Q&A: Celestine Ezeokoye on Tiketmobile.com and disrupting ticket purchasing in Nigeria

Observers and analysts of the technology startup scene in Africa have often commented it is those that feel the pain of the problems they live with that, equipped with the relevant skills, will develop the solutions.

With this in mind, HumanIPO spoke to Celestine Ezeokoye about a problem he and his brother experienced and have since developed a solution to.

That solution has culminated into a technology startup and service known as Tiketmobile.com which is launching and going live to the public today (Monday).

HumanIPO: How did the concept for Tiketmobile.com come about?

Celestine Ezeokoye: Tiketmobile.com was first created at Start-up Weekend Lagos in 2011.

Constance (Okoghenun) had an idea for digital ticketing for the several tech events that we attend. Both of us were working on a project together then, he told me about it and we decided to hack it at Start-up Weekend. We came second at the event.

What inspired the team to start with a focus on bus tickets?

Tiketmobile.com was built to handle all ticketing scenarios, with focus on event tickets, until February 2012.

My brother was going for his national service and we had to go to the bus park to find bus prices. It struck me that that was a perfect Tiketmobile.com scenario so I set out to convince Constance that that is our pot of gold.

I succeeded. The rest is history.

Interesting, so which transport / bus companies have you convinced to sign up?

At the moment we only have Rahony Transport company. However we are in different degrees of talks with up to five other bus companies. We decided to open up for business and start to exploit our Rahony opportunity, while chasing others.

What is the value proposition for your potential customers, why should they use Tiketmobile.com?

Convenience. Like all products of technology.

Is the business model then such that you have to “hike” ticket prices to make money?

No. We maintain a two-way relationship.

We communicate with the bus company to set their approved price and we also relate with the customers. We reach some sort of agreements with the bus company on a sharing formula on each ticket we sell. We don’t hike the ticket prices.

Is it an App or Mobile Web Site?

Mobile web. Once a user can open web pages on their mobile phones, then they are good to go.

Mobile and online payments can be a “headache”, especially in Nigeria. How did you overcome this and how do you handle mobile and online payments?

It has been a headache for a while now but we have sorted it out.mGood-old Interswitch still solved the problem for us.

We worked closely with them in implementing the payment system we currently have. It lets users pay with their ATM cards and their Paga accounts. The old dog learnt new tricks.

However, we are currently doing a tight integration with a popular mobile-money service and would make announcements as soon as this is done.

Raising operational costs and even capital to just “kickstart” the concept can be a hurdle, sometimes even the “death” of a potential startup. Are you bootstrapped, do you have a seed or angel investor?

We are mainly bootstrapped.

However, we have pre-seed funding from the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Though little, it has done a lot in ensuring that we bother less about some things.

Who are the founders and current team?

Celestine Ezeokoye — Co-founder and CEO (Engineering + Company Strategy and Direction)

Constance Okoghenun — Co-founder and Product Lead (Product Development)

Felix Ike — Developer

Joseph Benson-Aruna — UI/UX

I’m assuming you’re a purely Nigerian developed and based startup?

Every single code that runs Tiketmobile.com (apart from referenced libraries) was created/written by those four folks mentioned earlier. We work out of the Co-creation Hub, Sabo, Lagos.

What are the plans for the future? Expansion across the continent?

Of course! We are gunning for the continent. Nigeria is just one piece on the pizza.

Plans for the future? Sell tickets, get more ticket providers listed, innovate on what we currently have and expand fast.

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