When it comes to buying products abroad, and shipping it to Nigeria, it’s usually not an easy one for many Nigerians. In cases when the item is really small, the cost of shipping from abroad might be double the cost of the item. Having experienced this challenge, Lola Ekugo took steps to address it by launching Transthat, a startup that connects travelers to Nigerians who need items delivered.
In this interview, she reveals more about Transthat and her foray into entrepreneurship.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a first class graduate of Business information systems, and an IT specialist with a passion for solving challenging and important problems using innovative technologies. I am currently on an MBA programme at Imperial College London.
My career kicked off in the technology division in the financial services sector 12 years ago and I have since been involved with startups in the travel, hospitality and logistics space across the UK and Nigeria.
I am a strong believer of putting 100% in whatever I do, and that time is one of our most valuable assets. I love to explore and learn about people and cultures and have visited over 25 countries so far.
Tell us about Transthat and the solutions you’re offering.
Transthat is a platform that connects travelers who have extra luggage space to spare and want to earn some extra money, with requestors who want to buy specific products/items from abroad.
Now, Nigerians can enjoy their favourite products from abroad more frequently by tapping into travelers extra luggage space and saving on expensive Shipping costs. Transthat Travelers, earn money by utilizing their extra unused baggage allowance.
How does the platform work?
Transthat is an online platform that connects travelers who have extra luggage space and want to earn some extra cash, with people who want items from “abroad”.
Transthat holds the money in escrow to ensure that transactions are done safely and securely on the platform. A requestor places a request on the platform and a traveler picks up that request if it matches their travel plans.
What inspired the idea to begin Transthat?
Transthat.com was built out of a passion for solving pertinent problems and helping others. There were a few redefining moments for me when I moved to back to Lagos, Nigeria from the UK that shaped the idea.
- My laptop charger stopped working unexpectedly and after experiencing the pain of shipping things to Nigeria I really wished there was a low cost and fast service I could use to get a replacement. (Transthat Buy Option solves this)
- The time when I left some very important documents in London and needed them to register for program the next day in Lagos. (Transthat Transfer Lite Option solves this)
And vice versa, I love to travel and find peculiar items and mostly have some wasted and unutilised luggage space. I realised that the issue was faced by many other Nigerians like myself.
So far, how has the response been from Nigerians?
Very positive, we were able to sign on 100+ users and perform some transactions in our first week of launching. We are getting lots of interest and traction.
How did you finance your start-up?
The seed capital was self-funded, we are looking at more funding for expansion.
Tell us the story behind your foray into entrepreneurship. How did it all begin?
About 7 years into my career in the IT sector of the financial services industry. I felt the urge that I needed to do something more. There were problems that needed solving in our generation and we the youths are the future. I realized that if we focus on just our own life and family who will focus on the world? Who would make a difference where it matters?
So, I started to look outside focusing on my career but also on things that I could do, on what I could give back.
Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
It is always very exciting to see the launch of a new product after all the work that was put into its development. Then seeing people using it and getting the value that was intended is absolutely amazing.
I believe that if even one person’s life is better by using your product that’s an achievement.
What challenges did you face starting out, and how did you overcome them?
Some of the challenges I faced were navigating through the difficulties of building something up from scratch as well as the uncertainties and the adherent risks that every start up faces.
It is important to push through and focus on solving the problem, whatever it takes.
From your experience being an entrepreneur, what is your message to aspiring Nigerian entrepreneurs?
If you can dream it you can do it.
One thing I’ve learnt from my experiences is that where there’s a problem – there’s usually a solution. It might not be obvious or be easy to solve but you need to think outside the box.
Starting a business can be a huge investment of your time and money and possibly one of the most difficult things you would ever do.
So, prepare your mind beforehand, there will be ups and downs but in the end it will be worth it. You are already a star for taking that bold step into the unknown.