iHub Start-Up Profiles – Zalego

By Jessica Colaço
  Published 08 Oct 2011
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iHub Start-Up Profiles – Zalego
This week, iHub research interviewed Dickson Ng’ang’a, a graduate from the mlab training program and an iHub member What is Zalego? Zalego Group Ltd is a technology solutions firm specializing in mobile software development, value addition, consultancy and empowerment through training. Zalego is a twisted acroname for Zeal Go i.e we Go with Zeal. Zalego serves a variety of current needs in the mobile world and also provides solutions and insights into future challenges. The firm operates under these four domains:
  • zDev has zSecurity as one of its products, which helps in curbing theft of assets including vehicles, motor-bikes and laptops among others.
  • Zknowledge is empowering young people to be independent and earn a living,
  • zComm helps organizations communicate easily, faster, cost-effectively and in an accountable manner using SMS systems.
  • z360 provides insights to organizations and companies on the mobile industry and technologies.

We basically solve problems that affect the business and social communities by either providing software, education, facilitation or through insight. The business model? Zalego Group is a For-Profit company employing direct sales and freemium models for our products and services. Our users pay for applications developed for them. Zcomm and z360 operate on direct sales model as clients pay for the service offered. We work in 2 harmonious teams: one concentrating on customer relations and sales, the other working on development and product delivery. The team is constituted of qualified Technology experts, trainers, business people and an accountant.

All our services and products add value to human life and make it more enjoyable by providing opportunities, curbing losses, empowering people for better productivity and helping organizations to be better prepared and make better decisions. We ensure we deliver value by interacting with users and identifying their un-met needs and offer to meet them at reasonable fee.

What challenges have you faced as a start-up? We have faced a number challenges such as:
  • Believing in our own ideas,
  • Under-valuing our products,
  • Market confidence,
  • Wanting to hire too soon.
  • Enticing buy-outs
  • Undecided members

“Start-ups are not a joke, they drain you!” - Dickson

Tell us about the team

Co-incidentally, we all met in a span of 8 months and have grown to be good friends and workmates. It was during the mlab training that we came together while we were doing individual projects that so often required us to collaborate to solve some tasks in a project. The projects moved fast and we liked working together. Most of us were entrepreneurs before and had other business projects but these ended up being team projects.It was fun going for lunch and tea breaks together, chatting and most times discussing ideas. It is from this that we formed an informal team which later converted into a company. We also met two other members and experts in accounting and business around the same time.

How has iHub helped in growing your business idea?

iHub has played a big role in shaping up my business and career. I got to know about mlab training program on my second visit to iHub, having been introduced by a friend the previous night. I have met people who have encouraged and criticized my ideas and all these have played a big role in molding better ideas. I am very grateful of the iHub community and management.

What can other developers do to take advantage of the iHub space?

iHub has a great community: get involved and you will learn something. There are different levels of skills and this is the only place you will meet like-minded people who are open to share. Register as a member, there is something you will do no-one else has done yet. It’s yours!

What is you take on mobile applications in the Kenyan market?

Mobile is the way to go. Kenya has a unique population with regards to technology and there is no doubt that there is huge potential. I, personally, feel there are not enough developers in the mobile space whereas there is an un-tapped market.

There also exists a gap between the would-be client and the developers, since users have no idea that their phone can 'dance', but some developers know it. These work hard to make it dance but not sure for who. Zalego tries to address these by providing consultancy and education to the end-user to realize what they can do with the phone then empower developers to satisfy the created need.

Business: As a developer, we have a challenge in monetizing mass-applications. How do I get paid, well paid, for the kenyan application I build? There is an opportunity; the users are there but more research is required to come up with applications that will be useful to these users.

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