Nigeria’s smallChops.ng makes it easier to order finger food

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Nigerian startup smallChops.ng is doing all it can to make party organisation easier, by aggregating finger food – called “small chops” in the West African country – unit orders on its online platform.

smallChops.ng, which was launched in August 2016 and has over 200 verified vendors spread across multiple locations – is not simply a listing service, however.

“Users don’t “choose” vendors to make their orders,” founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Uche Ukonu told Disrupt Africa.

“The platform picks the best vendor in the region – based on quality assurance terms, conditions and specifications – the order is coming from, and pushes the order to him or her.”

Whereas previously, if an individual just wanted to order one or two of their favorite finger foods, they would have to order enough for a small party for any caterer to take them seriously and deliver.

“The smallChops.ng platform creates this “small party” virtually that’s made up of you and a bunch of other people online, and places the order with the caterer, but packages and delivers to each of you individually,” Ukonu said.

“So basically, we remove the limitation that says you can only have party food at a party.”

The idea first came about in 2015, when Ukonu was told that unit orders of finger foods were impossible to deliver.

“After a few frantic calls to multiple caterers to produce and deliver finger foods for a party of three, I realised that nobody would deliver less than a specified minimum as it wasn’t cost effective to the caterers,” he said.

“There was a gap between the minimum a vendor could produce and the minimum a user would order. I sought to fill that gap. We realised that many is the sum of the few, so we built our platform to aggregate unit orders from users per geographical location to reach the minimum number of servings the vendor can produce.”

The startup launched last year, with deliveries handled by Metro Africa Express (MAX). Its major competition is the plethora of food delivery startups that have sprung up over the past few years.

“They play a major role in influencing how Nigerian users see online food delivery services, especially in terms of how much they are willing to spend. We also face some competition from already established offline finger foods brands that have been around for ages,” Ukonu said.

Self-funded thus far, smallChops.ng has seen a reception better than Ukonu had hoped for.

“There was a stronger market than we had anticipated for unit orders of finger foods. Our revenue has steadily doubled every quarter since inception, all on very limited advertising spend and almost completely reliant on referrals,” he said.

Though the service is currently operating most effectively in Lagos, it does have semi-active vendors all over the country.

“We decided to focus our energies on one market until we have sufficient backing to expand,” Ukonu said.

“We charge the vendors a percentage of the order value for each order made through us. Profits have been steadily rising by an average of 40 per cent month-on-month since inception. It is not amazing, we know we can do better.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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