They are able to restore the interior and exterior of your car and other luxurious big boy toys to their pristine condition and wait for it – without using water.
Autosparkle was founded based on the passion for succeeding and of course the need to provide innovative service with client satisfaction in mind.
Our Newspread Nigerians of the Week embody the resilience & sheer determination of Nigerians around the world to succeed no matter the obstacle. And the ability to create a world-class service from the least of vocations.
Meet Genesis and Jesse Onomiwo who have perfected the art and science of waterless technology that cleans your pricey automobiles, aircraft & boats without water and other damaging chemicals.
Today, Autosparkle and Autosparkle Prestige detail the most luxurious vehicles in Nigeria and provide the best quality care to their clients. Excerpts:
- You both hand-washed cars in your early days, could you tell us a bit about this part of your journey
In 2005 we linked up with Barrister Taiwo Kupolati (SAN), one of the lawyers on the popular Oputa Panel, also known as The Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission of Nigeria (which was created by former president Olusegun Obasanjo). He became our mentor. We were just fresh secondary school leavers at the time looking for direction and guidance for our lives. And coming from an average background but having read a few books about the possibility of making something remarkable out of our lives irrespective of our background, we needed an anchor. We had taken notice of and observed the barrister while growing up. At the time, his family and ours shared some sort of friendship as we also both belonged to the same denomination, but his life was remarkably outstanding and that formed a very strong attraction for us- two teenage brothers who were hungry for success.
His life changed right before our very eyes. We saw him move from being an upstart lawyer to becoming a well-accomplished lawyer and notable businessman. He represented the symbol of hope for us at that young age. One day, we too would be able to change our lives and standing in society if we only could get a hold of whatever it was that he knew and used to change his own fortunes, and also pattern our lives after his. This was our thought.
So one day, Jesse and I left home and headed straight to the barrister’s new home. We were talked into all these by one of our elder sisters who was the barrister’s wife’s very close friend. She told us about his work ethic, humility, and godliness.
He’s normally not easily accessible, but because we are known to him, we were warmly welcomed. When we got to his mansion, we were humbled by all we saw- the stuff of dreams. Everything oozed success. Our impressionable young minds were blown. After a few small talks here and there with him and his wife, we quickly made our intention known- we wanted him to become our mentor. He agreed and instantly became interested in us and our development. Thus began our mentorship journey which would eventually form the basis of our principled lifestyle and multiple business adventures.
Thereafter we would regularly visit him either at his home or office where he would charge us, and share his own life’s story with us- teaching us the principles of life, success, and wealth creation in the process taking us into his personal library, and share useful books and materials with us for our self-development.
One book he lent us was the legendary Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hills. That book was what sparked the fire of entrepreneurship in me, which has led us to where we are now. I read it twice! The stories of big brands like Dr. John Pemberton’s Coca-Cola inspired me so much that I started looking for how to recreate that story but this time with “my own Coca-Cola “- my own innovation.
I lost sleep from constantly thinking and searching for what this my own big idea for changing the world should be. So, one day during the rainy season while walking along a major road around Mile-12 in Lagos, I noticed that most cars – especially the good-looking ones- were looking rather too dirty from muddy water splashes. Then it quickly occurred to me that most of these cars surely belonged to office workers who were on their way home from work. Then I thought further by asking myself, ‘which group of office workers spend the most time at work and return home so late that they wouldn’t normally have the time to wash their cars? Bankers, of course’ I reasoned. And thus began the journey into what is today known as Autosparkle and Autosparkle Prestige.
But first, it all started as Riltouche Car Wash, and here’s how the story goes…
After discovering my big idea, I called my brother and excitedly shared it with him like we both normally do. He loved it instantly and we immediately teamed up and started a mobile car wash business targeted at bankers in and around Allen, Ikeja in Lagos state where we thought to help these bankers save time by washing their cars for them for a fee while they worked. This was so that the bankers wouldn’t have to drive to a car wash after a long and tiring day at work. Our only experience with washing cars came from when we used to wash the car of our one-time landlord and family friend who was an Architect (now late). We called him Baba Mi (my father). Every time we did the job to his satisfaction and he was impressed (especially with the interior cleaning), he would take us with him in the car on a road trip from Lagos to Abeokuta in Ogun state.
