In March 2011 the Ghanaian startup NandiMobile was granted the “Best Business” award at the LAUNCH Conference in San Francisco, where more than 100 startups from around the world presented and debuted their products and services. Almost 1,5 year later VC4Africa spoke to co-founder Edward Amartey-Tagoe (on the left in the picture above) to see how they have progressed since then.
Can you convince the reader to start using NandiMobile products in under 50 words?
“If you are a business out there, the need to communicate with your consumers or clients is very essential for your existence. That is why we focus on helping you maintain that relationship with your customers – via their mobile.”
Why is there a need for a service like NandiMobile in Ghana?
“NandiMobile seeks to bridge the communication gap between businesses and their clients by leveraging the potential of mobile. The group thus seeks to build intuitive web and mobile apps that assist enterprises and their end-users. To achieve this objective we have come up with 3 different services which have this umbrella focus; Gripeline, Infoline and the Business Directory.”
How long did it take to put together ideas for NandiMobile?
“It took the founders close to five months, to put the idea together. They researched the idea by interviewing thousands of potential clients and mobile users in Ghana. They came up with a tech prototype, and run tests at events and with test clients to verify assumptions.”
What is the biggest hurdle you, personally, have faced or are still facing as a team?
“One of our challenges has been explaining our technology to the managers of the companies we talk to. Not too many of them are tech-savvy, so at times it takes a longer time before they understand the product and its benefits.”
How about touching on the business model behind NandiMobile?
“Nandimobile signs up enterprise clients interested in communicating and managing their clients. The signed up clients get access to the web app that will connect them to their clients for a yearly subscription fee. The subscription fees depend on the package the business wants to be signed up on. End-users pay nothing to get in touch with the businesses. Businesses renew their yearly subscriptions when their initial subscription expires. No installations are needed since all NandiMobile services run on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
Any big clients on your list since you launched till date?
“We have a list of big clients. Unfortunately some have asked to stay anonymous as part of their competitive strategy. Those outside this list include; FC Group of Companies, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, University of Ghana, ACCA Ghana and Starbow Airline.”
NandiMobile is part of the many start-ups funded by the Meltwater Group. What are the advantages of this initiative over other start-ups in Ghana?
“NandiMobile is part of the Meltwater Incubator, which has close to eleven startups all funded and supported by the Meltwater Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of the Meltwater Group. This cluster of young tech-preneurs has created a positive energy that motivates all founders. We also benefit from one another by leveraging on the expertise presented by the various teams. Thus we are never short of help. There is always an arm to help another whenever the need arises. This probably is the resource other startups don’t have access to, since they mostly work on their own.”
Can you tell us more about the core-team members?
“NandiMobile was formed by Anne Amuzu, Michael Dakwa and myself after going through a two-year training in software development and entrepreneurship. The team had worked on a mobile project together at MEST in their second semester and came up with a successful project after 4 months of being together. They therefore agreed to work together again in their final semester on a project with which they would apply for funding from the Meltwater Foundation.”
What are your values and how have these contributed to the development of NandiMobile?
“At NandiMobile one of our core values friendship and excellence. We are friendly to persons who align themselves with us or wish to learn from us. And to our clients we intend to provide nothing but excellent products and above-par customer service.”
What do you wish, you’d have known 5-years ago that you know now?
“We wished we had known the challenges involved in running businesses so we would prepare for them. We made a couple of assumptions which proved not be incorrect. What is displayed on paper is not exactly what practices in our business environment.”
Who would you say, is your biggest competitor in Ghana?
“There aren’t too many players doing what we are currently doing, because of the differentiation we have added to the market. There however are dozens of substitutes businesses could use to replace one feature we provide or the other. Some of these substitutes include; Bulk SMS products, Yellow pages and call centers.”
What is the NandiMobile team excited about at the moment?
“We currently are excited about the moving unto the next phase of our business. In the last quarter of this year, we intend to roll out mobile app versions of our services to make the enterprise-consumer communication more exciting. We came by this decision after we evaluated the increase in number of smart phones in the country. We will announce when these apps are ready.”