INTERVIEW (Oluwatoba Obaniyi, Co-Founder & CEO, Whogohost)
Unveiling The Fidelity Bank – Whogohost Partnership
The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme organized by Fidelity Bank Plc to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. The interactive radio programme features subject matter experts and model entrepreneurs as guests on a weekly basis to share their insight and unique success stories. In this interview, Oluwatoba Obaniyi, Co-Founder & CEO, Whogohost gives valuable insights on “Unveiling The Fidelity Bank – Whogohost Partnership”.
Q: TELL US ABOUT WHOGOHOST AND THE VALUE PROPOSITION OF YOUR COMPANY?
Oluwatoba: I run a shared hosting and cloud service providing company. One thing that drives us in our company is that we understand that businesses need to succeed and one thing necessary to succeed is getting online. Getting online is critical. In our 12 years of business as a company, we have been looking for new ways to get businesses to succeed online and our value proposition to MSMEs is to give them a very affordable means of getting online. We have seen that many people struggle to get online, by not having the right information on how to get online and who to help them achieve this. This partnership with Fidelity Bank has provided an easy-to-access platform for business owners with questions to ask and receive the help they need.
Q: WHY IS BEING ONLINE SO IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES TODAY?
Oluwatoba: The major reason is that the customers are online. Recent statistics checked shows that over 90million Nigerians are online or have access to the internet out of a population of about 190 million. That is about 50% of the Nigerian population are online and what that means is that there is a high chance that your customers are online. If you think about it, every day, we find ourselves online either through our phones or laptops doing stuff. The world has also gotten to the point whereby people want ease of doing business and communicating with businesses. So any business still doing the brick and mortar style of just having a physical shop and expecting people to walk in, would probably die out if care is not taken. Businesses need to be online because they need to make it easy for their customers to actually reach them. We have heard success stories of how online businesses have moved from a struggling state to successful businesses as a result of being online. Interestingly, new SMEs actually operate businesses without actually having a physical store because of the online presence they have and customers have not met them before. But through their online presence, customers can see that they have goods and services that are needed and can be accessed. This is the kind of way businesses are transforming and will further transform in the future, so if a business is not online, that business will be losing out on a lot of customer opportunities and potential businesses that can only be accessed online.
Q: WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE MISCONCEPTION THAT BEING ONLINE DOES NOT NECESSARILY TRANSLATE TO PROFITABLE BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS?
Oluwatoba: From our business, we have recorded huge success whereby people who have never met us or known us are still able to do business with us because we have a verifiable online presence of what they want and at the price that they want it, so they are buying. I am also sure that if you ask the e-commerce platforms, they will answer you that people are buying online. It can be argued that previously, in the early years, it was very difficult, because we had very conspicuous trust issues with online vendors, and we still do. Trust issue is a challenge in Nigeria where we get skittish when we hear someone is offering services/goods through an online platform and we have not met the person before. Thoughts like whether the person will deliver what they promise, the quality of service, and payment will make most Nigerians avoid the platform. However, gradually, convenience is becoming increasingly more important. For example, when I was growing up, we used to pound yam every Saturday with the mortar and pestle. But in this day and age, I cannot imagine my wife pounding yam in the same manner because there are so many gadgets to help you. As people, we do not want to stress ourselves and do things the old and difficult way. For businesses, that means they need to innovate and the more difficult it is for a customer to access your business the higher the chance you are going to lose them. I believe and have seen evidence that businesses are succeeding and doing very well by being online.
Q: HOW DID THE PARTNERSHIP COME ABOUT AND HOW IS IT GOING TO IMPROVE THE OPERATIONS OF MSMEs?
Oluwatoba: Fidelity Bank is always looking for innovative ways to help MSMEs succeed and we as a company are always looking for ways to help businesses come online, so the partnership was a no-brainer. What we are hoping to achieve through this partnership is for MSMEs to easier get online. There are so many website designers that people cannot trust and do not know or the cases of paying high amounts of money for a website and the website taking over a year to become live. This partnership gives MSME business owners the assurance that they will get the website they paid for. The most critical aspect of this partnership is that two notable brands that a customer can trust have come together to provide services that customers need and can afford.
Q: WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE RANGE OF SERVICES THIS PARTNERSHIP WILL BE BRINGING TO CUSTOMERS?
Oluwatoba: We wanted to start off with something very simple so we are offering two basic classes of products to customers. The first one is a website which is an online presence whereby the business is put online and people can access that website, contact you, know about the products and services of the business, and, in some cases, also pay online. The other product is email hosting, which entails giving the business a “@yourdomainname” email address. A domain name is what is used to tell people how to contact you. For instance, Whogohost’s domain name is whogohost.com so anyone who goes to that domain name will have access to our business products and services. So these are two services that the partnership is offering. You can find out more about these services at fidelity.whogohost.com where we have a downloadable brochure that will give more details about the partnership. You can also send us an email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: HOW CAN MSMEs BENEFIT FROM THIS PARTNERSHIP?
