James Imo, 28, is a co-founder of Ibeddings Interiors. He speaks with TOLUWALOPE KAREEM about his business
Tell us about your business?
We deal in high quality beddings such as bed sheets, duvets, pillowcases, window curtain fabrics and automated window blinds, in both wholesale and retail.
What is your educational background?
I studied Computer Engineering at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State.
Do you have any corporate work experience?
No, I do not. However, I worked with my dad for three years before we set up this company. I also volunteered with a non-governmental organisation back in the university.
When and how did you find yourself in this line of business?
I worked with my dad for a very long time and in that time, I saw him in a different light. The passion he had for his business attracted me, and my interest in beddings and interior decoration grew.
What other factors motivated you to start your business?
I wanted to make luxurious and quality beddings available to the common man. Also, I have always had a fondness for home decor, so I was determined to create a space to sell affordable and luxurious interior decoration items.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in this business for about six years.
How much was your initial capital and how did you raise it?
My capital was not in cash. I was given some products to start the company by my dad and I have been able to stabilise and grow the business over the years.
What are the major challenges you’ve faced?
My major challenges so far include sourcing for quality fabrics and E-commerce logistics.
How do you get customers?
I have an outlet at a popular mall in Yaba, Lagos. I also maximise promotions on social media platforms, especially Instagram.
How do you advertise the business?
I have been able to utilise search engine optimization, as well as Instagram promotion, to create awareness and conversions for my business.
Have you ever thought of quitting and seeking paid employment?
No. I really enjoy what I do, so that keeps me focused on it. Also, I have a chain of wholesalers and drop shippers who look up to me to be able to fulfill their orders, and that alone, is enough motivation for me to get going.
Is your business registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission?
Yes, it is.
How profitable is the business?
We have attained profitability and are currently working hard to scale.
What other skills do you possess?
I’m skilled in (computer) coding and cooking.
Where do you see yourself and the business in the next five years?
We look forward to being a household name for beddings and interiors in Africa.
Considering that many parents want their children to concentrate fully on their education and get jobs, do you think there is any hope for entrepreneurship?
I think they go hand in hand. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I was not so interested in school, but after completing my degree programme in the university, I came to the realisation that education is a necessary platform for anything one intends to achieve in life, even as an entrepreneur.
How many employees do you have?
We are a small team of eight people.
What is the most influential factor in your business’ success?
There are a couple of them but the outstanding one is the uniqueness and high quality fabrics we deal in. That has made customers and even colleagues refer others to us.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs out there?
My simple advice is for them to be focused and patient.
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