I stumbled upon this piece on The Business Aim. It was one about my first startup – Easy Appetite – Nigeria’s first online takeaway site. Perhaps the most interesting ting about the piece is that it was a narrative of my co-founder and brain child of the idea. It is always great to see things in retrospect and hope you pick some startup tips and lessons in the piece. Enjoy.
“When Nigerians are hungry, they really want to eat, they don’t joke around”. These were the words of Deji Opoola Engineer turned entrepreneur and Co-founder of Easy Appetite a meal delivery (food on demand) startup when asked if there had ever been a time food was rejected on delivery. “Food is king and will always be, people already know what they want before contacting us; their only worry is delivery time of which we do our very best.”
In today’s world where tasks have become humongous and deadlines tight, leaving your work desk to grab grub at your favorite restaurant remains a persisting conundrum, and this is where Easy Appetite food delivery startup comes in. The startup does a great job in linking you to the best food houses, restaurants, pizza places and fast-food hubs by bringing you and your food closer and even presenting you with the opportunity to share your experience with various restaurants and recommend meals to families and friends.
The CcHub incubated Startup founded in September 2012 was known formerly as ‘Lazy Appetite’ but got re-branded to ‘Easy Appetite’ for the need to make it more appealing to the older or matured audience in February the following year. “The ‘Lazy’ name was chosen so as to make it funky and not too serious but we decided to make the change after lots of feedback from people who felt the word ‘lazy’ was inappropriate” says Deji.
While the startup stayed with the name ‘Lazy’ it only forwarded food requests from customers to the restaurants that in turn did the delivery and then got commissions off each request. For starters things where looking up but then came the ban on motorcycles in Lagos State by its Governor Raji Fashola which was a major setback for both them and the restaurants because they were overwhelmed with requests with their main channel of delivery blocked. “We had a huge acceptance and work rate at that time, we and the restaurants didn’t find it easy delivering food since the bikes used for deliveries by the restaurants were less than 200cc which was the set standard by the Lagos State Government. And for the customers, it wasn’t really their business how you got the food to them, you just do.”
After the re-branding from ‘Lazy’ to ‘Easy’, the startup decided to make deliveries more efficient by doing some of it themselves thereby throwing three motorcycles and a car into the works, one stationed in the University of Lagos campus, one in Yaba axis and the other in Victoria Island. So far so good, the startup is one of the hottest in town, delivering food to busy folks hot and fast. With a very beautifully designed website splattered with pictures of exotic food which generates eruptions in one’s salivary glands, and links to your favorite restaurants that makes you so impatient and yet so easy for you to order your favorite meals and have it delivered to your office desktop in great time. Food mongers can locate the best food houses in their vicinity, browse through the menu selection and order directly on the site from a growing array of partner restaurants, e.g Terra Kulture, Deboanairs Pizza, Imperial Chinese, Honey Comb, Tetrazinni, Chill Zone, Café Mason Lagos, Southern Delicacies, Olivia’s Café, Say Cheese Cakes and many more. One can also pay for a friend via e-wallet, debit card or cash on delivery.
Easy Appetite food deliveries cover select restaurants in Victoria Island, Yaba axis Lagos with huge concentration in the University of Lagos. And perhaps you are wondering why, here’s what Deji had to say, “Unilag was our first target since our office is based in Yaba”. More so he being an alumnus of the institution helped to procure the right connections to make breaking in and even look pretty. “Now Easy Appetite has exclusive rights and partnership with the major restaurants in the campus but hope to expand to other schools and areas gradually by biting what they can chew one chunk at a time” he said.
It’s being quite a ride for Deji who has a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos and thinks he’s really smart. He believes there are so many things people can do were they to put their mind to it. Getting the idea of his food startup from a podcast of another food related startup his sister brought back from the UK, he believed it was workable.
“After listening to the podcast I called up a friend Nubi Kayode who also thought it could work, then I found Sope and Kunle a designer and programmer and the team was formed. So Nubi and I handled the offline while Sope and Kunle set up and managed the online. Nubi and I went around Victoria Island looking for restaurants even though we weren’t well vested in marketing at that point in time. It was really difficult and looking back now I knew I was pretty boring to some of the restaurant managers because I kept pushing on the technology aspect and other things which are the same mistakes a lot of startups make. The value for the client or the customer should be the selling point and focus. If you have the best app but can’t market it, it’s useless, but if you have the worst app but can market it well, you make money.“
“Though we were novices, a few restaurants still gave us the chance; Tetrazzini, Imperial Chinese and WangTang Fusion and we remain grateful. The idea came when it did, it really just made sense; it didn’t look like it was going to be hard. I was a little bit naive; I thought most of it was going to be easy because I had never really done business before, now I know better.” Deji says.
Deji stressed that he always tries to prove he can ‘do’ and owes his steadfastness and drive to his dad who likes to shoot him in the foot first as motivation. “Once my dad told me he got a scholarship, and that I had to get mine before i could converse with him, and believe you me I did get mine” Deji says smiling.