10 Mins. With Abiola Awosika
By Ayodele Adio
Abiola Awosika, is an alumnus of the University of Lagos, Akoka. She is the founder and CEO of Out “D” Box, a cake baking and delivery company in Lagos State.
Briefly describe yourself and a bit of your background.
I am Abiola Awosika, an alumnus of the University of Lagos, Akoka. I am the founder and CEO of Out “D” Box, a cake baking and delivery company in Lagos State.
Describe your business.
Everyone celebrates the employer or the entrepreneur; no one really takes out time to appreciate the employee or the labourer. Research shows that people take jobs for more money but leave it for recognition. Out “D” Box is an employee cake delivery company that helps employers to show appreciation to their employees with cakes on their birthdays and special occasions at their place of work.
What kind of clients do you service?
My clientele are employees, entrepreneurs, managing directors, be it big or small ones, as long as they have people who help bring their dreams or ideas to reality.
How long have you been in the business?
Out ‘D’ Box started in January 2016.
How did you start it?
I used to work in a company that gave every employee cakes on their birthdays. This was a great idea because you could save your money then and just share that cake. It was so rampant that we all got used to the taste of that cake and, sometimes, when it gets to some of us, we’ll just say ‘NO’ – we didn’t want a piece that day. We were bored of that taste. So I thought to myself, how many other employees in other companies feel this way.
There has to be a way to make this kind gesture mean something extra to someone and make everyone look forward to their cake and also make colleagues always take a piece. Boom!! I came up with this idea; hence the name – Out ‘D’ Box.
What has been your motivation?
First, I strongly believe in treating everyone right and equally. I don’t think that’s something that can ever go wrong. The few companies I currently work with motivate me when they send me pictures or give me feedbacks, both positive and negative, about how to serve them better. The best thing one can do is take corrections and treat your customers right. I also get employees of these companies getting our (telephone) number from the HR, asking if we can make individual cakes for their friends and families.
Companies I work with started to add a little touch to their employee appreciation scheme like movie nights, suggestion boxes etc. I speak at events about the idea and MDs/CEOs invite me in to ask for ways to sign up to the service.
What is your secret recipe?
Lol. My grandfather taught me how to bake. He could do anything and everything but the only thing I picked was the baking skills. (He was my best friend). I just knew that whatever business I’ll do was going to be cake related. I didn’t see myself baking commercially so I had to wait to discover that one thing related to cakes that I would do. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans to cut across other ideas. Lol. I’m glad I discovered this as I’m not only making money, I’m also helping people to achieve their goals and put smiles on faces.
What unique value do you give customers?
Where do I start this? First, our clients have access to a wide spread of vendors. They no longer have to eat cakes from the same vendor every time it’s someone’s birthday. We identify the strength of each vendor and focus on that. We believe packaging is everything; our cakes are nicely packed in colourful boxes.
We use our own boxes with balloons to brighten up the offices a little. We deliver the cakes to offices. You don’t have to send your driver to pick up a cake from somewhere.
Do you work with a team?
Yes I do – vendors, graphic team, logistics team and an occasional assistant who helps in deliveries when necessary.
How do you motivate your team?
This is my focus so if I start, we may not wrap up the interview. Lol.
How do you ensure quality and excellence?
Before vendors are signed up, we make sure they send us sample cakes which we take to our clients who decide if they want them signed up or not. We don’t make the decision. We are currently asking our clients for feedback on how to serve them better. As a new company, we are still trying to work out ways at which we can ensure we deliver the best and I’m sure we’re not far from it.
Where do you see your company in the next 5 years?
I see Out ‘D’ Box being the biggest employee cake delivery company with hundreds of vendors and companies and also a known employee appreciation consultant company in Nigeria. We are excited to take up this opportunity in Nigeria, fully focusing on employee retention. We have other plans but I’ll keep this till fully developed.
What are your major challenges and how are you dealing with them?
The economy! Companies are currently not doing so well so it’s been hard to sign up as many companies projected for the year but we believe strongly that these times will be over soon. In the mean time, we’ll keep doing our best to serve our current clients.
Prices in the market! Prices have gone up due to the dollar (exchange) rate so vendors have been forced to increase prices. We have been able to explain this to clients and they totally understand as we all are experiencing it. Every company has its challenges, old or new, but how you manage it is what matters and I’ll say we have successfully been able to handle challenges that come with the business.