As ‘The Entrepreneurs Journalist’, I have come to appreciate the power of perseverance. Hubbon NG is a physical example of the power of patience and the beauty of steady success. In less than two years, the company has grown to become one of the most reputable start-ups in Nigeria. In 2018 alone, they won a one thousand dollar pitch, ran an effective crowdfunding that enabled them purchase their own bikes, had over 350 deliveries done and went on to hire staff for the first time.
“Entrepreneurship is a road full of failures, victory comes to those who persevere”, MunachisoEjieji said as we settled down in the open air pastry shop. The CEO and co-founder of one of Nigeria’s biggest delivery hubs –Hubbon NG cheerfully explained the intricacies of the brand’s journey from inception till date.
Watching him as he settled in the high chair, I recalled my first meeting with him. Muna (as he prefers to be addressed) is what you can describe as unassuming, however, the young man who is still in his early 20’s spits wisdom and strategy in every sentence. Save of course his hilarious jokes which gave a perfect balance to his storytelling.
Speaking calmly about his journey into the uncertain world of entrepreneurship, he said, “I had the idea of starting a business in my second year after I realised that I didn’t really fancy civil engineering much at the time.
“I began to study businesses and realised how much progress the Nigerian entrepreneurship space was making.
“Andela in particular caught my attention and opened my eyes to the funding opportunities that Nigerian entrepreneurs were finally starting to get. I knew at that point that I had to do business. I had to find a problem to solve,” Muna said with a slight chuckle at the end.
But the Coventry University graduate was not going to have easy fan support back home, at least not from the beginning. In a bid to gain more experience as an engineer and deviate from the norm, Muna wanted to take a ‘year-in-industry’ but his father objected on the ground of ‘timeline’.
At this juncture, we diverted the discussion to African parents and how they have subtly positioned themselves as the major problem, apart from funding, that the Nigerian entrepreneur must have to face. Parents love us, we have to realise this bit.
It is this love that makes it difficult for them to accept life choices that they have no experience with. It takes away their power and need to guide and they begin to feel left out, causing them to ‘despise’ your dreams. Don’t be distraught. Your dreams are strange paths that they are honestly afraid of exploring. Yes! Parents can also be afraid. They are always afraid.
Dissecting this problem caused a big question mark to stare us in the face – How do you get your parents to support your entrepreneurship or career journey if it does not fit their ideas of ‘work’? Muna’s answer – work and succeed. Success is the best validation.
For him, his major validation came in 2017 when he won a five thousand dollars ($5000) grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). His parents began to really acknowledge that he has a real business and root for him. It became clear that Hubbon NG is no fluke, it is a multi-billion dollar company in motion.
Backtracking to the ‘timeline’ objection raised by his father when he attempted to take a ‘year-in-industry’, Muna shared the questions his father asked in between chuckles and reflective smiles. His father had asked – “don’t you want to graduate with your mates? Do you want to do NYSC after your mates have long forgotten that they did it?”
Muna told me, “I reasoned with him and just went on with my course timeline. But now that I think of it, it doesn’t mean anything. In the real world, there are no clear cut timelines because you can be unemployed for ten years and someone else can get a job few months after graduation.”(Where is the lie?)
He continued schooling and was on the lookout on problems to solve and build a business around. In between several scribblings, research and more brainstorming, his dissertation happened. A major incident in the course of writing his dissertation brought the light bulb moment.
He said, “I became certain that I would start a tech aided delivery company when my dissertation materials got missing after my parents sent it to me through NIPOST.
“The mail ended up in the wrong mail box and I realised that there could be so many people in need of quality delivery services. I mean, there was need for a system that can be used to track deliveries and know their locations.
“The wait was a harrowing experience for me and exposed the loopholes in the Nigerian mailing system. Hubbon NG was born to fill these gaps.
“I began to study the business in Nigeria and continued studying the delivery space when I had to stay back in the UK for a year more. I had so much free time and used it to put my business plan together in detail. I was just enjoying the process of building a business from scratch.”
Don’t clap too much, Muna is like the rest of us. He suffered analysis paralysis for a long time. He reviewed his business plan over and over again that it lost a bit of flavour and he had to begin work as a civil engineer.
“I was still planning for months after I returned to Nigeria and I got tired and began to work at a construction firm. I had already had about four jobs and I realised that I am one of the worst people to work with. I am not easily confined to too much workplace rules and regulations. It was just like school all over again.
“I realised that I couldn’t keep up with planning and planning so I took matters in my hand and opened social media pages for the company. I began to get deliveries and before you know it, I had four delivery guys and expanded just by getting clients on Twitter,” he said.
Fast-forward,Hubbon NG has positioned itself as one of the businesses to watch in Nigeria with its fast growing revenue and continuous innovation. It is not just a delivery service, it is the delivery service of all delivery services because of its role as a hub for delivery. This is the origin of the name Hubbon NG – a delivery hub for Nigeria, by Nigerians.
We continued to chat about life as an entrepreneur and the perceived glamour. Muna sighed and said, “It is not a pleasant ride, all my failures have prepared me to take failure well and not let it weigh me down.
“Sometimes, you get really sad because you are almost certain that you can reach a certain milestone and when you fail to hit it, you begin to question your whole idea.”
Hubbon NG is on a fast track, a dream bigger than Muna. This only means one thing – he cannot let go. Just like he said, “Entrepreneurship is a road full of failures, victory comes to those who persevere.”
(MunachisoEjieji blogs at www.startuptalk.hubbonng.com He can be reached on Instagram @mr_hubbon)