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Several months ago, Oyewole Kayode was in Ibadan, the ancient yet trend-setting Nigerian city located in the Yoruba-dominated southwestern part of the country. While he was there, a female friend called him and asked if they could hang out at a “very cool” place. He began a frantic search for a place the woman would love — a place that was also cheap and within his lean budget.
“So I went online and realised there was no single platform that chronicled details of cool places and how much it was going to cost me,” Kayode said. In the end, he couldn’t hang out with the woman.
Following this rather sad experience, he decided to create a solution by working with other individuals with similar experiences. The end product is Kaku.com.ng.
Kaku /ka-kuh/ is from the colloquial expression suggesting being calculative or working on a budget. “Kaku.com.ng is a discovery website that allows people to locate amazing places where they can hang out with friends, family or loved ones based on their budget and preferred location,” Kayode said.
Users can discover, review and rate various places, and also share pictures and selfies of themselves and friends having fun.
How Kaku works
Users will enter their preferred location (for instance, Lekki, Ikeja), their budget (3 000 naira for instance) and their preferred service, like dinner, ice cream, nightlife or whatever they are looking for.
“They [will] get a list of places that offer that particular service, they get to see their numbers, pictures of the places, and on the average what it would cost to have a nice time there,” he said. Users will also get the address of the venues.
For those who don’t really have a particular place in mind, they can also do a random search for a service without entering a price or location. They can also run a search of it and get more information about the place.
Sounds like Google, huh?
When Kayode shared how the site works, the first thing that came to mind was Google. When asked if they were trying to compete with the search-engine giant, he said while the search engine could have all the information, Kaku is more localised, centralised, easier to search, and the search results contain prices, which are not always available on Google.
“We have put all this information in a central source and made it easier for users to search; also we have taken time out to find out the prices of these various places, so users can be well prepared before visiting. Users also get to see pictures without leaving the site. Basically we are offering them convenience and allowing them make informed decisions before visiting a place,” he said.
He added that the service also allowed users to give feedback via ratings.
“So if I go somewhere and I think their meal sucks, I can rant on the platform and in turn we can convert that feedback into a report for the various places. Users can also share memorable moments with other users,” he said.
Information gathering and monetisation strategies
Kayode revealed they painstakingly collated some of the data — but also confessed that they had bought some. “We also used friends in gathering data, asking them to refer places they have visited,” he said.
He told Ventureburn that no monetisation had been implemented yet, but as the platform grows they plan to seal several discounted deals and partner with taxi companies that will transport users to places listed on the platform.
Furthermore, he said they would open up the platform for both merchants and non-merchants to advertise on the website.
Starting from Lagos
It is obviously not a realistic decision to roll out nationwide and this is why Kayode said they were starting from Lagos and targeting young users who had the money to spend on leisure. The co-founders’ desired users are students, young professionals, and families.
Even though the site currently covers only some parts in Lagos (Victoria Island, Lekki and Yaba), the team is planning to spread beyond Nigeria and extend across Africa and beyond.
“At the moment it is Lagos, and we are focused on certain areas but the big goal is to scale this across Nigeria, Africa and other emerging economies,” Kayode said. “First, we hope users really love what we have built because our focus has always been to build something that becomes a part of people’s lives.”
The platform officially went live last week but they hope to cover the entire country within a year, which means they will be aggressively expanding their database.
Kayode said they received enthusiastic feedback from users at the beta stage, which is one of the reasons why they are confident the Nigerian market needs the product.
Edge over VConnect
VConnect is Nigeria’s largest local search engine, which also provides information on locations across Nigeria, but Kayode sees VConnect as more of a listing than discovery platform.
“We offer superior user experience. You cannot search based on your budget on VConnect, you also cannot search based on your preferred location. Our search engine is also built to be hyper fast – it takes about 3-7 seconds to search on an average connection. So if you are looking for a restaurant in Yaba for instance, there is no way to make that kind of search on VConnect,” he said.
Kayode believes the platform has endless potential since the need to have fun, hang out and relax is inevitable. “We are working on ways to make this an enjoyable experience for them. We are also making it as cost-effective as possible,” he said.