Nothing drives an emerging economy quite like adequate logistics. Currently worth more than N250 billion, while Nigeria’s logistics sector can be said to be thriving, there’s still a huge gap between demand and supply as well as challenges with capacity and coverage. This young logistics startup, Dellyman, is aggressively looking to solve this problem.
I sat down with Dare Ojo-Bello, founder and CEO of Dellyman to understand the man, his startup and the innovation it hopes to bring into Nigeria’s logistics sector. He is also the founder and CEO of Matt O’bell Ltd, a software consulting firm from which Dellyman was inspired.
“Those two companies are in a way related because today we’ve been able to bootstrap Dellyman from the software consulting work we’re doing at Matt O’bell,” Dare says with a smile that expresses how proud he must be of how far both his companies have come.
Dare himself has come a long way. Born in Kogi state into a family of 8 children, he attended both his primary and secondary schools in Lokoja before going off to the University of Ife where he graduated with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. He would later join KPMG while studying for his Masters.
“At that time it was called Arthur Anderson,” he tells me.
Dare would also develop a flair for IT while at Arthur Anderson, a flair that has today become big ideas and solutions for everyday challenges in various sectors of the economy.
For instance, he established an Internet service company in Portharcourt called Vanguage. The company ran for about 9 years after which he established Matt O’bells, a software consulting firm which aggregates different services into one application for its clients in 2012.
“Over the last 7 years we have provided services for small, medium and even some fairly large organisations, some of them publicly quoted companies, Chinese multinationals, oil and gas marines and quite a number of others.”
Coming into Tech
Dare had always had an eye for innovation and problem-solving. He had always been an IT person but he didn’t discover its huge potential and how tech can actually leverage a business till the founding and running of Matt O’bell.
“In the course of running Matt O’bell, we found out that a lot of SMEs are struggling with manual operations. Businesses aren’t only about say, accounting. You have sales, procurement, inventory, project management, customer relationship management.
“The software that we deploy is one single software called an enterprise resource planning software which brings all of these other systems together in one single application so you don’t have to have multiple applications.”
With the deployment of tech, Dare discovered that companies become far more efficient. They become productive and all of that productivity and efficiency translates into the bottom line; making more money.
Dellyman was founded in July 2018 and is being developed as a one-stop platform for logistics needs. The motivation to establish Dellyman came about when a client of Matt O’bell desired logistics services as a major part of some of its activities.
“In the course of the conversation, we said we can build a logistics platform because they said logistics was a problem, and it is a problem. If you want to understand the problem of logistics today, just talk to anybody that has tried to book a logistics service,” Dare says.
He went on to highlight three major problems he believes the logistics industry today is bedevilled with which include the issue of Capacity, Coverage and Idle Capacity.
“When you put all these problems together, it speaks to only one single thing. And that is, no provider today is able to meet up with same day delivery. It is something a lot of customers would love to have but no logistics company is able to provide because of these problems. Which is why in July last year, we decided we can solve this problem and deliver same day.”
Dellyman’s model is basically one of aggregating various logistics service providers on a single platform, all with the ultimate target of providing same day delivery. The startup adopts the Uber model by matching customers with delivery assets within its app.
“When you place an order, you tell us where you want the order to be picked from. Our app will look around and give you options of riders that are close to your pick up area.”
Achieving same-day delivery depends on how quickly a rider can be made accessible to the customer. So the geofencing feature of the app ensures that only riders close to the pickup location will be suggested.
“We will also show the customer the prices based on the distance between pickup and delivery. So we have these companies and their prices and the customer is dealing competitively with them because we also show them customer ratings.”
Growth and customer base
The most important aspect of Dellyman’s business is making sure there are enough logistics companies on board so that prospective customers won’t be disappointed. Most of the company’s activities so far have therefore revolved around ensuring that availability.
“Between March and June we started on-boarding the supply side which is the logistics companies,” Dare tells me. “Over a period of three months, despite the fact that we’re insisting on KYC (know your customer), we had over 400 logistics companies signed up on the platform. For us, that was proof that even the logistics company find the platform beneficial.”
Dellyman has since started on-boarding merchants and customers even though they aren’t aggressive about marketing it as yet.
“In terms of traction, we are not aggressive about talking to customers yet because we wanted to deal with that supply side.”
Dellyman has also acquired delivery assets so as to be an integral part of the logistics business itself instead of simply providing the technology.
Dellyman has been bootstrapped by its parent company, Matt’Obell from inception. Dare, however, noted that at some point, external funding would be very welcomed to help achieve the company’s clearly defined roadmap within a reasonable timeline. Dellyman is nonetheless open for seed funding and has made moves to acquire the same from initial investors.
“We had a session in May, I’d call it the seed capital which is talking to friends, family, high networth individuals and we shared the vision of Dellyman with them. The plan was to raise about N120 million Naira which would be about 350 to $400,000.”
Dare is bullish about the company’s chances after that round of funding which he believes would help the young startup begin to scale. If that happens, he expects Dellyman to be open for series round of funding from VC’s within the next 12 months.
Dellyman may not need physical expansion, especially in its early years. And because its model is not localised to a particular area or state, Dare insists the business already has national coverage.
“What we need is a campaign and then a track record that everybody just wants to be on Dellyman platform. In any city, we want to cover a certain radius. So if there are enough logistics companies that like Dellyman and are on the platform, then customers who need logistics services will definitely be matched.”
Dare also explains that Dellyman is positioned to expand into other African countries as the app will be designed to accommodate customers from other African countries speaking other languages (like French) and using other currencies.
Dealing with Competition
Competition is a major driver of innovation and a startup like Dellyman has quite a number of them, from the far-flung ones like Kobo 360 and GIG to the immediate ones like Max and Oride.
Dare notes that the first step to dealing with competition is to understand their models. Dellyman is breaking into Last-Mile deliveries and Dare insists that aggregation gives Dellyman a serious edge over the rest.
“I don’t think one company can grow as fast as the team of partners we have on Dellyman,” he notes. “If Dellyman gets to a threshold of 5,000 logistics companies and each company has an average of 5 bikes, that’s already 25,000 assets. You won’t have one company that will be able to invest in that amount of assets overnight. Aggregation gives us that edge.”
Dare goes on to explain how some of the competition have tried some form of aggregation in their operations and how theirs is nothing like Dellyman’s.
“We don’t run your bikes for you,” he says. “When you come to the platform, we give you an interface where you can set your price, it’s not Dellyman price. You set your price, you add your riders and you run your show.”
In essence, logistics companies on the platform aren’t working for Dellyman. Dellyman only charges a commission for the platform and the support it provides.
Dellyman is coming into Nigeria’s logistics sector with some serious disruptions. Its business model is sound enough and it seems to have its course clearly charted. If it gets the kind of funding it hopes to attract, it definitely looks like a business that would scale. What’s left to be seen is how the relationship unfolds between itself, its asset providers and its customers.
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