Startup Interview: Insights on the current Business Climate in Nigeria

Rasheed Bello is the Business Manager at DeltaQue Nigeria Limited, an IT consulting firm.

In this interview, he gave insights on the current business climate in Nigeria and how businesses thrive in the tech world.

Kindly introduce your company
We are an IT consulting firm as well as an energy solution provider. For the past 3 years, however, we’ve had to pipe down on our energy side of the business.

As of today, what you see DeltaQue doing is IT. Hardware/software consulting management. We provide IT solutions for all scales of businesses in Nigeria – that is, the small-scale, medium and large businesses.

When was it established and where is it located?
DeltaQue Nigeria Limited was founded in 2011 by Sadiq Bello. We are located at No. 8 Ayinde Giwa Street, off Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Lagos.

What are the changes your company has gone through since inception and what do they mean to the business?
Over the last two years, we’re just really having an increase in staff strength. Back then, we hired on a project to project basis, but we now have core staff in our office.
We’re developing our own in-house solutions and we’re repackaging larger enterprise solutions for people.

There’s been a paradigm shift in what we used to offer and how we now operate. We have two arms of the business – the enterprise arm and the SME arm.
The enterprise arm caters to large organizations. We have partnership vendor registrations with companies like Dangote, banks and we are also solution providers to IBM, Microsoft, Cisco.

If Dangote needs a supply of computers, for instance, we can easily provide those things for them – any company on the enterprise end. On the small scale end, we usually develop an in-house solution and we actively market it to them. These are business solutions that are relevant to what the market demands.

Businesses across the world are tech-driven. Currently, we have a suite of hospitality management, hotel management system, restaurant management system, a food delivery app, and we are currently working on a tourism app.
We also run a retail management system. We have an e-commerce plug and play platform where people can easily share videos. Sometimes we sell these solutions in a bespoke manner, whereby we approach a client, try to solve his own particular problem.

Sometimes we sell the solutions in a generic manner – we create a software and we identify the target businesses that need that particular software. Accounting bookkeeping software, resource planning software for SMEs. We have tried to identify with the Nigerian small businesses. The local Chemist behind your house – how can he use technology to improve his business? What are the things he needs? Does he need all those employee rolls? Definitely not. He just needs a few things and those are what we package in our software, and we present it.

What are the challenges the company has faced or is currently facing?
For the first 4-5 years, up until last year, DeltaQue has been more of a holding company for our other companies like Work Central and a few other startups which are not tech related. This has made DeltaQue rather fluid, not solid. It hasn’t really brought out its full potential. We do deals here and there but the company is not yet a financial muscle it ought to be. Before now, the CEO of the company had a day job so he could not really be fully on deck to drive the company.

Would you consider going into a strategic partnership?
As I said, we do business with a lot of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). We resell many of their products. We go as the front. We are an IBM partner today, so if they want to sell any solution, they send us. We do the evaluation, get the solution from the company and distribute. We are also partners with Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco and quite a number of companies and that’s in our enterprise arm of the business.

The current business climate in Nigeria is not so easy to operate in and the best way to get an edge is when your resources are not always about money, which is what we try to do in Work Central. We try to provide you with resources – you pay for it but it’s not what you would naturally expect to have paid. We try to have people around us that we can share, in a symbiotic manner, certain services. I do this for you, you do this for me.
If you’re talking about a merger, we are not that big.

What’s your biggest threat?
There are a million and one companies in Lagos today, doing the same thing we do on different levels so we come packed with experience, with time on our side, we come packed with contact. We’ve been in this particular industry as a company for almost 7 years now. We have some of the brightest minds churning out solutions, looking for ways to solve problems.

But like I said, there are companies that have been here longer than us, who have better financial backing, who can muscle smaller companies out. The competition is very stiff, especially in Lagos. The only way to make an edge is continually being on your toes.

As a company, we could fail to make ends meet – have enough of the bottom line to keep the company afloat if we are unable to have a strong sales force. So I think today, our major challenge is our sales force.
In terms of our technology, we are up to standard but in terms of our sales force – our ability to reach the clients, we lag a bit. A lot of our solutions are sitting here with us. We have deployed for one or two people but that continuous traction in selling has not been much of a fairy tale as we would have loved it to be.

Where does the company see itself 5 years from now?
We would like to be valued as a billion naira company before five years with a staff strength of over two hundred, and also become a household name, at least in the tech circles.

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Gbenga Ajao
Gbenga Ajao is a journalist. He has garnered experience in print, electronic and new media. He is passionate about mobile and web technology.

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