Jackye Madu‘s time on Big Brother Naija Season 4 was just a phase. In an interview with Technext, the founder and CEO of Azapay spoke about her journey from media personality to software and web developer to going for BBN and now becoming a tech founder.
Jackye started out working in the media at 17 with popular media brands like Nigezie as a presenter and the face of the brand. But, the journey went farther than that:
Jackye holds a diploma in banking and finance from the University of Lagos, a diploma in mobile app development, a certification in entrepreneurship, and other certifications.
The journey from when she picked her first tech skill to becoming insatiable was unplanned.
“I had a project, so we employed a web developer to build us a website that he would deliver in one month and two weeks. We were supposed to see a demo of how the site would look on completion and what he had done so far. But, three months after, he kept telling stories and collecting more money.
Jackye says she loves solving problems, which drives her to do what she does and create the solution she does, as is the case with founding Azapay.
A brief reality tv venture
Jackye says she became a housemate ultimately to sell a product and sell tech. This “got me the nickname Tech queen”, she said. While exciting, “I went there with a specific goal in mind”, she adds.
However, she soon realised that the big brother audience was not the right audience or platform for something like tech. People weren’t in that headspace for something like tech, they got bored of hearing about tech.
“I think what people want to see there is for you to be sassy, and dramatic. While it didn’t give me exactly what I needed, it put me out there, which also was weird because I am not a social media person”, she noted.
I enjoyed the experience on the Big Brother Naija show. I was able to make friends, got the rare privilege of meeting amazing people, getting to know them, and even the time to introspect, sit on my own and reflect, which I may not have ever done if I was not in the house.– Jackye Madu
Jackye, who refers to herself as a ‘problem solver”, mentions three significant occurrences that led her to become a tech founder.
I took a taxi and when I arrived at my destination, I made a transfer to the driver but had to wait for confirmation. After a few minutes, I asked him to check the bank app but he instead called me names and when he saw it, he left without apologising.
The second and the third incidents are similar.
“I was hungry, went to get something to eat, and when I tried to pay, I was debited but the POS declined the transaction. It was the only money left with me, so I didn’t eat and lost my money.
“The final straw was the hassle I had to go through to get cash during the lockdown period. I would have to drive long distances through all the police checkpoints to be able to use the ATM that does cardless withdrawal and would sometimes get there to find out that the atm doesn’t have the cash to dispense.
“From then, I just wondered why all the payment companies were focused on card-based payments? Why was no one thinking outside the box and working on cardless solutions?”
So, she started building Azapay in 2020.
The Azapay solution
Azapay is a payment solution that makes it possible for businesses to accept transfer-based payment solutions, easy and seamlessly using the Azapay device from their customers.
With Azapay, users can perform all their banking services, shop, save and make cash-based withdrawals. They can also send money to their friends without asking for their account numbers. All they need is their phone, their email address or using their #Azatag.
The Aza Merchant allows users to integrate transfer-based payments into their methods of accepting payments, using the Azapay device – a first-of-its-kind payment cardless device solely used and built for transfer purposes. Azapay also gives merchants the opportunity to create their own stores.
There is also the Aza Cash Me, where users get cash from a Cash Me rep. This product addresses security issues with POS merchants.
The feedback from our few merchants has been amazing, and we have done transactions up to ₦200 million so far. We currently have 2,400 users onboarded even in our beta phase.Jackye Madu
Sustaining the business
Jackye says Azapay makes more money from the merchants than other user groups.
“We charge 0.3% to 1% depending on the category of the merchant. We do not charge for giving out the devices. The cash me reps are charged a flat rate of ₦50 for each transaction,” she says.
Challenges and memorable moments
Jackye Madu says part of the challenges was convincing the merchants to use their product. She also talks about the challenges of raising funds as a sole female founder.
There was a lot of pushbacks from merchants. They agree these problems exist but when we bring the solution they balk at taking it, possibly to avoid risks. But, now that we have been able to onboard some merchants, some of those who rejected us earlier have been reaching out to us to get us to deploy our device to their location and that’s exciting for us.Jackye Madu
Speaking on the notion of funding, Madu says:
“It is tough raising funds as a female founder. I do not know the reason for this, but it is challenging. However, I found someone who took an interest in what we do and supported us with some funds to continue building, which has helped. So far, Azapay is bootstrapped, and it gets challenging, but things are looking up, so we’ll keep building.”
“We are hoping to launch officially before the end of the year, but we are keen on ensuring that our solution solves the problem that we want it to solve and that it needs to solve. We are trying to build on the growing momentum we’re picking and onboarding more merchants on our platform, drive more traffic through advertorials and ultimately keep creating magic”, Jackye says.
The Tech Queen says she keeps looking out for feedback, so growth is sustained, and she also "looks forward to enjoying the journey of creating solutions."
There are also plans to expand in future to other African countries “but we are first focused on the Nigerian market and pushing the vision of Azapay here.”
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