By Olufemi Ajasa
23-year-old Dairo Damilola Opeyemi who hails from Ibadan, Oyo State is the young Chief Executive Officer of Autofactorng, redefining auto-parts business in Nigeria.
In a country where buyers culturally show an overwhelming distrust of salesmen in the automotive industry, Dairo’s innovative platform sells genuine auto-parts at affordable prices and delivers it to client’s doorsteps nationwide with warranties on every item sold is no doubt a breath of fresh air to car users.
The young CEO’s rise to becoming a nationwide auto-parts supplier in less than a year of establishing his firm is based largely on his passionate ingenuity to provide car users in the country with genuine alternative to both sub-standard and fairly used auto-parts, ‘Tokunbo’ which overtime leaves buyers cheated and unsatisfied.
After graduating from Bowen University in 2012, where he studied Physics and Solar Energy , Dairo who said he has always had a flare for cars ventured into the automotive industry in Nigeria by providing solutions in the aspect of car body repairs and painting.
“Like every other graduate, the next point of call for me after leaving school is to get a job, but I know there is actually none waiting out there for me. So I went for a three months training in a workshop on car painting and body repair after which I proceeded to doing the business itself and this noble step is what eventually led to the idea of ‘Autofactorng’.
Citing that there are about 3 million cars in Lagos alone, Dairo lamented on how worrisome it is to find quality car parts in Nigeria. He explained that he had an experiential knowledge of this problem faced by car owners when he got into the painting and body works business, “to make things worse, some auto-parts dealers will end up telling you that fairly used parts are better than new ones, how possible can that be?” He queried.
Dairo continued: “Tokunbo products are not new products, they are sold to users as genuine products which have been used and can never be better than new ones. To understand this, just Imagine that you are using a year 2002 Toyota vehicle and you want to change the shock absorber and you purchase it it as a tokunbo, that means the part which was manufactured in 2002 has been used probably for 3 years and you are now purchasing it as a product in 2015. What it means is that the shock absorber is 13 years old. Does it mean it is good or will last long?
Where the problem lies for me with fairly used products, ‘Tokunbos’ is the fact that they are not safe. The lifespan of fairly used products like that of their sub-standard counterparts can never be compared to getting new products from genuine manufacturers. This is the reason we are in this business to ensure that people get quality services for money spent in the auto market in Nigeria.
Convinced that he has all the know-how needed to transform the auto-part industry, Dairo revealed that he funded his idea with a start-up capital gotten from his personal savings and by sourcing funds from relatives, “believe me, it was not easy, pushing the dream to reality but overtime it paid off”, he said.
The soft-spoken entrepreneur said his joyous moments ever since he joined the league of business owners come when clients give inspiring testimonies about the quality of service delivery they enjoy from Autofactorng, “We have had several customers who call to say, they will no longer buy parts anywhere else except from Autofactorng, others say the whole idea is revolutionary and besides some companies are already requesting that we send them business proposals on partnerships.”
Narrating the challenges encountered starting the business, he said, “One of the predominant challenges we faced was designing the exact website that best answer our audience needs,as well as, offer them more services than what is obtainable in the market.”
Also, getting suppliers who stock genuine car parts was equally tasking because hardly can you find a one-stop-shop for all car parts, especially when an average car uses over 30,000 parts. Creating awareness about the website and building trust was also an issue, despite the fact that most car users don’t trust their mechanics, they still believe it is better to stay with them than patronize a totally new approach to solving car related problems. But we have been able to win clients overtime by rendering quality services.”
Despite his quick success Dairo said he has sustainability plans to keep his business growth.
“Apart from taking orders online via very interactive platform, we are looking at having a strong presence offline, building a full blown auto-part store where you can walk in and out with all kinds of car accessories/parts – fenders, engine blocks, batteries, tyres, etc.
Assured that his firm, Autofactorng will in a few years actualise its dream of being the first auto part store in Nigeria, Dairo equally sees expansion into Ghana and other parts of Africa, “we are already getting calls outside Nigeria, most especially in Cotonou & Ghana and we have actually delivered products to Cotonou on several occassions.”
Asked if he has a special business philosophy or formula, he said; ” I believe strongly in the acronym, P.O.P, which stands for Perseverance, Optimism and Positivism, this 3 keys will see a start-up through difficult stages which of course are inevitable in starting up any kind of business.”