Peppa is looking to establish the safest way for customers to conduct business on social media as social commerce – using social media platforms to promote and sell goods and services – has made waves in Nigeria and Africa in recent years.
Social Commerce has substantially contributed to Africa’s status as one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce marketplaces. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become marketplaces for business owners and their customers to transact and facilitate Peer-to-Peer trading. These social media platforms have also helped businesses and individuals increase their reach.
According to a Q1 2022 Social Commerce Survey, the social commerce industry in Africa and the Middle East was estimated to grow by 70.3% annually to reach $8bn in 2022. Data from Statista also revealed that sales through social media channels around the world are expected to almost triple by 2025.
However, 1 in every 2 users on social media platforms has been a victim of shopping scams and fraud originating from social media. In monetary terms, about $700m has been lost to social media scams, according to a report by the Federal Trade Commission.
It is on this basis and experience that Peppa was formed and established to promote a transparent and trustworthy marketplace where P2P transactions can be seamless, monitored and safe.
Technext spoke to the co-founder and CEO of the platform, Bankole Alao, which was also part of the 12 startups recently announced as a member of the 2023 cohort of the ARM Labs Techstars Accelerator, a Lagos-based program focused on building early-stage African startups.
In expressing his excitement on the news of the inclusion into the Techstars accelerator program, Bankole noted that it was the best piece of news that the company had received in a while.
“We are very excited because it shows the value that Peppa is offering and it gives the extra energy to push harder with the validation. Also, we have seen the value that Techstars have brought to startups and the exit they have recorded, so we are excited about the network that Techstars brings to us.”
He explained that his decision to build a safer platform for everyone to purchase and sell without worrying that their money would go down the drain was motivated by a personal experience with scammers at a time when he wanted to buy something online.
“The particular experience (losing money to scammers) trying to make a payment for buying an item made me start looking for a solution like Peppa.io, where I could put money into an account that was transparent to everybody, and not possible for the seller to withdraw it before I receive the item. That was what inspired me because apparently, many persons had fallen victim too.”
Bankole Alao and his co-founders Bridget Yadua (COO) and Emmanuel Obute (CTO) are creating a safe method to protect the money of companies and individuals who buy goods from social media vendors; they won’t have to lose money if the vendors decide to swindle them.
It became more apparent that more people were falling victim to scams, although on various scales, but was clear that there was no retail or consumer solution to these scamsBankole Alao
According to Bankole Alao, the inspiration behind Peppa was to offer buyers and businesses a seamless and safe marketplace without worrying whether they would get the exact value for their transaction.
Peppa’s differentiating factor as a social commerce platform
Peppa is a narrowed focus platform compared to other platforms like Whatsapp or Facebook.
Our product is built on the behaviour of these other platforms, so we are not trying to build a new Facebook or Instagram. However, what we aim to do s to facilitate transparency on these platforms that people use for transactions, Bankole Alao said.
P2P buying and selling on social commerce platforms essentially take the form of vendors posting advertisements for their products and services, and then interested buyers express a readiness to purchase. The small space between showing a willingness to pay for such products and being given an account to pay to is where Peppa comes in.
“We are playing in that small space between when you have gotten the account number to pay. Because when people get the account number, 8 out of 10 ties they are worried if they will get the value of what they are paying for.”
The journey so far for Peppa
Peppa was launched in 2020, and the journey has been interesting. Given that from the onset, the startup focused more on the distribution aspect for companies rather than the consumer side.
“Our journey has been interesting because we managed to get distribution deals before focusing on consumer products. We have distribution deals in Nigeria with First Bank that allows First bank to market some products while we are in the background distributing.
The company has also started to focus more on the consumer aspect, and Bankole Alao believes that this is a sign that what the business has been able to record shows the company is heading in the right direction and doing a great thing.
“We have been able to sign up with over 1000 sellers; we have also been recently backed by Techstars which for us is a validation of the work we are doing, and in the coming weeks we would be making more announcements on our products and more partnerships”, he added.
Regarding current numbers, Peppa has more than 1200 social merchants registered on the platform, while more than 250000 people use the platform and its products weekly.
Another stream of revenue that is recently being explored is the subscription model for the sellers, which costs N2000, and gives them a better quality of service. Others will come in the coming months.
What does the Techstars backing mean for Peppa?
One of the major factors vital for startups looking to scale their operations and product offering is funding, or perhaps backing from an investor or investors. For Peppa, the excitement of having to be backed by Techstars is that it enables them to introduce more products and focus more on the consumer side of the business.
We are becoming more focused on the buyers now; for that, we have a product coming out to the public this February (although would be limited to some persons initially). We also have two banks (one with the largest base of mobile app users and the second is one of the largest digital banks) in Nigeria ready to partner with us and use our in-app products.
As a company proper, we would also be making announcement of our entering into Africa in the next four weeks, as it is already done.Bankole Alao
Peppa’s working culture
Recent organizational misconduct and bad employee relations in the African tech ecosystem have put several founders in the public eye for various allegations, including misappropriation of cash, sexual assault of staff, and irregularities in the workplace.
In other instances, despite startups receiving significant raises after upscaling and operating expenses, some of these businesses need to reduce their workforce, leaving many people wondering how these decisions are made.
“As a company, we operate a remote first method brought about by the Pandemic in 2020. But recently, we have begun operating a hybrid culture. the culture we have in all of this is the freedom that comes with responsibilities attached to it.
We have also been fortunate that people we have had to join us do not require monitoring to deliver their jobs. It would also be interesting to note that the first time all the employees had to meet was in December last year.“
What would a successful 2023 be for Peppa?
According to Bankole Alao, the company is looking at metrics measuring and ascertaining their growth and success this year, which are both from the consumers and sellers focused.
“For us, a successful 2023 would see us have over 100k sellers using our platform, which is not too audacious for us. Also, we are looking at doing a 4x of buyers (400k). For us, the easiest way to dimension the buyer’s metrics is to look at the number of downloads.”
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