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About the Episode
Today’s guest built a platform that allows you to reach users in emerging markets and he shares how a failed business led him to this amazing opportunity. Also, listen to the story of when he took his company’s revenues down to zero so that they could focus on building something more sustainable for the business.
From Failure to Opportunity
Nathan’s journey started in 2006 when he started teaching in Nairobi and began building ansms blood bank system. It’s a system that lets rural nurses across Kenya text in what today’s supply of blood levels were. It shows the supply of blood across the rural hospitals in Kenya and more importantly, where blood was needed. But a week after the launch, half of the nurses stopped sending sms and by the end of the month, none of them were participating at all. The project failed. Upon scrutiny, Nathan realized the failure was because of his lack of insight that the cost of sending an sms represented a fraction of a rural nurse’s day’s wage. By asking them to send data, they were asking them to take a pay cut. But Nathan got lucky because he had connections with mobile companies and set up a system wherein they can credit the price of the sms with a little extra to say thank you. After this, virtually all nurses became engaged with the platform but a bigger opportunity came about. The mobile carriers noticed and began planning an alternative revenue stream by asking the Ministry of Health to cover the cost. Word quickly spread between the mobile operators about their cool technology and today, 311 mobile operators in 93 countries have joined in.
From Zero Revenue to a Sustainable Business
There was a moment where they decided to step back and build their own product and they ended up refunding all their clients bringing revenue down to zero. After this, they started working on mCent, which was launched just after three months. It was the right thing to do as the product proved to be something which can take their company to the next level.