Meet the Man Changing the Face of Print Production in Nigeria- CEO Printivo Ng

By Kemi Mobuse - Friday, June 10, 2016

Oluyomi Ojo

If you were on a budget but urgently needed to print a few 100 business cards, the traditional way would be to call on your “trusted” Shomolu printer to do the job. This is not without the risk of possible disappointment and, no doubt, extra charges for printing so unprofitable a quantity of business cards at such short notice. The experience is even worse if you don’t live around Shomolu.

This is exactly were Printivo comes in.  By merging web technology with print production, they are able to provide print-on-demand services, particularly to SMEs that cannot afford to print in bulk, at very affordable prices. Customers can place small orders on the Printivo website, from the comfort of their homes, and have them delivered in a matter of hours or days.

Techpoint spent an evening with Printivo Co-Founder and CEO, Oluyomi Ojo where he shared with us the inspiration for Printivo, the challenges and the vision and his personal views of the local ecosystem.

Please tell us a little about your educational and professional background

I will call myself a design entrepreneur because everything I have ever done in my life that earned me money has been something around Graphic Design and Print Production. I studied Applied Mathematics at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho. People often wonder how I transited from Applied Mathematics to Advertising and then Print Production.

While in college, I started printing and design. Back then, I would call myself a Print Broker – we create the designs and outsource to print firms. This had me shuttling between Lagos and Ogbomosho almost every week. It was just a student hustle for me. Immediately I left college, I started a Design and Advertising firm called Urbanbaze. It was my sole business. We did quite a number of projects working with brands like Etisalat, Honda and First Bank.

But I saw a niche – a market that wasn’t being catered for. That was the SMEs and that’s basically why I decided that we – my Co-Founders Ayodeji AdeogunIbukun Oloyede and I – should setup Printivo. It was supposed to be a side project, a print production arm of the business, for us at the agency. But right when we were about to start, it dawned on us how huge it was. So we decided to handle it as a separate business on its own.

wedding Invitation Cards
So you probably never worked for anyone?

I took an unpaid internship when I was in 400 level. I worked in an ad agency as a graphic artist. I was supposed to run for 6 months but thanks to an ASUU strike at the time, it extended for 1 year. It was in that time I really understood what it was like to build a design business.

How much has Printivo grown since it launched a little over a year ago?

It’s been a very great journey between when we launched and now. We launched with basically 4 products – business cards, letterheads, envelopes and fliers. We’ve added greeting cards, bags, gift items, custom mugs, magic mugs, roll-up banners, posters. We are expanding the product category by the day. We are also going into merchandise products in the nearest future. We started with 4 employees and have grown to 13 employees now. We are still growing.

Without going into much detail I’d say we are doing between 10 and 15x of what we were doing when we launched.

Customized Mugs
You already had Urbanbaze before Printivo. How easy was it starting up Printivo?

 I always say, if you really want to succeed in something, burn the ships. When we launched Printivo, all the funding we put into Printivo was spent on setting up the business. As at the day we launched we had almost nothing left in our account. Everything had gone into acquiring machines, developing the website and setting up the business.

So it was a case of myself and the co Founder’s, Ibukun and Deji, and the few guys we started it telling ourselves we either make money from customers or this business dies. The story has been amazing since then. Yes, the first one month was tough. It was really crazy, the founders had to sacrifice salaries.

Considering that funding was a challenge, have you raised any funding rounds then?

One of the things I tell people is, when you are building a business, there are various possibilities to funding. We had an advisory board which was made up of quite successful people in the industry and people in finance. One of the things someone on the board said to us was, “guys, when you see free money, grab it”. It didn’t sink at the moment. He was aware that as entrepreneurs we feel weird about free money.

One such channel for free money was YouWin. We have quite a large number of tech people who saw YouWin and didn’t go into it. The Federal Government kept funding businesses that can’t even scale. Meanwhile there were some really good tech business that weren’t able to scale for lack of funding. 

The YouWin opportunity was there, we grabbed it. We got N 7 million from there and as it came in, we told ourselves this money isn’t going into anything else besides expanding our capacity for production.

We also won an Etisalat innovation award. The $10,000 we got from that also went straight into the business.

So at the point that we discovered that we were making enough revenue to keep the business going, to pay salaries and keep operations going, every other source of money went straight into expanding our capacity.

One perception in the local tech ecosystem is that there isn’t enough funding. Some would argue that there aren’t enough good startups. What’s your take on that?

I think one of the major problems is education. When I say education, I’m not talking about going to school. I’m talking about knowing what to do to get what you want. The funding landscape in Nigeria may not really be as interesting as it is in a place like The Valley. However, there are people in Nigeria who are looking for business they can fund. Unfortunately most founders don’t even know how to raise money.

I know quite a number of founders that are building really awesome startups. However, investors are not Santa Claus. Most of them are investing other people’s money. What this means is that; as you are looking for profit, an investor is also looking for profit. So you need to show your business to that guy that if he invests, there is something in it for him.

Branded Business Card Cases

We noticed Printivo doesn’t offer Pay on Delivery. Why is that?

We are a mass customization company. If we have tens of thousands of orders, each order is unique. We cannot afford to play with returns in our segment. If an order is returned, it is a lose-lose for us. We’ve lost on the cost of logistics of shipping to that customer. We’ve lost on the cost of actually getting that order ready for production.

Nobody wants to really talk about the pain of supporting Pay on Delivery but the reality is that it is a serious pain for everybody in the eCommerce business in Nigeria. The return rate is something else but nobody wants to talk about it. We cannot afford that.

However we are building trust with our customers such that if we deliver to you and in any case you don’t like your delivery, you can be 100% sure that we will reprint. We are here to make our customers happy. As long as the product has been paid for, we can go any length to satisfy our customers.

We also have money back guarantee. So if you are not satisfied with your order and we are unable to fix it, we will refund your money. That is better than offering Pay on Delivery.
Spiral Notepads
What is your biggest motivation?

Our biggest motivation is watching customers grow. It is really amazing working with SMEs. You actually get to see first-hand the real core of the economy. Things that you never knew could be monetized, you see customers in that segment ordering marketing materials. And within months, this person that started with just a pack of 100 business cards for herself, will order for an increasing number of employees. Soon she is ordering for materials to open her official office. We are seeing our customers grow. You see the real effect of SMEs at work. 

It is something we see every now and then. It is part of the things that motivates us.

What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs in the system?

Like I said earlier I am new in tech. I came only 2 years ago. But I have always been around tech. There is something that I have noticed that really needs to change.

The best person that can keep your business afloat is your customer. Focus on customers money from day one. Not just that, deliver results and value. If you do that, you will stay in business, no matter how bad things get, till when investors eventually come so you can expand. 

You can contact Printivo ng via ; 

Address; 18, Bajulaye Road, Morroco, Jibowu, Lagos, Nigeria
Call: 08099561000
Mondays - Fridays: 8.30am - 6pm
Saturdays: 9am - 4pm
Instagram: @printivong
[Culled from]

 More pictures below;

Letter Head


Branded Flashdrives

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