CEO Secrets: Don’t ask for all your funding upfront
“Africa is the most expensive continent in the world to send and receive money [from],” says the founder of Zazuu, Kay Akinwunmi. “We think that is unreasonable and we have created our app for people to get the best deal on their money.”
Zazuu is a price comparison website for Africans working in the UK and Europe who want to send money back home to their relatives. It shows them which firms are offering the lowest commissions for money transfers.
Some customers are paying commissions to the major money transfer firms which range between 19-22%,” says Kay.
“We look at the market and find the best providers. We show all the fees and also all the hidden costs. This way, we’re getting the average commission down to under 2% for our users.”
Kay Akinwunmi comes originally from Nigeria but has lived in Britain for the past 17 years. He spent ten years as a software development consultant and had the idea for Zazuu in 2016, after running an internet chatroom on money transfer costs.
He rolled out the Zazuu app last year – it currently has over 2,000 active users.
Kay initially had problems, however, in persuading investors to fund the initial costs for Zazuu.
“When we started, we were asking for £500,000,” he says. “We got all sorts of rejections. People said we were too early, or we’re raising too much.
“People who had initially said they were interested stopped returning our calls. And then we realised we had to do something different.”
Kay worked out he was putting off investors by asking them for all the money he needed in one lump sum. He decided to break the amount he was seeking into separate parts, with each amount funding a different stage of the company’s development.
“As opposed to raising the full £500,000 and saying here’s what we can do in 12 months – we said if we raised £150,000 today, we could build the end-to-end money transfer proposition.
“If we raised £150,000 more we could get 100,000 customers. And if we raised £150,000 more, we could get 100,000 customers.”
Investors have been happier to fund specific stages of the project, Kay says, than being asked to fund the whole of it.
“Our ask is a lot more manageable to investors because they can see how their smaller amounts could actually add value to your company,” he says.