The Vendor is a PocketApp series that features creators and professionals who sell on PocketApp. They’ll share why they started their business, how they’ve evolved and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Before 25-year-old Valhilda Agbaka turned The Hungry Lagosian into one of the most popular catering and food delivery services in Lagos, it used to be a food blog and recipe page. For The Vendor, Valhilda talks to us about quitting her job, starting The Hungry Lagosian with no experience and how she managed to grow her business.
Tell me about The Hungry Lagosian.
The Hungry Lagosian is currently a catering and food delivery service, but that’s not how it started. Cooking is one of the things I love to do, so I started the page to share pictures of food and recipes. Last year, after I quit my job, I discovered that I had built a sizable audience. So, I thought I might as well pivot into a food business. I did that in April 2021. Now, we have five employees.
That is massive. What growth strategies did you use for the business?
I’ll have to credit the experience I got from working at a digital advertising agency. I haven’t run any paid ads yet, but the day-to-day exposure to digital business strategies like branding, understanding content, social media, marketing and brand communications definitely came in handy.
Were you not worried about quitting your job just as the pandemic restrictions were easing off?
I wasn’t. I’m a big optimist, and I never think that I will fail at anything I want to do. I also think I wasn’t scared of quitting my job because I’ve never been a corporate girl; I just tried to manage it for a few years. Even when we struggled in the first few months, I never wished I was back at my job.
What kinds of struggles did you have in the first few months?
I was new to running a business, so I didn’t know what I was doing. I went into it hoping to figure it out along the way.. The second part was figuring out logistics. Logistics for food businesses is unique because food delivery has to be within a time frame, and it was hell. I even took a one-month break in the first few months and reworked the business using all the reviews I had gotten. The third one was getting loyal, dedicated employees.
Inflation is at an all-time high. How has that affected your business?
It has affected the business badly. But alternatives like switching to less expensive suppliers and reducing our dependence on imported products have helped reduce the impact. For the price changes, we try to communicate with our customers.. Thankfully, we are all in Nigeria together, so they usually understand.
As you expand, are there plans to tweak the name to reflect the city each store is based in?
I don’t think I’m going to change the name because we’ve built a community around that name already. Even if I open new stores in the US or UK, I still want to retain The Hungry Lagosian; I want the name to create a sense of belonging or community wherever it is.
Any audacious goals for the business?
In 15 years, I see multiple locations in every city. It’s a dream that scares me because what if it doesn’t happen the way I currently hope? Still, I’ll keep playing my part by putting in the work, being consistent and rising up from my failures. I’m very optimistic and I know that my big break will come.
How has your experience on PocketApp been?
Using PocketApp has been great so far. It’s an easy-peasy, straight to the point and no-hassle way of managing our orders and payment. We’ve just been there for a short while, but we’ve gotten a good number of customers, and many of them have returned.