It was a bright green 1987 Toyota Corolla E70. We always looked forward to this prize, so we usually did our very best. Little did we know that all this was preparing us for business life.
After we decided to start the business, for two straight weeks we both walked the streets of Allen Avenue selling our mobile car wash idea to bankers using our mouth and some white-and-black fliers that Jesse had hurriedly designed for us. But we were turned down by all the bankers in all the banks we went into, one bank after another. After each day’s rejection, we would head home by jumping on the next available Danfo in which we would lap ourselves with our buckets and washing materials neatly packed in a big and colorful polythene bag. This was how we left home and returned almost every day.
Eventually, one banker by the name of Mr. Chidioke agreed to give us a chance with his blue 1992 Honda Accord sedan. He was so impressed by the outcome of the job that he began to refer our mobile car wash service to his colleagues. And that was how business kicked off. So we started taking along our buckets and other cleaning materials to this particular bank (then Equatorial Trust Bank popularly known as “ETB” on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos) on designated days to wash the cars of some of the staff who had signed up for our service. We would later go from serving bankers at this particular bank to eventually serving even more bankers in all the banks in and around Allen Avenue up to the Oregun area near Ojota. This our mobile car wash business was named Riltouche Car Wash.
The business continued operations for about a year, around which period we both secured admissions into university and had no choice but to leave the business behind.
- How did you come about this waterless technology for vehicle interiors?
Interestingly, we made a very crucial observation in those early days that would later inform our subsequent moves with the business. The first move was what resulted in our transition from normal, everyday car washing to waterless car washing and eventually waterless automotive detailing, which we have now come to be known by.
As we continued with our business before finally leaving our already hooked and strongly committed customers behind to go and commence our university studies, we realized that even though our services were well accepted and loved, almost every customer we served seemed to care more about something.
We discovered that, just like Baba Mi, what impressed these customers the most about our service was how we were able to bring every car’s interior we worked on completely back to life. I mean how we were able to restore every car’s interior’s sanity by making them look spik and span again? It looked like a miracle to our customers who didn’t have to point out any forgotten or ignored areas for retouching as is commonly the case with roadside car washes in Nigeria. They also loved the idea of enjoying a scheduled personalized service that was brought to their offices. It saved them time and stress.
So. the fact that our spotless interior cleaning service was more endearing to different customers got us to start thinking seriously about taking this aspect of the business.
However, there was a problem. We often depended on making use of water from the banks where our customers worked to wash their cars and this approach sometimes failed whenever there was a water shortage. Not only that, using the bank’s water supply sometimes made us feel indebted to the security guards who often watched us work and some of whom had now started developing ill feelings towards us as they were the ones who used to wash these bankers’ cars- but mostly as a form of favor to curry future favors- and not as a professional service. So all these problems got us thinking. We knew that if we were to be efficient and successful in our business operations, we would be needing a cheaper and better method of carrying out our service. This was how the dream of operating a waterless car wash was born.
By going fully waterless, we would now be able to bypass all these challenges and “see finish” (Nigerian parlance for overfamiliarity).
So we started thinking and researching and eventually harped upon the idea of a waterless car wash which was later upgraded again to become a waterless car detailing service designed strictly for luxury cars. But our company became known from 2010 to 2017 for cleaning cars without water. Services covered the interiors, exteriors, and engines of cars at the time. However, we were not always fully operational between 2010 and 2017 as were still in school, working corporate jobs and also failing and starting over again within this period.
Genesis was the one who came up with the idea of waterless car washing but I was the one who discovered how to go about it after extensive research. Surprisingly, the waterless car cleaning method which is based on nano-technology turned out to be far more effective for our purpose. We just knew we had hit it as soon as we started deploying this method. We instantly became a marvel to our old customers and even passers-by who would crowd us and be asking us questions out of curiosity whenever we were out cleaning people’s cars without water and restoring them to brand new again with this waterless technology.
- You transited from a love for cleaning cars to running an innovative business, how did you make this transition bearing in mind the troubles associated with business development, guidance & an enabling environment?
