[Startup Interview] Cyrus Mulinge, CEO, Trots Technologies, Kenya
Tell us about Trots Technologies and your role
Trots Technologies is a mobile commerce platform that allows seamless and uninterrupted interaction between businesses and their audiences. It is an end to end solution that comes with a consumer app, and a desktop dashboard paired with partner app for businesses. It is a platform that fosters the close interaction between merchants and their customers. As the man at the helm of this company I provide leadership to the Trots team by continuously refining the company’s product vision to ensure that all efforts remain geared towards growing an industry transforming business. Additionally, I oversee all Trots operations, bring investors on board and sign off on all deals pertaining to merchants joining the Trots platform.
What makes Trots Technologies and its business model unique?
Trots is a marketplace where an existing business can take advantage of opportunity to build a profound online presence, while maintaining direct contact with their customers, which go a long way in building brand loyalty. Additionally, unlike traditional ones that offer classifieds solutions only. Trots is one of a kind mobile commerce platform that offers an end to end solution and comes with essential tools that can help managers with their business process such as content management, analytics, personalization of campaign efforts among several others.
How competitive is your industry?
The space for mobile commerce is highly competitive especially at a time when everyone is trying to capitalize on the fact that mobile web adoption is growing 8 times faster than web adoption did in the 1990s and early 2000s. Seeing as businesses are looking to get closer to their targeted consumers, there is a clamor for the best possible way to do that, which in return breeds for massive competition among several players.
How do you weather this competition?
Trots is a hybrid of a social interaction and mobile commerce platform, which helps to solve the age-old riddle for businesses on how to retain and continuously engage their customers online.
How is the market response to your technologies and services?
The response has been quite overwhelming especially because our pilot has managed to engage huge brands in the region, as seen on the platform. The enthusiasm with which brands are taking up Trots is remarkable.
What would you say are key milestones in Trots Technologies development?
We have managed to build the entire platform by solely tapping into local young talent by engaging young developers who are at the top of their game in the region. I feel this is important to help showcase the technological talent within Africa and what can get achieved when such talent is given an opportunity.
And the Challenges?
I would say the biggest challenge is getting traction for a new product, especially one that cannot get comprehensively compared to pre-existing products within this space. Again, the lack of definitive physical addresses in the region presents a challenge in regards to implementing services such as delivery. There is also a certain level of skepticism among businesses to get onto a mobile commerce platform.
What would make you classify a company in your industry as successful?
For startups, it would be their ease of building a substantial user base coupled with the ability to retain an audience and gain their unrelenting trust in your product. Additionally, the ability to attract investors to support your product is a key indicator of the market belief that your product enjoys.
What are your expectations of the performance of your sector?
A platform like Trots operates within the tenets of #shop, #party, #dine and #travel; which is an all-encompassing ecosystem. Therefore, I would expect that the input of other players in the sector will be instrumental in serving the growing middle class and tapping into the rapidly growing mobile penetration in the region to significantly drive the growth of the retail sector whose growth potential is limitless.
As a company predominantly run by the youth, what would your advice be to young people who would like to go into business?
The way to go about business is to aim to get it right and not just doing it. There should be a relentless strive to edge out mediocrity, solve a problem and improve the society. I would ask them to find business mentors who will walk them through the industry they wish to engage in, and invest a lot in research and development so that they can operate from a point of vast knowledge. It is also important that you take your time to perfect your product and avoid the rush to market, Lastly, assemble a team that complements each other’s’ strengths and talents because that kind of synergy will drive your product or service to success.
Going forward what do you want to do? What are your immediate and future plans at Trots Technologies?
I want to change the place of mobile commerce in people’s lives and bring up the level of convenience that customers experience as they interact with various plans.
As for future plans, we are already laying the ground work for expansion of our platform all over the world with initial expansion plans in the West African and Southern African Market immediately after Kenya and the East African region get introduced into the endless possibilities of mobile commerce through Trots.
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