Mubarack Muyika, 20, is the founder and CEO of Zagace, an app store where businesses can access software that enables them to manage accounting, human resources, finances, marketing, and so forth. Unlike other platforms offered by global companies, Zagace is affordably-priced and has mobile and web apps that are customised to the needs of specific industries. For example, a manufacturing company in Kenya would buy an app that is designed to fit their industry and the taxation requirements in that country. A barbershop operating in Tanzania would have to use a different app that is designed to fit their needs and the legal requirements in their territory. Zagace was established 15 months ago.
1. Give us your elevator pitch.
We have come up with a system that I would describe as the Android of business software. Small and medium enterprises can sign up to get access to apps that make it easier for them to manage their operations. Our aim is to make enterprise software accessible to everyone globally.
2. How did you finance your start-up?
I got $100,000 from the sale of my previous company called HypeCentury – a web hosting business. I have raised additional funding from local investors who gave us money in the form of convertible debt.
3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?
It would go into payment of salaries and hiring new people as we execute our expansion plan. We want to expand in the US and China and we have already registered subsidiaries there. The two markets present a good financial future for the company. We have 12 employees in Kenya and as we continue with customer acquisition, manpower requirements are very high. We need more employees to be able to take care of the growth of the business and increase the number of users.
4. What risks does your business face?
As a business operating in Africa we find ourselves in a situation where it is ten times harder to get into the market, ten times harder to raise funds and even as an entrepreneur I have to work ten times harder than what Bill Gates probably did to get to the same level. This is a risk in achieving our potential, just by being in Africa by default. Other risks include delays in getting funding or actually getting the funding itself; so we have to get into partnership deals or engage in deferring goals.
5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
It has to be the day I signed an agreement for the sale of my previous venture for $100,000. That was a complete breakthrough.
6. What has been your biggest mistake, and what have you learnt from it?
The biggest mistake I made was becoming too ambitious to a point that I lost perspective of reality. For example, in my first venture (HypeCentury) when I got the first ten paying customers – each paying $500 – imagined that if I continued getting five customers every week, I would make $10,000. As a young person (aged 17 at the time) with heightened expectations I was pushing everyone calling customers left, right and centre and making employees feel like they had to accomplish A and B within the shortest time possible.
The mistake I made with Zagace in the early days was in the investment of the platform we chose. We wasted a lot of resources in a period of three months. These experiences have taught me it is best to operate the way Bill Gates did. I should ask myself every day: what is going to be the problem? What is going to be wrong?