Drinks.ng is currently the largest online destination of inventory for drinks housed under one roof across the whole of Nigeria. According to Lanre Akinlagun, the founder and CEO, Drinks.ng is the first online pure play drinks supply and distribution company in West Africa.
Drinks.ng is not just a drinks company but a service based e-commerce business supplying all forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to the growing consumer demand in Nigeria.
TechMoran caught up with him and here is what he said.
When was it founded?
The original idea came about last year when I visited Lagos on a business trip and I was amazed at the large consumption levels of all forms of alcohol at the clubs and weddings, and this wasn’t just beer and spirits, but also Champagne and wine. So the seed was planted and in Jan 2013 the company was officially created.
Who are the founders?
I am the original founder and have a few other co founders on the board. I’ve been studying the market for sometime and many as a growth industry have identified it. I know that companies like Diageo have been investing heavily in Nigeria’s growing drinks market.
Along with that I have two other co founders with a lot success, drive and passion for my idea and industry.
What inspired you to launch it?
I noticed the growing trend and need for high-end alcoholic beverages, with the growing number of expatriates and middle classes, wine consumption has grow by more than 30% in the last three years.
So along with this is the question of convenience also fitting the need and the product. Unfortunately like a number of consumer goods in Nigeria, buying beverages on a large to medium scale is a very cumbersome experience and many have reiterated this message to me.
To get the best deal you will have to either deal with a third party who would most likely sell you fake drinks or take your chances with the jostling world of Oke – Arin (main market area). The business proposition for Drinks.ng is brutally simple; an easy, reliable service where you get the drink supplies you want, of top quality and at a good price, without any fuss or hassle or hustle. This is especially important for people who are organising parties or weddings and the like – they have so many other things to oversee, they want to remove stress wherever possible.
How many transactions so far?
It’s early days and we still have a long way to go but the levels of transaction have been pleasing but also challenging. We are trying to change a culture and meet a certain level of expectation for our customer, and are pleased we are currently able to do business in this way.
How much did you invest in before launch say the drink stock, portal, staff etc?
There had been a great deal of time, effort and research done before we went into this business. Large numbers of reports were read to verify what we already knew was a demanding ecosystem.
Any direct competition in Nigeria? How unique are you?
The tech industry in Nigeria is currently buzzing with ideas and plenty of activity with tech start-ups popping up all over the place. So competition lays everywhere but www.Drinks.ng is service driven and entirely focused on the beverage industry, making drinks.ng the only pure play supplier/distributor online.
We want to focus on getting the best deals at the easiest convenience to the customers of our great nation. Celebrations are a big part of our culture; so providing refreshments should be a relaxed process, leaving you to focus on what’s important.
That’s one of our motto’s and beliefs, that’s what drives www.drinks.ng forward in solving both our logistical problems and helping to increase the quality of wine and other beverage consumption.
How much did you raise from Spark? What are you doing with the cash?
SPARK has been a great support network for drinks.ng entering into the Nigeria market. Their investment has allowed me to purchase stock, invest in staff and purchase essential equipment to get the company to where it is today.
We have managed to cover a great deal within a small amount of time due to the infrastructural support we have gotten and knowledge sharing within the partner companies. So SPARK has helped with initial costs, then there’s the mentorship from Bastian Gotter and Jason Njoku, as well as access to tech, legal and admin support. Setting up a business in Nigeria is neither easy, nor cheap, so it’s been a great experience having support from them.
How is delivery in Lagos? do you use your own delivery system or you have outsourced?
Right now it’s a combination of both, it’s a very expensive aspect to our business but also labour intensive and stressful to say the least – just one of the many challenges that I’m sure will make me stronger!
Any plans to cover West Africa or beyond?
Right now I am setting up shop in one of the world’s most logistically challenging environments, in one of the fastest and largest mega cities in the world. I think I’ll try crack this baby first before seeking bigger challenges. That being said, I’m nothing but ambitious, so I would never rule out expanding further across the continent.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Lagos has over 20 million people, whilst Nigeria has over 170 million with a huge appetite for all forms of beverages. www.drinks.ng will have a hard task just getting to them within the current climate. We face challenges like bad roads, horrendous traffic jams, increasing number of accidents and the occasional petroleum scarcity.
So logistics are our biggest problem.
What else have you done that are successful?
I was proudly part of the iROKO team that helped grow the company to its current state, prior to that I worked at a web analytics company called Coremetrics, I spent some time in the valley where I got my first thrust for start ups, the company was later sold to IBM.