Nigerian digital printing startup Printivo is already working with blue chip firms such as Google, Samsung, Stanbic IBTC, Honda and Uber as it prepares to scale faster in the wake of raising a six-figure funding round.
Launched last year, Printivo aims to help Nigerian startups and SMEs print business and marketing materials with ease. The site has around 50 products – ranging from business cards to mugs and bags – with thousands of templates.
Users are able to select their product and template, upload images and input their information, pay online, and have the final product delivered straight to their doorstep. It is this simple and convenient process that co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Olu’yomi Ojo hopes will help to grow Nigeria’s US$200 million print market, which until now lacked a credible online presence.
“Lagos has the toughest traffic in the whole of Africa. You can spend three hours to go to a place that should take you 30 minutes,” Ojo told Disrupt Africa.
“So imagine you want to print business cards, and go through all that. This goes for every printing product. It gets very difficult for small scale businesses to get access to printing.”
He said Nigeria is known as the land of the middlemen, an image that is perpetuated by the country’s print industry.
“Someone would have to go about getting a print job done by going face-to-face to a middleman, who takes a cut each time, making the prices high. Deadlines are missed, quality is questionable,” Ojo said.
Small businesses are central to Printivo’s strategy, with Ojo saying the startup is at the heart of Nigeria’s SME community, providing quality design, top customer service and transparent pricing, things he says are “totally revolutionary” for the country’s printing industry.
Yet of the more than 4,000 companies that use Printivo for their printing needs, it is the blue chip companies like Samsung and Google that stand out. And it is the interest of established firms like these, as well as a growing number of orders from countries in which the startup is not even active yet, that have convinced both Ojo and investors that the time has come for expansion.
Disrupt Africa reported last month Printivo had closed a six-figure funding round from early-stage technology venture capital firm EchoVC Partners, which it plans to use to expand its product range, grow its staff, accelerate customer acquisition and scale the business.
“The lightning speed at which Printivo has changed Nigerian SMEs’ print purchasing habits and built a customer base that runs into the thousands is impressive, and was a key driver in our decision to invest,” Wale Ayeni, investment director at EchoVC Pan-Africa Fund, said when the investment was announced.
“EchoVC sees print in Africa as one of the continent’s ‘iceberg micro-economies’, a below-radar but very large and viable industry with enormous scope for growth. The team’s homegrown expertise and innate understanding of the market, their commitment to great design and innovation in print, their ability to grow long lasting customer relationships and their focus on customer service equates to them being best placed to lead the digital printing revolution on the continent.”
Ojo said the investment would allow Printivo to scale faster. It already has revenues growing at 50 per cent quarter-over-quarter, and is on track to fulfilling 1,000 orders per month. Active in 36 Nigerian states, it hopes to become the the primary print outsourcing partner to the 17 million active Nigerian SMEs, before eventually becoming the pan-African e-print platform of choice.
Self-funded initially, Printivo relied on social media and, especially, word of mouth in the months after launch in order to acquire customers.
“If a customer comes and he sees the convenience he tells his friends. We started growing significantly that way,” he said.
No such problem now, with substantial funding behind it, but Printivo faces other challenges, primarily in terms of logistics and payments. But Ojo said the startup was confident these would be overcome and it would continue to grow at an impressive rate.
“I sincerely believe the logistics situation is going to improve. A lot of companies are beginning to see the market in shipping across Africa. Over time it will improve,” he said.
He is equally confident that payments are not an issue for the company.
“Even if card payments fail our customers will go to the banking hall to make payments. We see this trend a lot. It shows the high level of trust,” Ojo said.