Tito Philips is the Founder of Oga Landlord, a fast growing real estate startup which offers land for sale at relatively low price.
For him, the business model of his company is tailored towards achieving the value proposition of making as many tenants home owners too. In this interview, Philips asserts that the market is not too saturated for new entrepreneurs to tap the numerous potential too, although he laments that, at the moment, the purchasing power in real estate is low. He also reveals how SMEs can mitigate the challenges faced by the cashless policy of the apex bank.
The whole idea behind it is to help people own their own homes and become oga landlords. In the real estate business, there are people that focus on real estate. They buy and sell for investment purposes. Ours is to help people become home owners. Young people tend to extend their dream of becoming landlords to the latter part of their lives when they might not even have the ability to achieve such dreams again because they have postponed for two long. Some are still living in rented apartments at the age of 45. So, our value proposition is to educate people about the fact that the money you are paying as rent can be used to own your house. It is one lifetime dream for people to own their houses but they postpone it for too long. You don’t have to. So, when people hear of the millions involved in Lekki homes, they don’t even know that there are other places that can make them
own houses. So, we want to let people know that we can get them lands and properties in developing areas. These developing areas are not as expensive as those ones in their minds. There are affordable lands in Ota, Ibafo and Ikorodu. People then think of N7 million when they want to buy a plot of land; whereas, you can get a plot of land as cheap as N500,000. That’s the message we are bringing to people.
I have been an entrepreneur from my teenage years. My dream has always been to make a difference. I started a company called MAD Phillips Company. The MAD is an acronym for “Making A Difference”. Our focus is on people, business and life. We came up with solutions that affect people, business and life. We have also worked with entrepreneurs to help them grow businesses. We have worked with brands like Innoson Motors. We established them online. Using myself as a case study, I went through the process of Oga Landlord. When I got married in 2013, I set a target for myself that I want to be able to own my own property in five years and in another five year, I want to be able to park in. I got married at 29 and at the moment, I am 35 years old. It was a conscious goal. So that made me go for my budget. I deliberately went for a property that would make me achieve my dreams which I did within the first three years of the marriage. That was how the whole idea started. I used the same amount I was paying as rent to acquire a land. That was the birth of Oga Landlord. I went into agreement with the family that owns the land in Ota. So, I told myself that if I can achieve this, others can. We made sure that the land was not under any government acquisition or court case. And that was how we got into the business before we started acquiring others. Most young people are out there paying rent just because they want to live in town. Before you know it, you are married and then you now have kids in school too. I was the first customer of the business.
Our most striking value proposition is our Land 48 initiative which allows you to achieve your goal of owning a house within 48 weeks. Others are used to the issue of paying in instalments but we have a timeframe. The timeframe for paying millions makes it very difficult for the client but for us, you pay on a weekly basis, starting from as low as N5,000. Someone earning a salary of N50,000 can save N20,000 monthly and in 48 weeks, that person has paid for a half plot of land in Ota.
This is what makes it easy for a lot of people to relate with us. The instalment programmes in town have so many defaulters but ours is just 48 weeks. So, that’s our most striking value proposition. We target both salary earners and business owners. Every other person knows that they can become a land owner but the question of the timeline is always missing in the equation. We are saying that as you go about your daily plans, have it at the back of your mind that you can own a plot of land in few weeks.
The number one challenge is credibility. There is so much scam out there. People don’t know who to trust because you can pay to some and not have allocation. A lot of real estate developers are not doing what they should be doing. We made it a point of duty that we would never point to any location without first going there to carry studies on the place to be sure of the land. We go there with our team and signposts. We go there and document the area to be sure that the land is genuine. First is to capture the bus stops leading there. We snap the roads, we snap the neighbourhood and then the landmarks. That is, the major structures and facilities around there. That has given customers credibility. We don’t sell until a customer has gone for an inspection with us. You want to be sure that the land you saw is the land you were taken to. We have also made every member of the team accessible. If you go to our website, we have our names, phone numbers and social media handles there. You know that we are not ghosts and you can do a background check on each member of the team. We also looked for strategic partners to come on board as our advisers. We have notable lawyers and surveyors on our board and they can tell you about the brand.
The first thing I will say to young entrepreneurs that want to go into the business is that don’t let established rules discourage you. There are certain established rules that say that it is only estates that sell. That’s not true. Look at us today. We don’t have an estate yet we are giving them a run for their money. The most important thing is to confirm the genuineness of the land. You can start without having an estate. You must also be a credible person. I am a credible person and all of my businesses can be verified online if you search my name. You need that as an entrepreneur.
Credibility to pull through the business
For now, I would say the prospect is very slim due to the economic situation of the country. That was why we came up with the Land 48 initiative. But then, the land Is not going anywhere. People would always need it. Again, the market is not saturated like people think. There is enough to go round for everybody. The prospect at the moment is slim because purchasing power is low but the potential is huge. The economy will turn around soon. If we have people living here not buying, people abroad are always calling in to buy.
My reaction to it is that you can still be able to thrive despite the cashless policy, as an entrepreneur. The way it will affect SMEs is in revenues. Revenues will slow down but it is not everyone that is going cashless. For us, one of the things is to make online payment to be integrated on our system. It will still affect revenue but it doesn’t stop you as an entrepreneur. One of the hallmarks of an entrepreneur is the ability to be able to navigate challenges. You don’t have to allow that to stop you. People will adjust to the policy with time. Government makes policies now and then, and you can only navigate around it, as an entrepreneur.
On the short run, we are embarking on campaigns and education. One of the major things missing in this space is the education of the target customers. We have a training, fortnightly. Most people just go into sales. That’s not it for us. Our educational model is what we focus on now because we know that most people are not so educated on real estate matters. We also want to get more sales executives to take the education to the market owners and okada riders, as well as to the corporate world. On the long run, we want to be able to build estates and make them available at cheap prices. We have also invented the build-for-customers model. After buying, you can now begin to engage us on building your house in instalments. We have partnered with construction companies to that effect.