[00:00:00] Narrator: Once upon a time, our society was so different. If I had yams and wanted chicken to prepare sumptuous meal, I could drop off tubers at the neighbors, get some tasty chicken meat exchange.
The batter system worked for a while in Africa's premodern times after several iterations, the world settled for cash and coins as mediums of exchange. And so it went needs rising to meet the evolving times.
And we got to the modern day. Now I want a pair of shoes for an event, a pair that I'm pretty sure I would never wear again. What present day version of the barter system can meet my temporary need for shoes?
I mean, in smaller communities of old, all I just needed to do was meet a neighbor, a relative, or a friend of a friend of a friend to borrow, say a pestle, a calabash and whatever I need. But today things are quite different.
On this episode of built in Africa, we'll be looking at how Nigerian rental marketplace, Rentit , helps people rent goods and cut down the cost of buying to meet really temporary needs.
In year 2018. A research conducted by the world poverty clock declared Nigeria as the world's poverty capital with data, showing that at the time 87 million people lived below $2 in the Nigerian currency, that's just 1000 Naira. Now it's four years later and very little has changed. The country is now just second runner up to India, not so much of progress.
I mean, with this context in mind, it is unavoidable that there's less disposable income to go around. Hence meeting needs or temporary wants in real time. is quite a luxury and for Seun Abimbola, co-founder of Rentit, this is a problem he has identified and is looking to solve with his rental marketplace.
[00:01:55] Abimbola: Even if we don't go look at the statistics, if we just look at almost everything now is been sold in very minute quantity. I mean, somebody called the sachetization of the economy exactly. Yeah. You know, so it just shows that people don't have that much money to spend on things per time. So it means that spending 40,000 hour on a pair of suit for instance, is luxury for many, right. If they can get an option for 10,000 now they'll jump on it.
[00:02:19] Narrator: That's the voice of Seun Abimbola co-founder of Rentit. Now his Eureka moment with the Rentit idea happened at a friend's training event. When the projector suddenly stopped working and Abimbola's inventiveness helped save the day.
[00:02:32] Abimbola: Everybody says, they know one guy that always knows one guy, that knows one guy. So I'm usually the guy at the end of that person who knows somebody that knows somebody. I picked up my phone made a call, a projector showed up. Right. But I was thinking about it. If I wasn't in that room that day, my friend that had been stranded, I would not have been able to do his training.
So I then thought, what if we had a website that, you know, you could pretty much just go and, you know, if you needed to rent something short term basis, you just, you know, searched and you rented it, maybe preferably something around you. So I called my co-founder and then we said, let's do this. So it was, we just built a very simple interface just to test it.
[00:03:06] Narrator: From here, the idea evolved into a lucrative side hustle for both Abimbola and the co-founder Tayo Adegoke.
[00:03:13] Abimbola: Uh, we did a course together at, enterprise development center, pan Atlantic university, you know, so it was just one of those guys that, you know, we just, we just got onto good vibes and, you know, we've done a couple of money making things before, before that.
So it's my guy like that, you know, we, we just, there's an opportunity. Gives me a plug. There's an opportunity. I give him the plug. So yeah.
[00:03:36] Narrator: Seeing how well people engaged with it at this level, encouraged the duo to make it an official business sometime in 2020.
Rentit operates an asset light model, and this allows users to both rent and lease goods like cars, generators, suits, and a host of other items on the platform
[00:03:54] Abimbola: what we're trying to do is get people like you who have that suit in their wardrobe that they're not wearing to list it and actually make money from that suit. So the thing is asset owners, us decide how much they want to, you know, um, rent our cost of their item. We don't determine that we figure out what I mean.
So on one hand, we're trying to give people plugs. We able to run these things easily. On the other end, we're also trying to create cash flow for people who own these assets just make extra money from it.
[00:04:18] Narrator: Future market insights predicts that the global car rental market will reach 176.2 billion evaluation by 2025. This finding lends credence to a fact highlighted by Abimbola that cars are the items with the highest demand on the platform.
[00:04:35] Abimbola: vehicles, um, buses. Costa buses, haulage buses, luxury cars, you'd be surprised, SUVs, and even just regular cars vehicles. It's the demand is huge.
[00:04:46] Narrator: He also makes it clear that the rental business has always been on the Nigerian scene, but that most of the rental platforms do not live up to the times by leveraging the power of the internet Rentit, solves this problem by onboarding offline rental platforms.
