The Midnight City Lagos Story, By Tobenna Ozim, CEO
A year ago, Midnight City Lagos, an online restaurant made its entry into Lagos. The concept of an online restaurant seemed a novel idea at the time, and not surprisingly, many people embraced it with cautious optimism. But One year after it began operations, Midnight City Lagos has been a huge success story. Recently, TOBENNA OZIM, the young man behind Midnight City Lagos spoke to selected journalists in Lagos about this idea that has come to stay. The Abuja Inquirer was there. Excerpts.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your educational background?
My name is Tobenna Ozim, I recently turned 23 years old and I grew up in Lagos. I attended Avi-Cenna International School, Lagos. Thereafter, I went on to Bridge House College , where I did my foundation program. Once that was done , I went on to the University of Essex, in the United Kingdom where I bagged a degree in computer science.
What inspired your decision to go into the food business?
The lack of the service we now provide inspired my decision to go into the food business. People would always eat, if the food is good and it could come to you at a time where nobody else would deliver I figured it’ll be impossible not to gather traffic. it was also an easy decision to make because I’m a foodie, I love to eat and I love to eat good food.
Your niche is quite different , how have you been able to maintain?
We operate like any other restaurant in terms of how the food comes about, so we use similar maintenance techniques. In terms of how the food gets to the customers is what separates us and that pretty much takes care of itself with the structure we’ve set in place. Unfortunately that structure can’t be discussed.
Do you train your staff or does each employee work based on their level of expertise?
Both actually, We offer on-the-job training for our staff and we also hire qualified staff for the roles that require a certain level of expertise/experience
How do you intend to revolutionize the fast food chain industry in Nigeria ? Or what influence do you intend to have on the fast food industry ?
First of all, the term “fast” needs to be applied. The aim is to get restaurant quality food to the customers as fast as possible by giving them a variety of food to pick from so they feel as tho they are in a restaurant even when they are home. This is done through our prep methods which allows us get the food ready to a point where it isn’t actually prepared but doesn’t take much after a customer has ordered so he/she can get their food fast and fresh. In terms of influence we have opened a market for late night logistics of food in Nigeria and possibly Africa.
What are the challenges of owning a food brand? Must be quite difficult considering the fact that you’re just 23 years old, tell me Tobenna what keeps you going ?
Quality control is the biggest problem any food brand has I believe, because consistent quality is hard to keep especially with a vast menu. Another major challenge is logistics because of the lack of infrastructure in the country to support it but those are the struggles we would have to overcome to make sure we are around forever. My family, friends and my staff actually keep going, random messages from them telling me how proud they are makes me feel like damn I don’t ever want to stop making them proud and the money isn’t bad at all
How do you keep your employees motivated ?
I work on the job with them a lot of the time, and I make sure to treat them fairly. Employees don’t ever want to feel like they are slaving away for somebody that doesn’t have their best interest at heart so I’ve created an atmosphere where everybody feels like family so we look out for one another.
We noticed you’re quite reserved, you tend to shy away from the public eye, is this attributed to your personality or is it a business strategy?
I would say this is attributed to my personality, I didn’t start the business to become a celebrity so why try to live like one ? I believe the main focus should be on midnightcity, but if the public eye is willing to pay for appearances, I’ll be there promptly.
What is your typical day like?
I try to get as much rest during the day then my body starts to properly wake up towards the night time.
Do you have any advice for potential entrepreneurs who want to venture into the fast food industry?
My advice is for entrepreneurs in general, I was listening to the radio last year before we had started midnightcity and the speaker mentioned’ you do not have to see the entire staircase to take the first step” and I found it so relevant because a lot of people always want to have every single thing sorted before they venture into businesses and most times somethings were designed to take care of themselves and somethings are impossible to plan for. so I’d tell any potential entrepreneurs to go for what they believe in even when they might not have everything figured out. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare, it simply means have faith.