Episode 08: Deepankar Rustagi (Founder of Vconnect) on what can be learnt from attempting to build e-commerce platforms in Nigeria

Episode 8 of Building the Future with Dotun here. Deepankar Rustagi of Vconnect responds to questions from Dotun Olowoporoku. Learn how to build e-commerce platforms in Nigeria.

“In business, emotions should play a secondary role and logic a primary one”

Deepankar Rustagi is the founder of Vconnect, an online business directory and local search engine in Nigeria.

This episode is a lesson on how to get traction for your startup by focusing on ‘One Metric that Matters’!

It is very tempting to do a lot of things at the same time as an entrepreneur. Deepankar had that challenge. But he had a good advisor who told him to focus on one thing only.

They focused on a single metric – the number of businesses added to Vconnect platform within a specific geography. That was a major contributor to their early success.

I have seen this work a lot. When I get the team at Starta to focus our energies and resources on dialing up a particular growth metric, we see traction. But it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of pursuing many rats…..

Deepankar fell into that trap too. Vconnect tried to pivot into becoming an e-commerce platform. That didn’t go well. But it was a good experiment that provided significant learning for the startup.

One of my biggest takeaways from this episode is this: e-commerce business is harder and more complex than people think it is from the outside. It is one of the most difficult businesses to scale. And success is dependent on a lot of factors that are beyond the control of one company. E-commerce companies are built on a lot of existing and continuously innovating infrastructure such as payment, logistics, stock management, consumer behaviour, merchant education and trust.

If you run a business that sells, or has a potential to sell via e-commerce platform, this episode is for you.
Stay humble, stay focused, and stay grounded.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Deepankar started Vconnect after an accident on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
  • Why he pursued a degree in software engineering as well as the jobs he did before starting Vconnect.
  • How to get traction by focusing on ‘One Metric that Matters’ and specific market segments.
  • The conversation he had with his previous employers when he informed them that he was about to leave to start his business, and how they ended up funding his startup!
  • How well-funded competition helped educate the market, and what they learned from that.
  • How Vconnect tried to pivot into e-commerce business model, why it failed and the biggest takeaways from trying that experiment.
  • Why you need to really care about unit metric of your startup
  • The key things that matter before setting up an e-commerce business in Africa
  • Why it is important to build around your core competencies as a business rather than do-it-all
  • Why it is important to get your team to speak into significant changes you are making as a business.
  • What Vconnect’s plan for the next few years is, as well as an interesting add-on they’ve included in their directory services
  • Why African tech ecosystem will be strengthened through collaboration

All rights reserved. This publication/podcast may not be re-published in part or whole, without the express permission of Dotun Olowoporoku.

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