“Any professional that is serious about productivity and peace of mind should be using Eden Life.” This is exactly what Nadayar Enegesi, founder of housekeeping and hospitality startup, Eden Life, thinks of his company. And that is exactly what I set out to understand when I interviewed him at his company’s premises in Yaba.
Read our conversation below:
What exactly does Eden Life do and how?
Eden is just making lives better on the continent. For you to be effective in working hard and building the life you want, there are things that you shouldn’t be spending your time doing.
There are tasks that don’t add value. We really started Eden as the first step in our brand vision of making lives better. On recurring bases, we make sure that your laundry, your cleaning, your food, all that stuff gets done automatically.
So after signing up, Eden assigns you a concierge called a gardener. On Monday mornings, the gardener shows up and has all your food for the week. As s/he drops off the food, s/he picks your laundry, takes it to the laundry service partner and on Wednesday, brings it back washed, ironed and folded.
On Friday, s/he sends the cleaners to clean then checks in on them. This happens week in week out. That’s basically what Eden Life does.
Some households already have cleaners, laundry guys and even cooks. How do you convince these households to abandon their regular workmen and subscribe with Eden Life?
Before cell phones, how did we communicate long distance? We wrote letters. We were convinced to use cell phones because they were just better. Because these problems exist, everybody has been trying to solve them with different means.
People have house helps. House helps look very convenient because they live in your house etc. But they are not trained and you have to ask whether people are being fair. You feed them, house them and take care of their welfare.
Yet they are not trained for these jobs and most are not of age. Most of the time, they perform these tasks in a substandard way. I always say that I’ve never been to any house with house help and not heard the house owner shout at least 3 times.
Overtime it’s going to be clear that Eden is the superior solution to these problems.
The economic situation of the country has made people more desperate. How would you convince a prospective client that it is safe to leave their houses in your care?
There are multiple levels. Our protection starts from the way we select people. So every gardener is an Eden employee. The service partners go through a rigorous selection process.
First, they have to be companies not just artisans. They have liability insurance and they have background-checked all their employees. We also have our own insurance.
And then, on top of all of these things, our gardeners are the ones coordinating and managing our service partners to make sure they are doing what they should be doing. So there are all these layers of check and balances that we put in place to make sure things like this don’t happen.
Your monthly subscriptions, I think you have about 8 of them…..
The truth is that there are about 168 of them. The reason why is because the 8 you see on our website are customisable. Take for instance the clean free plan for just laundry and cleaning.
You can decide you want the cleaning done once a month or every two weeks or every week. So you can choose the frequency. So by the time you play around with these configurations, you can see that we have 168 permutations of these plans.
But when prospective customers are registering on our app, all they have to do is select a plan, tweak to the appropriate configuration and the app tells them the appropriate amount they would pay.
Do you have daily and weekly plans or just the monthly plans?
We are not an on-demand service. It’s solely on subscription. We have on-demand services which we offer to our clients who are already on monthly subscriptions.
But people won’t be able to pick up Eden app and be like I want my cleaning done today and it happens. That’s not what we do.
Your highest plan is 83,000 per month. Some people may argue that it’s probably better to have help, an adult help, whom they pay say 70,000 per month, and whom they are sure will get their laundry and cleaning done today and tomorrow if they so wish. How would you respond to them?
Are you looking at the value of that help through that monthly 70k or are you looking at the things which the employer of that help has to consider if they want to be fair?
Because you’re paying 70k but the person lives and eats in your house.
But there are helps who resume by 8 am, do the chores and close by 5 pm just like everyone else earning 70k for 8-5 jobs…
It’s still the same. If you want to go from here to Yaba, you can choose to take Gokada or Uber or buy your own car. It really depends on what people want.
Eden Life is for people who want a seamless professional experience. So you can argue that Eden Life is not for everybody.
Your concierges are called gardeners…
It’s the theme. You know, gardeners, they take care of your garden (laughs).
Yeah. It makes sense. So what is the minimum qualification for becoming an Eden gardener? And what is their training like?
This is actually weird for me because we don’t particularly care about degrees. But so far we have done recruitments for gardeners through NYSC. So they are all graduates and educated.
When they get hired, the first month is just an intensive training period. They learn things ranging from self-awareness to empathy, to emotional intelligence, communications and using modern tech tools to manage the operations.
Every new gardener has a ‘buddy gardener’ who they shadow for the first two weeks. They observe and see how to react in different customer environments. So before we assign a gardener to a customer, they would have gone through this training and apprenticeship where they are shadowing other experienced gardeners.
It is no surprise we have that kind of program, we are the same guys who built Andela, right? So there are similar ideas and learnings that we have brought from our experience there.
Let’s talk about your technology. How does your app work? What are the different aspects of it?
There are two main technologies that we have built. The first one is called ‘Lighthouse’. It was the first thing that we built. It is solely for internal operations.
Lighthouse has the ability to automatically manage your schedule as a customer. So it has all your orders pre-scheduled for the year. Based on how your service has been going, it routes your service orders to the appropriate service partners.
It also does the job of telling the gardeners where they need to be and what to be doing. Lighthouse abstracts all the human efforts that could result in error.
On the customer phasing side, there’s the customer app called ‘garden’ which people use to sign up, see their schedules and give us feedback.
It seems like the norm these days is for startups to not only scale but also to expand and sometimes even diversify into unrelated businesses. What are your plans as regards scaling and expansion? Are you going to diversify at some point?
Eden just wants to make life easier and more comfortable for everybody. So going by that, it’s inevitable that we are going to expand. Where and how, we do not know yet. Right now, our primary focus is to serve the people of Lagos and make sure that this model actually works.
As at September 9 Eden Life has on-boarded only 9 service partners out of 97 that applied to be registered. That’s less than 10%. How come only so few made the cut?
It’s definitely a testament to our standards. The people we didn’t select, I’m sure most of them are good people. But they do not have the expertise or the models that mirror our aspirations for excellence.
In some cases, some of them do not even have the operational capacity to do what we want. I like the idea of Eden Life being the platform for more of such businesses to become legitimate and to have access to more tools and resources that enable them become better at what they do. It will be great for everybody.
So as we grow, you may see us doing things that are more in favour of those kinds of communities.
Since then have you onboard any more service people or are you still working with the 9?
We are still working with the 9. However, we just advertised on Twitter for more. People have applied so we will start reviewing their applications from next week and hopefully we onboard more.
Let’s talk about traction and your customer base. Since you launched, how steadily have you grown in terms of customers, and what are your plans for growth going forward?
As of this morning we have 61 customers that we’re serving. Very interestingly, they are spread across Lagos.
There are almost the same amount of them on the Mainland as there are on the Island. Which is something we didn’t quite envisage for now so it’s a pleasant surprise.
In terms of future growth, it’s tough for me to disclose what our plans are for growth. But I can say that we have very aggressive growth plans.
Currently, you provide a trifecta of services; laundry, house cleaning and meals. This means you have competitors all over the place. Let’s talk about this competition like its all of them against Eden Life. What would you say gives you guys the overwhelming edge?
We are the ones that do everything. It’s the truth. You know how people say in Lagos everybody has a guy for everything? How much effort and time does it take to have a guy for everything? How many of those guys do you actually trust?
What if you had just one guy that you trusted who handles everything and you just didn’t have to bother? From the day you start with this guy, all these things will be taken care of.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Alright, that will be all Nadayar. Thank you very much for your time. It’s been great speaking with you.
The pleasure is mine, Ejike.
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