Oja, A London, UK-based eCommerce startup has secured $3.4M in pre-seed round to build London’s first cultural supermarket.
The round was led by LocalGlobal, with participation from Acequia Capital; Tiny VC and HoaQ Fund. Private investors such as Darren Shapland (CFO of Sainsbury’s); David Vismans (CPO of Booking.com); Dimple Patel (COO of Trouva); Anton Soulier (formerly Deliveroo, now CEO of Taster) and others also contributed to the round.
Founded in 2020 by Nigerian-born Mariam Jimoh, Oja is an online grocery store that provides and delivers cultural food produce to customers.
Commenting on the pre-seed raise, George Henry, General Partner at LocalGlobe, said that the startup stood out for its new and refreshing approach.
“In a sea of grocery delivery services and apps, Oja stands out for taking a new and refreshing approach. One that centres on community, heritage and access, as much as speed, convenience and variety. From the use of technology to her relationship and deep connections with suppliers, and her full-stack approach, Mariam and her team are building a game changing company that is set to raise the bar for the underserved communities across London, the UK and Europe.”George Henry, general partner at LocalGlobe
Building London’s first cultural marketplace
Prior to its pre-seed round, the one-year-old startup already has about 200 users on its app which is available on ios and android devices.
According to Oja, the app’s user base grew 56% “from word of mouth alone” during the testing phase.
Oja’s target audience inclines towards people who are looking to enjoy the food of their heritage and who live in areas where it’s hard to buy ethnic food produce.
It also includes returning expats who want an easy way to access the specialist ingredients to cook the food they’ve been eating abroad.
Oja means ‘market’ in Yoruba, a Nigerian language. The startup’s plan is to expand its inventory and app to serve a diverse range of ethnicities and cultures by stocking the foods and other wares (e.g. beauty products) which are sought by those communities; and by tailoring its app to provide what it describes as “a unique culturally-specific shopping experience”
Currently, the startup’s product offerings are based on the African and Caribbean cultural groups. Popular among the products are plantain, yams, scotch bonnet chilli peppers and oxtail.
Oja plans to deploy this latest funding into offering other ethnic produces in the future as well as to cover more regions of the UK.
“The app will allow you to shop by culture as we add more and more ethnicities to the assortment. Right now we sort things into cultures within one specific cultural group; African & Caribbean. As part of our expansion plans, we will look to expand the other ethnic produce we offer in the future.”Mariam Jimoh, CEO of Oja
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