Start-ups; How the upstarts think now

Ever taken a few seconds to ponder why in lots of commercial areas in Lagos (and other states of course) several shops lined up adjacent to each other sell the exact same commodity or offer the same service. Check it out in markets or some business-buzzing areas. I guess no one ever told them about a Start-up.

People most times bear a customer target in mind in starting a business. There are always places where potential consumers of a certain commodity or service are concentrated. The business man would always like to tap into that and thereby maximize profit. However, the best thing isn’t a cluster of kiosks all selling fruits or food stuff. That doesn’t sound like profit making to me.

Have you ever heard of the term ‘Start-up’? Well, if you haven’t then you are on the right page. Start-ups are the world’s fastest growing businesses. A Start-up is an entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged, fast growing business that aims to meet a market place need by developing or offering an innovative product, process or service. That definition is from Wikipedia by the way. So Starts-ups are basically the ‘in-thing’. Its not so much about the product offered, its more about the process or means. A lot of start-ups are taking traditional markets and putting them on a global platform through the internet.

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Uber, which is a house hold name these days,  is the largest taxi network in the world but they don’t own a single vehicle. This is how businesses are shaping up. They have scalable business models meaning that the capital or what some people call the ‘off-taker’ is minimal.In a start-up, it’s not just the financial capital that is cut down. The workability of start-ups is based on its major cutback on several logistics associated with starting a business. Assets and property such as buildings, land, heavy machinery are not a necessity. Every good business has a business model. The business model is the architecture of business. It is what brings all those fancy ideas in your head to life. The business models of start-ups are such that no major physical structure is needed. Its all about the brilliant idea, the appeal of the commodity, the efficiency and innovation in your service and the your platform for buyer-seller interaction which is of course, the internet.

Airbnb is the world’s largest community driven hospitality company. No beds, no rooms,  but they make millions of dollars. What do they do? Airbnb creates an avenue where everyone is both a host and a guest. They provide all kinds of lodging services from hotel rooms to student hostels without owning any property. It’s incredible. People offer their rooms or houses or whatever lodge for lease and someone else who is part of the huge community can declare interest and pay.

Start-ups are flexible and convenient. They go beyond coming to your doorstep. Start-ups come right at your face on your mobile device. And another good thing is, you don’t have to be a programmer or a web designing expert. There are several internet platforms that can help you set up your site or app for prices that are almost free.

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Didi which most people call China’s Uber has put up serious competition with Uber in the country. The company recently launched an app in English with real time translation, an indication of expansion. There is a global awareness on the relevance of start-ups. It’s good to note that Nigeria is not left behind. There in the middle of Yabacon Valley, people are keeping up the ‘hussle’. Ideas are springing up daily and the ‘next big thing’could just pop up from the nooks of Yaba, Lagos. A list drawn by showed Tuteria, Kangpe and Buychat as some of the most promising Nigerian start-ups in 2017. Tuteria is a tutorial app and a huge learning community, Kangpe deals with providing healthcare by linking people to doctors with their contact details. Buychat offers a seamless combination of online shopping and chatting. Customers can negotiate with the seller in a format similar to Whatsapp. However the biggest boys in the world of Nigerian start-ups remain IrokoTV, Konga and Jumia.
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My jaws dropped when I saw that there are bicycle rental start-ups in China. It’s kind of like what Airbnb does with rooms and houses, only that this ones are for bikes. Stories in techcrunch and technode had that Mobike, which is one of biggest of the bicycle rental start-ups released a report which showed that it pulled in over $300 million in funding this year.

Start-ups are the present and the future and the best part is the flexibility. Anything can be made into a start-up with the right tools and approach. Forbes published an article on the start-ups to look out for in 2017. The Look app is one of them. It provides real time smartphone webcams. Members of the community can access the cameras of other members and get an instant view of wherever the camera is. This one is really ground breaking.

Even the ‘dons’ of the regular market setup are buying the whole start-up idea. Unilever as at May were leading with a $9 million investment in a meal kit start-up, Sun Basket. Like I said before, it’s all in the business model. Think about the product, customer base and details of financing. Presentation and appeal are also very key. And what better time to strike with a ‘killer’ start-up than now when Nigeria alone boasts of a total of over 50 million internet users. Think Big!


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