Chooya, an Aba-based eCommerce startup digitizing word-of-mouth marketing for African businesses and consumers, has announced funding of $950,000 in cash and program support mainly from Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC).
The startup emerged as one of the top 100 EWC finalists chosen from 200,000 participants spread across 200 countries. The startup received a $100,000 national prize and an $850,000 global prize from the EWC, the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), and other world-class partners.
Speaking on the funds and support programs, President of Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans, said the network is excited to have Chooya onboard. He said the startup can access global connections, year-round opportunities for additional support and visibility and its training platform, GEN Accelerates.
“As one of the top 100 EWC finalists chosen from 200,000 participants spread across 200 countries, we are excited to have Chooya join this community of promising founders. Through the Club, GEN Starters access global connections with experienced entrepreneurs, mentors and investors within the Global Entrepreneurship Network and our partners,” he said.
Digitising word-of-mouth marketing
Chooya, derived from Igbo words that mean to ‘find something‘, was founded in 2019 by Igwe Uguru (CEO) and Peter Akwa, (CTO). The startup initially took off as a search engine for African traditional markets.
But the CEO, a graduate of Computer Science from the Abia State Polytechnic in Aba, said he was inspired to evolve the startup into digitising word-of-mouth marketing through his experience helping his 72-year-old father at his local business.
“Without any form of paid commercial or social media ads, I watched the customers grow every single month through word-of-mouth marketing and helped my father train all his five children in the high institution. We are very excited about Chooya’s future and the impact we are set to make considering the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, especially on small businessesIgwe Uguru
While any business aiming to reach new customers and grow its sales must engage in marketing, the startup says currently available channels do not provide an easy or budget-friendly way to automate word-of-mouth marketing which by research is the most effective type of marketing.
As such, Chooya has developed a mobile solution called “addds” to address the problem. The CEO told Technext that this solution helps businesses to turn their happy customers into brand advocates who would talk about their services and help to generate more sales.
“Interestingly, businesses can track every word-of-mouth action each of their customers performs about their business even outside of our platform using a simple dashboard where they can also get to thank or even reward them,” Igwe said.
With this solution, the eCommerce plans to target 5,000 businesses by Q3, 2022 and help them triple their sales. The eCommerce currently has over 1,000 businesses onboarded on its platform.
Chooya will plough its latest resources into product development, marketing and human resources to reach businesses (local and online) struggling with new customer acquisition to help them digitize word-of-mouth marketing and grow their sales.
Igwe says the startup makes money by charging an annual subscription fee from its premium clients. He also said the team will soon deploy a new business model around the User Generated Content (UGC) so as to give its users the power to monetize their experience and the content they share on its new product for happy customers called ReVues.
Chooya has been bootstrapped since its inception. But the CEO says that is about to change as the company plans to raise funds soon specifically from early-stage investors who will help bring in additional value.
As regards expansion, he said being a tech platform gives the startup the opportunity to expand easily. Thus the company is eyeing expansion into new cities like Lagos. The plan at the moment is to achieve this through strategic partnerships with marketing firms in those target cities.
Chooya has previously received recognition and awards from Alibaba Business School and African Leadership University (2020). Its CEO and co-founder, Igwe Uguru is also the co-founder of RAD5 Tech Hub, an innovation hub focused on venture building.
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