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Nigerian logistic start-up Kobo360 accepted by YC, raises $ 1.2 million

When Kobo360, a Nigerian logistics start-up, interviewed Y Combinator's 2018 cohort, a question was asked of founder Obi Ozor. "What's stopping you from becoming a unicorn?", They asked. "My answer was simple," said Ozor. "Working capital."

Kobo360 was accepted into the 2018 category of YC and secured working capital in the form of pre-seed money of $ 1.2 million led by Western Technology Investment, announced recently. Verod Capital Management, based in Lagos, has also joined Kobo360.

The start-up – with an application similar to Uber that connects Nigerian truckers to companies with freight needs – will use the funds to pay drivers online immediately after successful transportation.

Kobo360 is also launching the Kobo Wealth Investment Network, or KoboWIN – a crowdfunding vehicle financing program. As a result, Kobo drivers can finance new trucks through citizen investors and repay them directly (with interest) over a period of 60 months.

Ozor said that Kobo360 created the platform because of limited vehicle financing options for truckers in Nigeria. "We hope that KoboWIN … will inject 20,000 … [additional] trucks on the Kobo platform," he told TechCrunch.

On the utility of Kobo360, "We give drivers the demand and technology to power their businesses," Ozor said. "An average trucker will make $ 3,500 a month with our app.It is a middle-class territory in Nigeria."

Kobo360 served 324 companies, consolidated a fleet of 5,480 drivers and transported 37.6 million kilograms of goods since 2017, according to the company's statistics. Honeywell, Olam, Unilever and DHL are among the main customers.

Ozor previously headed Uber Nigeria, before teaming with Ife Oyodeli to co-found Kobo360. They first targeted 3PL for the e-commerce boom in Nigeria – namely Jumia (the first unicorn in Africa) and Konga (recently purchased as part of a troubled acquisition)

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"We started delivering the last mile … but the volume just was not there for us, so we decided to rotate … a capital-free model around long-haul trucking "said Ozor.

Kobo360 has been accepted into YC's Summer 18 prize – receiving $ 120,000 for a 7% stake – and will be showcased at a demonstration day in August in front of YC Investors. "We were impressed by Obi and Ife as founders, they were growing rapidly and had a strong business vision," YC partner Tim Brady told TechCrunch.

The Kobo360 app currently coordinates 5,000 trips a month, according to Ozor. He believes that the start-up's digital platform and business model without assets can outperform traditional long-haul 3PL providers in Nigeria by managing more volume at lower prices.

"Owning trucks is too difficult to manage, the best evolutionary model is to aggregate trucks," he said. "We now have more trucks than suppliers like TSL and have been here for years. . By the end of the year, we plan to install 20,000 trucks in our application – probably more than anyone on this continent. "

On price, Ozor named the Kobo360 application's ability to more accurately and consistently coordinate return freight trips once the truckers filed the first charges.

"The logistics in Nigeria have been priced on the assumption that the drivers will go idle on the way home … When we now compare the freight with the return trips, the prices go up. # 39; collapse. "

Kobo360 is profitable, according to Ozor. Although he does not provide exact figures, he stated that the review of the company's financial performance was part of YC's audit process.

Logistics has become an active space in the technology sector in Africa with start-up entrepreneurs linking digital models to delivery models. In Nigeria, the founder of Jumia, Tunde Kehinde, left and founded Africa Courier Express. Startup Max.ng is the packaging of an app around motorcycles as an electronic delivery platform. Lori Systems, based in Nairobi, has moved to digital coordination of trucking in East Africa. And Zipline, based in the United States, is working with the Government of Rwanda and its partner UPS to control the delivery of commercial UAVs to the continent.

Kobo360 will develop in Togo, Ghana, Côte d 'Ivoire and Senegal. "We will be in Ghana this year and next year in other countries," said Ozor.

In addition to KoboWIN, it will also add more training and safety programs for drivers.

"We are driver-focused, drivers are the key to our success – even our driver-centric app," said Ozor. Kobo360 will launch a new version of its application in Hausa and Pidgin in August, two local languages ​​common to drivers.

"Execution is the key to logistics – it has to be reliable, affordable and performance-oriented," said Ozor. "If the drivers are treated well, they will deliver the things in time. "

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