Startup snapshot: Changing the way people live in Lagos

Nigeria-based Spleet’s mission is to change the way people live together and re-define the future of urban shared-living for working professionals, millennials and digital nomads. Akintola Adesanmi, chief operations officer and co-founder, answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Spleet is an online platform that provides daily, monthly and quarterly subscriptions for living spaces in Lagos, Nigeria. We partner with homeowners to provide entire and shared furnished spaces to our registered and vetted members.

2. How did you finance your startup?

We were fortunate at the beginning to sell the idea to a homeowner who loved it and decided to invest in a four-bedroom flat and furnish it, to test run our idea. The plan was to fill all four rooms and onboard the first four members in 30 to 60 days. To the homeowners’ surprise, and our delight, we filled the space in 48 hours. Once that was done, via word of mouth, we started gathering a long waiting list of intended members and started scouting for good deals on the supply side to fulfil the growing demand. We basically bootstrapped our first 10 months of starting Spleet.

Once our waiting list became a sizeable number, we were able to raise money from angel investors.

3. What risks does your business face?

We don’t own any of the properties on our platform, so we are very careful about the quality of the homes we make available. We are currently mitigating this through a strategic partnership with HSP, a preventive maintenance subscription company that handles maintenance at all our monthly and quarterly subscription locations.

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

Surprisingly, for us, it has been word of mouth and testimonials from our existing members. This has been a major driving factor to increase the number of members that come on our platform and eventually into one of our spaces.

5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

The most exciting entrepreneurial moment for us was when we started out and filled the spaces in 48 hours. It was exhilarating, mainly because it proved that we had set out to build something that was really in high demand.

6. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it?

I won’t call it a mistake, rather I would like to refer to it as a key lesson we have learnt from. We priced wrongly and our pricing and revenue models did not prove to be product-market fit. We have, however, pivoted from our initial pricing and revenue models based on data and feedback from our members.

We’ve learnt that building based on customer data and feedback, rather than our set minds, is how to build for the next million users.

7. In addition to your own industry, name one untapped business opportunity in Africa.

I believe the aggregation of social causes is a very big, untapped business opportunity. With the constant dip in the education and healthcare sectors in our country, I see a lot of young Nigerians (especially women) putting together campaigns and causes.