by Sheriff Shittu O
If you have been following the story about Konga’s brouhaha, I guess you will by now think there is fire on the mountain and we all should run for cover. Well, as a witness to the arena during my stint with Konga, here are a few things that I think if realigned will put the company back to where we all saw and went days without sleep to lay the foundation for what is envisioned to be “the engine of trade and commerce in Africa.” I don’t work at Konga anymore and I’m just going to look back at what we attempted and see again as an outsider what is possible.
1. The CEO should stop painting pessimistic pictures; I read press release days ago about the restructuring going on and the CEO said categorically that staff strength will be reduced every 6 months. Like seriously? Who does that? How will that impact morale? I don’t want to be doing my departmental plan with a line item stating that…I may not be here to implement my recommendations. That’s scary! People have literally be given open license to go for interviews at lunch. It will affect productivity and commitment and whatever greatness could be pursued would have been betrayed with a divided attention. While my employment lasted at Konga, we had an unwritten document where we assess failed poaching from Jumia and successful poaching of Jumia staff by Konga. The camaraderie was superb, everyone was fired up without complaint or doubt about certainty and believe of what we were building. The CEO should galvanize the staff to stay focused and grounded to fight this fight, not cast doubt in everyone’s mind and send them job hunting when all hands need to be on deck. Some may go eventually but let’s fight a good fight!
2. 30-40% of available resources should be pushed to KongaPay: Whether we like it or yes, KongaPay is really a good product and could be a lifeline for Konga longtime viability as a business. If I was the CEO, I will move 30–40% of my current war chest to pursue the product. Konga has the clout, the customers and the brand. Pursue more aggressively. The competitor in this sector is not Paystack, SimplePay or other emerging payment solution companies, the competition is Interswitch. Partner with top eCommerce companies; focus on top 6–10, rebrand the product specifically for them if you will but make sure the numbers go up and to the right. e-payment in Nigeria is not totally cracked, go ahead and crack it!
3. Reduce or eliminate commission for the Marketplace; become real engine of commerce. I remember how positive we were assessing execution possibilities of marketplace in Nigeria. We assessed successful marketplace sites in other emerging markets, delibrated on approach, business models and technology. Drafting the first UX was an interesting…I saw a model that had the potential of generating up to 70% Konga’s revenue in no distant future. Easiest way to get a merchant glued to your platform is first, sell for him and second charge him less. I had expected Konga to raise additional $100m funding sometime last year to really execute to the max on the marketplace model. No charges…just sell on Konga! Once you are able to get a merchant to sell more than 80% of his inventory on your platform, you have succeeded in employing him, he can’t go no where. How do you make money? Marketplace is suppose to be an ecosystem of buyers and sellers, make money from other means and charge commission once you win the race. Paid advert, turning the Mall to a platform where developers can build system within the system. This will help make money for the developers and Konga and also drive efficiency with the merchant. Optimizing for profit prematurely is cutting short the vision and getting the company dragged down by short-term ephemeral.
4. Increase Efficiency in the marketplace: Major reason why people list on the marketplace is with the hope that they sell faster than if they list on their own platform or other platforms. If I have my wears on the platform and in 2 weeks I have not sold, I wont give priority to such platform. New products should have a way of getting priority or getting promoted to convert new merchants and show them this works! Return should be ASAP most especially when people do pay on delivery.
5. Have faith and be more aggressive. There are still +25m middle class in Nigeria to pursue, go after them. This is a sign that somethings aren’t working(aside from terrible macro economics of the country), flip through the data and turn things around.
My heart bleeds Konga and I really can’t wait for it to succeed. A Konga failure or lag is a failure of us in the tech community and will have devastating effect on other startups.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Sheriff Shittu is a tech Entrepreneur, CEO at showroom.ng & product architect at G1:3 Energy. He has a keen interest in building African tech revolution and paradigm shift.