[00:05:01] Abimbola: So, I mean, if you land in an airport outside Lagos, for instance, say an airport in, let's say a Asaba or Owerri, I mean, in which you're coming out of the airport, you see like 10 to 15 people hustling you cab cab, cab, cab, car rental that type of thing. They do, but they're not leveraging technology.
So because they're not leveraging technology, they're not visible. They're not seen. Which is where we come in. I mean, we have a lot of these guys who onboarding them on the platform, so they'll basically give them visibility so that somebody who is coming from, sweden can actually, book them right from Sweden and that point where it's landing in Owerri it's connecting to them and using their service, that kind of thing.
[00:05:36] Narrator: On numbers and reach the platform has enjoyed sizable profit. It's present in four cities in Nigeria and has plans to expand further.
[00:05:44] Abimbola: Last year we did, uh, 90,000 USD. we paid out a little over 70,000 USD to assets owners on the platform. we've done over 3000 transactions. We're in Lagos, we're in Ibadan. We're in Abuja, we're in Port Harcourt. . Uh, the plan is to go hard and go national very soon. And you know, other African ,West African cities first.
[00:06:04] Narrator: Speaking on funding, Abimbola reveals that as much as the company will like to raise funds, Rentit's focus, its key focus remains building for customers and getting unit economics right.
[00:06:15] Abimbola: You can either spend money or spend your brain, you know, people tend to do one more of one than the other. So for us, it's about the balance. Yes. Spend, I mean, putting the mental work and then let the money back it up.
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[00:07:25] Narrator: Online or offline. The rental business is not without its challenges and this startup has had its share as it currently battles sluggish adaptation to technology in certain locations.
[00:07:37] Abimbola: So growth is something we constantly think about and some months are great. Some months are not great. You keep learning, you keep tweaking. some cities perform well. Some cities do not perform as well. Um, we've struggled in Ibadan for instance. I'm not sure why there's something we keep looking at. Do you understand?
[00:07:53] Narrator: While property and housing provide big spaces for rental platforms. It wouldn't be out of place to wonder why houses and apartments aren't on the Rentit lists.
[00:08:03] Abimbola: I like to play games where I can win, you know? So why do you want going to property renting? I mean, there's private property. There's property pro, massively venture back businesses. Um, understand the terrain, lots of footprints already. I mean, if you go to it against them, you might lose, but that said though, um, if you're looking for what I will call like niche spaces, so maybe you wanna do a battery for instance, right? You want to rent a beach house, you know, those kind of things. Yes. So those are the, those are the intersections at which we are kind of playing, not necessarily the property rental, even though if you go by what people are searching for in Nigeria, you would want to be in that rental property place.
[00:08:42] Narrator: Rentit has weathered storms ranging from COVID lockdown to hiring issues through these experiences. Abimbola has learnt key lessons, which he believes every young entrepreneur should know beforehand.
[00:08:54] Abimbola: You don't read a book to learn how to ride a bicycle. you also don't read a book to learn how to have sex.
Mm. You just do it. really you writing a bicycle. You'll be bad at it. You might fall. You might but every time you get up, you fall and get up. Pick up the bicycle. I. now the problem is a lot of people try to read books to learn how to ride a bicycle, and then they tell you, oh, your right fit or your right foot needs to be at an angle 45 and you need to paddle forward. You need to maintain your balance.
Just take the bicycle and ride it. Mm. Do you understand, so you have a business. . I mean, somebody told me that, and this is June. No, this is, this is may, instead of it was building something and that the MVP will be ready in December.
I almost fell off my seats. I said, why would an MVP be ready in December? Why? I don't understand. I feel like I can get an ready in three days to just you know, so don't, don't do about think things. what do you wanna do? This is what I want to do.
And, and validating is as simple as run an IG ad for a thousand bucks a day. Run an add on Twitter for your product. If a stranger randomly scrolling through a timeline, sees it engages with you, wants it. It's proved that you have something
[00:10:16] Narrator: Thank you for listening to Built in Africa, this script was adapted by Joy matthew interviewed by Chimgozirim Nwokoma sound designed by Emmanuel Paul. This is a production of TechPoint Africa. I am Emmanuel Paul, please subscribe, share, and drop a review of this podcast by searching for Built in Africa on apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast,
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