Start-up snapshot: Careers platform wants to shake up Kenya’s recruitment landscape

Fuzu is an online platform that connects Kenyan job-seekers with employers, and offers users access to a career planner, online courses and smart job recommendations based on their interests and personality.

The platform integrates online psychometric testing and talent profiling of candidates, making it easier for employers to find the right person. “Additionally, Fuzu helps employers to attract and train new talent and to recruit more efficiently, powered by an advanced AI engine,” said Jussi Hinkkanen, co-founder and CEO of Fuzu.

Hinkkanen briefed How we made it in Africa on some of the risks his business faces and how highly-agile prototyping tools could’ve saved him €100,000.

1. How did you finance your start-up?

We have funded our operations with a combination of investments, loans and our own capital – as well as with a few strategic grants. The invested capital has come from “friends and fools”, and more lately from investors such as Finnfund, Barona Technologies and Polkuni.

2. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

Well, with an additional $1m we could rapidly take up several of Africa’s fastest-growing markets and expand our value proposition. I don’t want to give away our strategic focus areas, so let’s leave it there.

3. What risks does your business face?

The most significant ones are market volatility and economic downturns. Hiring is the first thing that is impacted when things go south, i.e. the current political turmoil in Kenya is creating a lot of difficulties for businesses. We naturally also need additional funding to outpace competition, which is challenging as capital markets, particularly below the private equity investment threshold, are still under-developed. The risk absorption level of investors is not the same as it is in Europe, Asia or the US.

4. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Due to our experience in consumer markets, we have been pretty successful in digital marketing, combined with smart activations and influencer campaigns. The best campaigns are the ones where someone else does the yelling for you.

5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

Well, there have been so many – close calls and beautiful triumphs. I have to say that signing of deals and forming of partnerships with global and regional giants like Microsoft, McKinsey, Accenture, Facebook, Google, Rockefeller Foundation or, for example, Multichoice have been ecstatic moments. When players like these have vetted your offering and cleared it, you know that you are on the right track.

6. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it.

Again, there are too many to count. Maybe the biggest one was to develop a mature minimum viable product – an oxymoron in itself. I spent over €100,000 ($118,000) in building a platform that I scrapped immediately after the pilot was finished. The lesson is to rely on highly-agile prototyping tools which allow you to test the value proposition and functionality, not to develop the entire back-end logic.