Oluwatoba: We advise MSMEs to visit the website, see product offerings and also place orders. We also have a live chat platform to speak with our customer service representative and you can also call us on 070022332233 or send an email to email@example.com. The website also gives you all the information needed to understand the service and also describes each service as well, but if you are still confused, you can reach us through any of the above listed channels.
Q: ARE THERE ANY EXTRA VALUE INCENTIVES FOR SME CUSTOMERS OF FIDELITY BANK?
Oluwatoba: Yes, there is, definitely. We have discounts on the services we are offering and that is for Fidelity Bank’s customers only. When you visit the website, you will see the price slashes, which are the benefits of being a Fidelity Bank customer. When you reach out to us, just say you are from Fidelity Bank and we will understand that you are a special customer and give you all the discounts.
Q: WHAT IS THE MINIMUM COST OF KEYING INTO THIS SERVICE?
Oluwatoba: Customers can get a corporate website for about N40,000 and the website will be live within 15 working days all things being considered.
Q: CAN YOU GIVE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF NIGERIAN WEBSPACE, THE CURRENT TRENDS, AVAILABLE POSSIBILITIES AND WHAT THE FUTURE MAY BRING?
Oluwatoba: We have been in business for 12 years and just recently celebrated our 12th year anniversary on May 29. We started in the days when online visibility in Nigeria was almost non-existent. In those days it was mainly big firms that felt getting an online presence as important, while smaller firms did not see the benefit. Over the course of the years, the reverse is the case – more small businesses and even individuals, are seeing the importance of getting some sort of online presence. Now we see people using social media, not just as a tool to have fun but also as a means of conducting business. People are using it as a means to get new businesses and connections. In the future, we would see more of these transitions. One of the interesting things that have come up through this progression is the multitude of ways in which products and services are now being paid for. Also as a result, you have more businesses like logistic companies coming up, because the demand for such services is increasing. My two sisters are business owners and they have websites for their businesses that they now deliver to the end-user. People are able to have multiple businesses because it is easier and possible with an online platform.
Q: ARE THERE VALUE CHAIN OPPORTUNITIES THAT AN ASPIRING SME CAN LATCH ONTO IN THE WEB SERVICE SPACE?
Oluwatoba: Well, there are a lot. A business can have a website, but needs someone to manage the website; that is an opportunity. Another opportunity may be a graphics designer to update content on your website. You can also have someone to help you secure your website and as the demand keeps increasing, we are also going to see increasing value-chain opportunities in the web space.
Q: ARE THERE STILL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE WEBSPACE WHERE INTERNET-SAVVY ENTREPRENEURS CAN GO INTO?
Oluwatoba: Let us imagine a scenario in Nigeria where every school infrastructure is online and parents can have access to their ward’s attendances, results and every school related information online. Picture that! Then scale it to all sectors in Nigeria. That’s the benefit of the opportunities in the web space, it affects businesses in all sectors. So you can have web application developers for school portals and the developers are going to have a field day creating things for different industries. An interesting thing some may have noticed is that the developer community is growing rapidly in Nigeria. Most students who want to have a bankable skill, go into learning web development because they understand that most opportunities are available and growing. It is best to identify which areas you want to go into. The world is leaning towards the digital, so more and more opportunities will arise for entrepreneurial web developers.
Q: HOW CAN ONE MAKE SURE THE WEBSITE IS NOT HACKED?
Oluwatoba: That is an interesting question. I cannot dive into the details right now, but the truth is having a website makes its open to having bad actors or hackers. It’s almost the same thing as having a physical location, and there is a possibility of the store being robbed. Yes, there are risks, but one of the things we do at Whogohost is that we would help you build a secure website and also give you tips on how to protect that website from getting hacked. We would also host a weekly handholding and capacity building training for SMEs and those who are interested and want to come on board.
Q: HOW CAN WHOGOHOST ENSURE THAT THE WEBSITES THEY CREATE WILL BE LIVE AND HAVE MINIMAL DOWNTIME?
Oluwatoba: We have invested a lot in our infrastructure to ensure that we have minimal downtime. A lot of people have trusted us over the years, that is why we are able to have grown as we have to become the largest web hosting platform in Nigeria. It is also our commitment to our customers and to infrastructure to ensure their sites are up and running at all times. We also have a 24/7 customer support team to assist when our customers have issues.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENEW HOSTING AFTER A YEAR?
Oluwatoba: The hosting renewal is eight thousand naira only.