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Meet Nigerian Nescafe(Coffee) Student Entrepreneurs: Team Beacon

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471% increase in sales in one month, hot coffee in the morning, cold coffee in the afternoon. How about some sandwich and snacks to go with it? A guitarist and soul singer to entertain. The photographers make it their motion ground. Even when they were having electricity for 1 hour per day, they improvised by using a camp gas in preparing coffee. It is actually a coffee shop handled by four students, they are Team Beacon from University of Ibadan, winners of the Nigerian Campus Enterprise Challenge, 2012.

“There is a difference between business plans and real businesses. It was a different story when we won the competition – Oyinda Akinwumi (Team Beacon Leader)”

Oyindasola Askinwumi is the team leader of Team Beacon, the team of four students who won the first edition of the Nigerian Campus Enterprise Challenge in the University of Ibadan business competition organized by Inceptum Services in collaboration with Nescafe, Nestle Nigeria.

With just N100, 000 ($625) worth of Nescafe coffee, this dynamic team ran the Nescafe Coffee Lounge in their university for over 6 months and commanded results that warranted a team from Nescafe international to listen to their success stories.

What is the Nigerian Campus Enterprise Challenge?

The Nigerian Campus Enterprise Challenge is a student’s practical entrepreneurship competition that places in the hands of a team of students a ground to develop their various entrepreneurial ability following different tasking stage. The winner get to run a Nescafe coffee lounge for one year and also guarded with periodical trainings from Nescafe alongside effective monitoring.

Competition Stages?

  1. Students are expected to form a team and provide a business plan on how they would run a Nescafe coffee lounge.
  2. The best Ideas are selected and teams are invited to pitch their ideas before a panel of leading business owners.
  3. Beyond all the talking and writing, surviving teams are tested practically by selling Nescafe products (In Team Beacon’s case, some other products were included) to understand how effective a sales team they can be.
  4. The teams still in the competition at this stage will then have to ‘Manage’ Nescafe coffee lounge for one day, marketing as much as they can to bring students to drink Nescafe and recording the sales
  5. The team that emerges the overall winner in all these stages will be handed over the key to the Lounge, and Team beacon, did the Magic.

The winning team is invited to Nestle Nigeria for further training periodically and equipped with contemporary practical entrepreneurship knowledge.

Magical Sales Turn Around

Prior to Team Beacon’s victory at the competition, the manager did an awesome job selling up to 70 cups per day on the average on a campus that lacks a coffee drinking culture. When team beacon came on board, they chested the challenge and increased the coffee drinking culture among the students. “In our first two months of managing the lounge, we increased sales from 70 cups per day to 400 cups although we had a target of 1000 cups per day” Oyindasola Akinwumi, the team leader explains.

Beyond Coffee; We Sold Comfort

“Ask the Average University of Ibadan student, they know the Nescafe Coffee Lounge is more than a Necafe coffee shop, it a comfort and relaxation centre. There were times people got to the Lounge and met a guitar player strumming the strings to dazzle and impress our customers. That was not just coffee, we sold fun and comfort too, because our motto in selling Coffee was ‘we don’t just sell coffee, we sell value through coffee’ and this we believe should be applied to everything one sells.” Dapo, the marketing manager explains.

They also had to invest extra funds venturing into making of sandwich as a breakfast and snacks in the afternoon and evening to complement their coffee.

They had mastered the hallowed business principle of customer service and they were getting result for it.

How about chilled coffee?

No one will return from class and want to be served with magma hot coffee although it was a delight in the mornings, therefore, cold coffee was made ready available!

 

And with them were our friends, challenges!

First it was Electricity

‘Business is not always rosy, there was a time that sales dropped to 180 cups per day because of electricity challenges. Sometimes we were supplied electricity for just 1 hour a day.’ Explains Akinwumi, the team leader. ‘Rather than complain endlessly about the epileptic nature of electricity around their business venue, we improvised using camp gas in preparing coffee and it was the same great taste.’ Fresh Innovation!

Then Supply Chain troubles

Then came the supply chain challenge. As sales began to increase steadily, the team exhausted their supplies more rapidly than in previous times. “There were times we had to place orders three weeks/one month ahead because we couldn’t afford to wait for the normal supply chain procedure” Says Kasope, the supply chain manager. “To tackle the supply chain challenge, we had to be placed on a credit limit facility where we would get supplies on credit and paid later” Kasope further reveals.

And then, One Year halted

They ran the lounge for six months and lost the remaining part of the period to the ASUU strike, a 6 months industrial action by University lecturers in Nigeria in 2013. However, six months was just enough; they had already gotten results so awesome that an international delegation from the Nestle headquarters came over to meet with this young African students, asking them questions on their success stories.

 

Managing Academics

Managing academics with business is one of the major issues that every campus entrepreneur has to contend with. Three members of team beacon were in their final year when they won the competition while the last person was in her 3rd year. They managed the Lounge in turns and at a point Kasope, deferred his NYSC year, however, business continued and the others were virtually involved.

 

Moving Ahead

Team beacon will be pioneering a new innovation in Nigeria ‘The Nescafe City Café. The City café is an arrangement where people can come and grab a cup of coffee before, during and after work, more of a city lounge. Impressively, it is starting in Ibadan, West Africa’s Largest city.

 

Advice for upcoming campus Entrepreneur

Consistency matters, as Oyinda explains, “People want to know that you will always be there to offer them services before they can trust you as a brand.” Oyinda further advocates for looking out for opportunities and making the best use of it. In her own words “Make good use of opportunities around. I heard about the opportunity from my fellowship and I formed the team and keyed into it. You may be thinking of starting a real estate business but if you see another opportunity that can give you experience and funding you should leverage on such. People should not be rigid with opportunities because you never can tell where you’ll start from.”

Continuous development then comes to play. Campus entrepreneurs should ensure that they know as much as possible from their sector. They must be voracious seekers of information and should not be disjointed from the reality of their environment. “We had to understand the life of the average UI student to be able to excel in our business” Oyinda commented

“If there is one thing I will take out of this business, it is the fact that if you make your customers happy, they will make your revenues swell” comments Bukunmi, the finance guru in the team. They made customer service a part of their survival principles and provided comfort with coffee.

Dapo, the marketing manager advises that campus entrepreneurs should also help other people whose businesses are associated with your business growth. “In our case, we made the lounge a haven for upcoming enterpreneurs; gutarists, photographers and so on. They were not a competition, they complemented our services and lead to our overall business growth” says Dapo.

Oyinda was the person who had to bear the brunt of ensuring that the team works. She confesses that “Teamwork will be annoying sometimes. We had our differences but, understanding our differences was the panacea to this ailment.  There were tiring times but we continued and delivered results.”

Finally, “You have to be able to communicate your business to people on social media; It spreads like fire” concludes Oyinda.

Meet Team Beacon

Oyindamola Akinwunmi was the team leader and a graduate of Statistics, Kasopefoluwa Ajibola a.k.a. Kash the mover, was the supply chain manager and graduated from Mechanical Engineering;  “Kashope can move anything” Oyinda says. Bukunmi Oladiran a graduate of Economics was the finance guru “She was always providing moderation”. Dapo Akinola who graduated from Industrial and Production Engineering was the marketing manager “He was good with bringing up creative ideas,” Bukunmi Says.

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