Saturday, September 22, 2007

Business at a stand still at Sasanet

Sasanet who are from their website " A limited liability company wholly owned by Kenyans and licensed by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to provide a range of Telecommunication Services, information management solutions to our local and international clients. It is a company dedicated to improving the efficiency of communications to our customers. " seem to have hit a major snag in their operations.

Auctioneers fell upon their premises with such zeal and zest that the workers were left bewildered. Though the reason for the impounding was not readliy established, this deals a serious blow to one of Kenya's leading VAS providers. We can only hope they get back on their feet real soon, otherwise the loss in buisness will run in the millions.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lip sticking

We have been working on an east africa portal for women, covering all manner of channels. Though we did a number of focus groups, I still felt the need to delve deeper into the mindset of she to find out exactly what would make them burn with desire to engage on our site -

The hunt is on...dickless marketing .

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Long Tail

Every once in a while a book comes along that completely captures and defines a particular period. Nicholas Negroponte’s Being Digital defined the blossoming digital culture of the mid 90’s, now The Long Tail shows how the Internet will radically change our habits and behaviour.

Chris Anderson illustrates how our buying habits have been shaped by the economics of big business, creating the blockbuster culture; the selling of a narrow range of products to the biggest possible group of consumers. Anderson shows how the Internet, through companies such as eBay, Google and Amazon, radically changes that, allowing us to be more exploratory and specific about what we buy.

“The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.”

Anderson provides and eloquent and detailed analysis of various aspects of Internet culture and business and illustrates how the explosion of niche markets and filtering tools will allow us to zero-in on things that interest us, potentially shattering the hold that large manufacturers and retailers have exercised since the mid 20th century.

The Long Tail Book Review: Why The Future Of Business Is Selling Less Of More (95%)The Long Tail effect is not limited to buying and selling, the process by which the book was written is a case in point. Anderson (editor in chief of Wired magazine) published the original Long Tail article in Wired back in October 04. The article rapidly became a hit and mushroomed into the Long Tail blog which Anderson used to publicly research and test his theories. Shortly before the publication date earlier this month, Anderson released copies of the book to bloggers across the globe for review. The process is a perfect example of a product being tested and developed publicly, thereby generating enough word of mouth interest to create a ready market for it. The strategy was proved a resounding success by the book’s appearance in Amazon’s top ten non-fiction list on its publication day.

Although The Long Tail is a business book, it is also about culture in general and how it’s changing. Freed from the constraints of the blockbuster culture, the consumer is able to delve into niches he never knew existed and also to contribute in a way that was not previously possible. The success of social software services such as Flickr and YouTube has allowed the audience to create and share their own material generating a genuinely new, interactive media which is actually competing in some respects with mainstream broadcast media.

The Long Tail Book Review: Why The Future Of Business Is Selling Less Of More (95%)Some have taken this to mean that Anderson is sounding the death knell for blockbusters, something which he was at pains to counter on his blog, “Hits Aren’t Dead” he said, “I never said they were. What is dead is the monopoly of the hit. For too long hits or products intended to be hits have had the stage to themselves, because only hit-centric companies had access to the retail channel and the retail channel only had room for best-sellers. But now blockbusters must share the stage with a million niche products, and this will lead to a very different marketplace.”

While not all the ideas in The Long Tail are Anderson’s own, like any good journalist, he manages to articulate the complexities of a difficult subject in a lucid and entertaining style.

The Long Tail is an important manual for the new economics of the Internet and digital culture. As well as demystifying the numbers it provides an essential guide to how to navigate a world where everything is available, all the time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meeting with the Google team

I had the opportunity to meet up with Mr. Mucheru, who is now the head of Google’s Africa operation as pertains product penetration. He did make me aware that Egypt and South Africa also have Google offices but only in sales capacity, which is why his appointment was churned out as Google’s first African employee.

In his days at the helm of Wananchi Online, we had been collaborating on a few ideas that touched on convergence of communication. We had looked at creating a product that would cross cut devices and deliver local and customizable content free or at minimal cost.

The project was christened – Project Anywhere as the platform was to transcend boundaries and devices. We had looked at various open source options and had kinda settled on one particular (half) open source platform that would deliver email and sms functionality as well as give capability to build on it to expand functionality.

Our major impediment then became cost of acquisition (remember half open source ), and venture capitalist firms had too many questions and banks…lets just say we were not their core business and wouldn’t be for a long time to come.

We busied ourselves refining user experience and picking at our product as we awaited funding from several promising angel investors. Several false starts is what we had…until today.

We walked through our product / service offering and it future and way in which Google can partner and support the same. Key highlights of our talks was the monetizing of content, building local content repositories and having the internet (read as technology) add value to individual as well as corporate users.

Google has met us halfway, as they will have a presence at the local exchange points (KIXP), meaning that they will bear the costs of any outbound traffic, and local traffic will be kept local reducing costs. This will also improve the access speeds of our services.

We will also have access to Google’s development team, to help tweak and bring our ideas into life in record time and to world class standard…those geeks have to amount to something aye! Imagine plug-in in to their weekend boot camp…

We are looking at payment integration, location services, content channels, education and messaging solutions as a start.

The good news is, we are ready to go. As from end of next week we will be officially online, riding on scalable infrastructure and world class technology to boot.

It has been a while coming, but we are here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Peupe - the locally asembled blogging platform

I think this is pretty cool that we are developing local competency in the tools that will power the next web.My pal the subsaharan coder, is behind the latest web app in the Kenyan space - Peipe

"Peupe is a blog that is specially developed for business leaders and experts. Its features allow the blogger to share information,photos,
documents, and much more

Communities build brands. Build your community and let them build your brand as they talk,listen and share with you and each other."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Next 4 Billion

The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid

Four billion people who live in relative poverty have purchasing power representing a $5 trillion market, according to a report by the IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and World Resources Institute (WRI).

The report is the first to measure the size of markets at the base of the economic pyramid using income and expenditure data from household surveys. The analysis is complemented by an overview of business strategies from successful enterprises operating in these markets.

Accurate data on market potential provides a foundation for private sector engagement that can drive down what the report calls the “BOP penalty,” where poorer people often encounter goods and services that are more expensive, of low quality, or difficult or impossible to access. The report seeks to help businesses think more creatively about new business models that meet the needs of these underserved markets.

The report characterizes the base of the pyramid markets by region, country, and sector. Sector markets for 4 billion consumers range from those that are relatively small, such as water ($20 billion) and information and communication technologies ($51 billion), to medium-scale markets such as health ($158 billion), transportation ($179 billion), housing ($332 billion), and energy ($433 billion), to truly large markets, such as food ($2,895 billion).

Get the summary report here

Monday, May 14, 2007

Back on track

After three months of grappling with issues of startup capital and living from the day to day, I am happy to report that we have finaly bagged sufficient startup capital to enable us have a beta product out soon. Over the past two months I have been booking appointments with potential angels in the hope of securing funding. About five of these meetings went realy badly as I believe I was presenting to the wrong crowd of hitherto earth, rain and harvest your produce mentality.

Two however went rather well with one agreeing to pump in capital. The Fleetwood...tok rather long to make up their minds and I got sold on the other proposition. So I am currently devoted entirely to this project forthe next six weeks.Angels need to see progress and results. Keep you posted.