Anyone who really knows me knows that although I love cooking, I do not like the activities leading up to cooking. For a Nigerian girl, however, this isn’t a great place to be because many Nigerian dishes require plenty prep work. To the best of my ability, I always try to make the whole process easier for me.
For instance, whereas the typical Nigerian person cooks chicken using a 3 step process (spice & boil, fry, stew), I mostly use a 1 step process: (spice & roast in oven).
I knew I had fully branded myself as the ‘quick’ foodie when my friend Dolapo gifted me with a Cuisinart food processor last year (The first thing I did with the food processor was to try to make poundo yam. It didn’t work).
When I discovered that OmoAlata a Nigerian startup ‘manufactured and sold’ a blended mix of tomatoes, onions and peppers in a pouch, I was super excited. That’s my kind of innovation, anything that makes my life easier and saves me time.
I decided to do a business model insight on OmoAlata. It took a while to research and write that post because of the inaccessibility and lack of centralization of information on almost all Nigerian startups. So during that period, all I talked about around the house was OmoAlata.
Related post: How OmoAlata works: Business Model Insight
I told my mum about OmoAlata’s product, that it was great to see innovation in the food space and she dismissed it saying she would rather buy her peppers herself and blend it.
Do I blame her? Well, someone gave her a few sachets of Idee (a powered stew product) last year and she said after cooking it, the stew looked black (she called it bachelor’s stew). (On a side note Idee had a stand at the recently concluded GTBank food and drinks fair. I approached their stand excited to try a sample of the stew on the off-chance mum didn’t cook it well the first time; Idee made no samples to taste. Instead, they mixed a sachet of their powdered stew into a small cup of water and proudly displayed it. *Their excuse: ‘GTBank didn’t allow us to cook’ *bullshit).
Related post: GTBank food and drinks fair review
Fast forward to the FoodNigeria Exhibition & Conference which was held in Lagos on 17-19 May 2016. My dad went to the conference and saw a product that looked like OmoAlata’s mixed pepper pouch and decided I would like it. The product was called ‘Obe sauces‘ by Easy sauces Ltd. He bought two for N1500. (Side-note: at least two widely publicized food related fairs/exhibition within the past few weeks, ‘OmoAlata’ not in attendance. Why???)
I was so excited as you can imagine, the packaging was on-point as you can see below.
For those who tried to click the link to ‘Easy sauces website’ and couldn’t, it was actually working a week ago when I checked. According to whois, their domain name is set to expire May 2017.
Anyways, the package felt like a bigger sized ‘capri sun’ juice and it looked like a product that could be on a Wal-Mart shelf. More importantly, the product didn’t require freezing, was preservative free and also had a longer shelf life (according to the package). Do I smell a possible competitor for OmoAlata? See my conclusion at the end of this post. The pack was reasonably filled with the sauce, and it looked like it would feed a family of five easily
The next day, the dinner planned was swallow, okra soup and stew. I decided it was only fitting to launch our newly discovered ‘Obe sauce’. The packaging had an easy tear section on the side of the pack, making it easy to tear open the product without the need for a knife or scissor (very convenient). Cooking instructions and ingredients list were clearly written on back of the product.
The packaging said the ‘Obe sauce’ was fully cooked, so after pouring it into the pot, mum decided to taste it first.
Observation number 1: According to her, it tasted veryyyy sour. she actually thought the Obe sauce was sour because the company added lemon to preserve the product. There was no lemon on the ingredient list, so the ‘lemon’ excuse cannot fly. We decided to add a little fresh blended tomato to the pot of Obe sauce in hopes it would balance out the sourness, but it did not help.
Observation number 2: At the end of the whole cooking process, with the inclusion of spices and fresh fish, the stew still tasted very sour. I could only add 2 small spoons of the stew to my okra.
Observation number 3: According to our help, it tasted better on the second day. I didn’t taste the difference.
Observation 4: According to our help, adding ‘kaun also know as potash’ to the stew made it better on day three. I had given up on the sauce by day 2. It’s over a week now, and some of the stew is still in a pot in the fridge.
According to everyone in my house, the reason for the sourness might be because of the long shelf life and/or the fact that tomato is an ingredient. The Obe sauce batch we cooked on 20-05-16 was manufactured on 24-02-16, and it was due to expire a year later on the 23-02-17. (Please note that I might have excused the whole extra sour let down if the recipe had called for a substance to be added to help counteract the sourness in the event a customer experiences it.)
Many startups hide behind ‘old school vs new school’ to justify why some potential customer segments havent/won’t adopt their product. Note: If ‘old schools e.g. Mums’ love your product, they will switch.
Finally, one clear obvious thing Easy sauce’s ‘Obe sauce’ had going for them above OmoAlata was the fact that their product didn’t need freezing and had a longer shelf life. When all is said and done, the above features do not matter greatly. It also doesn’t really matter that Obe sauce is fantastically designed and packaged, and easily accessibility. As a paying customer, the moment of truth boiled down to ‘taste’ and they didn’t pass. You might have made the first sale, but you need repeat customers to last. #build2Last
Startupdemands Taste Score: 3/10
For those who want to try ‘Obe Sauce’ for themselves, you can buy the product on Konga by clicking here. Its N1,000 a pack.
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