Florentina Agu is on a mission to improve restaurant service quality in Nigeria using her YouTube channel as a tool for change. Agu states, “I was inspired to start “Dining Out with Flo” after attending a YouTube masterclass organized by Google Nigeria on July 27, 2018. It was after this event that I decided to start a restaurant review channel.” I quit my job recently and prior to leaving, I had little to no time to shop for groceries and other food items, so I constantly had to eat out. I was fond of eating out so frequently that I was dining at various restaurants at least ten times in a week. This exposed me to the different types of restaurants here in Lagos.
What or who inspired you to start?
As previously stated, the Youtube event organized by Google Nigeria inspired me to start this channel. Also, as I logged on to social media, especially twitter, I often saw tweets from people asking for recommendations on restaurants in Lagos. They would ask for reviews on trendy restaurants with good food and of course I had all of that information. Easily, I could name at least three restaurants in any major area in Lagos.
In the course of reviewing restaurants, I also became aware of locations with bad food or those who lacked good customer service. I felt like because we do not have a Zagat style restaurant review website, many restaurants have no incentive to better serve their customers. I needed to create this channel to fulfill this need. On my channel I review restaurants, their food quality, quantity, price and customer service – all for my audience and followers.
Who is your target market?
Anyone who wants information, recommendations and reviews on quality food and restaurants in Lagos.
How have you financed the idea?
In addition to this, I run an events management company, which I started while I was at university. I would consider my Youtube channel more of a hobby than a job. Although my hope is that over time, the channel will sustain itself through sponsorships. The funding from my events management company finances this ‘hobby.’ It is important to note that some of my Youtube videos are sponsored by restaurants or brands looking to advertise their products on my channel.
What is your competitive edge?
There are not many Nigerian Youtube channels solely dedicated to reviewing restaurants so there is little to no competition. With Youtube generally there are a lot of other “Youtube influencers” and many of them have been on Youtube way before me. My channel I believe, is dedicated to something different so that allows for healthy competition and collaborations.
What is the long-term plan for this idea?
The long-term plan is to showcase restaurants outside Lagos and in other states within Nigeria. To create more jobs in my community and to get the segment on a local television channel. I plan to achieve this by being consistent and staying true to my course.
What challenges do you face?
My team and I face some challenges. The first is that most restaurants in Lagos do not want to be reviewed for the fear of being found to be inadequate. Filming can also be challenging because restaurants are public spaces and some people do not want to be around the camera and in some areas, filming is just not allowed.
What key things have you learned since starting this idea?
- To be more expressive and communicate better.
- To learn how to accept positive criticisms.
- To be patient.
- Since starting this, I have learned a great deal about digital marketing and brand influencing.
What key things do startup entrepreneurs need to know?
1. Put your work out there. The era of privacy is over; advertise your business loudly and boldly.
2. Speak to others about what you do. In the first month of starting this channel, I had a goal to walk up to at least five people a day to tell them about my channel and plead with them to subscribe. It is just part of the job.
3. Do not let the fear of failure stop you from trying.
4. No market is saturated, there is always room for improvement and for competition.
5. Entrepreneurship is certainly not the easy way out of a 9-5; it can be just as hard or harder.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
Start with where you are and with whatever you have. I shot my first video with my phone. Start small and I mean small. Down the line, you may be interested in starting a tech company, but you have to sell sachet water first to save up for the bigger dream.
What do young entrepreneurs and executives need to know about finding investors and securing investment deals?
Focus on what investors can gain from investing in your business. Prove to them that your business is not a dead end for their funds and definitely put your work out there as much as possible and maybe an investor will find your work interesting.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
African youths can support one another through empowerment, upliftment and collaboration. We should also put our best in everything that we do and eradicate mediocrity from our work.
How many jobs have you created so far?
I have a small team, but I hope to create more jobs as my channel grows.
How has technology enhanced your business idea?
Technology has provided me with a platform to showcase my work. Technology has opened up for me, new doors of possibilities. Technology has also helped my team and I with the most up to date video editing software, which has allowed me to edit my videos with ease.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
To support and improve innovation in Africa, we must encourage creatives and not be a source of discouragement to them.We must think outside the box and learn how to focus on solutions rather than wallow in our problems.
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