The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme run by Fidelity Bank Plc. to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. In this episode of the Fidelity SME Forum, UGO OKORO, of Muster.ng, shared his plans on how his company is taking the hospitality business to the next level in Nigeria.
Q: TELL US ABOUT MUSTER AND HOW IT WAS ESTABLISHED?
A: We created Muster because we want to create a world without homelessness. As we all know, living in mega-cities around the world has its bottlenecks and challenges like infrastructure, congestion and housing deficit and we don’t believe that access to those housing should be a major issue for people. Essentially we started Muster to give young people access to affordable housing. Our plan is to do a replica of what AirBnB has done for hospitality.
Q: WHAT EXACTLY DOES MUSTER OFFER?
A: We offer access to affordable housing and a property owner management product that covers the entire process from listing the property to collection of rent from tenant.
Q: HOW DO THE GENERAL PUBLIC ACCESS YOUR SERVICES?
A: Log on to Muster.ng, it is a user-friendly platform. Our artificial intelligent (AI) will kick-start a conversation with you and make recommendation based on your search criteria.
Q: WHAT ARE THE LISTING SCHEDULES YOU OFFER?
A: Our listing comes in different categories like daily listing, monthly listing and quarterly listing. We believe that splitting the payment on this basis would make it affordable to all, most especially young people.
Q: HOW DO YOU GENERATE PROFIT FROM THESE SERVICES YOU OFFER?
A: Currently, we are more concerned with building a product that will suit the market properly and also we’ve monetized the platform to easily generate revenue.
Q: WHO PAYS FOR YOUR SERVICES, THE OWNER OR USER?
A: Currently, the payment is made by both parties, because our product packages are directed towards their satisfaction. It is also a wealth creation service we offer to the owners by helping them maximizing the optimal utility of their empty spaces.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR CURRENT MARKET SPACE AND WHAT STRATEGIES HAVE YOU PUT IN PLACE TO GUARANTEE OWNER’S SECURITY?
A: I think the market is growing particularly as it relates to the fact that we are entering the shared economy era. We’ve had distinct reactions from both parties when informing them about Muster. Users (demand side) are often excited to hear about our products, while owners (supply side) are majorly curious about finance, security and the management process. In order to mitigate the fear of the owners, we have put in place strategies like giving full control to the owners through the entire process. We also have a multi-layered verification system, networking chat app, rent pay monitoring system etc. All these are put in place to give owners and users confidence and transparency in our process.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR BASIC SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE?
A: I will say it is a mix of different things. Most times I don’t conform to societal norms like “go to school, graduate and search for job.” Our passion in Muster is basically to add value to both ourselves and the society.
Q: HOW DID YOU GENERATE YOUR FUND?
A: We all know that running a business in Africa is naturally difficult, especially when it relates to issues like access to capital (funding). And i think the reason for this issue is inefficiency of Venture Capital (V.C) for most startups, compared to the market in Europe. Firstly, for us to validate the assumptions about our model, we gain traction with the number of users on the platform and revenue we generated through the platform. After gathering this data, we went back to those that initially indicated interest in investing into the business. That was how we raised our fund from investors of different blends (Angel, C5 Accelerator).
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