The collapse of DealDey, a Nigeria-based online deals aggregator, three years ago, laid bare the difficulty of operating an internet-based commerce business in the country, especially with the similar failures of Efritin and OLX at the time.
Much like Groupon, DealDey connected customers with merchants that offered goods and services at slashed prices, a proposition that appealed to a largely low-income population. In some cases, consumers could purchase items at discounts of more than 90%.
Founded in 2011 by Sim Shagaya, DealDey was a precursor for many e-commerce platforms in the country. And at its peak, the startup could claim to be sub-Saharan Africa’s largest online deals platform.
It had more than 400 employees, over one million users, 15,000 active merchants, and 20,000 verified listed businesses, raised millions in equity funding, and looked set to play a big role in the Nigerian e-commerce space for decades to come.
That was before things went south. As Nigeria’s 2016 economic recession bit hard, DealDey cut over 60% of its staff and reportedly owed merchants for months. In less than a year, the platform was sold to Ringier Africa Deals Group reportedly for $5 million, rather than the $75 million at which it valued itself, before eventually shutting down in late 2018.
So much has changed in the country since then. For one, more Nigerians now shop online, and arguably, younger populations in urban areas have more spending power. Interestingly, some of DealDey’s former managers—including Mohammed Abubakar, Juwon Ajao, and Joy Amadi—now have an opportunity to take another shot at building the continent’s largest online deals platform, but this time under the ThankUCash brand.
A multi-merchant rewards platform
Since its founding in 2018, ThankUCash—a service that helps companies grow customer loyalty and increase revenue with data analytics and customer rewards—has become a household name among bargain hunters.
The platform is the brainchild of Connected Analytics, a company founded by Simeon Ononobi (CEO), Suraj Supekar (CTO), Madonna Ononobi (COO), and Harshal Gandole (Senior VP). The founding members of ThankUCash, a kind of rewards platform hardly seen in African markets, were inspired by the need to address a significant market gap Simeon Ononobi and his team observed: the lack of consumer data and loyalty among businesses.
“We saw that there were no records on buyers, which affected customer retention as people only bought what they needed and never came back. So we moved to solve this problem, and that’s what brought about ThankUCash,” he told TechCabal. “We also realised the need to make consumers happy and excited about spending.”
ThankUCash enables merchants to give rewards (in the form of cashback, discounts, and points) seamlessly to their customers via a data analytics-powered reward system. Within the ThankUCash app, customers can use the rewards to buy deals, airtime, pay for utility bills, and cable TV subscriptions.
By giving such rewards, the startup hopes to help build customer loyalty and increase revenue for merchants while also collecting customer data for analytics, targeting, and decision-making purposes.
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