After meeting our mentor, we caught a bug- the reading bug. And so we became voracious readers after entering his personal library for the first time and seeing so many books there. He instilled a love for books in us, challenged us to read, and encouraged us in the same breath by lending us reading materials from his library. So in those early days, we started reading a lot about business and what it takes to make one work. We read a lot about branding, marketing, and every other thing that had to do with how to run a business successfully- sometimes even spending our last dime on books.
So, one day in the course of interacting with one of our top clients, Barrister Kevin Ebhojie, in our early days of car washing, he dropped a brilliant but uncommon idea in the form of a suggestion. He challenged us to start focusing on what our company did best- interior cleaning. It was this singular suggestion, coupled with our open-mindedness that eventually paved way for first turning the business into a fully waterless car detailing operation for luxury car interiors only. This became the very FIRST of its kind ever in the whole world. This instantly marked the transition of our business from an ordinary business operation into a fully-fledged innovative business outfit.
Our knowledge from the books we had read, brainstorming together, and our experiences from working in the corporate world were what helped us greatly in being able to make the transition smoothly.
My own nine-to-five work experience would later come in handy in no small way. I took up a Copywriting role with DDB Lagos at some point when our business was out of operation. DDB Lagos is the Nigerian office of DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc., the world’s first-ever marketing communications network and a high-ranking international creative advertising agency. While I worked there I learned quite a lot about the power of branding, marketing communications, brand strategy, and customer psychology while I worked on developing brand communications for very big and notable brands like Kellogg’s, Pringles, Wrigley, Johnnie Walker, Infinix, MTN, Sterling Bank, FBN Insurance, Interswitch, Konga.com, BOSCH, and many other brands… Before I left this role, I won a few awards through my work for the company and also got some of my works featured in Ads of the World- the world’s largest creative advertising index featuring carefully selected works from across the globe.
Before this time, I had earlier taken up training in Brand Management at Africa’s 1st school of Practical Integrated Brand Experience- Orange Academy- where I graduated at the top of my class. I also have certification in Advanced Integrated Campaigns and Concepting from Miami Ad School, the world’s best school of advertising.
Eventually, before I left the corporate world, I rose to become the youngest key decision-maker at the management level where I last worked. With all these, there was no denying the fact that things would never remain the same again with our own business.
Jesse on the other hand is a Computer Science graduate from the University of Lagos with over 10 years of experience as a Digital Marketing professional. He is also a Certified e-Business Professional in Customer Relationship Management from EC-Council University, Massachusetts, USA. In addition, he is equally an alumnus of the Growth Enterprise Program of the Enterprise Development Centre of Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.
While at Insight Publicis as a Digital Strategist, Jesse worked on brands such as Pepsi, Tecno, Vitafoam, FCMB, 7Up, Heineken, Nasco, H2Oh, PZ Cussons, etc.
Thus, these arsenals of knowledge and real work experience with real-life brands formed the arsenals with which we were able to confidently take the innovative route with the business without any fear of failure and it was also at this point that our previous repeated episodes of business failures finally stopped.
Apart from these, while making the transition, we occasionally resorted to seeking advice and guidance also from our mentor and our mum (who was our first investor and who believes in us the most). These two people instilled so much confidence in us and made us believe we were capable of doing great things no matter what. None of their advice ever failed! We love them dearly and remain indebted.
All these, coupled with our trust in God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, helped us make the switch and now form the basis of our full confidence in our ability to continue to sustain our competitive edge and solid performance.
So you can easily see that from the moment we decided to go innovative, it was no longer purely a matter of passion as it was in our earlier days, but a matter of knowledge (knowing what works), experience, superior guidance, and faith in God.
- What has your experience been like with this technology and the business?
As much as we like to focus on our processes and values as key success factors for us, nanotechnology has been a game changer. The result that comes with its application is outstanding. It has helped us to achieve newness again in pre-owned cars and keep new ones in that state. As a mobile business, this innovation has made it possible for us to travel light to serve our clients anywhere they choose, thereby strengthening our value proposition of offering convenience to them. Beyond nanotechnology, we have deployed other machine-based tech to further increase excellence in our service delivery.
- You have saved almost a million liters of water which is a big contribution to having a healthy environment- have you related with government agencies on the best ways to conserve water and keep the environment clean regarding normal water use?
