My company began with a dream and a computer
By Graham Kajilwa
| July 7th 2021
As modest as Felix Mbugua may want to sound, he admits that running a business consistently for 10 years has not been a walk in the park.
The Chief Executive Officer of Legibra, an IT solution-providing firm with bases in Kenya and Rwanda, has done business with major firms, among them embassies and multinationals yet he insists his satisfaction is always in serving one client to the best of his ability. Mbugua, 35, shares his two cents on how to start and sustain an IT business.
Legibra was born out of the need to have consistency in the IT industry, especially in the freelance IT sub-sector where there is no consistency, reliability or professionalism. What I mean is you find that there are so many people with laptops who can do amazing things for you but if you contract them, they will disappoint you when it comes to actual delivery. When negotiating with them they sound very good and will prove they can do it, but do they actually do as advertised? Almost never. But you see, doing business requires a certain kind of structure and discipline. Usually, when someone tells you they will give you your website tomorrow, most will not do that. Or sometimes, as soon as you pay a deposit, they disappear. Those are the things I was trying to solve and that is how Legibra was born.
I started the business over 10 years ago, building websites for clients. Basically the starting capital for an IT business is neither here nor there, especially when you are a student, which I was at the time, at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. All the business needs is the fact that you have skills and you have your computer. You just have to look for clients because when you are building a website for somebody, you do not need money.
Future plans? We are in Kenya and Rwanda and our aim is to have a presence in each of the 54 African countries. We intend to achieve it in the next five years. Currently, we have partnered with Google where we offer g-suite services. We are not going to rule out partnering with other people though.
What people must understand in business is that growth is step by step. We always pride ourselves that we have managed to get one client who we usually concentrate on to give the best of service to so that that (one) client can refer another or give us repeat business. Our concentration in our numbers is never the total number but on this new client so that we serve them to the best we can so that this client brings another or they can be a repeat business.
One thing I have learnt is that when you complicate the process of how potential customers can access you, they will fall off and go elsewhere. A client can just call us either from hearing about us or being referred. Our services are pretty simple for example if you tell me you want to start a business, and you are in need of hosting a domain I will tell you we have three packages either Sh3,000, Sh5,000 or Sh10,000 per year and you just sign up, you pay via M-Pesa pay bill number, we execute the service and send you the details via email. So even our service dispensation is simple when it comes to things like domain hosting may be things like website is where we need to have more conversation before we execute.
As a business, we have had to cut our costs. Like most businesses, we have had to cut rent, HR costs and day-to-day running expenses. The only way for a business to survive a low or downtown in fortune is cutting costs. Of course, the other one is hedging with a lot of collaboration with other businesses, where they refer business to you, you refer business to them
For us, our highest moment is when we get a new client. It does not matter how small or how big but of course we have had the pleasure of working with government, multinationals, interesting startups and corporations. As long as we have new business, or repeat business that is always a high for us. We do not work on who is bigger than who.
My typical day usually consists of just responding to clients’ needs. We have clients and every day they wake up depending on what is happening in their organisations or in their business or sectors they have different needs they require. So, all I do typically every day is serving my clients by responding to their needs and requests, dealing with their situations, complaints and dissatisfactions because you know someone might have already been served and may be it was not done in a proper way or they have a complaint. Apart from handling requests for new business, the other thing is handling customer experience and any other issue. Of course, we have the aspect of dealing with suppliers and service providers.
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