Uche Ukonu: How a Personal Need Birthed smallChops, a Vibrant Food Business in Nigeria
In this BEA exclusive, smallchops founder Uche Ukonu, provides insights on a series of crucial issues in Africa.
Uche Ukonu is the founder and CEO of smallChops, a platform that provides high-quality finger foods from handpicked vendors in Nigeria. It’s been over 5 years since its launch and the food startup is going strong.
Read the full interview here.
BEA: What inspired you to launch smallChops?
Uche Ukonu: SmallChops was launched from a personal need some time in 2015. I wanted to order a single pack of smallChops and at that time, food delivery was still in its infancy in Nigeria. Nobody wanted to deliver a package to me because it was too small to produce. Over time, and with that experience in mind, I asked around and found out that a lot of people needed to be able to receive chops at home whenever they wanted, regardless of quantity. I discovered that this was a problem that called for a solution.
I began to visualise myself as a factor in the solution of this problem, given that I had some experience in the food production and foodservice industry, as well as in technology. So I came up with the idea to build small chops. And when it came to picking the name, it was actually at a random TEDtalk. I ran into Mark Essien, the founder of Hotels.ng and was talking with him about naming the startup. He gave a very interesting perspective, stating that Search Engine Optimization in Nigeria is still very lean. So, as much as possible, let your business name be recognisable instantly. That was what inspired me to get the domain name smallChops.ng, and we’ve been running with that.
BEA: What would you say is the biggest challenge in Nigeria’s food industry?
Uche Ukonu: Getting your products ready is the easy part because you can control all the factors involved. However, getting your product to your customers is where things get sketchy. This is because not a lot of businesses can afford to have their own fleet of bikes or design processes that will mitigate the failures of using third-party logistics services.
For me, the biggest challenge in Nigeria’s food industry is logistics. I Don’t think any business has been able to solve last-mile logistics at scale. You still experience the same failure rate as everyone else.
Read full interview here.
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