Technological intervention is increasingly making business easier and enabling SMEs’ growth
By Deji Atoyebi
Look around and you’ll find that no business is an island in itself. In today’s digital world, the beauty of entrepreneurship is established in the manner by which businesses build products that mostly work interdependently or are stacked on top of one another in a cascade-like fashion.
Simply put, regardless of what you’re building, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to rely on existing products to pull through.
Fortunately, there has never been a better time to build a business than now. Not only has the surge of venture capital firms and angel networks made for easier access to capital, it has also also helped encourage the widespread entrepreneurial bug which has in turn spoiled us with high-end technology that serves as infrastructure for building and running businesses.
In this article, I’ll touch on 10 tech products enabling growth for SMEs.
1. KOBO 360:
Assume that you’re building an internet product in which you’ll require customers to pay for goods and services. The chances are high that you won’t need to build your own payment infrastructure from the ground up, as there are already a number of third-party payment gateways to help with this. What these gateways do for payments is what Kobo360 does for logistics.
Kobo360 is a Nigerian startup that helps businesses with logistics infrastructure. This provision encourages such businesses to focus more on strengthening their own unique value propositions. The separation of concerns makes a lot of sense in a continent that’s known to grapple with logistics challenges.
Kobo360 (the product) is used by over 1500 businesses and has started expanding across Africa, after the business garnered $1.2 million pre-seed funding. Not only is the product growing in popularity, but it has also helped to show how focusing on and improving an aspect of a value chain can cause disruption.
Zoom is currently a glaring example of a disruptive product. Even though the idea behind it is, on the surface, anything but novel, it is in fact, preceded by (and currently competing with) a number of video chat and conferencing products like itself.
From the perspective of users however, Zoom has become the holy grail of video communication because of its resilience under pressure.
It is reported that the product doesn’t lag with increased usage and is probably the best of its kind – a “feat” which Zoom’s executives owe to the company’s penchant for placing users first and their initial aim to build the best product in the market.
Zoom is seamlessly helping business people in Nigeria to communicate more effectively. With Zoom, entrepreneurs need not worry about challenges in remotely communicating with investors or employees, all at once.
Trello has become a household name among not just project managers but also business owners in general. A cutting-edge project management software, it is known to afford teams the opportunity to create and maintain an orderly workflow.
Noteworthy is the fact that Trello allows people to separate concerns using “Boards” and to track task progression within a period of time. It also comes in handy in enhancing communication between teams.
Using one of its components called “Cards,” managers can create tasks and assign them to individual team members while also setting deadlines, listing requirements and other relevant information.
- GIGA LAYER
Giga Layer prides itself as a hosting provider for Africa. Although not the first of its kind, it has been able to attract good press from some big names and has under its belt, an enviable user base comprising over 6,000 business spanning Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South-Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
Among other things, Giga Layer provides and registers local domain names, such as .ng for Nigerian business as well as other generic ones.
When I started freelancing, I would usually pull out my hair in frustration because receiving payments from foreign clients was always difficult, to put it mildly.
Most foreign businesses that I worked with were not flexible with their choice of methods for making payments. There was also a scarcity of reliable payment gateways, while those that worked required lengthy processes to set up.
The obvious difficulty in receiving payments from overseas faced by residents of Africa prompted the establishment of Flutterwave, a financial technology startup which has Rave as its flagship product.
Rave is such a simple payment gateway that it’s quite easy to take its whole set-up for granted. All business owners have to do is create an account on Rave and, to receive money, provide their clients with a link to their account. Dead simple. Overtime, the company has helped process over $20 million transactions.
Paystack is currently one of the poster children of startup success in the Nigerian fintech industry. It is known for providing small and medium sized businesses a gateway to receive payments on various digital platforms.
With integrations on popular systems like WordPress, the company has paved way for the ubiquity of its product and has left people less concerned about creating their own payment infrastructure from scratch.
The product has tremendously grown over the years, and it currently boasts of over 10,000 subscribers.
In today’s digital age, your success as a business could be determined by how well you’re able to leverage social media. Let’s face it: everyone is on social media and not considering the social networks as veritable distribution channels will be tantamount to leaving lots of money on the table.
Managing a business’s online process across various existing social networks is no easy undertaking, however. And this is where Hootsuite comes in.
As a platform, Hootsuite facilitates social media management through various means, but most importantly, by ensuring that all major social networks can be accessed on it.
That is, as a user, you can access multiple accounts and profiles across the major social networks on Hootsuite. Entrepreneurs and social media marketers have found this tool extremely useful for their purpose.
- WAVE APPS
Rather than a piece of software, Wave Apps is a suite of products that border on financial management. Through this suite, business owners are spoiled with features to aid invoicing, accounting and generation of receipts.
It is yet another example of how well technology saves businesses time that they’d have otherwise geared towards carrying out mundane tasks.
Calendly is gradually becoming prime real estate for extremely busy business owners who need to manage appointments in a saner way.
It effectively organizes the process of scheduling appointments; as a user, you’re free to make your own terms on the time and days you’ll be available, and people who wish to book an appointment would have to choose a time that’s in accordance with your convenience. Calendly also helps with sending reminders when the time for appointments is almost due.
Figma emerged to disrupt the way product design is done. A primarily web-based design software created for User Interface and User Experience Designers, it has proven to be the most accessible of its kind.
Again, it is primarily web-based, so users do not require to install a desktop application to get started with using it. Today, Figma is used by most product designers in Nigeria and enjoys enviable word-of-mouth marketing from its users.
Businesses are currently graced with a plethora of products and technology to help in carrying out their daily operations. These products make life generally easier by ensuring that businesses have enough more energy to expend on building products and features that make them stand out from their competition.
This article listed 10 products that are anything but alien to the Nigerian startup ecosystem in particular. Not only are these products highly functional, but they are also easily accessible. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, be on the lookout for tools that are relevant to your business and then deploy them.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.