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BidBuddyapp: The e-commerce love-child of Tinder and eBay

BidBuddyapp: The e-commerce love-child of Tinder and eBay - Startup Lagos


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report by VISA shows that there has been a growth of over 5% in e-commerce in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, relative to the previous year. The report states that the pandemic had driven a lot of customers to e-commerce and digital payment use, especially in the thick of closure of face-to-face retail outlets, and restrictions on mobility. Consumer trust in online commerce is growing considerably, as users are finding these alternatives to be much less cumbersome and easy to handle, especially in the face of restrictions on traditional commerce. 

In spite of this, there is still a level of skepticism with regard to e-commerce that stifles a greater growth potential. Statistics show that despite the remarkable increase in e-commerce within sub-Saharan Africa last year, the region still trails the Middle East and the North African regions where there are stronger potentials of growth in e-commerce. 

Oluwadamilola Soyombo, Co-Founder, BidBuddyapp

BidBuddyapp is changing this narrative, with its amazing product that Oluwadamilola Soyombo, the Co-founder of the innovative e-commerce startup describes as a love child between Tinder and eBay. As she goes on to elaborate, unlike these other platforms, 

…instead of swiping right and left for people, you are swiping right and left for products, services, and experiences that you love

The BidBuddyapp unique value offering

Describing herself as energetic, purposeful, and dynamic, Oluwadamilola shares her interest in working with children and educating them in and with technology, as well as designing innovative products that are not only scalable but as well, are market-creating. In birthing BidBuddyapp, she points out that the very first concerns were with the peculiarities of the African market, where a number of target consumers are considerably challenged by low disposable incomes, and trying market situations. As a result, consumers were constantly finding it difficult to purchase products and services that they desire. 

In order to solve this challenge, BidBuddyapp develops a model that captures the heart and interest of users: 

We are trying to crowdfund e-commerce using our subscription-based model so that users can bid to win any item at roughly 1% of the price of that actual item. It is like we are trying to use that gaming experience of competing, bidding, and swiping to let people show interest in products and services, and even when they don’t have 100% of the price of that product, they can still win that item. 

Through its bidding process, users are able to easily bid for products that they love, on the platform, and are able to acquire these, even with only about 1% of the actual price of the item on the platform. In this respect, this innovative solution to driving e-commerce by the BidBuddyapp team helps to push forward the goal of financial inclusion and customer engagement.

BidBuddyapp also offers merchants the huge value of certainty on sales.

Like I mentioned, we have Merchantbuddy where business owners can upload products that they have or they sell. Because of the BidBuddyapp model, they can have this certainty that every day they are going to make a sale. Unlike Jumia and Konga, where it is only when people have money that they go there to buy anything, with BidBuddyapp, with the little amount of money that users have, they get to bid on things, so merchants are sure that people would buy from them, or that a product would be sold. They are also sure of the visibility that these products would get. 

The challenge of funding

In succeeding at this goal of gamifying e-commerce, Oluwadamilola identifies the great challenge of fundraising. Publicly launched in October 2020, the product is fast gaining traction on Play store and app stores, with over 7,000 users and bids of over 200,000 on the platform. However, there is still a need for wider marketing to uncaptured users, and a need for growing partnerships to amplify the brand’s presence. In this respect, she makes the point that there has been little investment that has come in to help drive their objectives. Much of the funding was raised through Family, Friends, and Fools (FFF) rounds in January 2020, which helped to keep the momentum. 

At the present stage of the startup, therefore, she points out that what the company requires more than ever is financial capital. As she goes on to elaborate,

We have gotten to a stage where we actually have our product out there…So, I would actually put financial capital upfront, because once there is money, one can build faster, hire more hands, make mistakes early and market faster…

Funding is an essential part of growing a business. As experts on Forbes Business Council share, a singular pressing challenge for startup founders is raising enough cash to fund their operations, and this is a significant step on the road to long-term stability. However, as startup founders, the innovations that they curate when aimed at market-creating opportunities are the sort of innovations that easily generate and sustain interest. 

In spite of her preference for financial capital over human capital, Oluwadamilola points out that a startup’s team matters essentially. The team determines the direction, impetus, and drive of the startup, and is the engine that accomplishes the dream and vision of the startup. As such, she emphasizes the importance of the kind of people on the team, as co-founders and founders, as well as the entire team’s strength and makeup. Having the right team always quickens the onerous task of building.  

Iterating models to match user needs

It is always important to build products that delight users. As she points out, however, one must not just keep on ‘building forever’, without getting the product out there for users to evaluate. As she says, 

You can have a whole year building, and when you launch, you find out that that’s not what users want, but you have wasted that whole time actually building what users do not really want or need.

Consequently, in order to meet up the demands of the market, BidBuddyapp has been very conscious about being agile enough to adapt to changing circumstances. Its commercial model had initially drawn from a lottery-style model where buyers were selected randomly, and given the opportunity to win huge discounts on products. However, user feedback showed that users were keen on a model that offered them a bit more certainty. 

In this stead, the BidBuddyapp team adapted to the bidding model, where users could bid openly for products and get to see how their ranking on the leaderboard changes through the bidding process. This model excited users more and introduced a competitive gamifying element to the activity. To accomplish this, the importance of drawing close, those who are like-minded, and are passionate about solving the same problems, cannot be understated.  

Swiping into the future

The startup is looking at growing its impact across Nigeria and Africa, to become the go-to platform for affordable e-commerce, and also provide an exciting platform for people who wish to spend a fun time, bidding for products and services that they love. Also, the e-commerce startup is keen on pivoting itself as a video advertising engine where new and existing companies can easily test new product ideas. Through the platform, companies would be able to easily and summarily view what startups and products are getting the most viewership and interest. These will help them determine what products to launch and which they would prefer to take back to the drawing board. She further elaborates, 

We are really datacentric…through our app, we can actually tell whether people in Ajah, Lagos love Debonairs pizza or if people in Abuja prefer a Samsung S10. This is because we can actually see all those user activities and we can know what region they are in, what their preferences are, how many minutes they spend looking at each item, how much they are willing to bid for that item. 

Nigeria, along with Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, and Mauritius, is held as one of the top sub-Saharan African e-commerce countries. When one weighs this statistic against the dwindling rates of purchasing power of the average Nigerian, the increasing rates of mobile penetration, and online financial payments services, one realizes the huge value that BidBuddyapp holds for Nigeria and, in the long run, for Africa’s diverse market. 

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