Pukena-2017 Year In Review


#1

Pukena was launched in August 2107. As we begin a full year in 2018, we want to share a bit of the foundation laying stage of our business journey to encourage few startup founders who feel discouraged for lack of funds.

OUR MISSION
To help individuals, households and corporate organizations hire verified and top rated service providers across somes select service categories such as events services, digital services, home maintenance services, private tutorials, beauty services, vehicle serices, computers & technology, pet services and fashion & style.

PUKENA SHOULDN’T EXIST
With practically no institutional backing and no formal track record in the tech ecosystem, I saw a problem and delved in to solve it- The difficulty to hire reliable artisans by employers. I lost 2 big generators within 6 months due to bad servicemen, after spending so much money just to get a minor issue fixed. A quick opinion poll showed that 9 out of 10 persons have the same issue. I saw a need to develop a reliable database of artisans in different negbourhoods but unlike some platform like olx where you can get a painter’s contact details without much input from the management of olx, I decided to develop an accountablity structure where employers don’t only get to hire these artisans, but we ensure the hired artisan delivers optimal services under strict quality measures set by us.

Now you can easily hire a painter, even far cheaper than when you contact them directly and still get a better job satisfaction. Money well spent. That was what I set out to achieve.

THE FIRST CHALLENGE
What service categories to cover. How to build the online platform in terms of framework and complexity considering I don’t have money to hire a developer-I have to find a way to do it for free!

How do I attract and convince service providers to join us, knowing they would now be watched at every turn and possibly offer their services at a cheaper rate than the market value (30% less) and still have to forfeit up to 30% in commissions to Pukena. That’s a tall order.

THE NEXT 4 MONTHS…
Faced with these challenges, I immediately set to work. The first thing I did was to share my dear with my good friend, Ferdinand Aneke, a web developer and expert in Drupal. We have collaborated on projects in the past as colleagues in the same line of business (we both ran a cyber cafe and computer school. Infact he inspired me to open one in 2012).

Chike, as he is fondly called, finally agreed to help me get started with the web platform. He was to build the major strucure while I give flesh to it. In a month I had my website launched in August, 2017. Check it here www.pukena.ng

While the website was being developed, I spoke to another friend of mine, Chilasa Anosike, about the project. He got excited. He soon became my shadow in the early days as we both set out to talk to different service providers from street to street in Lagos. One day we walked from Ijeshatedo to Bode Thomas without realizing it!

Artisans were excited at the new opportunity to showcase their services without first paying for it.But since we are dealing with people who hardly have use for technology and internet(except the services pros in digital services category), we had to find ways to onboard them manually using printed forms instead of waiting until they use our online form. It was very tasking, as I have to start re-filling our database manually from the collected filled forms everyday! We used this method to aggregate over 200 service providers.

Some actually used our online forms to register. The vetting procedure was initially light. But I later insisted that in order to offer the best handymen, they needed further deelopment. Hence I created Pukena Academy,a 6-week intensive professional upgrade for artisans, billed to start in February.

FUNDING
I funded Pukena from my pocket and with the help of some family and friends. I relied on my facebook profile to get the word out there. I worked out from my house and sometimes at Chike’s Cafe to communicate with our growing commnunity. With the site launched and some services providers onboarded, I desperately needed funds. I had run out of my savings and I have almost exhausted my relationship bank account. This project either works or we die off!

OUR FIRST JOB CAME!
One morning, I checked our official email as usual, expecting an order.We got one! A website design project for a hotel booking startup. I was in cloud 9. That job brought in more than N200,000 alone. Not much for most people but for a young project like this, it was a confidence booster. It re-invigorated us and gave us a reason to believe! We soon realized it was to open more doors for us. Before long, orders started trickling in- a generator repair there, a graphics design there, auto mechanic here, floor tiling job there, and business registration contract here. At the end, we ended the year with a gross with over N300,000 gross transaction value after 4 months with over 10 jobs on our waiting list for January alone!

INVESTORS REJECTED US
Yea, to them we are not doing well enough to attract funding. Well to them. But to us, we are proud of our small wins considering what we had to face achieving that. I told my team, which has grown to 4, not to bother about external funding but we should increase traction. We have set milestones for 2018. We have raised the bar so as to push ourselves more. We want to achieve a gross monthly transaction of N5,000,000 by March and increase our vetted service providers to 10,000 in 2018. Tall order but achievable!

PRODUCT UPDATES

We are set to launch some programs in Pukena to enhance our business all round. These programs include:

Pukena Academy- designed to produce worldclass service providers fit for the kings (customers)
Pukena Referral Program (PRP)- this is one of our key marketing strategies for 2018. Read more about it here.
Sponsor a Project- This is our short-term financing strategy to encourage our friends to invest in a localized project in Pukena for a Return on Investment after 2 months. We are still finetuning the details. To be launched in February.
Pay with Paystack- We are integrating paystack on our platform to enable easy payment processing using cards, effective from February

TEAM & COMMUNITY
I have done almost everything myself since the beginning, with help from some friends as I have mentioned above. I have been careful not to hire too fast or try to scale prematurely. I rather hire for the pain. I believe now I need to, the pain is getting so much. I need more hands to do job assessment visits. I lost some jobs because I couldn’t visit every job alert. This visit are very essential in our business model.Initially I personally did the rounds myself to have a feel of the process but now, we intend hiring project officers first thing in 2018 for that purpose. We are looking to hire up to 50 project interns to accommodate for our monthly target of 100 projects by March.

