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  Doing business in Nigeria can be quite an adventure, and it’s enough to drive even the toughest entrepreneurs a little crazy! Since the turn of the century, Nigeria has seen a wave of innovative technopreneurs – those savvy folks who use technology to tackle everyday problems and turn them into booming businesses. From tackling agricultural woes to solving financial puzzles like access to loans and savings to navigating housing hurdles and making healthcare more accessible, these entrepreneurs are shaking things up! In logistics, one name making waves – Femi Aluko and his crew at Chowdeck, the coolest food delivery company in Nigeria! Oh, and guess what? Chowdeck was accepted into Y-Combinator 2022 – talk about making a splash! So, let’s dive into Femi’s journey and see what magic he’s been brewing up at Chowdeck, and what big dreams he’s cooking up for the future!
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Femi’s Idea Moment

Femi Aluko’s journey with Chowdeck commenced unexpectedly on the last day of 2020 when he received a positive COVID diagnosis. Stranded away from home due to the late-night revelation, he found himself in a predicament on New Year’s Day as he searched tirelessly for a food delivery service to provide sustenance during his 14-day isolation. Disheartened by the exorbitant prices and limited options offered by existing providers, he recognized a glaring gap in the market – the lack of reliable and accessible food delivery services, especially during holidays. As he delved deeper into the logistics dilemma plaguing the industry, Femi was struck by the absence of a comprehensive solution tailored to African needs. Determined to address this pressing issue, he embarked on a journey of inquiry and exploration, drawing inspiration from successful delivery companies in countries like India. Refusing to accept the status quo, Femi and his team resolved to revolutionize the delivery landscape in Nigeria.

The Humble Start

Their journey began with a humble start – three bikes and riders dispatched to partner with local food vendors Korede Spaghetti and NiFries. Through weekly meetings and hands-on experience, Femi gained invaluable insights into the intricacies of delivery operations, paving the way for a more informed and strategic approach. Recognizing that success hinged on efficiency and user-friendliness, they dedicated themselves to refining their solution. Balancing the needs of riders, restaurants, and customers posed a formidable challenge, but Femi remained undeterred in his pursuit of a seamless and equitable platform. With unwavering determination and a shared vision, the team pooled their technical expertise to develop Chowdeck’s first app prototype in a mere three weeks. Launching the public beta version in October marked the beginning of an exhilarating journey filled with challenges, triumphs, and invaluable lessons learned along the way. Through it all, Femi remained steadfast in his commitment to building a service that not only met but exceeded the expectations of its customers. As Chowdeck continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of food delivery in Nigeria, his story serves as a testament to the transformative power of perseverance, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.
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The Big Revenue Story and Operations

Chowdeck has experienced remarkable growth in recent times, crossing ₦1 billion ($1.2 million) in monthly gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2023. This impressive achievement represents a 10x growth spurt, with the company reportedly surpassing ₦100 million in monthly GMV just ten months prior. With over 60,000 active users in October 2022 up from 7,000 in January 2023, Chowdeck attributes its success to its efficient operations and product development strategy, boasting a profit from each delivery with a more than 25% take rate per order. The startup has expanded rapidly, now operating in four Nigerian cities and employing 1,300 riders who make an average of $70 weekly. Despite its substantial growth, Chowdeck claims its October expansion was organic, foregoing marketing campaigns in favour of enhancing its platform and incorporating insights from Y Combinator, a renowned accelerator program. Additionally, Chowdeck’s reach extends to Port Harcourt, Ibadan, and Abuja, where it conducts an average of 10,000 daily deliveries, fueled in part by the rising demand for digital food delivery services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Chowdeck Stands Out

  1. Customer Focus lies at the heart of Chowdeck’s strategy. They offer a user-friendly app for easy ordering, tracking, and payment, with competitive pricing to reach a wide customer base. Partnering with a variety of restaurants, from popular chains to local favourites, ensures that Chowdeck caters to diverse tastes and preferences, further enhancing its appeal among consumers.
  2. Tech-savvy approaches have set Chowdeck apart in the competitive landscape of food delivery. Leveraging technology to address challenges like traffic congestion, they reportedly use geotagging and predictive analytics to optimize deliveries, leading to faster service and enhanced customer satisfaction. By staying at the forefront of technological advancements, Chowdeck continuously improves operational efficiency and service quality.
  3. Happy Riders, Happy Deliveries – Chowdeck prioritizes its delivery riders by offering attractive incentives, which has been key to attracting and retaining talent. This focus on rider welfare translates to a reliable delivery network for customers, ensuring timely and efficient service. By fostering a positive working environment and providing growth opportunities, Chowdeck maintains a dedicated and motivated team of delivery personnel.
  4. Strategic Partnerships have played a pivotal role in Chowdeck’s expansion and success. Initially collaborating with smaller vendors, Chowdeck has recently secured partnerships with major restaurant chains. This strategic shift allows them to expand their reach and potentially offer a wider menu selection, further enhancing their appeal to customers. By forging strong relationships with partners, Chowdeck strengthens its position in the market and lays the foundation for sustained growth.

    Challenges and Future Prospects

    While Chowdeck’s growth is impressive, some reports suggest that restaurants might have concerns about the operational aspects of the partnership. Addressing these concerns and fostering strong, mutually beneficial partnerships will be crucial for Chowdeck’s sustained success. By addressing challenges proactively and remaining responsive to the evolving needs of its stakeholders, Chowdeck is well-positioned to continue its upward trajectory in the Nigerian food delivery market.
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    Chowdeck’s relentless focus on a user-friendly experience, technological innovation, and rider satisfaction has propelled it to become a major player in the Nigerian food delivery market. As they continue to innovate and adapt to changing market dynamics, Chowdeck is poised to shape the future of food delivery in Nigeria.
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    This article was first published on 24th April 2024


    Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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