Name: Likhwa M. Moyo
Company name: Business Builder App Co
Business Location: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Products /Services: Business Builder- Small Business Management Suite [Android App]
Years in Business: 1
Number of employees: 2
Phone number: +263 77 295 0712
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media: @bizbuilderapp
App Download Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.my.businessbuilder
Tell us your name, tell us about your business and where you are operating from?
My name is Likhwa M. Moyo. I am an app developer as well as a content creator. I currently have a number of apps on the Google Playstore, with the main one being the Business builder- Small Business Management Suite. I am currently based in Bulawayo.
Tell us why and how you started the app
I had a business project I was working on and I needed somewhere to record my business activity. This included transactions, meeting notes and more. At the time I was using numerous apps to do this… for example I had one app for notes, another for transactions and another to store contacts and so on. This made it hard to keep track of all my activities, so I started searching for one app that could do all those things, an app that I could open and feel like I was in my business. Most of the apps I found online were accounting apps and many did not suit my Zimbabwean situation e.g. some stored data online and as a result when I was in a remote area I couldn’t access that data.
For starters I created an Excel Spreadsheet but that meant I needed to carry the laptop everywhere. I then started doing research and online courses on how to create apps. With the help of online tutorials as well as trial and error I built the first version of the Business Builder App and uploaded to Playstore in August 2018. It took me about 3 months and I’ve been developing and tweaking it over time.
What features does the Business Builder App have? How does it help businesses?
First and foremost it helps them outline the direction of their business. This includes the overall vision and mission. Secondly, every business needs a plan and the Business Builder App comes with a guided business plan template which has preformatted tables for the financials, so one does not have to worry about creating a cash flow or sales projection. They simply enter the figures and the app helps with that.
The app also allows entrepreneurs to record their daily transactions. These include sales, purchases, stock and more. One of the major reasons why small businesses miss out on funding opportunities is because they do not keep proper records and the business Builder app provides a starting point for that. It allows them to record key data for business decision making. These transactions feed into a basic report which then gives a snapshot of the overall performance of the business.
Lastly the business builder allows users to easily create documents such as company profiles and catalogues and save them as PDF files. It also provides a link to quick resources and guided activities which users can turn to when in need. These include items such as how to talk to customers, or checklists on how to do common business tasks. The app comes with a lot more features but in a nutshell, those are the major ones. So the Business Builder App helps the user to easily plan and manage their business.
How has been the business so far? What progress have you made since launching the app?
It started off slow, which was somewhat of a blessing as it allowed us to make adjustments. Our user base has grown organically over time. The App already has over 57 000 users and we are confident that we will be reaching our goal of 100 000 users before year end. These users are from all over the world. The app comes with a French translation and we look forward to translating it to more languages. We are currently growing at an average rate of about 400 users per day and we expect this to go up as we approach the festive season. More importantly our user retention rate is consistently over 60% and that’s way above most apps.
We also recently monetized and it’s doing fairly well on that end too. It’s providing a “decent” income. There have been a number of offers to buy the app as well.
That’s impressive. What’s the geographical location of the majority of the app users?
Thanks. 18% of our current user base is in South Africa and 15% is in the United States followed by Nigeria with 6% and the rest is scattered among a number of countries. We partnered with a South African partner that does enterprise development training and they have been instrumental in getting S.A to overtake the US as our largest user group. They recommend our App to their audience at weekly trainings and this covers 50 South African Universities and Colleges. In addition to this, the app was given the stamp of approval by Professor David Gibson OBE’s Global Enterprise Academy so it’s doing fairly well in the UK as well. We hope Zimbabwe will be showing up at the top as well soon.
How do you monetise the app? Do you intend to add in-app purchases in the future?
The first plan is In-App ads… this is what we have been doing so far. It is what sustains us. Secondly, we have received offers and are in talks with various institutions that want to use a branded version of the app in their countries of operation. These would then pay licensing fees and a monthly retainer. There are quite a lot more opportunities and our future plans involve us doing our own targeted ads. This will be on the strength of our business database
Which challenges do you face as a Zimbabwean app developer, and how you overcome some of the challenges?
The first one is getting local people to actually use and appreciate technology. Most people shy away from new stuff especially if it’s tech. Most locals still need to be convinced that apps can make their lives easier. One ends up looking outside for support whereas we should be creating synergies with each other first.
The second challenge is that the devices that most people are using locally are still running old software. When I launched my app, Playstore required new apps to be using Android 8 and above, whereas most of the people around me were still using Android 4.4. It was only a handful that were using Android 6 and above. This limited who could use the app and I had to rely on friends in other countries for testing. Plus instead of developing for the next new android version, I found myself having to design for older versions instead.
The next major challenge is the ability to make and receive online payments. We rely on a number of external platforms for hosting, analytics and serving ads. Some of them do not even serve Zimbabwe so you can’t even register using a Zimbabwean address or phone number. I could not monetize with most of the major affiliate networks for that reason. Payment platforms like PayPal and Payoneer aren’t quite tailored for Zimbabwe so at times you end up with money “hanging” in the air after they fail to transfer it to a local bank.
Then there’s the issue of electricity, with the current blackouts it’s been hard to monitor some aspects of the business. One needs to constantly stay online so as to respond to user queries and emails as well as to monitor the app’s online performance. Not having electricity makes that difficult
Please provide the app download link for our readers who might want the app. Do you plan on developing the iOS version of the app?
