Podozi is poised to meet the needs of beauty product enthusiasts across Africa. The online retail outlet showcases an inventory of over 5000 beauty products in different categories such as makeup, skincare, hair, nail, fragrance and the likes. Shoppers can either look through the listed categories or search for products by using brand names.
“Podozi.com is an African-inspired beauty lifestyle e-tailer created with 5 simple goals – to create a platform where beauty lovers can feel at home: discover authentic beauty brands, experience personalized shopping, purchase products at the most amazing prices available anywhere, get expert education and share their collective beauty wisdom”, that’s according to a post on the startup’s website.
Founded by Teniola Adejuwon, who serves as the brand relations and content manager and Wale Babatunde, the in-house techie. Other members of the team are Sola, the in-house Beauty Expert and Nnenna, the Customer Experience relation expert. As earlier reported by TC, Podozi is one of the four startups in the startup program by Nairobi based Savannah Fund.
Podozi said in it’s pitch on Savannah Fund it plans to launch a shopping app that will enable shoppers test products before making a purchase. This is a bit of head-scratcher but it’s possible this is will be a kind of virtual makeover as some website like US-based brides.com already deployed for its bridal website.
Podozi was launched in January 2015.
Techcabal had an email conversation with Wale Babatunde, co-founder of Podozi and he shed light on the creation of the startup and the progress made so far.
TC: What led to the creation of Podozi and how did it start out?
Wale: Three years ago, I and two other friends started an ecommerce website that never made it to launch. This was about the same time that Kasuwa (Now Jumia) launched in Nigeria and the ecommerce space was starting to build up. The startup failed to launch basically because it was a side project for the founding team; almost everyone had something else that engaged more than 65% of their time. But even back then, I was pretty certain that there is a great potential in the world of online commerce in Nigeria and that ecommerce can open the tech ecosystem in Nigeria to the rest of the world.
Not long after, I met Ms. Teniola Adejuwon. Teniola, at that time was running her own beauty consulting business as the Executive Director of Beauty By Nature Inc. We soon realized we had a lot in common, most especially our love for entrepreneurship. So we decided to combine our knowledge and expertise together to found a beauty technology startup – this was around middle of 2014.
With my background in Product development and her expertise in the beauty industry, we saw a niche market within the ecommerce space. And we decided to address the issue of shopping for beauty and personal care product online, vis-à-vis the lack of consumer education on beauty (brands, products) and beauty-related challenges.
TC: How much did you start out with and how much has been invested into the startup so far?
Wale: As a founding team, we are strong believers and life-long students of Lean startup methodology. So we started from nothing – practically. I had the technical skills to put up the website while Teniola had all the contacts and industry know-how that we needed to get started.
We went out and practically knocked on doors of as many Brands as we could reach. With the prototype design done within weeks, we proceeded to sign contracts with several beauty brands; this enabled us to launch our beta version and generate some form of customer interest before looking to talk funding with anyone – whether friends & family or formal angel investors. Between us, we have spent a couple of thousand dollars to bootstrap the startup to this point.
After working on the startup a couple of months & being sure we had something valuable to offer, Teniola reached out via Linkedin to Mbwana Alliy of Savannah Fund and he in turn invited us to apply for the accelerator. We did and got selected for an interview with the Savannah team.