A NOTE TO INTERNET ENTREPRENEURS IN KENYA

Just back from an internet marathon where I managed to locate around 50 Kenyan online businesses covering all notable sectors including insurance, dating, shopping, social networking, crowd sourcing, research and probably the most popular, travel.

It is quite an impressive collection of websites, half of which have taken impressive steps towards integrating e-commerce features into their websites. Of course currently e-commerce is limited to m-commerce options such as M-PESA and ZAP for the most part, but if you have been reading the news lately, then you know that e-commerce gateways are imminent.

Another exciting thing to note is that most of these online start-ups are the products of young entrepreneurs, some of whom have quit their jobs to pursue their dreams. I couldn’t be more proud.

I thus feel obliged to mention 5 key elements which I feel anyone thinking of venturing into the internet business fray should bear in mind, namely:

  1. On the internet, we are all equal. None is more equal than the other.
    Unlike conventional business, the big dog with a fat bank account does not necessarily win the internet battle. Great internet success stories such as half.com were written by cash strapped campus students while huge failures such as go.com with its $790 million budget from Walt Disney are nothing to write home about.
  2. People, people, and more people
    The internet is a unique business platform. In conventional business, the number of walk in customers does not necessarily result in increased sales. On the web, every customer walk in is an opportunity for you to earn money, be it in traffic driven ad sales, on click royalties or community sourcing through social media. People form a critical element in the strategy of any online business. Ignore people, and it’s a guaranteed failure.
  3. You don’t have to be a techie, to do business on the internet
    Of course being tech savvy is an added advantage, but take a quick look at some of the most successful Kenyan techpreneurs and you’ll be amazed at the number of B.Com graduates on that list. There are now more than enough development tools that enable users to create fully functional websites without writing a single line of code. Not to mention the numerous techies who are willing to jump onto the next web project to build their portfolio. It is however highly advisable to partner with someone conversant with web technologies if your business requires complex application development.
  4. Big picture, Small picture
    Most young internet entrepreneurs launch into business without a clear vision of where they would like their business to be 10 years from the time of launch. It’s really easy to lay too much emphasis on developing applications, without paying much attention how their usability leads to improved user experience, and how this user experience transforms into a loyal client base that will eventually contribute to the growth of the business. If you are getting into a partnership, ensure you have someone in your team who can map the bigger picture to your short term goals, hence keep you on track.
  5. Curiosity never killed the cat, at least not in internet business.
    Web technologies change by the minute, and I mean literally. While Web 2.0 might be the in thing today, before you know it someone is talking about Web 4.0 and you are left wondering what happened to Web 3.0. An internet entrepreneur cannot afford to not be abreast with market trends. It’s however important to note that knowing what’s cutting edge does not necessarily mean implementing it. Technology supports internet business, but it does not dictate it.

All the best on your next internet venture.

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10 Responses to “A NOTE TO INTERNET ENTREPRENEURS IN KENYA”


  1. 1 erastotle March 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    baba..

    how does one make money purely from clicks and the other stuff on the net? this idea is TOO HOT to miss it out!

    • 2 amuriu March 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Erastotle! Submitting your website to such tools as google adsense is a good example of earning money from website clicks. If your website is popular enough you can also sell ad spaces to interested parties and still get paid from clicks on those ads. With a simple ingenious idea for a web service, you can easily be on your way to being a millionaire sooner than you expect. An internet revolution is happening in Africa my friend.

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