Before now Nigerians had only one reliable tech-based traffic rescuer until a new one called Max .ng; a Nigerian based mobility platform that connects users to vetted professional motorcycle-taxi drivers via a mobile app, came up leaving road users with fast mobility options.
In an interview conducted recently for Adetayo Bamiduro, the co-founder of MAX (Metro Africa Xpress), he gave an in-depth explanation on how his business journey has been.
As a business owner thinking of the next disruption Nigerian needs or currently working towards on your idea, you have a lot to learn from Adetayo’s interview.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
At MAX, we strongly value mutual respect. As such, when we began this journey, we aimed to improve the dignity of work for motorcycle taxi drivers; it’s not exactly seen as a desirable job in Nigeria.
When we first launched our business, we had a large client for whom we provided last-mile delivery services. But, this customer harassed our drivers and really disrespected them; he repeatedly called them stupid. He’d accuse them of late deliveries, although the orders were put in too late for same-day fulfilment. It got to a point where many of our drivers were deeply demoralised.
This situation was tough for us because we really needed the revenue – we were still a very young business – and this client was responsible for almost 25% of our total revenue stream. We deliberated over what to do for two months.
Ultimately, we decided to stop working with this particular client out of our commitment to our drivers. Our drivers are more critical to our long-term success than one customer. While we lost that client, because of our growth strategy, we were able to offset the initial revenue loss and protect the dignity of our drivers.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of successfully launching our taxis into our second city, Akure, Ondo State, in June. This is because of the opportunity it provided for us to test the scalability of our model. Granted, Lagos is a huge market and you can build a massive business within Lagos alone, but our goal is not to transform Lagos. Our goal is to transform the entire African continent – one city at a time.
3. Tell us about your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
As founders, we are not expected to have weaknesses, right? Just kidding. One thing I would consider as a weakness, at least for me, is that sometimes, I get hyper-focused on business goals. Because of that, I occasionally find myself driving the team too aggressively to meet those targets; I’m not thinking about the team’s needs and more importantly that they stay motivated. Human beings are not machines. It’s important to make sure that the team feels good so they always put in their best effort.
With my leadership team, I started regular check-ins with my team. I wanted to make sure that I did not neglect the well being of the team for the company goals. So yes, I try to remain self-aware about becoming a better leader because I want my team to know that I care about their success as much as the company’s success.
4. What popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
Many people talk about bootstrapping before raising venture funding in order so that the founder can maximise his or her ownership stakes. In our experience, we found that if your objective is to build a high-growth and transformational company, you need to secure lots of capital. You need to be deliberate in your investment strategy.
I would say the optimal stage to start seeking venture funding is at the very beginning, e.g. the idea stage. Even before you figure out all the numbers, determine your product-market fit, get commercial traction etc, get people to bet on you and on your idea.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you started?
I wish I knew that the most complex part of entrepreneurship – and no one tells you this – is building and motivating a team every single day. I always thought building a great product or raising money would be the toughest part of owning a business. But, I discovered that figuring out how to build and constantly motivate a high performing and talented team is extremely tough.