I moved to Gbagada, Lagos Nigeria, a
few years ago and I still remember clearly what “The Prince Superstore”
was. The Prince used to be the only supermart in the locality. The
business was simple – sell the basics. However, in recent years, I have
witnessed a deliberate attempt by the business owners to diversify
revenue streams. The question is – “if I have ten thousand people walk
into my store daily, what else can I offer them?”

Over the years, The Prince has
included the village market where they sell tubers and other food items.
The store now has a smoothie bar! In this day and age, where people are
more conscious of their health, a smoothie bar within the store is not a
bad idea. Recently, I saw a vanity store, where women can buy all their
accessories from human hair to jewellery amongst others.Surprisingly,
they added Suya, Shawarma, pepper soup and other snacks to their service
offerings. I concluded that the owners of this business are trying to
ensure that their 10,000 customers have all they require from one spot.

How to retain your clientele

It is important for your startup to
think about what else to offer to its range of clients. The best way to
view this is to understand the space your business is playing in. Then
you seek to understand the behaviour of your customers and see what
complementary services you can offer. Imagine you are in a food
business. Consumer behaviour suggests that people that buy food might
also request drinks. Then you can offer drinks to these sets of

A number of startups have expanded
their business using this strategy. Hotels.ng started as an online hotel
booking platform, but now, it has transited gradually to become a
foremost online travel agent by adding other service offerings to its
hotel booking business. Now on its platform, you can buy airline tickets
or book a holiday package.

Cars45 is another example. It started
as a platform for used car sales, now you can trade in your old car for
a different one. Again, I applaud this quality of thinking. People want
to buy a newer car, but they currently drive one. What typically
happens is that the buyer will first have to look sell his current car,
add a few hundred thousand naira to buy a new one. What Cars45 has done
is that it has taken away that stress of you looking for a buyer for
your old car. You can complete the transaction all on a single platform.

SureRemit just concluded an ICO to
leverage Blockchain technology for remittance services to Africa. I
believe that this offering is from learnings from its existing business –
SureGifts. Relatives abroad want to send in cash for specific purposes
including food for the family, relatives’ school fees or medicine for
the grandmother. But a lot of times, some of these monies are
misappropriated by the uncle that received the cash, hence the need to
buy the value (through a gift card) rather than send cash. This same
rationale can then be extrapolated to people trying to send cash to
specific people.

Flutterwave started by providing
payment infrastructure for businesses and other payment gateways, but
now, through Rave, it is competing with some of its own customers. To
stay relevant in this business, you have to own your value chain. Your
business is as strong as its weakest point, please remember that.

I can go on and on about examples of
Nigerian startups already doing this, but I think EVERY startup should
look for ways to ensure that they add a lot more value to their current
list of customers. So, in the coming days, I will expect PiggyBank to
offer loan services at least to its consistent savers. This will no
doubt serve as an additional incentive to save on the platform.

Defending your Turf

You, however, need to be careful that
your startup is not an extension of another. This is a tricky point and
it is dependent on how fast you grow. For instance, Facebook wanted to
consolidate its position as the leading social media site. Based on
consumer data, users prefer images and really short videos, hence the
need to incorporate that into their business. Rather than building their
own product, Facebook acquired Instagram. In other to deepen engagement
with the younger generation, Snapchat was another interesting
acquisition target. However, the founders of Snap were not willing to
sell, hence Facebook was compelled to build its own Snapchat features on
all of its platforms including Instagram and WhatsApp.

If your startup is an extension of
another, you have to grow quickly enough to be a potential acquisition
target. If not, you might just lose that space to the bigger company who
will just build the feature on its own platform, thereby killing your

In conclusion

  1. You need
    to diversify your revenue stream by ensuring that your customers have
    access to all they might need within that vertical from your platform. I
    am not saying that Hotels.ng should add online retail to its business.
    But I am saying that if it has Hotels listed, Holiday Packages, Airline
    Ticket, why not add a taxi service at least for airport pick up and drop
  2. Be careful
    if your business is an extension of an already existing (larger)
    business. This is because the larger business can just add the feature
    to its own. But if you grow fast enough, you can just be an acquisition
    target, or you might expand your operations to compete with the larger
    business. Anything can happen!
  3. It is all about creating value for the customers and ensuring that your business stands the test of time.

Happy Entrepreneuring