Hillary Nwaukor is the founder & CEO, I-Naira Integrated Resources Ltd with over 10 years of business management consulting experience.
Nwaukor an avid sales person, started his career as a member of a guerrilla marketing team of one of the pioneer MTN Connect Stores- Tatacoms Integrated Resources Ltd, back in 2004.
He joined Nextzon in April 2009 as Head Business Development Unit of Institutionalization Advisory Services of the company; resigned in 2010 December because of his knack to do more outside paid environment and later established management consulting firm- Beefit Consults, with his colleagues, offering services to the private and public sector since 2010.
Nwaukor and his team set up the New Media Unit of the Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, pioneered NNPC’s engagement with the public on social media in line with the vision of Dr. IbeKachikwu, then GMD, and current Minister of states, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
Nwaukor holds MBA in International Business from the University of East London UEL and a BA in International studies from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma Edo State and a member of Certified Institute of Auctioneers, Nigeria (CIAN) he spoke to peter oluka on the rationale behind I-Naira.com.
What Inspired I-Naira.com Launch
Thank you for your time to be with us today. Well, the need to do something that benefits everyday Nigerians and consumers in general informed the i-naira.com idea. We currently have two core products available to the public; first, Give & Take (Instant cash & items rewards) to customers who refer new users to our platform; secondly, iNairaBid (Auctioing).
Nursing The Idea of Launching a Platform for Auctions
Consistently, there is this innate itch to continually conceptualize new ideas that can add value to lives of people. I guess that is what sets me apart from others.
The idea to build a Consumer Sales Promotion (CSP) platform came to us since 2010, implementation began in 2011. Now for clarity, we are a CSPplatform – our customer centric strategy determines the marketing tool we deploy towards adding that extra value to customers.
Auctioning, just happen to be one of those tools. Many other tools will be deployed in the future as well; some with an element of chance beyond the control of the customer.
Is the Name One-Naira or i&Naira?
The name if spelt out in full is IDASHNAIRA.com, abbreviated is I-NAIRA.com. It is not ONE(1) but letter “I”.
The name choice is informed by patriotism to Nigeria and we know that the vision we carry will uplift how we as a people and country are treated by other nation states. Thus, we made the naira choice so that whatever the brand become tomorrow, everyone will easily know, it all started from Nigeria by Nigerians.
Values Users to Derive
As a Consumer Sales Promotion Company, we act as the middle man between merchants/ vendors and consumers in order to deliver that extra value to the end user.
This is otherwise known as “Value Bargaining” where all items showcased on our platform must reach the end user at a sales value lower than the obtainable market value without compromising the quality of the item.
Curbing Nefarious Activities of Online Auction Scammers
Every business has its own challenges. The issue about questionable characters parading themselves as auctioneers is one of the reason we have set up a technologically driven auction platform online that is endorsed by the Certified Institute of Auctioneers, Nigeria (CIAN); the only recognized professional auctioning institute in Nigeria.
Go on the internet and search, there isn’t any online entity like ours. We are the first authentic auctioning platform out of Nigeria; possibly in Africa. Customs or any other agency of Government are not certified in any form to carry out the business of auctioning.
What the general public don’t know is that each time these agencies or any other business within Nigeria have needs to auction out items, they contact professional auctioneers from CIAN to come and carry out the task on their behalf. Just as a firm has needs for auditing, accounting, legal services and so on, when there is need for auctioning, only professionals can handle such. We are not in the business of tackling unscrupulous characters but can simply ask the general public to ask whoever is claiming to be an auctioneer, auctioning items on behalf of Customs or any other entity in Nigeria to show their membership certificate for verification. In the absence of such certification, the public will be dealing with such individuals at their own peril.
Range of Services on i-Naira.com
Remember we are a consumer sales promotion company, thus we are focused on Real Estate, Autos, Electronics, Household and Fashion items.
That said, our system is quite robust to accommodate all forms of auctioning. For instance, we are in final stages of agreement to assist one of the foremost banks in Nigeria to auction out recovered assets from bad loans to the general public.
This sort of service will be driven by technology - carried out in private online auction rooms where only those that showed interest in participating in such unique auction will get “bidding paddle” after they register for the event.
There will be about a month publication to the general public on the upcoming auction and interested bidders will be directed to register for this specific event online. After the registration, they are then allotted a paddle number and full lot information about items available for auctioning is availed to them.
On the day of the event, which will last for about 2-3 hours, all participants will then log on with their paddle numbers to the unique portal for the event from the comfort of their homes and bid for recovered items by the bank. This is indeed a break away from the tradition of gathering everyone at a venue for such event.
The Processes to Using i-Naira.Com
What I explained earlier is the exclusive service designed for corporate entities in Nigeria. However, the process for auctioning service which we offer to the general public is simple.
We first of all reach a partnership agreement with the vendor, the vendor sends us a list of items they will like to auction plus prices at a reduced amount.
They give us express instructions and mandate to sell those items either through absolute or reserved bidding.
We place the items for the general public to bid. The highest bidder emerges as a winner in line with our agreement with the vendor after a specified period in time. This is usually 24hours but it can be more or less.
Plans for Sustainability
So far, the Federal Government has shown support to our company in very meaningful ways because of the potentials of the business to empower Nigerians through value bargaining. We are a pioneer company in terms of driving auctioning with the use of technology in Nigeria. We are set to continually innovate towards meeting the needs of our target audience.
i-Naira.com Operating System
Our system is a self-aware intelligent system designed to bootstrap accordingly on any device you are logging in with.
Thus we don’t have a downloadable app at the moment but it does not limit customers’ ease to use because the system is designed to adjust accordingly on desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
Why Start-ups Close Shops Quickly
Start-ups die because people go to market very quickly with ideas. We have been building this system for six years, we have simulated our application and passed “proof of concept” test in 2013, we continued tweaking and testing; subjecting the application to vigorous test parameters that gave us confidence to go live in 2016.
Our go live date has little or no direct cost implication. Our system is designed to generate revenue from the word “go”.
As a Consumer Sales Promotion company, there couldn’t be a better time to go live with such product than a time when people are trying to save more and spend less and that is the value we bring to the table.
Support from NITDA Via OIIE
Oh yes. If there is an unsung glory of the Federal Government of Nigeria today, it will be their efforts at encouraging young entrepreneurs in Nigeria to innovate. It is a quiet revolution but it is loading heavily and championed by the State House (The President himself).
The level of encouragement from the Federal Government to innovators in Nigeria give you comfort that the future of this country will be in safe hands.
Several events such AVDD (Aso Villa Demo Day) are the footprints you see today as a genuine effort from the government to encourage innovators and enterprise; aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation and economic growth through the use of new and emerging technologies. This is the first of its kind in our history to have the President directly champion ICT innovation and enterprise.
How Easy/Hard Was It for You to Raise Capital?
We developed our platform in a very organic way for six years and build the system within limited resources. We raised most of our finance through equity investment and savings.
We avoided debt financing because that type of finance is bad for SME businesses especially in Nigeria where you will be told to collateralize every follicle of hair in your body and everything else with your name tag on it.
If you ask me, banks in Nigeria are not designed to support SMEs, they simply don’t touch it because SMEs are considered high risk.
Advice to Young Innovators
Nurture your concept like a baby before seeking the hands of others for support. Be viable enough to determine who can put their money in your business. Keep your concept concise and simple in order to excite your target market.