On today’s Meet Series, we are featuring not too recently launched startup, OGAVENUE.
For you to get the main concept and purpose of this startup, OgaVenue, I’d have to paint the following scenario.
Baba Tope wants to organize a wedding party for his daughter, Tope. The first thing he thinks about is the hall he’s going to use. There are different kinds of halls in Lagos, and Baba Tope does not want to go through the whole stress of visiting every one of them. He needed to see a platform that lists all kinds of hall around his location, their prices, and if possible, book them through this platform. And Alas! OgaVenue is the platform to go.
You would agree with me that in our present day Nigeria – probably that is how it has always been – halls are a very important logistic to look out for when hosting an event. In fact, except if you want to host the event in your small compound, you need to book a hall, or an events center as you might want to call it.
A lot of events ranging from wedding party, to birthday parties, to press conferences, to launch ceremonies, to conferences, and even small meetings could need an individual to book an events center, and I must say that this has made the hospitality industry a very huge one.
Talking on the hospitality industry, one would have expected it to include just start-ups like Hotels.ng only, but no, OgaVenue and even ToLet.com.ng could be said to be under the hospitality industry. And more jaw dropping is the fact that the events industry which is just like a subsidiary of the hospitality industry, is valued at up to $20 billion.
I would not even dare to counter or disagree with the above figure as it is very evident during events that the event halls take a very notable percentage of the total money spent in organising that event. And come to think of the number of events being held every blessed day by individuals, and not leaving out the copper bodies too. In fact, if push comes to shove,i could estimate a larger industry in monetary terms.
When we look at other startup that were the first to launch into an industry, we would want to be optimistic about OgaVenue. But then, I can’t still guarantee anything, maybe you can. But taking a look at the success of Hotels.ng, which holds a database for almost all hotels in Nigeria, and allows bookings too, and ToLet.com.ng that covers a whole lot of real estate products or properties, you might want to predict success for OgaVenue. But again, business doesn’t work that way.
The zeal and desire to ease the lots of stress that most people go through specifically in getting the right events center, when organizing an event is what birthed the idea of OgaVenue. Stay with me as we take a stroll through the nitty gritty of the startup.
Let’s talk about OgaVenue and what they do… + who founded it?
So as we have been hammering on in the intro…
OgaVenue is an online event/venue booking platform where users can search and book venues across all 36 states of Nigeria. It would be fair to say such a platform is long overdue as the industry it has just launched in has been this stressful ever since an given the nature of Nigerians.
OgaVenue is a typical example of an internet startup, as it maintains no form of physical interaction with the user. This culture is translated into the mind of anyone who steps foot into OgaVenue’s office space in Yaba by the way the executive team go about their daily routine in energetic fashion. All they have done on their platform is to list as many events centers as possible, with the prices and other information, and all you have to do is to browse through and make your choice while you are being linked to the owners or agents in charge of rentsingout the events center. Thing is OgaVenue would not have to meet you personally.
They launched formally in August 2015, and word is like their counterparts, Mark Essien‘s Hotels.ng and ToLet, they are also the first online platform to launch in the events industry and this always have it’s advantages.
Sometime back, when they were not so popular, the founder and CEO, Andrew Airelobhegbe said that he had to personally approach about 60% of the venue owners currently listed on OgaVenue, and then outsource the rest to individual agents for a small fee. He explained that his encounter doing this was trailed with mixed emotions, as some of the venue owners were eager to come online while the other showed some resistance (typical of most Nigerians). How frustrating it must have been.
After a year of trading, OgaVenue were growing stronger as they had already covered 17 states across Nigeria, and listing over 2000 venue options, including some of the busiest venues in Lagos such as Harbour Point, Mimaya Event Centre and FM Event Centre.
According to him, “Before we launched, none of these venues had any online presence. Nobody knew anything about them,” he said.
The venue listing process however witnessed an upward surge after the late adopters saw their early counterparts gain online visibility. “This made it a lot easy to on-board them on the OgaVenue’s platform,” he said at his interview with the TechPoint team.
At present, the platform has grown to over 8000 venue listings; inevitably adding more credibility to an industry that has come to be valued at $5 billion.
OgaVenue charges a commission for every successfully booked venue, and they stand the opportunity of reaping huge proceeds; enough to attract the attention of even local investors (we’d talk about this under the funding).
On the booking process on the OgaVenue platform, Mr. Tope Israel who happens to be the event manager at Lekki Coliseum explains that after clients book through the OgaVenue platform, their contact details are forwarded to him to carry on with the conversation.
“OgaVenue sends us the prospect’s number and we take the conversation up from there,” Mr. Tope says.
It is also noteworthy that OgaVenue has made it cheaper to book venues online, maybe to keep customers loyalty and prevent them from been frozen out of deals in some cases. We all know that a cheap and online visible event center could be the most appealing thing to an event organizer or Nigerians generally. But then, the question still remains whether this strategy, or tactic is reliable? My thoughts are further below.
Funding? Has anyone?
Well, welcome to Nigeria folks, where getting funds for your dear startup is a very stressful walk up a very tall mountain. The goodness is that it has started becoming better very recently, as we have heard of pitching events that provides one access to meet investors and gives you the chance of being funded. Sometimes, funding can only be easy if your idea is the BOMB.
Well, questions on everyone’s lips remains if anyone has actually invested their funds in this brilliant startup – so to say. You’d get your answer soon enough. Just read on.
Quite impressively, an investment outfit has made the first move of keying into in this industry, although with a figure that could easily be described as a “careful investment.”
In August 2016, SPARK, an investment outfit run by iROKOtv founder, Jason Njoku, pumped $45,000 into OgaVenue. This move drew a whole lot of attention on OgaVenue, especially because Jason made a point of personally visiting Andrew at his then “dinky little” office in Berger before investing. This was even after he had remarked that OgaVenue didn’t need his money. I don’t know how he deciphered that though.
You might also be wondering, as I did, what could have gotten Jason Njoku so interested?
According to Mr. Andrew, “Hardly any week goes by in Lagos State alone without well more than 2000 events happening, including the most remote locations,” Andrew acknowledges, “We are barely scratching the surface in terms of how big we can get from an industry that has a lot more to offer,” So, this is what might have gotten Jason Njoku interested.
It is hoped that when (if) they expand and start taking in very mighty funds and returns on investment, Jason and SPARK would be waiting by the corner to cash in on their investments and take their own share. They are, as anyone would, hope it is a very worthy investment.
Well well, most times,in the business world, can only express optimism with things and hope for the best, while also doing our homework well and paddling like hell underneath. At some more times, things do not go as they are envisaged.
OgaVenue has actually been doing fine and if you want to judge by that, you would predict that they do have a bright future. I’d still leave you to be the judge of that.
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TAGS: Events booking website in Nigeria, online booking of wedding receptions halls, booking of halls online, booking of reception venues, venues for receptions, booking venues for meetings.