Opinion: These are the greatest challenges we face at DIYlaw

by Odunoluwa Longe

Despite her unorthodox methods, Tutu Soleye left a strong impression on me at the end of my orientation classes at ARM. As opposed to many who didn’t like her, I did, and I wish I had stayed in touch with her post the orientation classes.

My biggest takeaway from her classes, which I apply to almost every aspect of my life was identifying issues that are within my sphere of control and influence (which I can change) and those that aren’t. I remember the concentric circles she drew to explain the concept as if she drew them just yesterday because I draw them all the time in my head. Here’s one I found on the internet:

With DIYlaw, two of our major operational processes fall within the green circle and despite the advice not to spend time and energy on the green circle, but focus all time and energy to the purple and teal circles, with DIYlaw, I. JUST. CAN’T. All the negative feedback (though very little) we have received from customers so far are as a result of these processes which are more aptly described with the Yoruba word agbelebu, but for this post, I’ll stick with challenges.

We knew we were going to face one of these operational challenges when we started DIYlaw, so we took steps to mitigate the challenge even before we started and we continue to do so. Surprisingly, it has not been our greatest challenge, in fact, it has caused us less customer complaint than our “greatest challenge”. This previously known and expected challenge is the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). I will not dwell too much on this except to say beyond taking pragmatic steps to mitigate this challenge, we also approach it from a policy-making angle.

The unknown and unexpected challenge which we have resolved to move from the green to the teal circle is logistics! Logistics has been our biggest nightmare and it is shocking that no single company, be it startup or corporation is able to get logistics right in this country. One would have thought, it should not be so difficult to get pickup days right and respond to customers with minimal intelligence, appaz, that is not the case in Nigeria. In our short existence, we have tried five logistics company including the almighty DHL, and almost every single experience has been hair-pulling, I-am-about-to-run-mad frustrating. One was not so bad (because we had a dedicated dispatch rider we had some control over), but they increased their prices. Our customers within Lagos currently pay N4,000 for courier and those outside Lagos N6,000, we are not willing to add more just yet. So my co-founders and I have decided, we shall be getting our own bikes. No don’t convince me to try that logistics company that started yesterday and is different from the others. Mba, I have had enough.

odun- unexpected
Radar on WhatsApp outsourcing to Twilio but Nigerian startups not outsourcing

I remember smiling to myself when this topic was being discussed on Radar. Oh, I do agree with Ade Olabode, but as annoying as this statement sometimes is, this is one of those times you say, “plix, Nigeria is different”.

I cannot fault Konga for starting its own delivery services. I do not do up to a tenth of Konga’s orders and very soon, I will be bald from pulling my hair out because of a courier partner’s incompetence. I am yet to meet that logistics company with satisfactory “execution capacity”, in fact even manageable execution capacity. Whilst quantity wise, they may have greater execution capacity, quality and professionalism is highly lacking, I daresay non-existence.

I remember a startup co-founder friend telling me that when he complained to another startup co-founder who provided his business with courier logistics services about their failure rate and resulting customer complaints, the logistics co-founder told him to calm down, that at least they deliver on schedule 95% of the time. I was shocked, then burst out in laughter only to have those same words repeated to my co-founder Funkola by another startup logistics company, although, this time the logistics co-founder gave herself a pass mark of 90%

I really don’t have time to keep scores and assess KPIs for a startup that is not mine so next week, with the help of a more experienced startup co-founder who has been dealing with this nightmare for almost 3 years now, I shall buy an Okada, pay all necessary licence fees, take out all necessary insurance covers and hire our own dispatch rider.

Logistics shall be green no more. It shall not even be purple. It shall become teal.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Odun is Co-founder at DIYlaw, an online legal platform and Co-founder/Lead Counsel at The Longe Practice LP, an entrepreneur focused legal practice.

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