In most cases, it is said that whoever is destined to attain greatness will, while others believe our actions and deeds shape what we become. But whichever one chooses to agree with, the story of Ikenna Ordor defies the archetypal societal attributions to great success in life, for him, it was a pastiche of hard work, passion and excellence.
Starr Luxury Cars is a product of Ikenna’s undying love for cars and an ultimately intense attraction to the automotive industry. In 2016, he founded the UK based automated Luxury Platform which currently houses the largest fleet of luxury vehicles globally. Operating an asset-light model by working directly with established suppliers, Ikenna is at the driving seat of an automobile revolution, the first of its kind in the industry.
Young Ikenna was born to and raised by affluent Nigerian parents, however, he left for the UK in his teenage years to further his studies. And even though he was exposed to certain privileges, he decided he wanted to build his own business later in life. Ikenna graduated from Birmingham City University where he studied Business and Management. He then went on to study International Business Management at The London Metropolitan University where he armed himself with an even wider array of resources to equip him for the business sector. He is also certified in portfolio, programme and Project offices under the Axelos programme.
Being a serial entrepreneur, his first business in the nightlife and hospitality sector fetched him over £10,000 profit in one night after organizing an event. He further delved into the entertainment scene by starting Starr Parties, which was based in Mayfair, one of the most expensive areas in the UK. After the first year, Ikenna’s Starr Parties recorded unprecedented success which saw him generate more than half a million pounds in revenue. Among the A-list celebrities who attended these parties were Drake, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Trey Songz, P-Diddy and many more.
A few years later, Ikenna committed himself to a new adventure which saw him land a new role as the Marketing & Sales Director of Kouzu, a fine dining Japanese restaurant. He would eventually move to a more prestigious position as the Global brand ambassador of Prosecco Casanova, a luxury prosecco brand, where Ikenna spearheaded the penetration of the brand into the UK Market.
Two years after its launch, Ikenna has managed to achieve a bulging list of Starr Luxury clients that include corporate companies, business profiles, royals and celebrities. Not just that, Starr Luxury Cars was awarded the exclusive contract to chauffeur all artists and celebrities who performed at the One Africa Fest in London. These included Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi, Dj Cuppy, 2 Face and Banky Wellington.
The company has also been awarded ‘The Brand of The Year Award’ at this year’s The Nigerian Award, which is scheduled to take place at The Montcalm, Marble Arch, Central London. The Nigerian is a media group that is committed to telling the Nigerian story from a constructively positive perspective with a focus on what the country is getting right, highlighting aspects that can be improved upon to ensure that the country develops and catches up with the advanced economies of this world.
Starr Luxury Cars, which prides itself as the number one provider of the ultimate luxurious experience, has an exhaustive list of commendation as it continues to grow. Ikenna has set his sights on expanding the business to global tier 1 cities within Europe by building relationships with partners and suppliers within these regions. The development of an automated platform that makes it easier for clients to book a car service is also in the works, a testament to Ikenna’s commitment to the industry.
In this exclusive interview with Ventures Africa, Ikenna Ordor tells us about his experience in the automotive industry, the uniqueness of his brand and plans for future expansion into the African market.
Ventures Africa (VA): At what point did you fully realize that you wanted to focus on doing business in the automotive industry?
Ikenna Ordor (IK): I have always had an undying passion for cars, and I have explored previous businesses in the sector, but nothing quite connected like Starr Luxury Cars – Pairing cars with expert craftsmanship and ultimate luxury creates more than just cars, it presents a lifestyle. I figured out that I could combine my experience in the nightlife, entertainment, and hospitality with my passion for cars and this is essentially how Starr Luxury Cars came about.
VA: How were you able to build such a huge capital-based venture on your own?
IK: Consistency is Key, and having a great team. Initially, I didn’t have any investors so I relied on my financial resources, network and close-knit team. I had to relinquish all my other business interests and focus on this particular venture. Our key strength is that we run an asset-light model, which allows us to be versatile. We’ve also invested heavily in tech and marketing, which seems to be yielding its rewards.
VA: Your ability to source and provide vehicles for some of the world’s most recognised brands clearly shows your prowess in this line of business. What factors have led to the success of Starr Luxury Cars?
