With urbanization comes unique challenges for communal housing, one that births a wide range of needs for smart living, access to necessities and operations for households, such as: collection of bills, payment reconciliation, utilities vending, just to name a few. These are some of the challenges being solved by Venco.
A smart services and finance brand Co-founded by Chude Osiegbu, who is an experienced professional in his field, leading with an executive presence that impacts communities and households. As investors, we are thrilled to unveil the details of this interview session by our team at Zrosk Investment Management.
About the Co-Founder and CEO of Venco.
Hello, I’m Chude Osiegbu and I’m co-founder and CEO at Venco. Before that, I was co-founder and CTO at an ERP Consultancy called ‘Manqala Ltd’, specializing in implementing and supporting large scale ERP implementations for multinational companies.
Prior to that, I worked as an SAP Consultant in the UK and in Nigeria. I started my career as a ‘Java Software Developer’ specializing in building accounting systems.
The big Idea Behind Venco.
Urbanization is increasing the world over. With it, the increasing adoption of multi-family type residences such as estates and apartment blocks are on the rise. These communities need accessible and easy-to-use software to coordinate processes such as billing and collections, payment reconciliation, utilities vending, issue management, visitor management and so much more.
‘Venco’ was borne out of the founders’ frustration living in communities where these processes were manual, resulting in process inefficiencies that reduced the quality of life in the community.
Our big idea is that, solving these problems for residents and property managers, gives us access to thousands of households that we can then upsell other services to, from insurance to household
consumables, household equipment and even rental assistance. We would be doing this in a de-risked context, given that we have very reliable information on the households’ address, spend patterns and composition.
The Eureka Moment for Venco.
Our first customer was an estate I lived in in Port Harcourt. They were our only customer for more than a year as we didn’t have any plans to commercialize ‘Estate Manager’ as it was called at the time. However, moving to Lagos and discussing with friends, it became clear that there was a need for digital tools that simplified operating and living in residential communities.
It became clear to us that we had an opportunity to do something big when a developer we approached, signed up 3 of his estates and within 2 months adopted the platform in all 13 of his estates.
Choosing Partners and Teams.
Uzo Alor (COO): I’d been CTO at ‘Manqala’ – a company I’d cofounded with Uzo that does implementation and support for large-scale ERP solutions. She doubled as Managing Partner and Operations Manager, and was instrumental in the ideation and development of what has become ‘Venco’ right from the very beginning. Given her experience there was no better option for our position for Chief Operating Officer.
Reagan Mbitiru (CTO): We met Reagan while shopping for energy vending software to integrate into the ‘Venco’ platform. It turned out that he’d built one and was trying to do in Kenya, something similar to what we were doing in Nigeria. The conversation then evolved from licensing his software to his becoming an integral part of the team. He’s a highly skilled technologies with vast startup experience.
Venco’s Business Model.
Our business model has us generating income from subscriptions, commissions and financing. Communities that use our software pay a monthly subscription per occupied property to use it. We earn transaction commissions from online payments.
We also finance specific communal and household spend, such as pre-paid energy and water meters, making interest income on this financing. Our business model is shaped by the fact that we operate in price-sensitive environments where pay-as-you-use models are very popular.
Scaling, Investments and Challenges.
We closed our pre-seed round in March 2022 having raised a substantial amount.
These funds are helping us to scale up our team in the technical, operations and customer success departments. We’ve released updates to our product and added lots of features that make it more indispensable to users.
We’re currently ramping up on marketing while building a ‘Self-onboarding’ feature on the platform that enables communities sign themselves up without any intervention from ‘Venco’.
The main challenge has been in recruiting for important roles in the organization and keeping developers sufficiently motivated in a very competitive employment environment. We’ve realized that we need to rely heavily on automation tools that enable us maintain a high quality of service for an increasing client-base without having to ramp up on personnel at the same
Future Projections and Expectations for Venco.
In the next 5 years, we hope to have expanded our coverage to 200 thousand households within and outside Nigeria, to at least five (5) other African countries. Increasing urbanization and fixed land stock in Africa means that, there will be an increased demand for communal housing. Any such communities are our potential customers.
For more about Venco, explore their website by visiting: https://www.venco.africa/