Download Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.my.businessbuilder . Yes, we will be releasing an iOS version soon. It is definitely in our plans but our current focus is fine-tuning the Android version into what we envision
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
I see us as a global tech giant with an expansive network of offices around the world providing the best enterprise development and business incubation services for startups and small businesses. I see us as the first African unicorn and the ultimate resource for small businesses.
What advise would you give to other Zimbabweans who would like to venture into the business of developing and monetizing apps?
Start now and enjoy the journey. Start doing whatever you can to bring that idea in your head to fruition. Build your minimum viable product, put it out there and tweak it as you go. Avoid procrastination. Most developers I’ve met tend to over think their ideas to the extent that those ideas never see the light of day. So start testing your idea on real people. That’s the only way you’ll know if your idea really works or not. If you don’t start now, I can guarantee, a year from now, you will wish you had started today.
Secondly, the world is way ahead… it already has Facebook, WhatsApp, Amazon and so on. The only way that we can get ahead is if we give the world something totally new. Solve the problems around you. Do what makes sense and build on each idea. Always stay humble and avoid getting caught up in your own hype. Reach out to others whenever you need help and do likewise when others reach out to you. There’s more than enough money for all of us to make.
Is this your first business? What’s your business/academic/career background?
No, it’s not my first business. I have a long list of failed ventures. I have a degree in finance. Started my work career in the banking sector but I’ve since discovered my passion is enterprise development. I’ve worked at Barclays Bank, Kingdom Bank, eTop-Up, Empretec, Delta Beverages and until recently I was Head of the SME Association of Zimbabwe (SMEAZ) in Bulawayo.
Many people cite lack of capital as the chief reason why they fail to start businesses. How did you raise the capital to start your business? Are you intending to seek external funding to expand your business?
I believe at times people use the lack of capital as an excuse for inaction. Or they think so big that they do not see the small steps that they should take to lead them to their dream. I believe every project, no matter how big can be broken down into smaller parts that one can begin to work on immediately. I first got interested in building apps about 7 years ago. I didn’t have the expertise nor the capital. When I was looking for developers to create an app, people quoted me up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In my head I knew there was an easier and cheaper way to do it, so with some research I found ways to learn and slowly began building. I believe this applies to all industries at times you might have to wait a bit longer, at times you might have to pursue other smaller side projects to raise the funding but the most important thing is to never give up on your overall vision. Do something.
At the moment we are not seeking any external funding. We will consider partnerships and other revenue streams but not in the form of investors yet. In as much as we have made progress, there is still a lot that we need to get right before seeking external funds. At some later stage we will definitely require funding and only then will that decision be made.
What’s the state of the Zimbabwe tech ecosystem? What can be done to improve it?
We are still way behind and there’s so much that needs to be done for us to catch up with the rest of the world. More importantly, instead of trying to catch up, we should be thinking ahead and positioning ourselves for the future. What new innovation are we bringing and how best can we deliver it to the world?
Zimbabwe has a lot of great talent and brilliant minds. We need more platforms like yours to showcase them. This coupled with well organized tech expos and publications would help individuals identify who is doing what and how best we can possibly partner with them.
Secondly, we need to strive for excellence. Let’s benchmark ourselves against the best. Let’s not produce just for Zimbabwe but for the world. The majority of players in the tech sector still look outside for resources and services as most are not available locally. In cases where they are, they tend to be inferior in terms of quality.
We also need more hardware developers. Most of us focus on the software but this software needs hardware to run. So as long as we are still building for other people’s hardware then those people will determine the pace and direction we take.
Tech and business also go hand in hand. Inasmuch as we might be passionate about gadgets and code, we need to think like business people. You can’t attract money if you can’t show how your innovation can be monetized. This means knowing your numbers and letting them speak for you.
For our readers who want to give feedback or want collaboration with you, how can they get in touch with you?
They can get in touch on:
Phone: +263 77 295 0712
Your app now has over 50 000 downloads in less than a year, with users from different parts of the world. That’s quite a feat for a Zimbabwean app. What would you says are the secrets behind your success?
It’s been a combination of factors. It starts with identifying a genuine need and doing what makes sense to satisfy that need. We’ve been constantly getting feedback and building to suit the needs of our users. In turn they have recommended our app to their friends and colleagues. We also realized the need for partnerships earlier on. You can’t go it alone. So we’ve worked closely with those partners and have strived for win-win outcomes. We’ve also invested in continuous learning. In the tech world, things can change overnight so one cannot afford to rest on their laurels. On the technical side we’ve spent time and money on ASO and it has served us very well.
What advice would you give to other Zimbabweans who are complaining of the tough economic conditions?
I sympathize with my fellow kin and countrymen but I will try to be philosophical in my response. On an individual level, complaining does not do you any good. It just compounds the negative energy. Instead, we should be adapting and identifying opportunities to start anew and grow. It also goes without saying that most of the giants in industry have been brought to their knees. So it’s much easier now for new players to enter some sectors as the competition isn’t as stiff as it was. So keep pushing, keep believing and do you.
What are your last words to our readers?
Start NOW!!! The world is waiting for your ideas to change it. Ask as many questions. Fail forward. Be fair and kind to people… integrity will take you even further