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Meet A 30 Year-Old Entrepreneur Who Has Used Social Media To Build His 100m Empire.

The rise of social media, cloud and mobile technologies has given rise to new business opportunities to so many young entrepreneurs all around the world. It has offered customers opportunities to voice their opinions and also given companies more engaging ways of talking to their customers.

For entrepreneurs, live chat is the fastest way to engage their customers, give their brand a voice and build meaningful relationships through talking to customers thereby increasing sales. It also increases the chances of high value engagement by using proactive chat to automatically reach out to customers.

This is exactly what 30 year-old Trevor Kimenye, the C.E.O. Ongea Limited, discovered and exploited two years ago when they started a customer service software for businesses to talk to their customers.
Ongea Limited is a Nairobi-Based company worth close to Sh. 100 million with a branch office in Hong Kong. It employs 15 employees, 14 in Nairobi and one in Hong Kong.

The company makes software which businesses use for customer service by helping their clients manage customers’ queries and issues. The software helps companies to provide a great overall customer experience and build customer relationships that are more meaningful, personal, and productive. It helps companies engage that person on their terms and stay connected with their customers at all times, whenever they need them.

Trevor studied in Strathmore School before going to Australia in 2002 where he did his undergraduate and masters for the next eight years. He later worked in Canberra the capital of Australia before coming back to start his own business in Kenya.

He reckons that when he started his business, he had no one to mentor or guide him through entrepreneurship as everyone was just pushing him to go and get a white collar job after the university. Trevor says that the youth today are lucky enough to access forums such as the Blaze Summit that has been organised by mobile provider Safaricom, that provide them with an opportunity to hear from other young entrepreneurs’ experiences to inspire them to exploit their potential.

“I am here (Thika Technical Institute Grounds) as part of Safaricom Blaze to help mentor the youth and show them that entrepreneurship is a way that they can get themselves out of poverty and improve the lives of their communities. I started this company two years ago with a good friend of mine. We only had one client at that time but right now we have over 800 businesses from over seventy countries that are using our software,” said Trevor.

He says that access to capital nowadays is less of a challenge and works well for so many people in places like SACCOs and Chamas where young people join hands, save and pool their resources together to start a business. He adds that the amount of money required to start-up was also reducing considering that there was less regulations, thus less costs.

Trevor advises fellow youth that they do not need to have a million shillings in the bank to start their ventures. They could start with as little as sh. 10,000 and gradually expand their business as the income grew with time.

Trevor and his co-founder raised their initial capital partly from the little saving from their previous engagement in formal employment with the rest coming from donations from family and friends. He pointed out that though it may sound easy, the latter was the hardest source of their money since one has to be able to compressively convince their source into believing I their course.

“If you can’t convince your family or your friends to give you some money, you definitely have a very hard time convincing a bank or any other person to invest in your business. One thing I always say is whenever I ask somebody for money, I always say, ‘what if somebody came and asked me for say 10,000 or a 100,000 shillings, what questions will I ask them?’ and if they can convince me, then I will be in a position to grant them the money. The same ones that you will be asked if you go and ask somebody for money,” he said.

Your Secret Behind Your Success?

Trevor points out that the work experience from the previous job was a great investment since it gave them a clue of how to run a business. Another thing behind his success is that he reads a lot of business literature that assists him in making prompt and prudent decisions.

“One of the things I do is that I read a lot, mostly stories of people I find inspiring like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, especially now that I am in the technology space. They actually tell their stories. They tell you all the mistakes that have made and from that you are able to learn from them. The second thing is just being brave and going out there and trying things out.”

He cautioned the youth that things didn’t have to always work out but the learning experiences along the way were always the most important aspects of success in any business.

Why did you leave your job in Australia?

“Entrepreneurship is an alternative. Instead of walking around taking your CV to every other office, starting up something yourself is a big plus though it is not for everybody. However though, not everybody is made to be a businessman. Some are made to be employees too.”

He advises the youth to think outside the box by being flexible enough to embrace any opportunity that came their way regardless of whether it fell in their line of study. He also calls on the youth to learn to fall back on their passion and talent to create something worthwhile.

He encourages the youth to take maximum advantage of the digital platform especially the social media to sell their ideas and enterprise to potential client since the internet had opened up a great market which had not yet been fully exploited.

“These platforms have come at a very special time for the youth worldwide. They are very powerful in businesses. Large businesses nowadays use social media to tell their stories. The fact that you can just log in to Facebook and talk to people across the world, chances are that your friends on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram  may ‘like’ a post that you did and thereby make others know about it. You can use them to make money, lots and lots of money,” says Trevor.

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