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Serial Entrepreneur Luther Lawoyin Talks About His Digital Food Cooperative Startup PricePally

Barely two years after Luther Lawoyin founded PricePally, a digital food cooperative startup, it is presently playing a key role in making consumer goods affordable for millions of Nigerians across the country amidst recession and food inflation.

Lawoyin, a serial entrepreneur in this exciting interview with TechawkNG spoke about how his startup braved COVID-19 lockdown, what exactly it is doing to make food inexpensive, and much more.

Can you share your startup concept with us?

Pricepally is a digital food cooperative platform that enables people to buy and share bulk food items sourced from farmers and wholesalers making it cheaper and fresher than buying at retail, essentially we are building an alternate next-generation food system for African cities.

What prompted you to establish PricePally? 

A personal experience, my wife and I found out we were spending a lot on food, we researched and discovered it was a problem across developing nations, Nigeria, for instance, has the highest income to food ratio in the world, Nigerians spend close to 60% of their monthly income on food.

Our initial response to solve this was to buy in bulk to save cost then we found other families to share with, we discovered it was worth more than buying at retail then we decided to enable more people to do the same by plugin into a tech platform.

Tell us about the moment you decided to become an entrepreneur? What did you have to do to be where you are today.

I have been an entrepreneur all my life, I was introduced to it as early as 8 years old by my mum, she had a confectionery business and I was basically her staff.

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Later on in life, I started building companies, some of which are now defunct, which was sold to a competitor about 6 years ago, which is still operating, and others which may come in the future but right now I am building Pricepally. I can detail how I got here but I know building companies or entrepreneurship gets me excited, I love ideas, and bringing them to life makes me fulfilled.

Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business? How did PricePally navigate the pandemic to meet consumer/customer demands? 

Pricepally grew very fast during COVID-19, it enabled us to acquire a lot of customers at the time of the lockdown, we made sure to follow the COVID-19 guidelines in our operations and we got a pass from the government to deliver to people at the time. It was tough but we made sure to satisfy our customers as much as possible.

A lot of Nigerians are complaining about how the prices of consumer goods have skyrocketed. What role is PricePally playing to ensure that these consumer goods are affordable?

We are able to aggregate the food demand of consumers, so the volume we have enables us to negotiate discounts which we pass on to the consumers. A lot has happened in the food supply chain in Nigeria which has had a serious effect on prices, especially the insecurity in the North where a lot of these food items come from. 

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We are contracting farmers to farm and sell directly to Pricepally members, when these harvests are ready, we will be able to further drop down the prices of many food items significantly. It’s a serious problem but we are innovating to solve this at scale.

Has the border closure and the instability of the naira against the dollar affected your business?

To some extent yes, some of the shortage in supply of food in Nigeria is due to border closure but ordinarily, if we get our acts right in Nigeria border closure shouldn’t result in food supply problems. The dollar issue does not exactly have a direct effect but it does affect indirectly because Nigerians have less to spend as the naira continues to lose value.

How will you describe the reception so far? How do you make money? 

It’s been good so far, we are gradually growing and soon to reach an inflection point. We make money by taking a commission on every item sold. 

Capital and funds are key to starting a business? How did you go about funding PricePally?

Personal funds, my previous business also made cash contributions at the very early stage, but we have had angel investors and VC funding since then.

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Many startups fail in their first five years. What measures are enshrining to ensure that PricePally is here in the next five, 10, and 20 years? 

We have our vision stated clearly and we execute on strategies to reach the vision. We are hiring the best people to execute these strategies, so we will be here for the long haul, God willing.

Who do you think are your competitors?

Our competitors are all over, we consider the mom and pop stores, the local markets, street vendors etc as our competitors.

What are the challenges of running your startup? What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

There are several challenges and you won’t run out of them, I like to sum it up as Nigeria itself is a challenge. My advice will be get started and don’t stop, be gritty enough to find a way because there is always a way!

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