Here on Whoot Africa, we not only showcase brands, but we also talk to the people behind those brands and have them share with us their back stories as well as give tips on how to successfully start and run a business.
Welcome to Whoot Africa’s – 15 Questions with the CEO.
1. Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Kaymu.com.ng as a brand you represent?
My name is Massimiliano Spalazzi, I am the Managing Director of Kaymu Nigeria. Kaymu.com.ng is Nigeria’s No 1 online marketplace where buyers and sellers meet to make the best deals on fashion, electronics, household appliances and general merchandise. Having lived in Lagos in the past two years and having joined Jumia since the very beginning, I am passionate and a firm believer of Nigerian entrepreneurship which can foster thanks to the online market.
2. How did you get started in business and what did it take you to get to where you are today?
My first attempt at venturing into a business was setting up an online start-up in Italy where I’m from. Since then I worked as an entrepreneur in residence at Rocket Internet’s venture Zanui in Australia, and was part of the founding team of Jumia.com.ng where I headed online marketing. My experience in the online e-commerce field provided a good training ground for the business I run today as the MD of Nigeria’s largest online marketplace, Kaymu.com.ng
3. Did you know you were going to be an Entrepreneur all along, or did it happen by chance?
I was always driven from the get go and I knew at some point I was going to venture into a business I was passionate about and here I am now, helping other small and medium scale businesses grow through Kaymu.com.ng
4. What do you love most about your life as an entrepreneur? And how do you envision Kaymu.com.ng in 5 years from now?
What I love most about my life as an entrepreneur is the versatility the job presents and the challenges it has pushed me to overcome. Kaymu has since inception grown to include more sellers, more categories, more listings, and an increased customer base and ultimately generate more sales and it can only get better.
In 5 years I envision Kaymu haven conquered not only the Nigerian e-business scene but the international business scene which has already begun with the establishment of Kaymu in Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
5. What drives you? In addition, what has the experience been like for you as a foreigner operating your business in Nigeria, are there any lessons or business experiences you would like to share?
The satisfaction of customers and sellers on the Kaymu platform is my driving force. As said, I have lived in Nigeria for about 2 years now and I’ve since adapted the business perfectly to suit the Nigerian market. Since operating in the Nigerian economy I’ve learnt that once customers get value for their goods worth, in terms of customer service, quality of product, delivery etc, they become loyal buyers.
6. Kaymu.com.ng is a similar platform to E-bay, amazon and Gumtree, how do you ensure that fair practices are observed when buyers and sellers transact business, how does this work? Can you explain further?
Let me tell you first the big difference in between the three websites you mentioned: the first two are e-commerce’s, the latter is a classified while Kaymu is a marketplace. Kaymu is an online marketplace that operates similarly to the physical market where customers are exposed to a wide assortment of products at competitive prices.
Being a company that places the satisfaction of customers and sellers as priority, the company has put in place certain measures like the presence of a dedicated customer service team who diligently call every customer and sellers of products to ensure items are promptly delivered. Another measure taken to ensure smooth business transactions on the website is the introduction of the Kaymu Safe Pay, a payment solution for buyers that enables them pay directly into Kaymu’s secure bank account and remit to the seller only when items have been delivered and the customer is satisfied with the items purchased.
7. What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
A successful business person must possess tenacity, fortitude and proactiveness. All of this tied to a firm vision of the venture an entrepreneur is planning to build.
8. What are some of the obstacles you have encountered in your business journey and how did you overcome them?
The Nigerian business scene comes with its own challenges, ranging from poor online buying culture to inconsistent internet supply, however with a team committed to changing the face of the online marketplace in Nigeria such challenges have since turned to triumphs. We are here to educate the selling & purchasing habits of Nigerians by showing them a new world: the online world.
9. How do you describe your leadership style? And how do you keep the Kaymu.com.ng team motivated?
I will describe my leadership as “visional”, emotional and leading by example. Motivation in a start-up as Kaymu is easy: we are all here to make a dream come true which is bringing the online marketplace in Nigeria. We are all working hard together to make it happen.
10. Do you think the current league of entrepreneurs in Africa are pushing the boundaries enough or is there way too much emphasis on being entrepreneurs that people are rarely getting enough experience to sustain business growth in Africa?
Entrepreneurship is at its peak in Nigeria. While this is key to the growth of the nation as I believe it is the small and medium scale businesses that really drive the economy, the caution is to be passionate, conduct a thorough analysis and be well grounded in whatever business endeavour one wants to venture in as this is pertinent to the success of it.
11. Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
My mother and her entrepreneurship she demonstrated in the launch of her business from scratch.
12. What was the biggest risk you have ever taken, any regrets?
Leaving my full time job in Italy to focus on my start-up. You leave security to take a risk. Biggest risk; but best decision taken in my life to now.
13. What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the worlds greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
Experience or business acumen is not a replacement to the college experience. College is a training ground and gives one an edge in any given business endeavour.
14. How do you envision Africa’s growth in the next decade, especially Nigeria? What do you think about the e-commerce movement in Nigeria?
The e-commerce movement in Nigeria is spreading like wide-fire. Almost every field of business has an online platform, which is mandatory judging by the increase of online penetration in Nigeria. This trend is only set to drive other African countries and there is no limit to Africa’s growth over the next couple of years.
15. What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why?
Once you have a dream, assess it, nurture it and whatever you do, make it happen. In other words; start young, think big and stick to it!
If you missed the previous parts of the 15 Questions with the CEO series, please click here .