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Strategic Talent Acquisition and Its Impact on Startup Growth – A Case Study on Tushop



Launched in 2021, Tushop is a Kenyan e-commerce grocery startup that uses an innovative approach to bring affordable and convenient groceries to Africans. Their unique model, which relies on community group buying, has demonstrated significant potential in transforming the supply chain.


They amass orders from communities and create a direct link between these orders and the manufacturers and farmers who can fulfil them. This approach eliminates middlemen such as distributors, wholesalers, and retailers from the equation.


This streamlined process provides multiple benefits. Suppliers can gain direct insights into their customers' needs, end customers can enjoy up to a 30% discount on their groceries (with free delivery), and community leaders are rewarded for their crucial role in facilitating these connections.


While Tushop currently operates only in Kenya today, its vision is to replicate this successful model across the whole of Africa.


This case study explores how Venture for Africa helped Tushop scale its operations by providing a crucial service: sourcing and onboarding the right talent for its team. 


The Problem


As Tushop expanded its operations, the team recognized the need for experienced talent. Identifying and hiring the right individuals for senior roles was not just a necessity, but a strategic move that would contribute significantly to preserving their unique company culture and accelerating their growth.


The first pressing vacancy they were looking to fill was a Head of Product role. The challenge was to find someone who could smoothly transition into Tushop's hands-on operational environment, adding tangible value to the team dynamics. 


This was more than just a job opening; it was a key role that would shape the future of the growing company. Tushop was in pursuit of an experienced candidate with the ability to not only lead the vision but also steer the direction and guarantee the successful execution of their product roadmap.


The Matching Process


We began our journey with Tushop by getting to know the team and their culture. We sat down with their CEO to understand the job description as well as to hear about the heart of the team - its strengths, its challenges, and its mission. We listened to the stories of candidates who didn't make the cut and learnt about the critical tasks the new hire would be entrusted with.


Armed with this deeper understanding, we reached out to our network at Venture for Africa (VFA) - a diverse pool of seasoned professionals who had proven experience within and outside of the startup ecosystem in Africa.


Here, we met Joshua Ozugbakun. Joshua stood out, not just for his expertise, but for his vision to channel this expertise into the growth of a startup on an international scale. His past experiences with similar startups in West Africa added a layer of credibility and promise to his profile.


We introduced Joshua to Tushop. They connected over two meaningful conversations and Joshua was asked to complete a task to show what he was capable of. The team then welcomed Joshua onboard via the VFA Trial-to-Hire experience.


The VFA Trial-to-Hire experience is not just a hiring process; it is a three-month journey of exploration. It allows startups to work part-time with potential hires, giving both parties a chance to understand each other better before committing full-time. Joshua and the Tushop team saw this as an opportunity to start their shared journey on a solid, yet flexible footing. It allowed them to get to work immediately while also assessing the potential for a long-term partnership.


Through this journey, we saw first-hand the transformative power of the right match, who can both contribute value immediately and go on to build out a future team that would take the business through the next phase of its journey.


The Candidate




In the initial stages of our discussions with our initial shortlist of candidates to ascertain their suitability for Tushop, we were struck by Joshua’s evident passion for crafting superior experiences and products. Joshua's professional journey was diverse and largely self-driven, spanning product development for small businesses, large corporations, and even governments. More than just a tech team coordinator, Joshua had a proven record as an operator, adept at building organisations, driving sales, and forging partnerships. His well-rounded skill set closely aligned with Tushop's needs. 


For us, pairing Joshua with Tushop wasn't just about filling a position. It was first about deeply understanding the organisation's core - its mission, challenges, and strengths - and identifying a candidate who could truly resonate with and contribute to that core.


The Deliverables


Joshua spent his time at Tushop on four core deliverables: Team Management, Product Development, Operational Efficiency, and Strategic Initiatives.


  • Team Management: Joshua played a key role in organizing the engineering team, bringing cohesion to their efforts in delivering required product features as the Tushop product line scaled.

  • Product Development: Joshua was extensively involved in logging all product features and detailing the functionality of all systems. His contribution ensured a seamless onboarding experience for new team members and provided a clear understanding of the product's technological capabilities.

  • Operational Efficiency: He introduced control mechanisms and developed a “risk register” to improve operational efficiency. Joshua also managed the marketing budget, developing a framework for effectively allocating revenue to marketing efforts, leading to increased traffic and conversions.

  • Strategic Initiatives: Recognizing the need for data management, Joshua initiated the establishment of a business intelligence unit, which has now become a crucial part of Tushop's operating model. He also pioneered innovative ideas around customer segmentation and loyalty management, fostering stronger relationships with customers and enhancing client retention.


Key Takeaways


Tushop's story proves how picking the right people is key for startups to grow. With Venture for Africa (VFA), Tushop didn't just find a hiring service but a partner who understood their needs and goals.


For startups figuring out how to grow and hire, teaming up with VFA means getting top-notch talent who know the African startup scene well, making hiring easier and more efficient for big steps forward.


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