Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Moving on with our transformation plans we have gone from a premium single brand paint company to a more or less white label paint company with over seven brands focused on delivering value for money in each price/quality range .

This process is just about complete we have released successfully into the market 5 different products filling the gap btw ultra premium and down and dirty discounts.

We have tweaked our website and “got out of the building” launched an ad campaign using analytics to track data this was our first iteration and we really wanted to know just who was out there we were pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn’t who we thought we would find (end-users) but mainly marketers and painter/contractors from out of state

This proved we were on the right track as our ultimate aim is to build a community of buyers and sellers of eagle paints on the web across the nation

We developed a blackberry app call eagle using freelancers from and are updating it taking what we have learnt and making it better , this opened a whole new world of possibilities ....we demo’d it at , developersparapo a local tech meet up, got great reviews on and shall be doing android versions for its next iteration

We also experimented with a premium 0700 call eagle number and small adverts in the paper these were marginally successful locally but didn’t work nationwide which was the point.

The premium number was pointless. Vanity numbers don’t work on smart phones which our target audience have (duh) and further more in this day and age of mobile phones with infinite memories we have all lost the will to remember a number

We have developed a road map going forward for our online development based on lean start up methodology, customer development, and business model design :- To help us perfectly align our on and offfline roles.

We are rebuilding our online experience which involves building and deploying dummy sites for constant a/b testing of different functionalities ( we have the specs for and have wire framed the final site ) ,we will tweak the site as we build and learn and implement design details from dummy sites .

With the help of and we are listening to our customers engaging with them and letting them help us be what they want us to be

With what we learnt in Mumbai we have reengineered our whole manufacturing process and are ready to seriously disrupt the industry

We are energised by the prospect of creating jobs

Monday, 4 July 2011

What I learnt from Mumbai /Gap generation /media issues .

The power of the press , The times of India ( ) the award winning daily is available for the equivalent of 17 pence or near enough

In the last decade India has lifted 300 million people from extreme poverty , they have managed to raise the Bottom of the pyramid ,to create a working class with access to property rights and probably most spectacularly of all to manage a bubble and contain the subsequent burst trapping most of the wealth that was created in long term investments the Pages of the TOI are full of advertisements from SME


“When societies fail to respond to reduced circumstances through orderly downsizing, it isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because they can’t”. Clay Shirky

Via @to2 ( )

Over 80% of Nigerians are under 30 years old ,over 80 % of all capital in Nigeria is in the hands of the over 50 years old

A generation / government of “Midnight Children” ( ) and parents, benefactors of the spoils of independence ,complacent, bourgeois and mired in bureaucracy . Accustomed to living off rents the nation is unable to “raise revenues above expenses, or cut expenses below revenues “ and so they are living in the gap

The collapse of complex business models ;

We live in the gap between the old and complex business models and the new and direct business model thanks to the amount of technology and the accessibility of it, entrepreneurs have the necessary tools required to create far reaching enterprises with very little capital.

Having just launched our first app ( a simple app giving product description, range and allowing you call directly a special sales line ) and seen the success and the problems that arose we are in development of our next upgrade / pivot and shall be applying lessons learnt from @TechRepublic ( )

One of the main issues we faced was exposure! Advertisement to get the word out , gaining traction :-

Caveat before you go starting up read this on start ups and technical founders :via @sitepointmatt ( )

Once you startup and are in need of media exposure ask yourself this :

  • Why are you advertising (the objectives)?
  • Who are you trying to influence (the target audience)?
  • What do you want to communicate about the brand (the message)?
  • Why do you think people will believe it (the reasons to believe/proof points)?
  • How do you want to say it (tone & manner)?
  • What do you think people will say after seeing/hearing it (the desired outcome)?
  • What can’t you say/do, and what do you have to say/do (the so-called ‘mandatories’)?

In Nigeria; press adverts are very expensive , they are also the only way to reach a broad audience quick

The one thing you shall soon discover with socialmedia is there is no point in fishing in your own pond

In Nigeria, the use of the internet is very limited and access is mainly by Mobile there are over 1million registered blackberry users in Lagos

The vast majority of its population is below 30 years and the vast majority of its wealth is trapped in the 50 and above age group

The opportunity lies in; creating a layer of SME’s to act as the glue between both groups

To create enterprise that requires relatively little start up capital, approx the cost of a used car

To use technology to provide information of goods and services available therefore increasing awareness and transparency

Fostering choice and efficiency

Ultimately reducing the price of goods increasing the relative value of labour encouraging enterprise creativity and thrift

Task :-

Using the power of Facebook To access the Gap Generation empowering them to utilise the labour capital of the under 30’s and access the financial capital of the over 50’s

Resoucery: tools ,rules and advice via Google , @rosiefresh ,@martinsoorjoo , ,

In the mean time I have gone to buy an android phone thanks to @TechRepublic

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

“People assume there's a market for what they're offering. Sometimes you have to create the market —not an easy task #SocEntChat

The week started with a couple of tweets from @saymama1 by the @theeconomist the first on diaspora bonds could lead to cheap finance if followed to its logical conclusion but then business is about making maximum profit right ? wrong .

The second was an article on Governor Fashola and the work he is doing in trying to transform Lagos not an easy task .

Last weekend I had been in Surulere for a wedding and had travelled from my Ikeja base taking 3rd mainland bridge gone sailing at the Marina and then taking western avenue back home via the wedding all along the transformation was incredible there were gardens along the route and people enjoying these recreational areas and people employed in the upkeep you can’t get more grass root than planting grass.

