Monday, June 17, 2013

Wecyclers: Business Review

This morning, I discovered and immediately fell in love with a Nigerian Start-Up, Wecyclers. I thought to do a short post about the business, why I love it, and a few other random thoughts.


Wecyclers is a Nigerian business that aims to solve the urban waste challenge for households on one hand and recyclers on the other. Quite simply put, they collect recyclable waste (plastic bottles, sachets, and aluminum cans) from households, aggregate and sort this material, then sell it off to local recycling processors.

The team is headed by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola (CEO), MBA (MIT Sloan), MA (Vanderbilt), and BS (Fisk); Alexandra Fallon (CS)), MBA (MIT Sloan), AB (Brown); and Jonathan Kola (CTO), BS (Harvard). The project was conceived during a course (Development Ventures) taken by the co-founders at MIT.


To work around the challenge of transportation in Lagos, they use a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles. I had expected they would use motorcycles (like Fan Milk does), but in an interview with Spur Magazine, Bilikiss explained that they chose bicycles in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. Smart! But this begs the question: how far can you go on bicycles?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Life is a Race

It is no secret that Mary Schmich is one of my favorite authors ever. If you are familiar with my random thoughts as expressed here, you may know that her famous article ‘Wear Sunscreen’ has greatly influenced my thinking.

I thought I would share one of my favorite lines from the piece (reproduced in the graphic above) with you.

“Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself”.

Go here if you would like to read the full article.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Random Thoughts on Advertising

I have probably been reading too much Seth again, but please stay with me while I share a thought about Advertising. This was born out of a discussion with Wale Osideinde and Fayese Joseph.


"Oyoyoyoyoyo, our Milk... Ogbonge Milki don come back again... Cowbell Milki don come back again..." Remember this advert?

I remember it, and I still have it on my phone. When it first launched, I fell in love. It was my ringtone for over a month. I sometimes missed calls because I would sing along rather than pick the call. If the purpose of this advert was to make me AWARE of Cowbell, it exceeded expectations.

BUT, did it change my preference when it came to buying milk? No. It didn't. Till today, I buy Peak Milk.


"Honeywell Noodles... Bam bam la la, bam bam la la..." Remember this too?

Sometimes, I dance along to this in the mornings as I have my bath. It was my most-played song for the OND period last year. I sent it to a couple of friends via bluetooth, then took the further liberty of setting it as THEIR ringtones!

I have NEVER bought Honeywell noodles. A few weeks ago, I left my area store without buying any noodles because they did not have Indomie (they had Honeywell, Dangote, and Golden Penny).


How does it happen that consumers fall in love with an advert, but do NOT buy the product?


I don't know. Let's ask Seth, Wale, PDK, or Tolulope Adedeji.


Advertising is broken.

When I come across adverts while watching my favorite TV shows or a Football Match, I pick up my Blackberry. You most likely do too, except it's a catchy advert you're seeing for the first time.

Sometimes, you choose to try the product. You go out of your way to buy A, in place of your usual detergent; or Z, in place of your usual toothpaste.

It mostly ends the same way. The reality of the product is quite different from the advert you saw; or it is not significantly different from the brand you already use and love. So you return to your 'first love'.


Advertising is not so broken.

I spoke with a Marketing executive at H*********l who claimed their sales spiked after the adverts. Good for them. He declined to comment when I asked if they sustained the new sales levels for much longer.

I daresay a lot of people tried Honeywell after seeing the advert for the first time, then went back to eating Indomie (OMG I love Indomie!). Don't quote me anywhere.


Sometimes last year, I asked my brother to buy me milk and he bought Cowbell because that was the only available brand. I poured it into my bowl of garri (yes, I love milk and garri) - but did not like the taste; so I gave away the entire bowl :(.

Also last year, Honeywell gave me two packs of Noodles for free as part of their NYSC camp trial-activation. I cooked one of the two on leaving camp. It was probably good, but my taste-buds mutinied. They wanted the familiar taste of Indomie. I flushed the Noodles down the toilet.


What is the point of this note?


I did not write this to people who have spent 20 years in Marketing. They probably won't even read stuff from 'boys' like me YET. I wrote this to entrepreneurs (amen) and business developers like myself (adjusts halo), who create and run advertising campaigns with very scarce resources.


I don't have answers. I only have more questions. Are you looking for product awareness, or actual sales? Are you willing to wait (trust me, it's a long wait) for awareness to translate into sales - IF it ever will?


1. I love Honeywell Wheat Flour!!! I'll never buy another brand unless people start to die after having it for dinner :D
2. I ABSOLUTELY love Cowbell Choco!!! I just can't stand Cowbell Milk!