You know those items you need to use temporarily and would rather not buy but end up buying and only using once or twice? Never again. Now you can find and lease anything you need temporarily on Eazyhire. You also can lease items you own for others who need to share them and get paid for doing so.
Location: Nigeria and Kenya
Product / Service Offering: A peer to peer sharing platform
Co-founder Interviewed: Josh Okpata (Jr) (CEO)
Other Key Management Team Members: Tochukwu Mbanugo (CO-founder), Brian Kiptoo Towett (CTO), and Temitope Oladimeji (COO)
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
It would be fair to say I am usually an adventurous person. I can get either inspired by the most basic situation or by that thing everyone is too scared to take on.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
Eazyhire was incorporated in December 2015. It all started in Lagos, Nigeria.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Eazyhire is a platform that promises incredible value and money. You know those items you need to use temporarily and would rather not buy but end up buying and only using once or twice? Never again. Now you can find and lease anything you need temporarily on Eazyhire. You also can lease items you own for others who need to share them and get paid for doing so.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
We are built on trust, literally. Items listed on our platform are insured and our peer review and ratings mechanism is designed to give a safety preview into every user and vendor. Also, we have a 2% incident rate in over 45,000 transactions. We have thousands of vendors across several cities who have come to trust us with their items in the almost two years we have been operational.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is societal barriers. That is a vague phrase but it includes things like the following:
- age restrictions
- ethnic and religious consideration
- very rarely, racial profiling
I wish I would not have to say funding but that has got to make the list too considering that raising funding out of Africa is the equivalent of spotting an UFO. Only 1% of African startups, out of tens or maybe hundreds of thousands, will succeed in raising funds during their lifetime. There is definitely a huge funding deficit.
I overcame and still overcome both by keeping up the confidence I have in my startup and myself and maintaining a laser focus on the vision. The vision has a way of driving you beyond your perceived breaking points and it gets contagious. Co-workers start to see it too and support you. Investors see it and buy into it, etc.
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Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Definitely. WYSIWYG web design/development tools. I built my first site using one of them, and this along with WordPress can be very useful for founders with little or no technical experience. Then there are great, free accounting apps for startups like WaveApp which help you through the money management process until you can afford an actual accountant. Of course, almost no investor will take you seriously if your books are not properly updated. Lastly, joining online startup communities and making Google your best friend are also very useful steps.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We started by growing the brand while bootstrapping. It was not easy, but we realized that most startups were looking for funding to gain traction and it is not working. We steadily and painfully grew our numbers for over a year. Then we moved into the next phase which was identifying potential investors and profiling them. There is a better chance of raising funds if you approach investors with interest in and an understanding of your space. Then we started to reach out with calls, emails, “bumping into investors” at events and in no time we secured meetings that led to more meetings that got us through a seed round.
Starting over, I would have been less hysterical about the concept of valuation and considered other available scenarios and options before going into any entrepreneur-investor relationship.
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Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
As asked, “How can you predict customer behavior in the African sharing economy space?”
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Eazyhire’s biggest challenge is customer acquisition. We are trying to convince millions of people with trust issues. Africa has a plethora of socio-cultural and security reasons. Africans do not understand why being part of a technology-driven sharing community is the future. It is a continent where technology adoption is below average. Raising funds in a Series A round is another as there is need to fund a major expansion.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
An idea is only as good as the execution. Great ideas are abundant, great execution is rare and that makes all the difference between success and failure.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Thanks to Eazyhire, we no longer have to buy everything we need temporarily and we can also make money off items we own by sharing them with others on the platform. The world will get more and more asset-less as we already can see, with apartment sharing on Airbnb, ride sharing on UBER and even bike sharing on Mobile. The sharing economy is the future and you should be part of it. We are building a community that is willing to share anything because we understand that individually we own little, but together we own everything and we encourage you to join us today.
Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing in your comments below!