Omowunmi Akande and Tracy Owamagbe are the Founders of Smoothie Express, a company that assist people to live a healthy and active lifestyle one smoothie and salad at a time. Their goal is to become a daily part of our customer’s lifestyle helping achieve their health goals, by bringing smoothies and salads to their door steps.
In this interview we speak to co-founder Omowumni Akande.
Tell us about your business
Smoothie Express strives to assist people to live a healthy and active lifestyle and our vision happens one smoothie and salad at a time. Our goal is to become a daily part of our customer’s lifestyle helping achieve their health goals, by bringing our smoothies and salads to their door steps.
From having an idea to starting your business, share your journey with us
The idea all started from a phone call I got from my partner and cofounder (Tracy). She was trying to do a detox with smoothies and found out how inconvenient it was for her to follow through because she had to go to work and it was impossible for her to make the smoothies at work. Then she called me and was like “you know we can make smoothies and have them delivered to offices and homes”. And the rest is history :). The journey has been bittersweet but will I do it all over again? Most definitely. We’ve learned so much and are still learning and having the best partner makes it so easy and worth it.
Why do you love what you do? There are so many other businesses you could have explored, why this?
I used to work at a health consulting company prior to this so I’ve always been about that healthy eating lifestyle. So this came so easy for me. The relationships we develop with our customers also makes it all worth it
At what point did you know beyond all doubt that this is going to work?
Honestly? Right from the very 1st month of operation. We realized there was actually a market for it. Healthy eating/lifestyle is something Nigerians are fast embracing. Everyone is now more health conscious and aware especially with the many diseases/illnesses associated with obesity and unhealthy eating. It’s the convenience and availability that has been the glitch. And that is where smoothie express comes in.
How did you raise the capital to start your business, especially with the high cost of running businesses in Nigeria?
We had both been planning to go on a long vacation so we had been saving for a while. When the idea came about, we knew something had to give. So we had to cancel our trip and use pretty much all our savings to start up the business. It was very tough but all worth it now.
How soon did you start making profits?
Around the 4th or 5th Month of operation.
Brilliant ideas don’t always mean great sales, how has it been marketing your services?
It all boils down to having a great team and identifying our strengths. Tracy is excellent at marketing for instance. So she’s always coming up with various ideas to get our business out there. We have also done a couple of blog adverts and social media adverts. But our greatest method is by word of mouth. We get a lot of referrals every day and this has still been our biggest form of advert.
As a small business owner you can’t do everything, what has been your experience hiring staff and building your team.
It hasn’t been a walk in the park I must say. We’ve had to fire as much as we’ve had to hire. But we got it right eventually. Proud to say we have a very loyal and hardworking staff right now, we pray it stays that way.
Your greatest skill/strength that has particularly been of help in starting and running your business?
Managerial and communication skills.
Did you have to get a formal training or qualification to be able to do this?
We didn’t a formal training per say but we did a lot of research and reading. We studied and practiced for months. So formal training? Not yet. Self-trained, yes.
You have been running your business for some time now, what did you know now that you wished you had known before you started?
That finding investors would be so tough
Any life experience that has particularly prepared you directly or indirectly for what you do now?
In my previous job, I was a PA to the MD. My boss was hardly around and most times left pretty much everything for me to handle. At the time, I thought the responsibilities were much more than I could bare. Fast forward to now, I realized that its those experiences and tough times that have made me able to successfully manage my business now and with ease too.
Change can bring out a part of us we never knew existed, what new things have you discovered about yourself in the course of starting and running your business?
That I’m stronger than I give myself credit for and more accountable to myself.
The greatest challenge you have ever had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I’ve never considered myself a risk taker. I’m usually too careful and calculating. But I realized that in order to move forward to where you want to be, you have to be ready to take risks and I learned this from Tracy because she is more of a risk taker than I am.
The greatest business advice you have ever received and by who?
“The ability to sell is the number one skill in business. If you cannot sell, don’t bother thinking about becoming a business owner.” – Rich Dad
What do you think are the most essential skills for women entrepreneurs especially in Nigeria?
Goal orientation, persuasion and leadership