Zakaria Hersi: Simplicity and Innovation key at driving business growth
When setting up a business we all look forward to scaling our businesses, making huge profit and expanding to other countries in the first few years. The truth? it is always an uphill task.
According to a workshop held last week by Prof Joe Haslam from IE Business School in Madrid on Why Scale-up is the new start-up, the truth is that it takes most companies close to ten years to scale-up and most of them give up just when they are about to hit exponentiality. There are many reasons this.
One key reason though that can drive your business to scale-up quite fast is innovating around your product and making it so simple for your users that it creates an “aha!” moment. On innovation, its clear now more than ever that companies have risen to the level of the FORTUNE 500 due to innovation while other big companies have lost their relevance due to lack of innovation.
One great example of a company that has innovated around its product and kept its product quite simple thus achieving an upward business growth is Truecaller. With over 250 million users, Truecaller is the third largest app being used in India and is also gaining traction in other markets like Africa.
During a workshop held at Nairobi Garage Westlands Office Space, by Zakaria Hersi, Director of Partnerships Africa at TrueCaller, on ‘How to innovate your product towards business growth,” Mr. Hersi shared tips with entrepreneurs on how Truecaller has been able to achieve scalability and how they too can work on their products to achieve business growth.
Apart from keeping it simple and innovation, here are the key takeaways from the Workshop on business growth:
Localize your product to fit a specific audience: Always keep in mind a certain product may work in a certain market and fail in another. Try as much as possible to make sure your product is suitable for that market. In the case of Truecaller, India being one of its biggest markets, Truecaller launched its SMS app called Truemessenger exclusively in this market. Truemessenger enables users to identify the sender of SMS messages. This launch was aimed at increasing the company’s user base in India. In Kenya, Truecaller availed the app in Swahili language in 2017. The app also has an offline caller ID that helps bridge the online and offline world and is available in markets where most populations are offline. This could include simple things like the language and simplicity of the product.
Create partnerships not just any partnerships but find partners who believe in your product. Truecaller has experienced strong growth in many different geographies and was supported this with different marketing and partner programs. In the case of Truecaller the company partners with OEMs and carriers, this helps them grow and reach a wider audience.
Customer is Key: Always educate users on the feature updates and product improvements. Adopt and take in as much feedback from your customers and ensure that you action the feedback. Also have a platform where you can communicate with them. Always have an active and engaged dialogue with your users in forums, on Twitter, through reviews and meetups. For Truecaller, this has inspired key community members and given the company insights to fix bugs and features that regular user data analysis might not identify correctly
If you are looking into creating an application, build a product that can scale into as many platforms as possible: In the case of TrueCaller, the app was initially launched by BlackBerry on 1 July 2009. After good response from users it launched for Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile. It was later released for Android and IOS platforms in 2009. As of September 2012 Truecaller, had five million users performing 120 million searches of the telephone number database every month. As of January 2013 Truecaller, reached 10 million users. As of January 2018 Truecaller, had reached 300 million users worldwide.
Always work on improving your product and do not settle: Through Customer feedback learn to improve your product. In the case of Truecaller, the app has a history spanning over years of launching new versions of the product and is generating serious revenue taking the company to profitability soon. Truecaller has since transformed into a full communication app with messaging and dialing features and more, which have helped bring the share of daily (pro)active users to a very high portion of the monthly and daily active user-base.
Make use of Social Media Platforms and Public Relations: This helps you create brand awareness and reach more people. Always ensure you action on every point you get on your platforms. You can also make use of the platforms by building campaigns and getting product ambassadors that get to spread the word about your product. Technology is always good but its advisable that you avoid costly technology while starting off.
Other key take-aways include:
- Build a product that is long-time and beneficial to the mass
- Build a product that is well-connected to the ecosystem
- Make your product so simple that it creates an ‘Aha!’ moment to the users
- Make everyday a learning experience and make everything you create relevant and driven by customer feedback.
- Build an engaging platform and that which has potential to scale up.
- Continue innovating around your product by not taking just any risks but ensuring that you calculate the risks.
- Build a product by being ambitious and it make it accessible for a global audience.
Thanks for the great insights Zakaria! Glad to have top business leaders like yourself as part of our coworking community.