Meeting her for the first time, Florence Olumodimu comes across easily as an intelligent, elegant woman. Our path crossed a few weeks ago. I took interest in her immediately because she has a remarkable idea she is selling to Nigerians, an App called BarFinder.
Her idea sounds unusual in a country where people get information about bars and other recreational facilities through word of mouth. Therefore, the coming of BarFinder App is timely.
As the Principal Consultant of LDN Productions, a digital strategy company, Olumodimu is stepping up the game when it comes to how people can access fun spots in Nigeria with BarFinder.
“The idea behind BarFinder,” she explains, “is to revolutionise socialising in Nigeria. Currently, how do people go out? And when they go out, how do they choose where they go? They either go to those places where their friends had been before. So, word of mouth is typically what they use. People often say I have passed by so, so and so place. Knowing that we don’t have an organised Yellow pages for such things or they go to VConnect. VConnect just gives you the address and the name of the place. They are not really able to give you so much information.”
The vision to tow this path came to Olumodimu some thirteen months ago when she attended an international programme for women in entrepreneur and leadership. For her, the programme was an eye opener. “Besides learning everything else, in all my twenty-one years of working, I didn’t know most of what I was taught at the innovation class. I am also very passionate about digital space. So putting my passion and entrepreneurship spirit together, BarFinder was born.”
According to her, the BarFinder App, which was also created as a result of the survey she conducted on people’s social habits, helps users to make informed decisions on-the-go.
“I did a survey using Survey Monkey and some personal interviews I did for people between the ages of 18 and 40. It showed that people take decisions based on whatever recommendation they get. They are carrying their mobile phones around but they are not really able to get much information. Because before you go somewhere and get disappointed you’d really love to get more information about it. Just like when you go on Jumia and you don’t see what the yellow blouse you want to buy looks like. You may get it and the yellow is actually darker than what you wanted. If you had actually seen the yellow blouse you would have made a better and more informed decision.”
She also explains that beyond bars, the App also helps users find recreational facilities regardless of their location. “We are able to gather information about bars, recreational facilities. It is not just about bars; our name is just like a Buzzer because we know that everybody will drink something when they get to any recreational facility. I have worked in the beverage industry so I understand the industry. This explains why I have decided to start the BarFinder.”
The BarFinder App is also location based as it enables users find a bar closest to them. She calls this proximity marketing. “Immediately you put on a GPS because we have geotagged every single outlet that is on it. You can see for yourself where the place is vis-à-vis where you are. We have coded it also and optimised it in such a way that certain bars come out first when you search. When you search from your location, it brings you the closest bars based on categorisation. We have Exclusive outlet, which are the very premium outlet. We have Endorsed outlets and then we have general. General is outlets that have just their names and address as you will find on VConnect. That is a free listing.”
Olumodimu further says the Endorsed outlets will just pay a small fee annually to have their names, address and some of the services they offer to be on the App. They are also geotagged. That means when a user searches for where to go, all the exclusive outlets close to him come up. In addition, one of the unique offerings on BarFinder is that a user can have a good view of the entire bars listed in the Exclusive category via a video uploaded on the App.
“When an outlet is on our Exclusive listing, we do a video which gives the user a 360-degree tour of the place. We can refresh the video as many times as the client wants but there is a one-time cost to doing the video. They are all professionally put together in HD. That video will be on Youtube and then the outlet can also put it on its Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms. We will help the outlet put different format together that will enable them promote themselves.”
What Olumodimu also sets out to do with the App is to create a database where people can freely make a choice of where they hang out and have a first-hand information on some of the services they offer.
“We have decided as a business that we need to help put a database together for businesses that are into event management, bars and hospitality business generally. With the App, even though it says bar, it means that if you are forty-year-old, you are in your office, you can look through see which ones are secured and which ones are not. You can get information on the outlet whether it is a place where you can visit as a single person or if it is a place you can visit with your children. As a lady you may want to know whether it is a place you can go to alone unaccompanied. It is an altogether package.
“There are restaurants, hangouts, hotels bars listed on our App. From the App you can know whether a place is family friendly or not. The details of what we can give depend on the details the outlet wants to give. For instance, there are some outlet who will go into details to say they serve Isi-ewu while some others will just say they serve African food. Unfortunately, based on my interaction with bar owners, a lot of them did not know that the more information they give the better off they are.”
Finally, Olumodimu says the future of communication and information sharing is continually mobile. “Mobile platform is the fastest growing platform that people use. Out of a population of about 180 million people in Nigeria more than 70 million are using mobile to access information. Four years ago, someone would have said nobody is buying things online. But today there are more sales online than offline. And people are using their mobile phones to make informed decisions. Any business that is blind to the online platform is doing itself more harm. 12 months down the line, it will be a whole different story.”
BarFinder is available for download on GooglePlay, BBWorld and IOS.