Start-up snapshot: Book event venues online in Nigeria

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Start-up: ogaVenue

ogaVenue is a Lagos-based online marketplace for event venues, which allows users to browse, virtually visit (similar to Google Street View), and book an available location for their event. The website currently lists venues in nine different cities throughout Nigeria, including Lagos, Ikeja, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

Andrew Airelobhegbe (23), co-founder at ogaVenues, spoke to How we made it in Africa and briefed us on how he got his business started.

1. Why do we need ogaVenue?

The venue is the backbone of any successful event. With over 50,000 events organised monthly in Nigeria, four in five Nigerians who organise events still face the challenge of securing their desired venue – and end up settling for any available option, even if it does not meet their requirements.

As a marketplace for venues, ogaVenue tackles this challenge by aggregating a variety of venues in Nigeria, making it easy for venue seekers to search, check availability and book any they choose online. With ogaVenue, we have successfully reduced a process that could take days, even weeks, to a simple, fast and efficient process.

2. How did you finance your start-up?

We raised US$7,000 from a grant and personal savings which has helped to bring the company to the stage we are now. We run the company from revenue generated, and have broken even at this level.

3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

If we raise $1m now, it will help us expand our service across Nigeria and introduce it into another market. We would improve our technology, provide improved customer experience and scale up our sales team.

4. What risks does your business face?

We primarily face the risk of being used as a listing platform and not a booking service. Those who are in the service industry will understand better the effect that has on total monthly sales/bookings.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

For us, word of mouth and optimising for search engines has constantly done the magic.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

I wouldn’t say I have a particular exciting entrepreneurial moment because anyone in this [profession] will know that one minute everything is running smoothly and the other minute, disaster brings [havoc], leaving us having to try fix things up. But I remember smiling so deeply the day I got the mail that ogaVenue was shortlisted among the 30 start-ups to pitch at Demo Africa. It was really exciting for me, and a big encouragement for the team.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake and what you’ve learnt from it.

It was not putting all effort into our major growth metrics on time. This made us feel like we were not growing in revenue at the early stage simply because we focused on the wrong metrics. What we’ve learnt is simple: Do only things that matter to your ultimate growth metrics – because at the end this will determine the life of your company.