Luther Lawoyin is a Nigerian entrepreneur and the founder of Pricepally, an online store that enables people to shop for groceries in bulk at “deep discounts” because it connects them directly with farmers, manufacturers and wholesalers.
Lawoyin started Pricepally shortly after getting married when his wife started taking note of their collective expenses and he realized just how much they were spending on groceries, according to CNBC Make It.
According to Lawoyin, his groceries expenses were not something he consciously monitored and so he was surprised when his wife brought it to his attention. He then took the pains to conduct his research and realized that the high cost of his groceries was partly due to inefficiency in the fresh food supply chain in Nigeria and by extension, Africa.
“This inefficiency is “chiefly due to the outdated and dilapidated infrastructure plaguing the continent,” he told CNBC Make It. He further realized through his research the lack of integration between people in the supply chain, meaning “the farmer has no information on what the markets need.”
“The rural to urban logistics companies have no structured information to convey goods, making intermediaries act at will with no understanding of connecting each stage smartly,” he added. As a result, Lawoyin said the end consumer also has “no idea” where the food they buy is coming from or who farmed it.
“Overall there is a lack of data, information, and collaborations that can make this food value chain a lot more efficient than it currently is,” he said.
Lawoyin launched Pricepally in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world. He said he felt the business was “well-positioned” when the pandemic hit and other vendors began to increase prices due to Nigeria’s lockdown.
Lawoyin had investment from one of his businesses to fund the launch of Pricepally. He has also had backing from angel investors. The startup further got an innovative grant from the Lagos State Government along with some 22 other startups.
Despite the relative success of his business, Lawoyin said the journey has not been smooth sailing. According to him, generating demand and securing supplies have been challenging.
“The classic chicken and egg problem can be very tricky and challenging; setting up systems that guarantee both demand and supply in an environment where there is a lot of disorder is challenging,” he said.
Lawoyin has been an entrepreneur all his life. His earliest experience in entrepreneurship was helping his mother in her cake and cookie business. He was involved in procurement, production, deliveries.
“That experience gave me an early start and the foundation I have today,” he said. He has co-founded five companies to date. The first was silverpolls.com, an opinion polling firm but it is now defunct. He then co-founded potatolagos.com, which was fairly successful, but he left due to differences with the CEO.
Lawoyin then established passjamb.com.ng, a test prep site for high school students preparing for university and Lucy. ng, an e-commerce platform for branded merchandise, a million-dollar revenue company that is still running. His recent venture is Pricepally. Since its launch in 2019, Pricepally has catered to thousands of households and businesses in Lagos. It hopes to expand into other cities both in Nigeria and in Africa.