Ugwu Samuel Kachi is the founder and CEO of GasPAL Technologies Ltd, a service that connects customers to gas plants in record time. While reminiscing on the initial teething challenges faced, he harped on his goal of being a reliable domestic gas supply company in Nigeria, as well as plans for expansion. Chiamaka Ozulumba brings excerpts
Why did you choose to find a solution for refilling gas- that is why gas and not other fuel products?
Refilling gas was a problem I faced personally and because I pay attention to my personal experience, I work on finding solutions to solving problems I face. I remember one time on a rainy day, my sister was cooking and the gas was finished. She asked me to go refill the cylinder because if she had to wait, the gas plant would come the next day- at most they’ll come several hours later. So I went to refill it, under the rain, carrying a heavy cylinder. It was stressful and I was hungry. I came back and thought about my experience. How can I refill my cylinder without going through stress next time? In my bid to solve my own problem, I saw that I would be solving the problem of millions of people in Nigeria and other African countries.
So, we saw a problem that needed a solution, hence we proceeded to create a solution which we now call “GasPAL”. Now you don’t have to go through stress when you need to refill your cylinder. Simply order the nearest gas supplier to you on the GasPAL app. Our delivery agent will come pick up your cylinder, refill it and deliver it back to your doorstep.
How has the acceptance been so far especially with customers?
People who are tired and do not want to go through the stress of refilling their cylinders have accepted our services. We have repeat customers. In three months of launching into the market, we are currently serving over 3,000 users of the GasPAL app within the Lagos metropolis. Orders have increased from 1 to over 200 monthly.
What would you say has been the major challenge with this innovation?
One challenge in the past was that we formerly relied on gas plants to supply to customers on our app but it didn’t work as planned because most of these plants didn’t have a delivery system in place. Some were too occupied attending to people who were at the plant.
So, we remodeled our business by investing in structuring our own delivery system and since we made this investment, we have experienced growth and now we see a clear road map on how we can scale and expand our operation to all major states in Nigeria and other African countries like Kenya and Ghana.
Of course, one challenge that comes with scaling and expansion is funding. With the right amount of funding, we will be able to scale and expand.
Currently, how many gas plants / stations do you partner?
We refill from various gas plants nearest to our customers’ locations. We have partnerships with over 30 gas plants on the mainland and the island.
Was it difficult convincing plants to come on board?
It wasn’t difficult getting gas plants onboard. They are in business and they see the value GasPAL brings to them. Our delivery service increases their sales.
So how does the app work?
The app was designed and developed in a savvy manner, making it easy for anyone to use. For a first time user, you have to download the app from the Google store or App Store, then you register. Right now, customers get 15 per cent discount on their first order. To order for our delivery agent, all you need to do is input your address and select your cylinder size, then tap on the request supplier button.
At this point, you will be paired with the nearest delivery agent to you and then you can contact him by calling his number. Once your order is confirmed, GasPAL’s delivery agent will come pick up and go refill your cylinder for you. Customers pay only after the delivery has been completed. The app also shows you what to pay beforehand. So, with the GasPAL app and our delivery system, people will no longer have to go through the stress of refilling their gas cylinders.
How long did it take to develop the app?
The app was developed during the COVID-19 era. The process of thinking, designing, and developing the apps took a year and it was completed in 2020. In 2021, we remodeled the business and began to deliver to customers ourselves. In 2022, we plan to scale and expand our service nationwide.
What’s your long-term vision?
Our long-term vision is to be a more reliable domestic gas supply service company in Nigeria and Africa at large. We envision developing new products to help consumers feel more at ease with relying on cooking gas. Scaling and expanding to other major states in Nigeria and other African countries is our long-term goal.