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CEO Weekends: Carmudi- The African Story

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carmudiblackRocket Internet-backed Carmudi was founded in 2013 and is currently available in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. The vehicle marketplace offers buyers the ideal platform to find cars, motorcycles and space shuttles online.

Carmudi allows users to search and buy cars online from Nigerian car certified dealers. TechMoran caught up with Karl- Johan Sturesson, Head of Business Development for Carmudi Africa, Daniel Omene, the Founder of Carmudi Ghana and Sylvain Niset, the Founder of Carmudi Central Africa and this what they told us.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your roles at Carmudi?

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Karl: I am the Head of Business Development for Carmudi Africa and leading the African team. I´m a Swede based in Lagos. Before joining Africa Internet Holding, I worked for the largest Nordic bank where I was responsible for international hedge funds.

Sylvain: I am from Belgium. I have two years’ experience working in Brussels in the management consulting industry. I started with Jovago and Lamudi, and after a few months, I became the Managing Director for Carmudi in the Central Africa Region.

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Daniel: I am a Chemical Engineering graduate from Nigeria. I started with AIH for Kaymu Nigeria as a Corporate Sales Manager. After a successful launch stable and growth I joined Carmudi under the same role. Months later, I became the Managing Director for Carmudi Ghana.

Karl, you have been in Lagos for more than 9 months now as MD for Nigeria but you have also been involved in setting up other teams in Africa – tell us a little bit about Carmudi’s development.

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Karl: I started in August last year as the MD of Carmudi Nigeria and launched Carmudi in Nigeria as the first country in Africa. In the beginning we started with a team of five individuals in a small office space. The development has been incredible and since the official launch in October 2013, we have reached over 25,000 unique listings in Nigeria. The decision to move into Ghana and Cameroon was the outcome of these great results in Nigeria.

How does the Ghana market differ from the Nigerian market? What challenges were you able to overcome quickly since you were formerly with the team in Nigeria?

Daniel: The Ghana market is quite similar to the one in Nigeria, but the major difference will be in terms of population. In Nigeria, you have the first target market being Lagos which has a near population of approximately 15 million whereas in Ghana you have the primary target market Accra having just 4 million. A smaller population means we have expanded to neighbouring regions quicker than in Nigeria. Carmudi is a premium offering, so ensuring the same level of expertise and quality service has been our major concern.

Sylvain, you have been involved in the development of over two ventures in Nigeria – Lamudi and Jovago; how has the Carmudi experience been different for you especially now in Cameroon?

Sylvain: The main difference is the market size. Those three ventures are all different and very similar at the same time. Once you worked intensely in one venture, then the others become quite easy to understand and you can adapt fast. However, when we speak about market size, it is a different story; for instance, Nigeria is the largest African economy with a huge population, which means your growth rate can be enormous. When you work in a market like Cameroon, you have to become more creative very soon to find new ways to grow the business. For example, we have just started a partnership with Total Cameroon to target the C2C market.

Daniel, you studied engineering and are the Managing Director of Carmudi Ghana – what are the particular demands of working at a start-up?

Unlike working in an already established company or industry, you are constantly faced with challenges literally during every phase of the business: getting users to be familiar with a new service, issues of security and trust, logistical issues… However, what most regard as problems, I have learnt to see as viable channels for innovation. You require these attributes to be able to survive as a start-up as you need to deal with the different levels of concerns and come up with innovative solutions.

What is the one quality that you look for in a new hire and why?

Karl: Street-smartness”. When I meet a new person for a job at Carmudi, in any role, that’s what I look out for. When I´m talking about street-smartness I mean that the person should be a grafter that can talk to individual customers and international companies alike. It´s hard to get, but when you find them, they are “keepers”!

What is the biggest motivation for you and your team?

Sylvain: I joined Africa Internet Holding because I love entrepreneurship and the vision of the company: initiating and accelerating the digital shift on the continent. I think my team in Cameroon is excited for the same reasons; having the opportunity to work in a company like AIH and build leading companies from scratch is a lifetime opportunity.

How hard is it to for a buyer to buy a car in Cameroon? How is Carmudi fulfilling a need there?

Sylvain: Word of mouth is the common way to do business in Africa. People help each other on a local scale but it is very difficult to have a clear vision of the market. Carmudi helps professional dealers and private sellers to dramatically enhance their visibility and offers users all the details they need to make an informed decision.

Where do you plan to expand to next?

Karl: I can’t unveil our plans just yet , but rest assured, there are some exciting months ahead for Carmudi.

How do you plan to monetize?

Karl: We are using a subscription model where the dealer signs up for certain duration (1-12 months) and for a certain quantity of cars he/she want to showcase online.

How do you plan to utilize the MTN partnership?

Daniel:  It’s a win-win for both parties. We are working on viable integrated services between both bodies and we intend to provide all our customers with even better services in the near future.

If you had to give one piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Sylvain: The sooner you prepare yourself, the better the future you will have. What matters is to work hard, very hard. Take risks and fail rapidly. Do what you love and don’t try to follow a path that is not yours. The best school is failure, not success.

Daniel: Never think the road to success as an entrepreneur will be easy; when you hit that tough hurdle or brick wall, instead of panicking or giving up, be strong! Experience has taught me it is just a milestone. Take a step back and learn to see the opportunities presented by what appears to be a roadblock as it just might be the window for success.

Karl: Don´t think too much about consequences; will this work or will it not work? You need to risk something, and for myself I really enjoy that thrill of having my own business, knowing that this could be the next million dollar idea, or a complete failure. But even if it´s a complete failure, you will have learnt much more than in 5 years in college.



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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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