As a result of the traction our business has gathered over time, the Standard organization of Nigeria (SON) has reached out to us twice for assistance with drafting regulatory policies for the development of sustainable operational models for car wash and car detailing operations all over Nigeria. That is still in the pipeline. The Standards Organization of Nigeria is the sole statutory body that is vested with the responsibility of standardizing and regulating the quality of all products in Nigeria.
We will continue to remain open to working with the government and relevant local and international agencies and will willingly oblige whenever the call comes to offer advice on the basis of our expertise. But we have not outrightly gone out of our way to pursue this yet of our own volition.
- Do you think waterless interior cleaning is a technology that can be widely deployed and how can this be achieved?
Yes, it is a scalable technology through partnerships, logistics solutions, and a mobile app. We like to maintain control over consistent quality, so, wherever we extend our services, we would still maintain a source for our consumables. There are plans to deploy a mobile app to cater to this demand in choice locations.
- We notice you have other branches of the business, including exterior cleaning- is that also waterless?
Due to the notoriety of the Autosparkle brand in the automotive industry, we started getting calls and pressing demand for exterior rejuvenation services. We looked into it and got the necessary education and launched Autosparkle Prestige to cater to this. Recall we started as a waterless car wash that did all parts of the car? This means we can equally clean the exterior of cars without a drop of water. However, our work with exteriors is way beyond just cleaning to restoring paintwork to factory or showroom finish and preserving them that way for another 18 months or 3-5 years and more. So, yes, we get to clean the exterior of the cars first without water before we start doing more complex detailing processes like paint correction, polishing, Paint Protection Film (PPF), nano-ceramic and graphene coating.
- How easy is it to work together as siblings and what’s your take on partnerships?
Working with my brother is the best experience anyone could ever ask for. To us, it doesn’t even look like a business relationship. It’s a family thing. It’s a friendship thing. He sees our business as his and I see it as mine- and how do you take care of what is yours? You take full responsibility, complete ownership, and see to it that things are always done right. This is what does it for us. We also have this mutual respect for each other. Jesse has a Computer/ tech background and he’s the best in those areas I respect that every time and give him free rein. I allow him to use his skills in those areas for the advancement of our business concerns without any form of undue interference. I’m an experienced brand strategist, a trained architect with excellent design orientation, and a marketing communications expert myself. He also allows me to leverage my competencies for the business out of respect. We also trust each other. I can go to sleep with him in charge at any time. The same applies to him about me being in charge too.
So really, the partnership is good for business only if it is built on the foundation of competence, mutual respect, and trust. And of course, there can not be trust if there’s no accountability. Jesse and I are accountable to ourselves, our employees, the government, the communities we operate in, and our stakeholders. Also, no partnership can work in an atmosphere of suspicion. We’re very open. No hidden agenda. No inordinate ambition. None of us wants to outdo the other person. It’s fun for us – a “we” thing. This is my perspective on partnership.
- You’ve had eight failed business attempts, can you share your experiences with our readers and what kept you bouncing back?
Generally, most new ideas usually meet with skepticism and rejection in the market for many reasons. In our own case, the market simply wasn’t ready. The whole “waterless” concept sounded interesting but too good to be true at the same time. It was a mixed blessing for us immediately after we introduced it. The unusual nature of the idea made prospects give us a chance. They were curious to see how it works, and the results were usually astounding. Nine out of ten times these impressed prospects instantly turned into clients, repeat clients, and referrers. But they were not enough to keep us afloat as a business. So we had to keep shutting down and starting all over again with hopes of getting more people to buy into our idea of cleaning cars and turning them to brand new again without using even a drop of water.
Oh, those were hard days! Grueling days they were. We would trek long distances around Adeola Odeku in Victoria Island trying to sell this new idea from bank to bank, office to office, with nothing but our mouths and our fliers (this time colored but yet again designed by Jesse). We heard more nos than yeses in those days. It was painful, really painful. Many times we could not understand why this novel idea that excited us so much and has so many merits was often rejected in those days. People weren’t simply aware of its power and their minds weren’t mature enough to open up to it because they had never seen nor experienced anything like it before. We felt frustrated many times. Mind you, we introduced the waterless car washing style into the Nigerian market in 2010 but then niched down and became a waterless luxury car detailing brand in 2018.