Am also looking to formalize the founding team and share the management responsibilities with them this January. The office of a Chief Operating Officer is crucial now to captain the growing operational team. Soon, we would need to formalize our hiring process and have an effective human resources department to handle that.

I love to market. So for now, that will be my main role because it determines if we make money or not.

WHAT WE ARE WRESTLING WITH
Just like every early stage startup, we desperately need some injection of funds.At our level, we can only attract Family and Friend" round as against the institutional funding. Hence we are launching “Sponsor a Project” by February. We applied for TEEP 2018 and are looking forward to applying to a list of accelerator programs and early stage funders like microtraction and Ventures Platform. But to increase our chances of getting a nod, we need traction. So you see-To get money, you need to sell more, to sell more, you need money for marketing and promotion- The funny picture of early stage startups. But we will get there!

Join us on this exciting journey. Help us grow by using or platform to hire a service provider or invest in us. Africa need more startup teams to be encouraged to d more.

Happy New Year!


#2

Invest more in seo and you would thank me later. You just sit in your office and Google would just keep driving Client to you.


#3

Totally agreed with @installng. Kudos to pukena. Part of what we did on yakata.com.ng is to invest and focus our energy on SEO. A developer from India is currently working on integrating some Advanced SEO techniques on our website. If you invest on SEO, you might not need to spend so much money on marketing.

I started comparing my site with my major competitors to see how they are ranking high on google. After about 2 weeks I discovered the tricks they are using and now in few weeks Yakata will be gaining huge traffic from google.


#4

Thanks boss. That’s part of or plans. I guess I have to make that priority


#5

Well said boss. Am right on it hence. Thanks for the healthy fedback


#6

Be careful of Indian SEOs!!!


#7

@kelz Its just to structure our site with proper meta title and meta description. So nothing to fear. I am assuming you mean backlinks - but hail no. I can never buy backlinks. I have studied SEO a lot. Now I know what it entails to have a good site with proper SEO.


#8

If you studied SEO as you claim , structuring your meta tags and description should be a piece of cake.
#JustSaying


#9

Hmm not as easy as you think. Especially if you are not a programmer. Mind you, we are also doing some other SEO tricks especially - Structured data with Schema.org and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Its more than you think.


#10

As a developer I totally agree with you. Sometimes I rewrite database queries on my site as part of SEO strategy. I want my site to load faster than competitors always.


#11

I second this!


#12

@jeturn16 if you know and studied SEO, and knows about "proper meta title and meta description"why hiring Indian? My friend talk true let people advise better… with your choice of india, your site will get penalized with issues resulting from “I will reserve my comment more”


#13

What type of investment are you looking at? give details…How do you take in investment? equity or loan? details…


#14

@crescent hmm. Indians are one of the top developers in the world. The fact that I know about metatag title and description doesn’t mean I know how to integrate them into my website. There are some technical things about SEO which only a developer can help you with that. There are 3 types of SEO. 1. On-page 2. Off-page and 3. Technical SEO. Some SEO you don’t need developer but for some SEO, you need developer. Also mind you, I did proper search before picking my developer. You don’t need to generalise things about Indians. I know some big companies in the US who still employ the services of Indian developers.


#15

@jeturn16 …Why wont you hire indian when with $10 they rush your job in a country where almost everyone in India claims to be programmer or developer even when it entails copy and paste codes or simply launching an instance and click to install any stack is what most of them do. There are Nigerian local developers who can get it done, even looking up on google and free tutorials is enough to get SEO done…also there free tools to make it happen. The Indian uses mainly automated approach… what a man does not know is certainly BIGGER than him… Lets hire Nigerians to grow our tech sector


#16

Good morning sir. We have a detailed investment plan that covers for both equity ad loan structures. I would be glad to send you a copy if you are interested in investing in Pukena. Kindly DM your email. Thanks.


#17

@crescent. I hire anybody I feel can do my job. Even if the person is from the moon. I am not under an obligation to hire a Nigerian. FYI I have used Nigerian Freelancers for some aspects of my business. Also FYI whether SEO is simple or not, I have decided to give out to an expert to handle it for me. I am a not jack of all trades freek. I give people opportunity to excel and be innovative. I don’t do everything myself. There are so many aspects of my business that requires my attention. I don’t need to drain my energy on SEO, when I know someone can handle it for me.


#18

Its hard for me to give you my email ID here… how about sending me a private message on this radar as well and we take it up from there


#19

OK boss… will take a look at the concerned site to see the much magic done to it by your celebrated developer from India


#20

ok done sir.