Surulere is a village it was built to house the displaced residence of isale eko the original heart of Lagos and it maintains this strong neighborhood feel ,it is intimate in size and individual in character while retaining its homogenous nature due to the plot sizes.This middle class enclave became hell on earth to live in with the failure of the national electrical power company in the 80’s The sound of the generators providing power was nothing short of apocalyptic

People who could left , rents failed , upkeep disappeared ,the roads and drains were washed away you couldn’t get a better pinup for the state of the nation .

And then Democracy came calling and the roads have been fixed the drains are being replaced and the gardens and recreational areas redone it is impressive during the day, and you wonder when the landlords will get on board and start sprucing up their buildings to complement the governments work. Dusk arrives and the sound of the generators kicks in, the air quality deteriorates, and all of a sudden you realize why all the houses are so dirty as you are reminded of the effects of smug and acid rain and the look of europe in the 70’s and 80’s

As a kid we would leave colorful Lego like Lagos and go on summer trips to dull grey London looking now at places like notting hill and maidavale funny how things change .

In other news a pilot scheme is due to be started shortly providing 10megawatts of electricity from gas turbines in ijora to lagos Island to serve street lights in 24 streets and core government facilitys the hospitals etc after a hiatus of of 40 years Lagos Island which had an electric grid and an electric tram before the city of London will once again have 24hr light albeit in just a few places

Being part of the solution we have decided to start to develop a platform that can deliver complimentary services to the government and create jobs for the populace SME are the largest providers of jobs in a city and we intend to be fully in support of this sector by bringing creative solutions so that when the generators are finally silenced and the cleanup begins in ernest we would have created the market in the meantime aluta continua what robertdeniro thought me via @hnshah “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the Problem

Problem/why not

1, no basic infrastructure roads rails or efficient transportation to allow for distribution safe and quickly therefore ability to expand network expensive and cumbersome warehouse have to be established with huge sitting inventory to enable a large enough range of colors and products are carried no capital available besides it wouldn’t be the most efficient use of capital

2,No community of painters decorators interior designers and architects exsist no forum to target through trade media or events

3, No distribution network like large home improvement centers or department stores to handle facilitate national distribution which means there are typically at least 5 middlemen involved in even the simplest building material trade

4, no information as to price or quality readily available , costing a project becomes a nightmare

5, the constant smog from generators defeats the idea of trying to maintain a pristine external walls


6, lagos alone has a gdp of 46 billiondollars it is the 3rd largest economy in Africaand is a developing nation

7, technology to produce base colors means inventory can be reduced and tinting machines have been reduced in price making them affordable meaning you can develop color centres selling a business instead of a product

8, 1 million bb sets in the market! smart phone technology means we can introduce apps in to the market as our primary marketing vehicle

9 a recognised brand giving us legitimacy

10 capability and technology required to scale

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Twitter to the rescue

When it rains it pours; the world was in a recession the stock market in Nigeria had collapsed and we had lost a president and were in a state of flux waiting for elections .

Yet the price of raw materials kept going up squeezing already tight margins and the competition refused to raise prices , choosing instead in some cases to drop quality

Betting on the power of our brand we increased prices in line with raw material increases to protect our margins

Tightened our belts to deal with the loss of turnover

And with the lull in sales we had time give the business a good look. We had always read voraciously about business and economics and kept up to date on best practice etc and then twitter entered into our lives!

Twitter was indeed a revelation all of a sudden we had this amazing resource, this pool of people to learn from, we followed a broad range of specialists and a chance comment would send us on our next journey .

White label! was the comment made while discussing branding , it would stick in our consciousness until we had to do something about it. At first this sounded like rubbish why would you white label a product that depends almost entirely on the power of your brand to sell ? but slowly it became clear that the brand and the product needed to be differentiated

We already had a product list as long as my arm and we knew their were several tiers in the market for quality and prices we decided to play all fields as it said on our twitter page “we make paint”

By commoditising our product we decided to be Toyota instead of being a Rolls Royce we would make products to fit every criteria from price to quality streamlining our product list to compete with the cheapest in price ensuring we were at the entry point and not shut out , and also the best in quality .Power resides with the customers , so let the customer choose.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Good design

Reduce Reuse Recycle

A new logo was required to simplify things. As we had grown ,and developed, all the new products they had mostly been launched with adhoc eagle images coupled together by the in house team.

We needed new signage for billboards, vehicle, and print adverts; one logo to bind us and set us free was the cry..... and the brief went out for something that expressed our philosophy ,was universal across our product range and still kept our traditions going strong . We stumbled on a company by chanceNiNor architects who where just branching into logo design /branding they were perfect great professional and intune with our way of thinking which meant they could understand our brief rapidly.

The new logo was a huge success gathering many nicknames immediately my personal favourite being the Jesus eagle (because it looked like a cross ) it also looked great on tshirts and all promotional material it showed we were open for business welcoming accommodating and serious ,it also inspired us to think out of the box. Instead of just printing the same logo on different coloured buckets we decided to take a good look at the problem of packaging inventory which was becoming a bother , the price of a container had sky rocketed with the price of crude oil and now accounted for a whooping 10% of the product cost more in some case’s ,added to this was the inventory we had to keep for the various brands which resulted in quite a lot of capital being tied down .

We came up with a novel way to solve this problem we would develop a translucent container with an opaque colored nylon bag which once filled was heat sealed and held the paint. In this way the;

1, containers were universal solving our inventory problem

2, we could keep the color association with the brands keeping customer loyalty without diluting the brand

3, the seal sorted out adulteration problems , the finish product also looked good enough to lick .

4, the Containers and the Nylon sleeves are recyclable helping the bottom line while making us look good and showing we cared

We were almost back at the table , we were rolling the economy was booming and everything seemed to be going fine , wrong the world was in a recession and it was about to come home to bite us the banking system would all but collapse at the same time as the political system would freeze up .

The market was about to test our resolve and we were ready