IK: Relationships, professionalism and our integrity as a company. We are trusted with vehicles that cost in excess of a quarter of a million pounds, From Lamborghini’s to McLaren’s and Bugatti’s we offer it all. We possess great knowledge of the eco-system we operate in, knowledge is key and is super responsive. Our clients trust that if they contact us a day before and want a Lamborghini on their driveway before they leave for work in the morning or when Nike needed a James Bond style Defender spectre, we delivered. An ethos of delivering for our clients and complete transparency has surely contributed to our success.
VA: What is unique about your brand?
IK: Starr Luxury Cars is taking pole position as the AirBnB of Luxury Ground Travel in the UK, which we are aiming to scale up to tier 1 cities across the globe. Our brand is Unique because we are not just a luxury cars company, we provide add-on concierge services. From sourcing sold-out gig tickets to making reservations as some of the city’s finest restaurants, we are able to make things happen for our clients.
VA: In recent times, there is an increased demand for various services in the automotive industry, how have you been able to wade through the competition since you began in the UK?
IK: At Starr luxury, we offer a 360 service and we do it well. Most companies offer one or the other, you can come to us for a Chauffeur driven car, a Prestige/supercar hire or even a personal driver for your own vehicle. We also understand our customers and their needs. We service individuals and corporate clients, leveraging our relationship within their sectors.
VA: In terms of diversification, do you have bigger plans for this sector beyond Starr Luxury Cars?
IK: At Starr Luxury Cars we believe “Life is a Journey”. For now, our focus is Starr Luxury Cars, however, we intend to offer other forms of transportation via sea and air supporting our clients on all their journeys across the world. We also have ideas for an e-commerce shop that supports the lifestyle of our clients.
VA: What are some of the most rewarding and biggest challenges of being a car business owner/entrepreneur?
IK: We have been able to build a fantastic network and we are the preferred partner for a lot of corporate businesses, the likes of Quintessentially and Hertz Prestige. This is a testament to the service we are providing and our operations and is a positive re-enforcement for us all. Some of the challenges we face are barriers to entry, insurance companies are not the most welcoming to new players, we are still facing the challenge of finding the right insurance partner to diversify and open up other service sectors within our plan.
VA: The African automotive industry has recorded a lot of success in recent years, in addition to great and promising deals. What is your general opinion of the automotive industry in Africa?
IK: Africa is full of growth across all sectors including the automotive industry. There has been an increase in the African consumers for these productions and as such attracting investment from manufacturers like Porsche who have a showroom in Lagos. We are keen on the idea of Starr Luxury Cars joining the mix, we are looking to launch a Super Car Club for collectors and car enthusiasts to enjoy a variety of cars.
VA: As an African (of Nigeria descent), have you ever thought of replicating this business on the continent?
IK: Yes, we are already researching the feasibility of entering the marketing, how best to position ourselves and which of our service offerings will perform best in Nigeria. I am already certain about the supercar club, not a lot of wealthy Nigerians own supercars because they just will not get the use out of it. A more efficient financial commitment in a car and an enjoyable experience is a super club, which will also facilitate like-minded networking.
VA: Who are your mentors? What core lessons were you able to learn that have played a role in your success as an entrepreneur?
IK: Richard Branson is one of the entrepreneurs I admire, you have to have daredevil guts to conquer and execute some ideas. The story that resonates with me is how he pioneered his first virgin airlines flight, the girl and the cancelled flight. A cancelled flight led to him booking his own plane and advertising on a blackboard one-way flight to the British Virgin Islands on Virgin Airlines and before you know it he had an airline full of passengers. Attack your desire with conviction and be your number one marketer, see opportunity where others might see miss-fortune.
VA: Having the opportunity to collaborate with prestigious brands and also earning a stellar reputation in dealing with celebrity clients must be a dream come true for you. Tell us more about this experience.
IK: It’s fantastic to have a stellar reputation and expensive to maintain, our clients are used to us going above and beyond, it becomes the norm. We are never satisfied with the norm, so we always adopt new ways to impress our clients.
VA: Any advice for young African entrepreneurs looking to explore this sector?
IK: In a service sector, start with laying focus on the seamless delivery of your service to your clients. Don’t try to create demand, offer what the market requires and do it best. If you decide to be an operator with heavy assets in play, be sure that you have forward planning to avoid being crippled by any commitments. Ultimately have a passion for what you do, so even when problems arise you can solve them with a smile on your face.