The rise of internet use across Africa coupled with the upsurge of the African middle class has contributed to the growth of online retailing across the region. There are over Kshs 388 million internet users across Africa representing 10% of the world population. These trends have given birth to the growing online retail firms on a mission to satisfy the spending appetite of the African middle-class populace who have embraced technology. According to McKinsey report, about 50% of the continent is expected to have internet access by 25%, of which online retail will account for 10% of all retail sales or $75 billion.
Among the many startups that have capitalized on this opportunity is Cloud9xp, a Kenyan online marketplace for booking leisure experience across Africa. Founded in late 2015, Cloud9xp started an apparel business in 2012 by Emmanuel Miriti, Tesh Mbaabu, and Mesongo Sibuti while at the University.
“We actually met in the same class while doing computer science at the University of Nairobi,” says Emmanuel Miriti, the CEO.
“We used to sell branded hoodies, T-shirts labeled “High on Life” “We love doing fun things during the weekends and the best mantra suited for what we were doing was “High on Life.”
Then in late 2015, the team capitalized on the mantra and pivoted as an online retail leisure experience company. “This was mainly because we used to post on social media the photos of the fun activities during weekends and different people used to see some of the apparel brands while at this places and they would get interested” And this is how the Cloud9 team thought of creating a platform where they would combine some of these exotic locations as a central marketplace for other people to also.
Cloud9xp has partnered with experience providers offering a wide range of products from, Water Sports, Festivals & Concerts, Adventure & Outdoors, Indoor Fun, Extreme Sports, Flying, Driving, Corporate, Getaways, Shooting, Luxury, Budget and Birthday experiences.
“For every booking sign up, they get an average of 10% – 20% commission on average experience would go for Kshs 3,000 ($30), but we have leisure experiences from as low as Kshs 250 to Kshs 1,000,000.”
The team of 9 has to date processed over 1500 different experiences on its platform with plans to launch more products for its clientele.
Towards late 2017, the startup raised over $74,000 (Kshs 7.5 million) from two lions, Darshan Chandaria and Wandia on an episode of KCB Lion’s Den.
“With the new funding in place, we are planning to create a mobile app which not only allows efficient booking of experiences but allow access to some of the new products we are launching. 50% of what we raised will go to marketing activities which include social media, activation and experiential events which we will be running bi-monthly etc.”
Cloud9xp is planning to launch a travel insurance product that will serve as an add-on to everyone who books an experience at an extra fee.
Cloud9xp believes that the kind of tech infrastructure they have built and creative design wealth they have gives them a competitive edge over their indirect competition which includes tours and travel companies.