Monday Moments Ep 8 – The Zero BS Edition!

It’s a rule of thumb in the world of writing that you NEVER ever start off an article by discrediting yourself! The reader loses confidence in you, and your opinions end up being ‘moo’ points at best. I don’t care much for that rule, so here is a little disclaimer before we proceed; I’m no business guru. I’m no branding guru either. Like a little child, I observe the world around me with a lot of curiosity, and form opinions based on what I see. I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons through this.

So when I read the story of a youthful Music student who created ‘the fastest growing tech company ever’ from the ground up, a lot of the things I have read in business books almost stopped making sense! Welcome to Monday Moments Ep 8.

  1. So different, yet so alike!
    The developed world is different from the developing world in a myriad of ways. While a typical middle class family in the UK will own a mortgaged house, one or two cars, and afford basic luxuries such as holidays abroad etc, a middle class family in East Africa will live in a rented house, rely heavily on public transport and Christmas holiday for them is a trip upcountry! But i’ll tell you this; every single human being in the world knows a genuinely good deal when it’s clearly presented to them. Note the key words , ‘Genuinely good deal‘ and ‘Clearly presented‘. No matter where in the world you run your business from, if you stay away from BS and concentrate on true-to-God value addition, i don’t need to be a guru to tell you your business will succeed. Ask yourself this question, “If I wasn’t the one selling this product, would I buy it?”.
  2. The Power of the Masses
    When you operate a business in a market like East Africa, and you would like to make a billion dollars, the gold mine for you isn’t in the pompous suburb living elite! Those people form less than 10% of the market, and half the stuff they own was bought in Dubai or Singapore! That lowly carpenter in the slums who buys just enough ingredients for one meal, or the ‘mama mboga’ who buys Kshs 10 worth of Airtime at a time; there’s your gold mine! Read to the stories of KCB, MTN Uganda or Bidco Oil and many others to see what i’m talking about.
  3. 1 + 1 = 2, period?
    When Richard Branson decided to venture into the telecoms industry as an addition to his 300 and something companies, he did something which I’ve only seen being replicated locally by Rene Meza of Zain. Established companies at the time had their subscribers all confused with complicated tariffs. They rode on this confusion to mint money off people. He came in and introduced one simple flat rate tariff that was a first in the industry. In no time Virgin Mobile was taking on industry leaders and expanding globally using the same ‘make life easy for customers’ model!
  4. Business Vs Brand
    The key to my humble abode in Nairobi, Kenya is one of several keys in a bunch that has other keys  which I’ve never used. A while back, my sister was at the supermarket to buy ‘Tangawizi’ tea bags, and she happened to see this ‘Baraka Chai’ brand that was on offer. There was a free key holder giveaway attached to the packaging as well, and this key holder somehow found it’s way into my bunch of keys. I use my key everyday, and everyday I see that branded key holder. The tea bags themselves are also quite good. We’ve been buying ‘Baraka Chai’ ever since, offer or no offer. The take home here? For me that offer represented traditional marketing strategies which often have a direct relation to sales, while that key holder represents what new age marketing strategies are all about; brand presence and loyalty building.
  5. Say hello to Andrew Mason
    I’m yet to get over this Groupon story. Groupon was built ground-up as a business, not a technology . Forbes says that Groupon represents what the dot-com boom was supposed to be all about: huge sales, easy profits and solid connection between bricks-and-mortar retailers and online consumers. The business model is so painfully simple it hurts! We have a couple of local start-ups trying to replicate this model here as well including and Let’s see who hits the jackpot.
  6. How to get 3 Million people to use your software
    That’s approximately half the internet users in East Africa! Is it possible? I believe so! In fact, I  will give my precious ‘Baraka Chai’ keyholder to he/she who hits this number first. To help you in this task, please spare some $11 to purchase this book by the founders of 37signals. I personally use two of their 4 software packages and I promise you technology never seemed friendlier! It’s easy to see why so many users (non-techies for sure) choose them. Be sure to read my first episode of the Double ‘S’ series for more on their Stupidly Simple software.
  7. An Intervangelist Salute to Jay-Z
    Wondering why? Just visit In web development terms, this is like the Gucci of Websites. If it was an East African website, it would definitely make it to my list of Web 2.0 websites!

Now go tell a Friend!

7 Responses to “Monday Moments Ep 8 – The Zero BS Edition!”

  1. 1 Eric Mwiti November 15, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Hi Intervangelist,

    Is it not amazing how we take small things for granted?The key holder example is a perfect example of how branding translates to key sales and return on brand investment.

    Andrew Mason’s story is totally inspiring and why lie, I may not be a Jay Z fan but personally his website is totally Dope.

    Good stuff.

    Keep it up.


  2. 2 Intervangelist EA November 15, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Thanks Eric! Glad you liked it 🙂

  3. 3 dorothy ooko November 15, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Great read Interevangelist! Sharing the key article with the team too! The Jay-Z website–intriguing as Eric has said.

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