Have you ever been stuck while trying to find someone to fix things around your home or office? Getting local service providers who are skilled at what they do is not only stressful but also time-consuming.
This challenge is what Victor Jibrin and his team are solving through ArtisanOga, an on-demand platform where Nigerians can order the services of skilled service providers.
In an interview with Founders Africa, Victor Jibrin talked about how the startup is solving this challenge in Nigeria and how the journey has been so far.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Victor Jibrin. I’m a co-founder of ArtisanOga. I’m a hugely ambitious person with an incredible belief that technology is capable of improving the way we live and work.
Tell us about ArtisanOga and the solutions you provide
ArtisanOga is an online platform that enables offices and homes to hire artisans and technicians nearest to them for maintenance and repair services. As an on-demand company, we have served hundreds of homes and offices since we launched in November 2016.
What inspired the idea for it?
While I was a student in the university, I realized how difficult it was for lecturers and students to get artisans for repairs and maintenance purposes, so I became obsessed with building a system that could solve that problem- at least for my school community.
I didn’t have a website then, so I started partnering with artisans offline to work for my clients. Upon graduation, I worked with Hotels.ng (an online hotel booking company in Nigeria) for 2 years before resigning to focus on ArtisanOga.
How has the response been from Nigerians since launch?
Nigerians pretty like it. Before ArtisanOga, if you had to find a plumber it could take you an afternoon to find one. But when we came along, our clients found it a great solution. We put a lot of energy into building the platform to ensure the best quality services with quick turnaround time.
This made clients to trust and recommend us to their friends and family.
Tell us about your entrepreneurship journey
While growing up as a kid, I watched my father resigning from his job as a police officer to start his own business. He went on to have a successful wine business and that left a great imprint on me as an entrepreneur.
As a student in school, I remember investing in transport business. Though the business flopped, it was the beginning of my entrepreneurship journey and I learned a lot from that.
What’s your most exciting moment as an entrepreneur?
My most exciting moment as an entrepreneur was when I made my first sales on ArtisanOga. It was a great experience for me. It was as though I had found my proof of concept. At the moment, the idea was so novel and the sales reaffirmed my confidence that it would work in Nigeria.
What’s the one thing that inspires you?
My father. I watched him do so much in business and life even with so little education and money. He inspired me to take baby steps at anything especially when I’m convinced that it will work. He also taught me to work hard and never give up on my dreams.
What are the greatest challenges you encountered running ArtisanOga and how did you overcome them?
Our greatest challenge is onboarding the best artisans. We receive hundreds of applications from artisans every month but we have to sieve through the stack of applications that come through to select a few that really qualify. We don’t want to just hand down any artisan to our clients. We also train them because quality is very key for us. After onboarding the artisans, we also grapple with the challenge of getting them to use our technology.
Most artisans either don’t know how to use the internet or don’t have smartphones. So we have to dedicate in-house account managers to help manage their accounts for them.
What are the future plans for ArtisanOga?
This is an interesting question. About 5 years from now, ArtisanOga will be in millions of offices and homes in Nigeria.
Over the years, we’ve really got to know our customer needs and we have been building some amazing products to support their needs. Because we believe, as we better serve the needs of our customers, we will earn their trust to recommend us to those around them thereby making rapid growth.
What advice would you give young African entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Firstly, just going by the old advice of working smart won’t get you there. You must have to blend of smartness and hard-work. You really need to put in a lot of time and effort to make your business work. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in working smart but over time, I have learnt that achieving something great demands a lot of time and energy.
Secondly, you will have to do things that you don’t love as long as it’s necessary to the attainment of your big vision. For instance, if you hate sales, you have to take the bull by the horn and do it. Or at least hire someone who can do it.
You just have to do whatever it takes because starting a business makes you an idea man/woman but making it work is what makes you a CEO.