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Kosava Wins at Wharton
Ocheme Saleh (pictured at left above) is a fifth year Industrial Engineering student with a minor in Business Administration. He is one of three Northeastern University students that co-founded the venture Kosava which recently won the Wharton Africa Business Forum (WABF) Venture Competition. Their website KosavaDeals.com is designed to help Nigerian shoppers easily gain access to digital offers and coupons that will consumers save money on purchases. He is currently on co-op at The Boston Consulting Group where he works as an analyst for the Financial Systems Group.
Kosava Wins at Wharton
My twin brother Oyihoma and I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and always knew we would start our own company. Being from Nigeria, our focus has been on initiatives for the Nigerian market and Africa as a whole. In recent years, the region has experienced rapid growth with many people moving from informal commerce to formal modern shopping experiences. At the same time hundreds of millions of people are now connected to the internet particularly through their smart phones. We saw this as a great opportunity and began to think of ideas. We realized that there was no easy way for Nigerian consumers to discover coupons that would help them save money while shopping. These coupons were out there but consumers were just not aware of that.
We teamed up with another Nigerian friend of ours, Nnamdi Okeke, who is a Computer Science major and I believe this is one of the key factors which led to our success. Our team is diverse; with Oyihoma studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship and myself, an Industrial engineering student, we are all able to bring knowledge from what we have studied in the classroom and the skills we have acquired on our co-ops. These backgrounds complement each other and allow us to bring different perspectives when addressing the problem we are trying to solve. Additionally, this presents me with the opportunity to merge my interests in engineering and entrepreneurship.
We created Kosava, which does not mean anything in an African language but is a coined phrase from the words, "coupon", "saving" and "savvy". Kosava bridges the gap by helping consumers to find deals they want. We spent months researching and building a prototype app before settling on building the website with emphasis on mobile compatibility. Our site currently has hundreds of deals for over 250 stores and we are now working on developing closer relationships with retailers in order to extend the scope of our coupon collection.
Earlier this year, we attended an African business conference at Harvard where students and professionals came together to network and discuss the business opportunities on the continent. The Wharton School organizes a similar annual event called the Wharton Africa Business Forum. The forum hosts a venture competition for start-ups that are focused on Africa. We applied to the competition and were selected as one of four finalists to pitch to the judges who were VCs and established entrepreneurs. Kosava faced fierce competition but went on to win the grand prize of $5000! This gave us the opportunity to talk to potential investors and advisors who could help us scale the business.
Going forward, we are planning to use the prize money to develop our brand through marketing initiatives. We have a launch event planned over this Christmas break in Lagos. We hope to raise awareness of our product and all we have to offer. In the long term, we plan to grow the business by further developing the current platform and exploring new ideas such as offering manufacturers' coupons and in-store redemption. Winning the competition and the subsequent press coverage we have gotten has given Kosava credibility and recognition. We believe that the time for Kosava is now and we are very optimistic for what the future holds.