Who are you and what are you working on?
My name is Tobi Odukoya, I am a graduate of Chemical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. I am working on CDcare. I am working on CDcare because my family faced a lot of problem while I was growing up because we could not afford to buy basic gadgets like blenders, televisions, generators….. We struggled owning all of these items and that was because my parents could not afford to pay one big payment. The problem we are solving for Africans now with CDcare is that we know they can’t afford to pay one big payment because Africans earn money in bits either daily, weekly or monthly.With CDcare we make it convenient for Africans to easily own gadgets, appliances and cars…. Using smart installments that aligns with culture and beliefs.
This is incredible. You said you read Chemical Engineering. I am wondering, how did you find your way into entrepreneurship?
Background basically and that’s because my father despite being a civil servant, he was also an entrepreneur. He did business while I was growing up. I had that blood in me. I was a brilliant student back then in OAU and it got to a point where I had to ask myself if I wanted to be the best candidate for the job or if I want to employ the best candidate for the job. I choose to employ the best candidate for the job. I started looking for problems around me as a student and I realized that people had computer repair problems and the major computer repair problem was that when virus gets into their computers they usually have to lose all of their files. So I got home during strike and I goggled how to fix computers without people losing their files. That was the idea moment for me, I went back to school, started a computer repair business and I made money. I trained more than 200 students to become computer technicians as a student in OAU.
That was where the entrepreneurial journey started from. I did a lot of businesses as a student. Computer repairs brought us to Lagos. We launched Computer Doctor where we fix and sell computers. We’ve sold to Flutterwave, Piggyvest, Cowrywise, Paystack…… we fix computers for them earlier in the days. That’s how the entrepreneurial journey started.
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What specific problem are you solving with CDcare?
My family couldn’t afford to get household items because we had to pay one big payment. My mother had to save for 10months before I could get my first laptop in the university, that was a big problem. And I realized that most of my classmates had the same problem and I decided to solve the problem. Because I wanted to solve that problem, I started Own-a-Laptop-Scheme which later failed.
We realized it didn’t work because people didn’t want to pay interest. What we learnt from that business is that Nigerians will rather save to buy and never borrow to buy. We started different installment models; we were selling on Jumia and Konga. We decided to do CDcare in a way that aligns with African culture. You’ll use CDcare to save towards owning items but we will ship the item to you before full payment at 50%. If youre using CDcare to save for an item for a year, we will ship your item to you at 6months and we will not charge you any interest. That is how we launched CDcare. Basically, we are building CDcare to help Africans to easily pay in bits for their needs in a way that suit their lifestyle.
This is amazing. I love this model but at the same time have you experienced people who abscond with the item after paying for just 6months?
I’ve experimented the installment models and I see that the fundamental problem with credit in Nigeria is people feeling cheated. Most people don’t pay back loan companies because they believe that the interest is too much and they don’t have to pay. One of the things we enjoy at CDcare is that people believe that we are not charging for any form of interest, they feel like it is morally right for them to pay us. Fundamentally, CDcare model encourages people to pay. We have never had a default problem where people will not pay our money.
We understand that people lose their jobs and livelihood for little or no reason, that is why we put measures in place where we tell our customers that if you’re not able to pay for the item that has been delivered to you, return it back to us, we will help you sell it, take our own balance and give the remaining money to you. When you’re stable and you’re able to buy come back to CDcare and we will get the item delivered to you again. This is just to ensure that people feel comfortable.
Amazing. How do you fund CDcare?
CDcare was bootstrapped earlier but right now we are in Techstars Accelerator which has helped us to have a bit of funding. Fundamentally, CDcare is a business that has been making profit from day one. Before we launched CDcare the unit economics was very important to us and up till today we are profitable at CDcare.
Thankfully, we are able to double our growth, we are able to have great partnerships and hopefully raise investment to help us get the CDcare out to more Nigerians and Africans so that we can help people to own things that they ordinarily will not be able to own. Building CDcare is hard but when we hear testimonials, all we just do is jump up, double on what we are doing so that we can touch the lives of more Africans.
Where do you see CDcare in the next five years?
In the next five years CDcare will be a Pan-African company. We will be in many Africa countries helping Africans to own appliances and gadgets. In the nearest future Africans will be able to pay in installment for homes and for anything they’ll own.
We are building a system that will make it easy for any working African to own anything without worries.
This is amazing and I can’t wait for CDcare to keep growing. How do you get relieved of the pressure that comes with running CDcare?
The fact is, ever since we started running CDcare I’ve not gone on a holiday and that is because the work is a lot. Thankfully we love what we are doing; we have lots of fun at work. Every member of CDcare team knows that you can come to work even when you’re stressed because you’ll always have a reason to laugh. We make work fun at CDcare.
We have fun while we are working, we just look for a way to do serious work and make it look like we are playing.
The truth of the matter is my co-founder and I are not the ones building CDcare. We might have envisioned it and started it. People that are doing the work are smart Africans like you. They’re the ones responding to emails and orders, my co-founder and I are just overseeing while working hard. These smart employees are the ones doing the job.
Fantastic. What are the resources that you read or listen to that has helped you?
I don’t really read books because there are lots of things to do. I listen to podcasts and watch videos a lot. I read a lot from people that are in the industry. I follow people that do savings, credit or e-commerce. I listen to the founder of Konga, the CEO of Carbon and the Piggyvest founders. Carbon covers the loan industry, Piggyvest covers the saving industry, Konga and Jumia covers e-commerce. I follow a lot of them and I listen to them. I just check things that will help me understand the industry better. I have consumed almost all articles that is online that has to do with my industry, technology and everything that concerns what I am doing.
What advice do you have for some entrepreneurs who are trying to weather the storm?
Truth of the matter is if you cannot die there, go and get a job. Forget about being your own boss. Entrepreneurship and business is tough. You can do it and it can be done only if you’re willing to give it what it takes. Entrepreneurship is good and it pays in the long run but you have to work extra hard, it is not a very easy journey.