Innovation is the fruit of necessity, and the Covid-19 pandemic has been a crisis that required more innovation. The shipping industry is one of the most affected industries by the pandemic. Shipping became more convenient as countries quickly closed their borders and ports and put in place strict Covid-19 regulations.
The Covid-19 lockdowns caused a loss of N500 billion in Nigeria’s shipping industry. Kayode Farinto (Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents), stated that the lockdown would also cause at least 35% job losses in the sector.
Exporters have struggled to connect with shippers after the pandemic, possibly because of the large job losses in the shipping industry. This problem needed to be solved quickly.
Topship is a Nigerian shipping startup that created a system to connect export product producers and merchants with shippers. This solution was created in 2020 during the height of lockdowns and offers safer, cheaper ways to move goods in and out of Nigeria.
Moses Enenwali, the Co-founder and CEO, shared his thoughts with me. He said that he launched the company with Junaid Babatunde, his Co-founder, because he saw a gap in the market.
“We observed that it was still difficult to transport things from Africa to the rest of the world. It was evident that the market was still very large after we visited a Kano tannery in early 2020. We saw the expensive, slow, and fragmented shipping options the leather merchants had with them.
According to him, international shipping was on the rise as the global economy slows down because of the lockdowns. The founders were convinced to build the solution because of the obvious demand, the clear market pain points and the gap.
What Topshop is all about
Topship is a shipping platform connecting African merchants with SMEs around the globe.
The CEO stated that Nigerian merchants are now realizing that there is a large market outside of Nigeria. He said that the company was working hard to make this happen and that it would be possible for them to access new markets and new audiences.
This problem is being solved by the company’s technology, which gives merchants many shipping options that will make it easy to ship cargo internationally.
Express, Basic, or Cargo are the shipping options. These shipping options are classified based on many factors, including the merchants’ needs and other criteria such as price and delivery time. According to the startup, all imports and exports will be fulfilled in three to five days.
Topship offers a web application that allows merchants to request shipping, receive different shipping prices and import goods from all over the globe.
According to the CEO of the startup, his company is extremely focused on growth. This is what has led to an impressive growth rate since its inception.
We are growing quickly and we are very aggressive about our growth. Since our launch, we have maintained an average 20% monthly growth. Reception has been positive and demand is strong which continues to strengthen our faith in this industry,” he stated.
He added that his team would continue to work on the onboarding of new merchants and expanding into other African countries.
Selection for YC winter 2022 Batch
Topship was one of the many startups that were selected for Y Combinator’s 2022 winter batch. Y Combinator, a California-based tech startup accelerator was founded in March 2005. It selects early stage startups from a pool to be part of its accelerator program, which is held twice per year.
The accelerator invests $125,000 for a 7% equity in participating startups after the three-month program. Due to COVID-19, Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 cohort will run from January to March. The startups will then participate in a Demo Day where they will present their solutions and teams to investors after 11 weeks.
Topship’s team is excited to participate in the accelerator, as they will have access to seed capital and other investment opportunities once the program is completed. The company plans to use the funds from the program to expand to other African countries.
It hopes to also hire more talent to help achieve its goals and create a global distribution system for cargo movement by leveraging on initiatives such as the AfCFTA.
Moses Enenwali stated, “We are beyond thrilled to be part of this batch. This strongly affirms the mission of our organization to build the global distribution network for the movement of goods within Africa and beyond.”
Topship wishes all the best.