Start-up: Yoza (Uganda)
Yoza is a laundry service app that enables people in Uganda’s capital Kampala to find casual labourers to do their laundry. Established by 24-year-old Solomon Kitumba, Yoza seeks to help laundry attendants earn more money by increasing their customer base. Its target customers are students and professionals with busy schedules.
Yoza generates income through calls made via the app by users connecting with laundry attendants as well as commissions off the fee laundry attendants receive after landing jobs via the app. It also has a web interface where users can subscribe to one of four packages and pre-pay for the service.
How we made it in Africa asked Kitumba about his business.
1. How did you finance your start-up?
I got initial investment of around US$180 from a friend who believed in my idea. He is now my chief financial officer. We recently also won $5,000 at the MTN App Challenge.
2. If you were given $1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?
We would use the investment to address some of the challenges we are facing. In some areas we are finding it difficult to recruit a big team of laundry attendants so we would use some of the money to do a recruitment drive. The demand for laundry services is nationwide and we’d like to have teams in all big residential zones across Uganda. This will significantly increase our market size, and in the long term our revenues and profit margins. We would also spend some of the funds to offer users incentives to increase use of the app. We would invest in a more diverse marketing team and like our users to make a habit of using Yoza every single time they want their laundry cleaned.
3. What risks does your business face?
The first risk is laundry attendants contracted via Yoza not doing a good job. There is also the risk that customers contracting laundry attendants via Yoza might not be genuine. You can imagine bad things could happen once a laundry attendant gets to the customer’s home and finds that customer is a not a good person.
4. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
We have been using social media and emailing campaigns which have helped us reach a group of customers who spend a lot of their time on social media networks. We are looking at exploring other models to help us reach people in the corporate world who would be able to subscribe for our $273 family package.
5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
My most exciting entrepreneurial moment was when we got our first paying customer. It meant millions to me because it was affirmation that we are on to something. I started this in my bedroom, and now it was making sense to people – enough for them to spend money on the service.
6. Tell us about your biggest mistake and what you’ve learnt from it.
Initially I focused a lot on the technology instead of the service element. It is a mistake many tech entrepreneurs make – we tend to look at the systems we are building for the business instead of focusing on the service. When I realised my mistake, I started making sure people are getting good laundry services when they need it.