Deepankar Rustagi

Why Nigerian businesses should pay attention to their online reputation in 2017 (and how to get started)

“I hate this company. Their customer service is bad. And their employees steal from you” Picture someone saying that about your company to a room-full of people. Let’s go a little further and imagine that all of this is false - your customer service is great, and your employees are simple honest people. Even a little further. Let’s imagine you don’t know someone is saying this about your businesses. What then? There are two possible outworkings that are immediately obvious: 1: Best case scenario: someone in the audience who wants to buy from you will change their mind and buy from someone else. 2:  Worst case scenario: someone in the audience will tell another room-full of people. “I hate [insert the name of your company]. Their customer service is bad. And their employees ...

How do you make Vconnect work for your business?

We started 6 years back when it was difficult for you to find a business online in Nigeria. A majority of the businesses didn't use the internet, but today the situation has changed. More than 1.2 million Nigerian businesses are registered on VConnect alone. And here, thousands of users search to get the right local business every day. I have been thinking about how small businesses can overcome this challenge. The good news is that it’s easy to get noticed on VConnect. And you don’t even have to pay a kobo. Below, I list all the things you can do to get more people to see your business. p.s. Because I work here, you can consider this an authoritative guide on the matter.   1. Complete Your profile Your profile is ...

4 essential truths you need to start and run a successful SME in Nigeria

I feel almost self-conscious writing on this topic. There is no shortage of articles on the internet sharing "essential tips for the new entrepreneur" or "how to succeed as an entrepreneur." So I am hard-pressed to find what is new to add to that intimidating pool of information. But I feel a sense of responsibility to those in my immediate network and those who may share the same experiences as myself. My thoughts here will resonate with a lot of you. And you are the reason I am sharing what I think are the absolute essentials a new entrepreneur needs to lock down to start and run a successful business in Nigeria. To start and run a successful small business in Nigeria, you need to know the following truths: 1: Pick a big enough problem ...

On creative destruction and building tech products for Nigeria: Our evolution story

We just launched some incredible upgrades on VConnect. Take a look here if you haven't seen what these updates look like. These new upgrades make it easier for people and businesses to connect and interact. In the middle of all that change, I see again how we've come a long way since our first low-fidelity vconnect.com went up five years ago. I wrote an article for TechCabal.com capturing my thoughts about that evolution, the VConnect brand and valuable lessons for building transformative tech products. Here is an excerpt: "VConnect has an intriguing connection with blood. It’s where our reality started. I was in an accident in 2010 where the people needed blood. In an attempt to make myself useful, I went on Google in search of blood banks in Lagos. Two things happened that surprised me. (a) no blood banks were ...

An inside scoop on solving global problems: my Lagos Business School Slidedeck

1.2 million. That's how many businesses we have listed on VConnect today. I say this now because it was how I recently drove home the point of how technology has made it easy for anyone, anywhere to create solutions that solve global problems. Last week, the Lagos Business School hosted their fifth alumni session. I was lucky to be picked as the keynote speaker. I settled to speak on how Africans can create globally scalable startups with technology. Most of the ideas I shared aren't new but I like to think I presented them in a more relatable manner. I explored how technology has made entrepreneurship easier using stories of startups like AirBnb, Uber and Netflix. I also attempted to situate it in the African context by spotlighting solutions like mPesa ...

Right Balance is Critical for Startups

Newly established businesses or startups are sometimes faced with some challenges and critical decision making at the initial stage of the business development. Doing too much, too late or not doing the right things can be highly detrimental to the growth of the business. Hence, some things need to be considered and worked on when starting up a business/company. 1. Idea & Market: This refers to the concept behind your business. Does your business relieve a pain point? Suggestion: Don’t enter a market which is already too crowded, this leads to Marginal Niche. See what difference you offer from the current market leader.  If you enter a market which has not been established, study carefully to see if your idea, location and needs of the people are in ...