Do you have to be a woman to create a booming business that caters to the needs of women. The answer is no as proven to us by two young men who are taking over the shoe selling market in Nigeria.
In 2013, Ikenna Okonkwo had just gotten back from the US, where he went to obtain a master degrees in Business Admininstration. He saw a big market and wanted to tap into it. During an interview with CNN, he said he asked himself- “What has the highest demand and the product that has the highest margin too.”
Shoes for women perfectly fitted the bill.
Udoka Uzoka then used his IT skills to create heels.com.ng. With that- the business started off with Ikenna Okonkwo as CEO and Udoka Uzoka as CTO.
When they started out, they spoke to 50 of the top designers from around the world to give them their shoes at little or no price. Then they raised funds from family and friends.In 2015. Kernel Fund invested $25,000 to $50,000 at the seed stage. This enabled them to get full-time staff.
They then worked with local logistics companies to deliver them across Nigeria- delivering between one to two days within Lagos.They launched with 100 shoes and about 100 styles.
Ikenna talks about the challenges they faced as a start-up in the first year
“The first year in business was an interesting one. Our collection had a wide range of sizes. Which means that females with any size of shoes could come pick a shoes. However, being that we were male, we had to go through the size and style that Nigerian women actually wanted. So we brought in a stylist who check our shoes. We go through those trends and so far we came out of it fine and we are good and grown”
Over the past few year the business has doubled its turnover, recording around a 30% quarter-to-quarter growth over the past four quarters.