Call it his latest adventure.
Sheriff Shittu, the COO of the fashion e-commerce website, Zima Fashion, and former business analyst at Konga is launching a new startup, Showroom.ng, today.
Online stores in Nigeria are born by the dozen, daily. But with the likes of Jumia and Konga dominating the general merchandise categories, discerning ecommerce merchants are homing in on niche categories. Going deep, rather than wide, allows merchants with considerable domain expertise and connections in a sector capture markets by delivering better value than a generalist can.
Sites like Fashpa, Traclist, Autobox, and newly created Obiwezy are examples of such niche online fashion, fashion, auto parts and mobile phone sales models that look very promising because they have founders who are eminently qualified to create unbeatable value propositions. In Sheriff’s case home and office furniture goods are a high value category that is yet to come online. Showroom.ng is changing that.
This is Sheriff’s second stab at niche ecommerce. In 2014, he left his business analyst role in Konga to become COO of Zima Fashion. He says he will remain affiliated to Zima Fashion in an advisory capacity, but is fully focused on his new venture, which is as of now, completely bootstrapped.
The opportunity that Sheriff is zeroing in on does look interesting. The trick will be getting it to scale quickly enough before fast followers with lots of cash decide that its interesting to them too. Showroom.ng reminds one of Rocket Internet’s West Wing, and there is no putting it past them to launch a competing venture in short order. Before Konga, Sheriff had to give up working on Lokoso, a price comparison platform, when PriceCheck decided to cast its shadow on that narrow space in Nigeria. It’s not looking like the Naspers-backed company is having a lot of joy yet in that regard. But we hope Sheriff emerged from that episode with lessons that will aid him on his next adventure.
Bankole Oluwafemi contributed to this post.