Explaining how the chain originated, Ngozi Dozie says: “The word ‘neo’ means ‘gift’ in Tswana and it also ‘new’ in Latin. For us we view coffee as a gift to the continent. We felt that through Café Neo we could have the best African coffees produced by Africans, drunk in Africa.”
Among the infrastructural challenges faced by the Dozie brothers, the lack of consumption of coffee in Nigeria appeared daunting at first.
Chijoke explains how Café Neo overcame difficulties by creating an alternative coffee shop: “We were always sceptical that Nigerians wouldn't take to coffee… what we tried to replicate was that third space. It wasn't just ‘come and drink coffee’. It's ‘come and hang out’, free Wi-Fi, meet people, jazz music playing in the background.”
Inspired by European coffeehouses, the Dozie brothers created a space for entrepreneurs, as Ngozi explains, in an interview with African Start-Up: “I think it's through the fact that we are providing a platform for entrepreneurs to grow. It's also through the events that we are hosting and partnerships, where we can plug in entrepreneurs… For most start-ups, when you start, there isn't really any space for you. If you try and work from home, there's probably is no power. If you try to go to the hotel, it's not conducive, but Neo is a space where you come and meet people. We try and create space that's conducive to that kind of chance//serendipitous meeting.”
With a cup of coffee ranging from 50 cents to $3 a cup, Café Neo has become popular to a diverse pool of coffee drinkers, and the Dozie brothers hope to continue their growth in Africa.
The coffee chain, along with Big Cabal Media, owners of TechCabal and Zikoko, recently secured funding from the Lagos Angel Network (LAN) at the last edition of the Lagos Startup Deal Day.