I was just browsing Facebook, generally minding my own business, when I happened upon a Facebook page called Zandalu.
“Bored and need things to do, places to go? Check out Zandalu’s curated suggestions by other fun seekers like yourself!”, the page said.
Crowdsourced fun discovery? In any case, it seemed interesting, so I did some elementary web sleuthing. Zandalu didn’t have a live website at the time, but the whois check told me that it is owned by Olaotan Towry-Coker.
The name might not ring a bell, but Olaotan is the same guy that owns Afritickets.com. Afritickets, like the name suggests, sells tickets to events, only that it is mostly active in Lagos, Nigeria.
That’s interesting, because tickets and “fun seeking” are kind of in the same neighbourhood. The question however is if Zandalu is intended to be a separate startup rendering a complimentary service, or if Olaotan is pivoting Afritickets altogether. I asked him what Zandalu is via email, to which he replied that Zandalu, “the fun seeker”, is a crowdsourced lifestyle search and discovery platform that allows users uncover exciting activities and places around their area of choice.
To do this, Zandalu will take a number of things into account. The user’s location, their interests, reviews and recommendations from other users they trust (suggesting a social layer). All of these, Olaotan says, will help Zandalu provide highly personalised recommendations of things to do and the best places to go around a user’s location of choice.
The Zandalu platform also has a database component that hosts a structured list of service providers. Zandalu users will be able to access it at any time.
I have come across a few location-based services in Lagos over the past few years. None of them seem to have had enough muscle to make a real impact though. Marcus Ayodele’s Adugbo was definitely ahead of its time…Google Nigeria must have recognised that when they hired him right after TechCabal’s Battlefield competition in 2014. Another one called Kaku.ng launched a website, but it’s still here and there. Nonetheless, there are a couple bright spots. Like Eat Drink Lagos that profiles the best places to eat in that daunting city, and Living In Lekki, which is about, well, life in Lekki. Its editor recently released a curated Google map of 101 things to do in Lekki. Location-based services and hyperlocal content platforms in Nigeria are an exciting space that I’m watching with keen and personal interest.
Of Afritickets, Olaotan says it has managed to stay ahead of the curve and maintain its number one position in Nigeria, growing revenues by 50 percent year on year since December 2011, with thousands of tickets sold every year (he wouldn’t give the exact numbers) over ten thousand users (this doesn’t account for guest users). Stickiness and distribution was achieved via third party integration into mobile banking apps and bill payment platforms like Quickteller.
@Zandaluapp What's happening in abuja this weekend?
— Adegbe (@AdegbeO) May 15, 2015
However, Zandalu appears to be the next thing for Olaotan. In his own telling, he intends for Zandalu to become “the Foursquare for exciting activities and experiences in Africa”.