A. Sotomiwa Notes   Work with me

Why I am building RibbonsXP

I think most of the ventures I have built are largely to solve problems I have personally experienced. This RibbonsXP story dates back 2020; I wanted to buy gifts for someone I care about and didn't want to buy the usual gift options i.e. physical gift boxes.

I researched everywhere not just in Nigeria but the rest of Africa to see if there are other gift types but couldn't find anything. At the back of my mind, I knew what I was looking for and it took researching in Europe to find the keyword used to describe what I had in mind, i.e. EXPERIENCES.

What I was looking for to gift was called EXPERIENCES. Armed with the knowledge, I started researching again if there are experience sites in Africa, I couldn't see any. So, I thought, okay there's something here. My next steps is to always check if this was something other people cared about too, so I decided to take a survey and to my suprise, people wish there was something like that. "I mean, i'd like to give a spa gift, why not?" said one of the survey takers. I was more convinced there's something here.

I knew there's no way I can do this alone so I started courting two of my friends; Tejumade Olaniyi and Uwem Michael Udoh who were very fantastic at their jobs and have complimentary skills to mine.

  • Tejumade Olaniyi is a seasoned Business and People Manager. I admired her skills greatly and more importantly, how she carried herself. Tejumade is sleek, very smart and cared deeply
  • Uwem Michael Udoh is the best Software Engineer I have ever worked with; I liked him from day 1 and we grew close. He's fast, focused and attentive. Not many engineers have these qualities

They bought into the idea and were excited as me. We got to work and started putting our hypothesis together. We started validating more and we started defining the solution. We thought the customer facing should be a marketplace to discover these experiences, while on the other hand, vendors should have an app to manage their listings and track bookings.

We agreed the name should be RibbonsHub. The vision was clear

RibbonsHub to change the culture of gifting and help people make more meaningful gifts in Africa. The company’s mission is to promote happiness through the gifting of inspiring experiences, whilst reducing the giving of meaningless material presents.

Within 3 weeks of launch, we had onboarded 12 vendors and 29 experiences were listed on the platform. In the 5th week of launch, we got our first booking

Someone had used our platform to buy a gift for their spouse

Note that a lot of things were manually done, we were doing things that aren't scaling. We were also learning how our platform will serve customers better. We also got online and started posting on social media

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Things were beginning to move, we were getting bookings every week. Tejumade was also pushing really hard to onboard more vendors. I was designing with Figma and Uwem was coding. We agreed to take on our first intern, Faidat Akinwale, who started helping with social media designs

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An important thing to note was that we were doing this while keeping a full time job. We were young, we needed to keep body and soul together by working 9-5pm while we work on RibbonsHub over the weekend. We got better and grew both vendor signup and listings by 300%. Here's a brochure we created for vendors

We also worked on our pitchdeck

Here's what our website looks like:

The business was beginning to take off and then something happened. I hope I can talk about how it happened in another post but we started having a difference of opinion. I blame myself as the team lead for not resolving the issues we had. Basically, we got to a point where accusations were flying that a co-founder isn't pulling their weight while ohers were. It was a delicate situation that spiralled out of hand fast. In hindsight, I was naive, we should have put actual systems in place to manage everyone's contributions. We dissolved the company and everyone went their way.

A continuation of this post is coming..