Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) and blue chip companies affordable quality prints. We make print easy for SMEs to market their business. We take off the stress of companies’ officials leaving their offices to look for print office.
We are unique because, customers can design their products on our website themselves There are so many designs on the site that customer can actually customize to his/her taste in real time. We are an online shop with offline face and we began operation last year.
In our website, as you are picking the quantity for printing, it is telling the customer the price. It is 100 per cent transparent to customers. After a customer selects his/her design, order for it and pay, it is printed and delivered to the customer anywhere in Nigeria.
What about customers that are offline?
When we have customers offline we attend to them but larger base of our customers come online which is convenient. Whether from Ibadan, Port Harcourt or Kano, you can and order for your print without coming to Lagos. We have a department that addresses that side of the market. We have a team that is dedicated to offline orders. However, we are getting customers both online and offline.
Why did you go into this Online niche market?
If you look around you, the Internet is changing how to do business. There was a time that the only way to buy anything was to step out of your house. Now, with the world going online and the way we interact with our phones, using it to find people and information at your fingertips, we realize that we can serve the large SME market operators who actually need small print to drive their business. The operators in this segment of the market are going around so much to find a designer, printer and looking for where to print it cheap and that is why we came on board to serve this market. We print a lot of products including stickers, roll up banners, labels, flyers, handbills, backdrop banners, promotion items such as mugs among others.
As a tech startup, how is the business getting funded?
The founders are three persons – Adeogun, the head of operations; Oloyede who is the head of graphic design and myself, the CEO. Based on our background in graphic designs, we started off with our own funding. For several months of the business, the customers were the only source of funding for other projects. We grew with customers funds and we got a couple of grants for expansion. Recently we also closed an investment from EchoVc which is part of our expansion drive.
Can you expatiate more on the involvement of EchoVc?
We are partnering with the venture capital EchoVc. This shows that they have confidence in the company. I will not go in to the details of the venture but it is a Six figure in dollars. EchoVc is Pan African technology venture capital investment firm targeting tech companies across Africa for funding and for growth. It is an investment company with deep knowledge about tech companies and I strongly believe that the partnership will work for both parties. The fund will be used to significantly broaden the company’s product range and scale the business.
Printivo will soon be two years in operation, what have been the challenges?
The first challenge any business in Nigeria that uses heavy machinery is electricity. When we started that was our major challenge. Adequate supply of electricity is central in growing business. Another challenge we had was outsourcing larger portion of our production. Then we had issues with managing orders, control in the quality and control in the time of delivery. This challenged our core value we are selling to our customers. We therefore decided to run the business end to end, meaning we control largest portion of our orders. Now, we have reduced outsourcing to the bearest minimum to uphold our core values. Our USP is pricing, quality and delivery and time frame. We want to build a brand people can trust. We spend about 60 per cent on added electricity. If SMEs spend less on electricity they could do more and employ more people. Every generator takes job of two people on average for small businesses of below 15 staff.
In what ways can the government encourage startups and SMEs like yours?
One of the things government needs to do is to make the environment conducive for business. We talked about electricity but also consider logistics and infrastructure. Create rail lines for movement of goods and make the environment investment friendly. There are opportunities and when we get to that point when the environment is enabling enough in terms of infrastructure, security, low interest rate, SMEs will grow on their own.