From Launch to Seed Funding, The 2-year Journey: A Summary
First, we would like to thank everyone, especially our users (you beautiful Piggybankers) for all of the good wishes and congratulatory messages on the announcement of our seed funding raise.
You’ve been instrumental to our journey, so you know most of it, but for those just joining us, welcome and we just thought to summarize this 2-year journey quickly, before we move on.
It all began from a tweet. No, really, we’re serious.
On the 31st of December, 2015, a Twitter user shared a picture of her saving box and how she was able to save N365,000 by putting aside N1,000 every day.
That tweet was so inspiring that one of our cofounders (Joshua) actually went out to get a savings box (a “kolo”). Another Twitter user decided to sell saving boxes at the time, N2,000 each and so many people wanted that experience.
The conversation, with us, then progressed to automating the “kolo”. Because, as anyone can imagine, putting money in a box everyday is not sustainable for many people. It requires a superhuman amount of discipline, the safety of it was shaky and if you convince yourself that you the need the money badly enough, you could just break the box at, literally, any time, and take the money out.
And so Piggybank.ng was born, out of the cons list of a wooden box.
Exciting prospect, yes, but we didn’t have big plans. We told ourselves that if we could get 1,000 people to use the product, that was just fine.
The first version of Piggybank.ng was launched in a few days and we kept tweaking the business model.
We played around with charging a monthly fee of N490/month; ditched that idea.
Then we played around with charging a small fee on each deposit; that didn’t work either.
So, we decided to make it totally FREE for the users but limiting withdrawal frequency which does help the user save for at least 3 months and helps us make more informed investment decisions, eventually. At the time, we were unclear on how to make revenue from the product, but, on some level, we were aware that the product would be life-changing. Build it (well), and they will come.
It massively helped that at the time, Paystack had just launched. They were (and still are) very instrumental to our journey.
Getting our first customer
Then came the hard part. Convincing people to try the product.
How do we convince even one person to just try this ‘new thing’? Banks already existed. People already had multiple bank accounts and they could transfer from one bank to another not minding the charges as long as they are sure their funds were safe. Why should they buck the status quo and use a relatively unknown product?
So, Joshua went back to the Twitter user who sold him the “kolo” initially, and pitched him the product we had just launched.
And his feedback, excitement and encouragement meant everything — and changed everything.
We asked him to keep it confidential until we went public, but he was for all intents and purposes, user zero, on Piggybank.ng.
So, Abel Adejoh, thank you once again.
Going public for the first time
When Piggybank.ng was launched, it was solely for people who wanted to save money daily (we added weekly and monthly savings eventually).
We 100% focused on the market that wanted to save N1000 a day like the wooden-box saver; but the exciting prospect was enabling people to save small small to meet up with their financial obligations like rent, fees, starting a business etc.
In 2 days, we had over 300 sign-ups.
By the end of 2016, we had helped our users save N21 Million. It made us so happy we emailed all our customers — it was all beginning to make sense.
We launched with a partnership with a Microfinance bank. This helped us a lot because we had the opportunity to learn about finance, the markets, banks, payments and government securities as we had no prior finance experience but we had some tech experience because we had run some startups in the past.
As we grew, we needed more, so we partnered with a commercial bank and then, later, another MFB.
From Village Capital to Blackbox to Pitch drive and Google Launchpad Africa, these were some of the best learning experiences we encountered on the journey.
Fun fact: We hired one of the mentors with vast experience in product and marketing from one of these accelerators. It also ranks as one of the bravest things we ever did.
Product Development/Customer Experience
There is no Piggybank.ng without the users. We value our customers and their insights. We often say they own the company, primarily because they have shaped our thoughts and product direction from the get go.
Everyday, we strive to ensure that we don’t compromise on the quality of service and this feeds in directly into the product improvements.
A major product development milestone we hit was when we launched our Android and iOS app mid 2017. In a short time, most of our users were mobile and we have continued to improve on the user experience of the app and listen more to customers.
Fast-forward to the end of 2017, we had helped our users save close to a billion and currently we have been able to achieve our entire savings volume for 2017 in the first 4 months of 2018.
Our transaction volumes had increased, and we had to improve on our automation especially for payouts. Much love to our friends at Flutterwave who massively support us in this regard!
Choosing the right investors was a major challenge. More than anything, we targeted smart money — investors who would ride for us. And we found them. Our angel investors, Mr Olumide Soyombo, Ventures platform and Village Capital, make for a pretty formidable backbone.
And looking at hiring, from experience, we knew that we couldn’t just throw people at problems. Instead, we looked within and optimized as much as we could. It was the only way we could stay lean — we’re still a 12-person team.
For customers, managing expectations has been very tough. It’s harder when you don’t completely control the entire value chain and a lot of times you have to take responsibility for lapses in some of infrastructure you rely on.
We are constantly working hard to gain and retain our customers’ trust and we remain dedicated to providing excellent service.
Today, we are at almost 55,000 registered users, a far cry from our projected 1,000. These users have uploaded over 1,500 referral stories talking about their experience. We now have a robust asset management model because we decided to rely on our users, and top financial experts, locally and internationally, for direction.
We have acquired our own micro-finance license, are in talks with several financial institutions to provide even more robust services to our users; and we are looking forward to what the future holds.
We strongly believe that people don’t just buy ‘products’ they buy outcomes and results so above everything, it makes us happy when our customers come back to us with testimonials of how the product really makes them save.
We are just getting started. Our next update includes some features that we think you’ll find interesting, you’ll see.
Our vision to build a digital financial warehouse that helps individuals and businesses manage their finances effectively has just begun and we are committed to making this a reality.
Somto, Odun & Josh
For The Piggybank Team