Starting out as an entrepreneur on September 12, 2016, 10:00am with a capital of Sh100, 000, his is a dream come true story. Ian Arunga is now making it easy for those who are keen on online shopping. With a professional background to boot; he is a full time art director at Foote, Cone and Belding EA, a blogger at mydeardoris.com, a children’s books author and an overall cool guy. Arunga runs Dapper Monkey, an online store that caters exclusively for men’s clothing. Demand is up there so much that he has kept pumping capital into the business to grow it big time. He spoke to Victor Adar about his entrepreneurial journey.
How long did it take you to make your first sale?
Our first sale was at 10.03am.
Many of us want to venture into business, but fail to start off. What was your motivation?
I have always loved fashion. My mother was a fashion designer and I think that rubbed off on me from a very tender age. As I grew older, a lot of people often asked me where I purchased my clothes. These questions were so frequent that my partner and I decided to make it into a business.
Do you think the concept of online business is a success story, especially in Kenya?
One thing about online businesses is, more often than not, they work out! According to internetworldstats about 4 billion people use the Internet globally. Having a business online gives you unimaginable audience. With the right marketing, you can reach millions of people in a very short time.
I think Kenyans are taking up online shopping pretty quickly. This is evident by the numbers bigger players in the online shopping circle, like Jumia and Kilimall make.
Most definitely! Being able to reach millions of people sitting in front of a computer or from a phone at the palm of your hand is a no brainer. Of course, to boost your chances of success, the trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The Internet makes this kind of market research easy. And with the right marketing, success, I feel, is inevitable.
How many people have you employed?
We have 4 riders, a logistics lead and an accountant, plus my partner and I.
How do buyers pay, on delivery or through smartcards?
Buyers pay on delivery either by cash or Mpesa. We are really big on ensuring customer satisfaction so we only accept monies after this is achieved. We feel it also builds some type of trust between the buyers and us.
How do you distinguish Dapper Monkey from many other e-commerce platforms like Jumia, Cheki, Kilimall, Mama Mikes?
Well, for one, at Dapper Monkey, we do not only end at selling apparel. We sell an experience. We do our best to ensure once you shop at Dapper Monkey, you will never forget the experience. From the customer care, to how we package our products to how we deliver! The biggest part of our business is making people happy.
Being online means you are global, is Dapper Monkey the best place to buy from?
There are global men apparel brands we look up to. I would like to believe we are the best online store in Kenya that only caters for men.
How do you deal with orders streaming from outside Kenya?
We have gotten a few international orders, however, we are still perfecting this shipping model. We would like to make it as painless as possible.
What inspired the choice, and the naming of your business “Dapper Monkey?”
Dapper means neat and trim in appearance, Monkey on the other hand has a story behind it! In nursery school, one of my teachers called me a monkey and it tore me apart.
Haunted me for years. So I decided to use that negative energy and make good out of it!
That is how the name came about!
For starters, you are your own boss, which is exciting. The earning potential is also higher and we need to realize the fact that more can be earned through owning a business than through being an employee.
How do you deal with challenges?
I think the biggest challenge right now is people management. But because it is a small team, frequent meetings to smoothen things up work for us.
Business is tough with most banks not lending to the tiny player, for example. What do you think will speed up entrepreneurship growth in the country? What’s your view of the future of enterprises like this one?
I think entrepreneurship growth in Kenya can be sped up by businesses getting into partnerships with investors or even borrowing from SACCOs. The future of enterprises like Dapper Monkey is not bleak. A good idea, with a well-structured strategy can land you the right investor who will then help propel your business to the next level. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt to build a strong relationship with your bank. There are some banks that are willing to take risks on small enterprises like us. It’s all about strategy, how much are you willing to pay for the additional capital needed for your business.
A partnership worked well for us, and I’m sure there are a number of enterprises like us who have opted for this approach.