24-year-old Isioma Onyegikei is the founder and head cook at Brelunds, a food service provider startup in Lagos, Nigeria.
Her startup offers services which include the running of office cafeterias, breakfast, and lunch weekly subscription plans, events catering, bulk soup and stew preparation.
Isioma officially began Brelunds in September 2015 with a standard menu consisting of Nigerian dishes, finger foods, and Nigerian street foods. She is a graduate of Political science and public administration from the University of Benin, Nigeria.
What inspired your decision to start a food retail business?
The decision to start a food retail business was inspired by my experience as an employee for another company. I resumed work very early and got home very late due to heavy traffic in the city. Saturdays were the only days I rested, did chores and caught up with friends. On Sundays, I go to church and prepare ahead for the next week.
I realized that it was the reality of most of my colleagues. Some even had to work on weekends too. Cooking is a huge chore because time and rest in Lagos is a luxury to a typical Lagosian. So I started out by making and delivering bowls of soup and stew.
My intention was to ease my client of cooking as a chore, an important human need. Along the line, the idea of a weekly lunch plan to be delivered to clients at work came up.
How have you been able to sell cooked food to people via an online medium? Describe the process from order to sales.
For now, we sell our meals online via our Twitter and Instagram pages. We are currently working on a better website.
We post information about our services on these platforms; potential clients see our information online and contact us for the service they want. They either pre-order for bowls of soup/stews or they subscribe for any of our lunch packages. They provide us with their names, phone number(s) and address for delivery.
It has not been so difficult selling cooked food online because it is an important need and a food delivery business helps the client with one less problem to worry about.
Social Media has helped with referrals – Isioma Onyegikei Click To Tweet
How has social media enabled you to reach your target audience?
Frankly, social media has enabled us to reach our target audience in the sense that a lot of young Nigerians (Lagosians) and even older Nigerians are online. The chances that our next client that we will market to offline has a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account is 80%, so with social media, it is easy to market to a lot of people at the same time in different locations with just one post.
Potential clients also come online to search for a service they need, we see this and market our service to them. Social media also has helped in terms of referrals. An old client can see someone asking for a similar service and refer them to our page.
Instagram, for example, is pictorial so with a business page, anyone who comes across the page already knows what services to contact us for. The use of hashtags has helped in getting across to our intended target audience because people do search for the service thy want using related hashtags.
Which social media channel do you consider to be the most responsive channel for your business?
Twitter has been responsive and this is because people do not necessarily have to follow you to see your tweet on their timeline. Retweets are free.
There is also the advantage of having others try out a service that one or two of their friends have used and Twitter seems to be the most engaging social network to set up that way.
How often do you make sales from social media?
We make sales from social media regularly. It is a food business and now, more than ever, people desire convenience. Also, the fact that we have two different service offerings: pre-ordered bowls of soups/stew and lunch subscriptions, helps to ensure that we are able to reach a broader segment of people and meet more needs.
Logistics is an issue for online businesses. – Isioma Onyegikei Click To Tweet
What are some of the issues you have faced while trying to run your business online?
In running an online business, our main issue has been logistics. First of all, we run a value for money service, delivering high-quality meals at very affordable prices. Currently, a lot of logistics companies charge very high for their service and most times it makes no sense to ask a client to pay more for delivery than the actual food they are buying.
Also, the logistics companies have other clients that they also trying to service while servicing you. In situations like this, it is very easy to get disappointed at any time or have a client’s order messed up on the way. There is also the issue of bad publicity when running an online business.
Social media can make or mar business. An unsatisfied client can easily discourage others, totally within their rights, so for us at Brelunds we ensure that our customer service is top notch and intended to “wow” both clients and potential clients.
What’s your perfect one-line statement for young females trying to build a brand via social media?
Know what you do, learn what you don’t know and know those who know what you don’t know.
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