Oyetunji Abiodun is the founder of Ladies Hub, a Nigerian based online multi-vendor shopping website that offers a wide range of quality products for ladies/women such as groceries, fashion, beauty, home appliances and other female related products. His background is computer science and the Entrepreneurship Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University has certified him. He is an IT consultant and web developer. In this interview with Ikechi Nzeako, he spoke on how his company has fared and the e-commerce industry and other related issues.
How did your entrepreneurship journey start?
After my Senior School Certificate Examination and while I was waiting for admission into higher a institution, I came across the SADC platform which happens to be published by a business paper called Success Digest, and run by Dr Sunny Ojeagbase. I attended a couple of seminars and trainings, which were focused on several streams of income online. That kind of opened my eyes to the numerous opportunities online and I started with website designing.
For a long while in IT business and over eight years’ experience, I said to myself, you have been developing web portals and businesses for many clients and they are making more money, and I asked myself when will you develop yours. So I thought of it, and having acquired various marketing and business management skills, coupled with my love for IT, I decided to come up with something different from what every other person is doing which was why Ladies Hub was birthed.
What does Ladies Hub actually do, tell us about it?
Ladies Hub is an e-commerce platform that is focused on the ladies’ products niche. Besides just being an e-commerce platform, it is also a platform where you can shop, learn and earn money. So we have our blog and online radio on the store where you get to learn and be empowered and our affiliate programme allows for earning on the platform as well.
What are the features of the platform?
There are a whole lot of features Ladies Hub on the platform, which will be disclosed as we roll out, and also Ladies Hub is a multi-vendor platform. So as a vendor in ladies’ products, you can apply to have your products on the store for free.
What inspired you to go into that line of business?
First, my inspiration comes from God who gave me the skills, which are my secondary source of inspiration. I am innovative when it comes to establishing anything online. My business partner, Kehinde Olagbenjo, and I, happened to be the first to launch an e-commerce store in Nigeria, called Alaba Online. You can google it up to see the write-ups on several blogs and on Linda Ikeji’s.
What challenges do you face in this line of business?
A major challenge is inadequate fund to invest in the business; we need fund to come out big and let people know about the platform, but we are scaling up gradually.
But there are many funds out there being provided by government and private sector people that you can access; have you applied for any?
I have applied for many but actually getting the fund is a huge challenge. The conditions are rather too stringent for small business people to meet. However, I am in the process of accessing fund from the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Another challenge is convincing people to put their products on an online platform and some people who want to put their products on the platform do not Internet access.
When did you start the company?
Ladies Hub was launched in 2015, but we started operations this year.
So what happened to your first e-commerce platform, Alaba Online?
Smiles was the first e-commerce platform, as a matter of fact, it was not called e-commerce by so many people then because the name e-commerce was barely used. So, people were not used to buying stuff online, others were scared about the quality of what would be sold coupled with the fact that it was built for the sellers in Alaba and these guys were people known to be selling under-quality products even though people still patronise them.
So, it took us time to be able to send message across about the essence of an e-commerce platform, which is to save you stress and all that, but then, we could not achieve much because we were operating on a very lean budget.
So far now are you going to say e-commerce has been accepted in Nigeria?
Yes, all thanks to the bigger investors that invested huge funds in communicating the importance and benefits of e-commerce platforms. Now, virtually everybody visits one e-commerce store or the other. As a matter of fact, according to Alexa’s rating, the most visited sites in Nigeria after google and facebook are e-commerce sites. So that should ring a bell that e-commerce has come to stay.
Let talk about Ladies Hub; what makes you different from your competitors?
What makes us different is in our focused niche, focusing on only ladies. Nobody does that currently, so we are the first to do that. We are building a platform that if anybody is thinking of getting a lady’s product tomorrow; the first place that will come to your mind is Ladies Hub. Secondly, there are other features that are coming up soon which will make us stand out, bringing fun in shopping and all that. Just visit the platform and trust me, you will love what you see.
How can this platform be harnessed?
You can visit our website.
So for intending vendors that will like to have their products on the platform, how can they reach you?
We screen vendors because we are mindful of delivering value to our customers. And when I say value, I mean quality products and timely delivery.
What is your advice to young and aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Thank you. So for existing entrepreneurs out there, keep innovating in your line of business, always strive to do things differently, don’t sit on the norm and be comfortable with the same way other people are doing it. Your little innovation might just be the game changer that will sky rocket your business to the next level. And for aspiring entrepreneurs, keep learning and preparing your mindset; get to learn skills, it is not easy but it is worth it on the long run and the sky is going to be your starting point.
Source : Independent
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