Also, there was the problem of capital in those early days as well. At some point, we couldn’t hire the desired number of employees needed to form a complete team because of financial constraints. And since we didn’t want to owe anyone, we would sometimes join hands with the few staff we had. Those were really trying times but we were learning humility and customer interaction. We were also learning every part of the business. Today, those hands-on experiences have continued to pay off. Now we know what exactly to expect from both our field and back-end staff.
What kept us bouncing back- was the strong belief we had in the idea. We knew it was truly unique and really powerful. We just couldn’t give up on it even if we wanted to. So, every time that belief would push us back up again and again. Interestingly, our mum seemed to believe in the idea even more than us. So whenever we returned home and complained about our ordeals on the field then, she would encourage us and tell us to not give up or even think of abandoning the idea. She assured us that it would take us places and make us great. Well, we didn’t see how facing serious rejections at the time would do this but we believed her words totally. She always said to us- THEY WILL HEAR YOUR NAMES. THE WORLD WILL HEAR YOUR NAMES. AUTOSPARKLE WILL REIGN. Also, our mentor would always say to us- “Never pity yourself. There’s dignity in labor. Keep at it. It will eventually work out” while he used himself as an example. Those warm words were very helpful in keeping us going alongside our belief in the power of our idea.
Now the world is paying attention to us. We now run a fully professional business with subsidiaries. No, we’re no longer car washers. We’re now a phenomenon. The same idea that was once rejected now serves some of Nigeria’s wealthiest, including current politicians, celebrities in the movie, music, and comedy industry, super-rich C-Suite business executives, expatriates, and powerful women. The most expensive cars and boats in Nigeria are today detailed by Autosparkle and Autosparkle Prestige. From Maserati to Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Ferraris, Porsches, Maybachs, Range Rovers, Mercedes Benzes, and other limited edition cars, our companies continue to detail them all every now and then. Our wealthy clients are usually at ease with releasing their expensive cars to us to care for because of our professionalism and the superior result our waterless detailing method commands. We also continue to enjoy referrals and repeat patronage from them.
Our services have been enjoyed in far away Kano, Kebbi, and Ogun states of Nigeria apart from Lagos and Abuja where we now have a presence. In fact, more than once we have had clients who came to experience our service all the way from Delta state. Clients also make bookings for our services from outside Nigeria to arrange for their cars back home and those of their loved ones to be detailed.
We no longer trek the streets looking for clients. We now have our own Autosparkle-branded cars for our staff in both our Lagos and Abuja branches. And yes, the world is now hearing about us as we’ve appeared on over 10 national television shows in Nigeria, including the legendary Television Continental’s Wake Up Nigeria Show. We have been guests on the radio several times and we have been featured on several international blogs, and accepted into various business Accelerators with some grants/prizes won as well. And just last month, the World Bank interviewed our CEO, Jesse, and included our company in a special case study report. And now you’re also hearing about us.
I’m happy we kept hope alive and kept pushing even when it felt like no one was noticing us or what we were doing.
- As the first waterless auto detailing brand in the world, what other firsts have you recorded or will you want to get into?
To put it out clearly, Autosparkle is the first waterless detailing brand in the world that focuses strictly on the interior and engines of automobiles. We are the first detailing brand to get into Nigeria’s first-ever Forbes Accelerator. We would like to be the first to have the largest presence out of Africa, which means we want to have operations in multiple cities in Africa and beyond. We have other firsts intended in the bag and may not want to put them out there, else, they may stand the risk of no longer being firsts by the time we unleash them.
11. Why are you happy to be profiled, and have your work showcased as the Newspread Nigerian of The Week?
We want to inspire as many people as possible with our story and let them see the possibilities of achieving their dreams. We also want the world to know that Nigeria is full of huge potential and that Nigerians are capable of doing great things. Finally, we count it a privilege to be on such a platform as yours that is committed to projecting a positive image of Nigeria.
Each week the Newspread team will be scouring the globe to bring you a brand new ‘Newspread Nigerian of The Week’ doing great things in their space and creating news worth spreading in their area of expertise. Be sure to join us…and if you think you know an amazing Nigerian creating news worth spreading, please reach out to us at email@example.com
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