“Our Vision is to Provide All foodstuffs in One Place”- Femi Aiki, Co-founder FoodLocker
Our net caught another big fish; we are featuring an amazing entrepreneur based in Ibadan, a co-founder of FoodLocker. We met him during the South-West eCommerce Summit &Expo last week and he shared with us so much about the brand called FoodLocker.
Can We Meet You?
My name is Femi Aiki, from Ilora in Oyo state. I studied Chemical Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and Petroleum Engineering at Imperial College in London. I also have an MBA from ESADE Business School, a top 6 European Business School. I started out as a Systems Engineer and worked on the high-performance team that delivered the Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University Driverless Train System in Saudi-Arabia and then worked for Amazon for a couple of years, where I was a Pathways Operations Manager. At Amazon, I worked at a 700K sq ft fulfillment center on a capacity optimisation project and later led over 300 people to deliver record-breaking results during the peak season of 2016. Afterwards, I came back home to set up Foodlocker.
Tell us about your brand, FoodLocker
I’m sure you’ve heard about Footlocker, the shoe retailer. [Laughs] At Foodlocker, we lock food down for the people who need them and focus on food delivery from the local farmers that produce them from the interior areas like Iseyin, Ilora and others; and deliver them to the customers that need them in the city. A lot of farmers are producing food items that cannot access the market. We help them access the market in such a way that everybody in the value chain can be successful.
When Did You Start FoodLocker?
We started in December but the initial planning and ideation started when I came back from the U.K after I left Amazon and was figuring out what next I need to do just because I felt I needed a different experience. I found out there is a big problem here, food shouldn’t be as expensive as it is. We produce everything here, so food should be cheap.
What is the Brand’s Vision and Driving Force?
Our vision is to become the one-stop shop for foodstuff in Nigeria. We discovered that there is a disconnect between the producers and the consumers causing prices not to be transparent. Nobody knows what the real price of foodstuff is. The farmers don’t get value from their produce and consumers still get ripped off.
Consumers pay too much to the middlemen who milk the market. The whole Foodlocker idea is to use the e-commerce technology, the same idea that drives retail, and delivery of products to sort of connect the farmers to the market. To provide the one-stop shop, we also do other fast moving consumer goods. We are basically giving customers the full experience; where they can get everything (food) in one store.
What Category of foodstuffs are you into?
We are into everything, we do staples, meat, condiments, tubers, oil, processed foods from Yam flour… everything.
How do you Maintain Quality Control being not an Agriculturist?
I grew up on the farm, even though my parents had their own jobs. We had a poultry farm, some vegetable farms, fruits, etc and we sold thousands of chickens during festive periods. I made my first tens of thousands from growing long runner beans (green beans). Basically, Agriculture is what we do in Nigeria. It should be the core of our economy. Forget about oil, [I studied Chemical engineering and Petroleum Engineering], Agriculture is what we do.
To make sure we maintain good quality, we hired a Storage Biologist for our team. We were very specific about our recruitment and the profiles we needed. We knew what we needed and we hired professionals for them. We also learn from the local retailers, how they store food, etc. My Amazon experience has also come in very handy.
What’s your Staff Strength?
We are a team of six, for now, two co-founders, four other people that will own equity in the company after working for about a minimum of 1 year.
How is business being in Ibadan?
I will say my expectations have been surpassed. The population of Oyo state is about 6 million and everybody needs to eat. Each of them has the same challenge of shopping for foodstuff in the open market – pricing, quality, hygiene, shopping logistics, parking, etc. I wouldn’t say all the 6 million are my customers but the addressable market is large and increasing. We only target a very small fraction of them for now.
I used to brag that You only need to buy from me once and you get it, because our prices are some of the best and our product quality is impressive. In addition, we deliver to customers in 2 hours. Not even Jumia or Konga does that, and also you can decide when exactly you want to receive your products. Nobody in the whole world has been able to crack that apart from Foodlocker.
Do you run the same price structure with Market?
Yes, we do and our prices are even cheaper than those of the acclaimed discount retailers in Ibadan
How do you make profit?
That’s part of my secret as a businessman but I will share a few of them. Basically, it’s about understanding the market itself. There are some product-specific experts in say pepper, oil and all. You need to be sure, you can attract them, leverage on their experience and don’t be too greedy. Let them make money and you will make money. We are very profitable on a per unit basis.
On the average, what is the Monthly Turn-over?
I won’t give you actual numbers but I can tell you confidently that we are growing 100% every month and we started doing at least a million within the first weeks of opening the business. We drive the business from three basic segments, the e-commerce which is the 21st century way of how to buy, the business to the business segment, through which we sell to hotels, restaurants, etc and we also have a retail side because we have a physical store which is doing pretty well.
How can People make an order?
Customers can make an order by visiting www.foodlocker.com.ng. We offer two purchase approaches: pay online (at purchase) and collect where you want or pay online and collect at our store. We don’t operate Pay on delivery and we will never do it.
What’s your projection for Foodlocker before the end of the year?
My first objective is massive scaling on customer acquisition, especially on the business-to-business side. We want to scale to a certain point where we can pass on better prices to the retail/e-commerce segments. Right now, all our products are cheaper than FoodCo, Shoprite and everybody and we want to scale that to a certain level so we can start shipping outside of the state. We also plan to roll out close to 4 or 5 more outlets before the end of the year. This is to make sure we can deliver products within 2 hours.
What do you want people to hold to your brand?
Excellence. Anytime people come in connect with Foodlocker, you should be confident that we will always deliver. As a co-founder, I would rather lose money than allow my customers to lose money.
How would people get to your office?
We are on Magazine Road in Jericho, Ibadan. The closest landmark to us is Aleshinloye market or the SARS office. We are on Facebook (@FoodlockerNigeria), Twitter(@Foodlocker2), and on Instagram (@foodlockerng). We offer 100% money back guarantee if we fail on quality. Customers can order their foodstuff on www.foodlocker.com.ng and we will deliver at the time they specify.
Thanks for your Time!
You are Welcome