In October last year, Togo-based transportation startup, Gozem, acquired another Togolese startup called Delivroum which specialises in food deliveries. Gozem made this strategic move despite the economic uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Business Elites Africa recently spoke with the company’s CO-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Emeka Ajene, with the intention of learning more about that acquisition as well as finding out more about the company’s plans for the new year. Enjoy the read.
BEA: Nice to meet you, Mr Ajene. Do tell us a little about yourself and how your entrepreneurial journey began.
EA: I moved to Nigeria at the end of 2014 and worked in marketing & customer experience functions for Naspers/Kinnevik-funded Konga in 2015. After that, I moved to Uber Nigeria where I led operations & business development, including the launch of Abuja as Uber’s 400th city globally. I also helped spearhead the acceptance of cash as a payment method in Lagos — something rare for Uber at the time.
After a previous career in the US, working with these high-growth VC-funded startups in Nigeria opened my eyes to some unique opportunities and obstacles, and I first started a consultancy where I helped companies like Kobo360 with growth and other challenges. And over time, it became apparent to me that there was a largely untapped opportunity in Francophone West Africa and I moved to Togo in 2018 to launch Gozem with my business partners.
BEA: Your company, Gozem, recently acquired food delivery startup Delivroum. Could you tell us more about the acquisition and the anticipated outcomes?
EA: Gozem is Africa’s Super App — we offer users a suite of services, from motorcycle-taxi transport to car-taxi transport, to e-commerce to delivery & logistics services, to various financial services. Delivroum, a food delivery app in Lomé, pioneered modern, tech-based food delivery in Togo and we have long been fans of their approach & model. We acquired Delivroum in order to fast-track our entry into the food delivery vertical and to bring more simplicity and convenience to often underserved users across Francophone Africa. Our food delivery offering, Gozem Food, will launch shortly not only in Togo, but in Benin, and other countries that we operate in.
BEA: It has been months since the acquisition happened. What has the integration process for the two brands been like so far?
EA: The integration is going as planned. On the one hand, Delivroum’s growth rate has accelerated thanks to our combined efforts, particularly as it relates to marketing activities. On the other hand, we’ve been able to apply the insights and experience gained by Delivroum to our ongoing development of Gozem Food and we’re very excited to launch this new functionality this quarter and increase the value we provide to our users.
BEA: Would it be right to assume that the pandemic influenced your decision to expand your business through the acquisition of Delivroum?
EA: No, that wouldn’t be accurate. We launched Gozem with the intention to be a multi-vertical, multi-service Super App from day one. While we started with personal transportation, our intention was always to expand to various delivery services (including food & parcel delivery), e-commerce services, financial services, and more. We were and continue to be inspired by Gojek and Grab, the Asian Super Apps, and pandemic or not, our vision has always been to become Africa’s Super App by building a diverse digital ecosystem that serves an often overlooked and underserved population and improves the quality of life of our various stakeholders — users, drivers, merchants, partners, employees & others.
BEA: How would you say the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business operation in 2020?
EA: Given curfews & lockdowns in some of the cities in which we operate, COVID-19 did indeed have a negative impact on our transportation business, particularly in Q2 2020, but this has since rebounded and we’re excited about what 2021 has in store not only for our transportation vertical, but also for our delivery business and our financial services vertical.
What is the most important lesson 2020 taught you?
There are no straight lines in nature or business. The key is adaptability — continuing to make progress in the direction of your initial vision, while adjusting accordingly to unexpected events.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the rest of the interview on page 84 of our latest magazine edition: 25 Entrepreneurs and Brands to Watch in 2021.
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