Start-up snapshot: Customer feedback platform encouraging businesses to ‘bua’ (talk)


Neo Marti, co-founder of BUA

Bua.Space (BUA) is an online platform in Botswana that allows customers to give feedback to various businesses throughout the country. The platform is free for individual users, but companies that wish to register and communicate with consumers are required to purchase ‘response bundles’. 

The site encourages constructive feedback and has various measures in place to prevent abuse (from both sides of the interaction).

Neo Marti, co-founder of BUA, spoke to How we made it in Africa about the business, the challenges it has faced, and how she would like the platform to evolve. ‘Bua’ is the Setswana word for ‘speak’.

1. Why is there a need for BUA?

Forty percent of dissatisfied customers will begin purchasing from a competitor solely based on their reputation for great customer service. Out of these consumers that switched service providers, 82% felt that their original service provider could have done something to prevent them from switching. BUA bridges the gap between consumers and suppliers, giving consumers the space to provide essential feedback and companies the opportunity to retain their customers and improve service delivery.

2. How did you finance your start-up?

We are a self-funded, talent-based start-up. My husband is a programmer and does the programming for the website and I specialise in the management of the business.

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

The investment would go into:

  • The creation of an iOS and Windows BUA app
  • Creating a fully functional Android BUA app (the current one has limited features)
  • Having rating devices within the premises of all our registered clients�
  • Worldwide expansion and having all the above customised for every country

4. What risks does your business face?

There is a lack of access to cheap internet in Botswana, which hinders consumers’ capabilities to provide feedback. The rating devices would facilitate in easier, cheaper, faster rating.

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

Social media. Namely Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

Winning the Seedstars Gaborone 2016 competition. BUA was a ‘wildcard’ entry. We heard about the Seedstars competition from First Steps Venture Centre. We were invited to attend the event and we asked how we could become a part of the pitch. This was two days before the final event. We were told that companies were pitching that day (in the next hour to be exact) and that if we wanted to give it a go, we could. And so we did. We won the competition two days later.

7. What has been the biggest mistake you have made in your start-up, and what have you
learned from it?

My biggest mistake was not having a solid business plan before the launch. The idea for the site came from a personal experience and so, because it was a combination of both my husband’s and my talent, the idea materialised much faster than we’d anticipated it to. Meaning we now have to learn along the way as we had not been prepared for some of the things that came up. I have definitely learned that I should have taken the time to create a comprehensive business plan before the launch of the website and that I shouldn’t have taken the idea for granted and started the business (figuratively speaking) ‘just to see’ if it would work.