I sat down with Stella Arukwe, the co-founder of Latalata and Kishers Limited; an innovative retail and e-commerce platform in Nigeria.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Stella Arukwe, the co-founder of Latalata and Kishers Limited.
My work experience, skillsets and interests span different sectors and industries. Over the years, I have established my track record as a marketing expert, brand builder, strategist, wordsmith, inimitable communicator and now l am gradually establishing my footprint into the field of entrepreneurship while creating social and economic impact through my businesses.
I am a graduate of English Language and Communication Arts from the University of Lagos in Nigeria, and Brand Communication from Vega Brand School in South Africa. I am a mentor, and an advocate for youth and women empowerment.
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
My entrepreneurial journey started way back when I was a kid. I dreamt of being the boss of my own businesses, and building business empires. However, after I graduated from the university, I started my career in marketing and communication where I grew through the ranks. I have now accumulated over 10 years working experience in brand management, market penetration and conversion; of which 8 years have been in managerial positions where I led teams, managed successful brand initiatives with proven revenue increases. It was during this time that I also established a consulting firm.
Fast-forward to now, I have co-founded an innovative start-up, Latalata and Kishers Limited and will definitely be founding moe businesses in due time. My philosophy of solving problems, and creating value guides and propels me in my pursuits and achievements as an entrepreneur, which is the foundation on which my business ideas and ventures are founded.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?
My ‘why’ is tethered in ‘solving problems, creating value as well as helping people work better and live happier lives. I believe in building an idea from the scratch and nurturing it to grow with a combination of the right mindset, skillset and team members. So long as there are people in the world, they will have needs and problems that need to be solved. This pushes me to create ideas and solutions that will metamorphose into businesses. In building these businesses, I want to leave legacies. I want people to read my success story and be motivated by them.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
In the course of my career both as an employee and an intrapreneur, I achieved track records and milestones. I have worked with large corporations where I launched notable products and brands in Nigeria and other African countries. Some of the brands include Flour Mills of Nigeria, Golden Penny Pasta, Toyota Nigeria and its subsidiaries, Unity bank formerly FinBank, IHMS HMO, NIC, Uganda, Global Trust Bank a then subsidiary of NIC to mention but a few.
On the flip side today as a full-fledged entrepreneur, I lead a team in one of the most thriving, mid-sized marketing consulting firm in Lagos Nigeria as the founder and head of Client Services.
However, one of my greatest achievements so far is co-founding a blossoming innovative e-commerce business in Nigeria from scratch to the point where it is showing reasonable growth potential. I believe that the future is bright and promising for Latalata and Kishers.
Another one of my heart-warming achievement is the courage to author my first book, and finally, being awarded the opportunity to be in the High Growth Coaching Program 2021.
If you had to write a book, it would be on what and why?
Addressing issues of the mind would be my major focus as I strongly believe that everything that hinders an individual from attaining his or her summit stems from the mind. As a matter of fact, I just finished writing a book centred around FEAR which is currently being published as we speak.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The journey and experience of being an entrepreneur is mixed with ups and downs. Being an entrepreneur has availed me the opportunity to curate ideas, create values, and co-ordinate people and processes. It is interesting to see how a societal problem and seemingly simple idea, when worked on by a team, becomes something that can be ascribed as a “business”. It is difficult, tasking, and attention-demanding but it is indeed fulfilling.
What was the inspiration behind Latalata & Kishers?
Latalata and Kishers is a business created out of the typical problems consumers go through.
The first motivation to go into e-commerce was when my husband bought a Samsung LED Television in 2015. For him to hang the TV to the wall, he needed four pieces of a particular bolt called “M3”, we both became so frustrated as he frantically searched through endless online and physical stores without success.
Secondly, we have identified that people worry about what to gift to loved ones or even their boss and colleagues. This was a constant debate in the office whenever my colleagues’ birthday approached. We deliberated what to buy, whether it was unique enough, obviously the budget, how useful the item is and many other concerns.
In 2016, we came up with the idea for Latalata and Kishers and later fully launched in October, 2020 when the “go-to” e-commerce platform for essential products in Nigeria was born. Through our value proposition of being innovative, we are creating value and trust for our customers.
Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.
Are you looking for value that helps you live and work better? Do you want a great shopping experience with ease and fun, less stress, less time, and more saves? What about giving that perfect gift within your budget with the assurance that the receiver will appreciate and use it? You have a better choice at www.latalata.ng. We are your ‘go-to’ innovative e-commerce platform in Nigeria and beyond. At latalata.ng, we don’t just sell products. We deliver value, quality, and convenience at the best prices. It’s all here. Own It.
We are an online business, so we are available 24 hours, every day of the week on our website at https://latalata.ng/. You can also call us or chat on WhatsApp at +234-702 500 3511. You can also direct your queries to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also on social media, we are on Facebook at https://facebook.com/latalataNG; on Instagram at https://instagram.com/latalataNG; on Twitter at https://twitter.com/latalataNG and on LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/c/latalataNG.
You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/latalataNG
How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?
Trust and Innovation. This is what we want to be known for.
We do not debate our integrity. We are willing to take a temporary loss of income in order to maintain our integrity. We know that trust is a major element in e-commerce which is lacking in the industry at the moment, and integrity is the currency to earn it. We want customers in the next 2 years to say, “if it is Latalata, no stress. But for other online stores, no way!”
We do not want to be seen as “that online store”. We do not just sell products. We deliver experience. To make this happen, innovation is key. The Gifting platform is one of such innovations to deliver this promise. There are other innovative e-commerce solutions we will roll out in the next few years.
What challenges have you faced first as a founder and then as a female founder?
Technology, merchant recruitment, merchant inventory, hiring, funding, and logistics and delivery issues have plagued us in the recent past. We had challenges getting Latalata website run the way we had envisioned. Getting the right persons to work on the software we needed, at our lean funds, was a tall order.
Hiring the right persons with the right skillset at our funding capacity was also a challenge. We also had, and still have, challenges with the deliverable of various third-party logistics companies. Finally, being a female I’ve also observed that most merchants do not take me seriously when engaging with them for the business.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
We are working to position Latalata as the first choice for every online shopper in Nigeria. In 5 years, we envision to have grown significantly including having our brands, “GiftPass”, “Kishers-Mini”, and “Hampers” be operational and also having established our “Criss-Cross” business model.
What would you say has been pivotal to your growth and success so far?
Our growth so far can be attributed to keying into a market spaces that has a lot of potential.as well as the ability to see opportunities in existing problem areas. W e also focus on creating consumer-focused, market fit products using technology to address the customer pain points.
Furthermore, working with a vibrant team that understands the vision of the business has propelled us to push the boundaries in order to achieve the results we have recorded. Our strategy to start with electronic appliances also paid off as electronic appliances are very profitable and sellable products. With this, we were able to make sales in excess of N13.6million ($27,000) in six months.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Leadership, critical thinking and strategic problem-solving and planning skills. These skills are necessary for an entrepreneur to stand out and also be able to stand the test of time in the business environment and become successful.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
I apply my LCD formula (Leverage, Collaborate, Delegate).
I leverage technology, software tools, and strategies that have been tested over time. This relieves me of stress and helps me towards efficiency and productivity. I look out for opportunities and avenues for collaboration with other like-minded entrepreneurs and businesses that have creative ideas and innovations that will convey value to my business. I also delegate and outsource some tasks to capable hands. These guides me to stay focused on my core area; part of which includes driving the overall success of the business.
Stella is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program scaling up Latalata & Kishers to get to a place where they are described as the most innovative e-commerce business in Nigeria.