Topship goes from being an Instagram business to a YCombinator company

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Topship goes from being an Instagram business to a YCombinator company

“Our overarching honest is to create transport out and in of Africa as uncomplicated as booking an Uber or Airbnb,” Moses Enenwali, founder and CEO of Topship, a Nigerian logistics startup digitising Africa’s transport experience, told TechCabal over a name. 

That’s an formidable commentary from a company that modified into as soon as operating handiest on Instagram perfect 18 months in the past. 

On January 14, the corporate introduced that it bought into the 2022 Iciness Batch of Y Combinator (YC) and has up to this point its LinkedIn profile title to consist of “(YC W22)”—a signature identification mark for YC companies. 

YC brings validation to companies it backs and, moreover, the accelerator’s unheard of $125K funding—now $500K—the programme exposes startups to global consideration, excessive-level strategic advice, and a lifetime of excessive-networth connections. 

But how did an Instagram replace pivot into changing into a tech startup and then get into YC, the area’s biggest accelerator programme with a 1.5% acceptance rate? 

For Enenwali, it’s the fruits of years of toiling as an employee and months of aggressive legwork as a founder. 

The wobble started in 2014 after Enenwali returned to Nigeria from the UK and went straight into the busy world of consulting at Ernst & Younger, where he would work for nearly a 12 months and a half of sooner than transferring on to Africa Courier Explicit (ACE), a Lagos-essentially based logistics replace founded by a co-founding father of Jumia and Lidya, Tunde Kehinde. At ACE, Enenwali modified into as soon as a senior client manager. 

Though the function modified into as soon as his first legit job in logistics, it wasn’t his first experience in the sector. Back in university, Enenwali had fling a side replace known as Timewall Firm, where he imported and allotted coffee beans sourced from Plateau Explain, Nigeria, in the UK. 

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After ACE, he joined one other logistics startup Sendbox, a YC-backed Nigerian company that presents deliveries for e-commerce and social commerce sellers in the neighborhood and internationally. Enenwali spent over 4 years at Sendbox and wore a form of hats including development, product, and partnerships. By the time he stop to focal level on constructing Topship, he modified into as soon as already totally uncovered to the fragmented nature of transport to and from Africa.  

“I spoke  to a form of of us and realised that no longer a single person has had a delectable transport experience [to and fro Africa]. The complaints had been majorly round transparency, loss or damage of orders, recount of having access to transport companies and products, ridiculous pricing, and heavy customs duties,” said Enenwali.

So, in June 2020, Enenwali started Topship as a one-man store, opened an Instagram story and started helping of us to journey parcels in the neighborhood. Then he started reaching out to retailers transport within and former Africa. He’d furthermore meander to retailers physically to prospect them. 

COVID disrupted a form of issues and logistics modified into as soon as one of many industries that took the heaviest blow. So, leveraging on this gap to give of us just transport presents modified into as soon as Enenwali’s trump card. 

“It modified into as soon as a tense endeavor however no longer an no longer doable one,” he said.

Changing into a tech startup

Topship persisted to attain traction under the radar; delighted customers referred their chums and acquaintances to this recent Instagram platform helping other folks to ship seamlessly. 

This persisted until March final 12 months when Enenwali had a undeniable take of the replace’s spend case and thought he can also fabricate a Flexport for Africans. But to be Africa’s Flexport, Topship wanted to be a beefy technology company, so Enenwali determined to fabricate tool that handles the cease-to-cease task. The company then raised $300K pre-seed, brought in Junaid Babatunde as co-founder and CTO, and constructed a tiny group that can presumably fling its digital transformation.

Topshop now has a web app that enables retailers and folks to guide a door-to-door shipment. It has furthermore prolonged its transport offerings from handiest parcels to consist of cargos and freight to and from wherever on this planet.

Since launching, Enenwali said the corporate has onboarded over 1,800 users, and 700 of them are crammed with life companies which earn been vetted and verified. These companies generally spend Topship for their native and global shipment. The final users are largely particular person users who handiest enact one-time transport, or ship at intervals. Enenwali furthermore mentioned that the corporate has carried out 7,000 shipments and is currently asserting a 100% 12 months-on-12 months development rate. 

On income, Enenwali said the corporate has 3 sources of earnings: it sells transport insurance to its users; charges a markup price on every transaction; and furthermore charges for clearing customs when acceptable.

Topship is no longer the handiest African tech startup looking to digitise the transport experience: there are a few them including Kenyans Sote, Nigerian MVX, OnePort 365, and the CEO’s extinct employer Sendbox. But Enenwali doesn’t witness them as competitors; to him they’re doable partners. He believes this legacy sector is one mountainous damaged extensive that can presumably think a whole village to repair. So, everybody constructing in that plot is contributing to the necessary underlying infrastructure necessary for mass adoption.

“We’re no longer competing against any startup because, belief me, nobody has it all found out. We’re all competing against the current used diagram of transferring goods to and from Africa,” Enenweli said when asked about competition. “We are currently constructing an infrastructure and, after we’re performed, tech startups which can presumably be looking to resolve the identical self-discipline may presumably be ready to prance into what we’ve constructed and relief their users.”

The Topship group understands that to carry their mountainous understanding to fruition, it has to settle on a form of third parties at every cease in the value chain. There’s a form of manual heavy lifting going on in the help of the scenes that needs to be handled by partners. Enenwali confirmed that to form a obedient cease-to-cease seamless experience, they’ve partnered with a form of stakeholders internationally and, now, its users can ship globally. 

Though the corporate keeps experimenting and arriving at a form of iterations of its solution, the CEO believes that if Flexport can enact it, Topship, too, can. 

Flexport, the San Francisco-essentially based transport extensive, modified into as soon as portion of the YC 2014 Iciness Batch and went on to raise $20 million after graduation. In 2020, it generated $1.7 billion in income.

It’s glaring Topship is generally going all-in on its adoption of the Flexport mannequin; it’s already a tech-enabled replace and in YC, perfect relish Flexport. But will it scale and raise $20 million? Only time will expose. Within the meantime, what’s particular is Enenwali’s passion and self belief about fixing the damaged transport chain for Africans. 

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