The automobile after sales space is a complex industry, particularly in Nigeria with lots of institutional voids. These pre-existing challenges range from lack of trained, competent personnels, little or no government regulations, massive infiltration of adulterated automobile parts. These challenges often frustrate the efforts of entrepreneurs playing in the space.
In 2018, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recorded that there were 11.8 million registered vehicles in Nigeria, of this number, 39% (4.6 million) were privately owned, 56% (6.7 million) were commercial vehicles, 1.1% (135,216) were registered as government-owned, while 0.4% (5,834) were registered for diplomats.
These numbers give a fair representation of the total addressable market the Parkit team hoped to cater to. Having had several terrible encounters with workshops, car washes and technicians, Gerald Okonkwo (CEO) teamed up with Schneider Komolafe (CTO). The duo were not perturbed by these challenges but instead decided to face them head-on.
Gerald is a graduate of computer engineering from Madonna university, where he met Schneider, a graduate of electrical engineering.
Gerald’s entrepreneurship journey started while he was in school. In 2012, he started Wefix Maintenance Company a facility management company which pivoted to become iFixng.com, an online platform for engaging the services of handymen and artisans and eventually Parkit in 2018; a technology driven vehicle care company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.
Schneider was an integral part of the team responsible for developing iRecharge; a fintech platform for making payments. He was part of the team conducting research on mini/portable servers at the National Space research and development agency (NASRDA). He also worked with the United Nations as a technical consultant. Schneiders experience as a software developer and IT consultant spans over 12 years.
While starting Parkit, Gerald realised how challenging and fragmented the vehicle after sales industry was and chose to start with the autocare vertical, consisting of car wash and auto detailing.
“Our business was founded in June 2018 to use technology in making the customer journey for car washes very seamless by automating payments, training, helping them acquire the right tools and consumables for the job and providing professional care services that were not available in-country,” he said.
Parkit developed the technological infrastructure required to seamlessly run a vehicle care outlet; from accepting and processing payments digitally to managing consumption and requisitions of vehicle care products, to staff management, overall insight on sales and general business performance.
Car wash and auto detailing outlet owners can now via the use of this technology get an overall view of their outlet’s performance at just a glance.
The team didn’t stop there, but also developed a training curriculum on best practises for carrying out car wash and detailing services. They also produced 5 different vehicle detailing variants; car shampoo, upholstery cleaners, tyre and engine wash liquids, vehicle polish and air fresheners.
According to Gerald: “When we started, we had to import most of our consumables and materials which made no economic sense due to the ridiculous exchange rates, but today, we provide quality car shampoo, upholstery, tire and engine wash, polish, and air fresheners. This is just one of many success stories that this acquisition has berthed.”
As at August 2021; Parkit had processed over 50,000 vehicle detailing transactions, trained over 100 professional detailers and had produced over 15,000 litres of vehicle detailing consumables.
They are currently operational in following locations, Novare Lekki Mall Sangotedo, Lekki; Purple Maryland Mall, Maryland; Wole Ariyo, Lekki Phase 1; Wings Towers, 17A Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, and Festival Mall, Festac Town.
For Gerald and Schneider, operating in the autocare vertical was just the entry point to the automotive aftersales industry. Vehicle repair and general services were next in line due to the many challenges faced across the entire space.
In July 2019, the Cars45 vehicle after sales services team contacted Parkit to extend a hand of partnership, to offer their vehicle wash and detailing services for vehicles procured before being re-sold.
This partnership commenced in August 2019, with Parkit offering vehicle wash and detailing services to Cars45. This eventually extended into co-locating on vehicle detailing centres with the first location being situated at Wole Ariyo in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos State.
Following the emergence of Fixit45 around July 2021, we knew the industry was ripe for further disruption. Fixit45 is an autotech platform dedicated to redefining the automotive experience for car and fleet owners and facilitating value-creating interactions across stakeholders.
Fixit45's avowed ambition spans across verticals that include auto repair and maintenance services, fleet management, auto parts sourcing and delivery, auto care, refurbishment and upgrades, repair financing and workshop solutions software as well as pre-purchase inspections, underlying these with moderation for transparency, compliance and accountability.
By September 2021, the Fixit45 team approached Parkit for an acquisition. According to the co-founder and CEO of Fixit45; Justus Obaoye “We found synergies in what they were doing at the time, and approached them to join us in this journey to fix and build the aftermarket ecosystem, which has culminated in the acquisition. Parkit has been fully integrated into the Fixit45 family, and we look forward to providing market leadership.” Parkit was eventually acquired by the end of September 2021.