The founder and CEO of Carmart Nigeria, Ikwu Onyeka, has stressed the need for young entrepreneurs to be focused, determined, and devoted to achieving their dream to be a successful entrepreneur.
Onyeka noted that he is a man of many interests, adding that he is a frontend developer with experience as a social media manager and has engaged car dealerships.
Onyeka said he brought these aspects of his professional life together at Carmart Nigeria, which he launched in 2019.
“Carmart Nigeria is an online marketplace for motor vehicles (specifically cars and motorcycles). Individual and corporate dealers put vehicles up for sale on the site, and potential buyers log on to make a purchase. At the moment, it’s Nigeria’s top-ranked website in this niche, with over 500,000 monthly visits,” he said during an Instagram live broadcast.
Onyeka noted that he did not originally intend for the startup to be a connector for buyers and sellers.
He said he started with a different model – sourcing car parts from his vendors and having those parts supplied to buyers located close to them.
“But matching both ends proved difficult. So he pivoted to running an open market,” he said.
Onyeka said it was not an easy space either as several competitors already existed there, but he was not troubled.
He said, “ I looked at them before launching. I was never discouraged by any of those competitors.
“My confidence stemmed partly from my knowledge of web architecture, and what it took me to build an online meeting place for buyers and sellers. My background as a front-end web developer was an advantage.
Highlighting some of the challenges he faced, he said one of them was a shortage of funding.
“It was late in December 2018, and he had initially planned to spend Christmas in his hometown, away from Lagos. When the idea of starting carmart.ng arose, he jettisoned the trip and spent his travel budget on building the website.
“I used that money to buy a WordPress theme for $50. I also bought a domain name for ₦4,000, because it was cheaper than a .ng domain.
“I was wary about spending a lot of money, because of the possibility that the idea might not work out well. I later launched the website in mid-January,” he said.
He said he remembers collecting car listings from social media and placing them on the site, where, he hoped, prospective buyers would stop by to check the vehicles listed.
“Before April, I got up to a hundred registered users on the site,” he recalled. “Then in April, I received a call from a dealer, who wanted to sell his cars regularly on the website. He also wanted to how much I charged for that, per month.”
Onyeka said he didn’t even have a price plan and he hadn’t intended Carmart Nigeria to earn from dealer listings. He said he blurted out a fee of ₦30,000 per month and to his surprise, the dealer settled for the offer.
“That dealer was Carmart’s first paying user. After the call, I decided to review my business model and moved the site to a new platform, and launched it again.
“This gave Carmart Nigeria the edge needed to operate as a competitive, revenue-generating player in the online motor vehicle trading niche and has experienced growth in less than two years with a huge visit from buyers and sellers daily even amidst the pandemic,” he added.