When one thinks of the advances of the world, contrastingly the global populace has individualistic tendencies towards how these advances can help themselves and those in their grasp. We tend to put our needs before the needs of the community. Furthermore, our ideas of success are based on assumptions that doing it our way is the best way. This notion leaves bounds of potential opportunities gone astray to connect, build and maintain successful ventures. Community before self, toys on the notion that if we fully arrogated all resources to the fortunate, as well as unfortunate in a democratic way, we could create tremendous opportunities.
One such start-up that has laid the foundation for a democratic approach to advancing the ventures of entrepreneurs is Hooros Digital. This start-up is founded on a belief in the development of ideas through internal freelancers to help produce quality end products.
This South African startup provides a platform to help and empower entrepreneurs, by offering the start-ups quintessential services including; building MVP’s, launching digital marketing campaigns, building custom software and custom CRM solutions at a very start-up friendly price. The start-up consists of a pool of 30-40 highly screened internal freelancers, who help implement projects. Hooros Digital, CEO Emannuel Sibanda, describes the startup as “a vital cog in the development of the Tech-entrepreneurship ecosystem.” Furthermore, the increasing access and use of the Internet on the continent presents so much potential for tech-enabled businesses to form.
The value offered in this business model accommodates the idea that Africa and the world are moving towards harnessing the dormant potential to develop and produce great ideas, which is where freelancers come into the frame. The advancements taking place in the world further highlight the vacuum for empowering start-ups with little to no resources. A great example could be made of how Hooros, assists start-ups to launch MVP’s (from landing pages to complex prototypes) and allows clients to test out their business assumptions. Besides, Hooros also offers clients the opportunity to generate revenue without committing hundreds of thousands of rand. This business model is what the CEO deems as the“ [Translation] of an increase in the market size for potential tech and tech-enabled businesses.”
Hooros digital solve core problems that their clients have, by providing a solution to the bottleneck in the development of tech start-ups. These limitations include; expensive development costs, an inability to hire technical talent to build MVP’s, which could, in turn, validate your business. Being that the resource of the company is internal, a heavy focus is placed on project management, as projects are internally managed to protect the work being produced.
The development of the business is what Emmanuel asserts was due to “the realization of value in downscaling from the large pool of freelancers they started with.” This subsequently resulted in allowing the business to screen their current contingency effectively and make sure that their freelancers are offered a sustainable stream of work. The restructuring of the business also helped the startup realize that the massive database affected the quality of the work produced. By recognizing their strengths, Hooros has worked on nine successful projects to date, ranging from software development to digital marketing with more in the pipeline.
The team places particular value to “1) early stage, tech-focused entrepreneurs looking to test their assumptions by building low-cost MVP’s. 2) Post-revenue ventures looking to market and scale their services and products, without having to commit to hiring a marketing team”. In understanding their target market, Hooros sets their agendas on expanding to meet the custom software and digital strategy or marketing needs of entrepreneurs further in the international market. Essentially the start-up aims to provide higher quality services and project management than most companies use for outsourcing abroad, all while promoting indigenous African talent.
The start-up’s current focus lies in putting all their efforts towards building revenue and establishing partnerships that will help democratize tech-entrepreneurship. Considering the start-up is a year old, according to Emmanuel, Hooros seems “set on looking for funding only once we have proved our existent model and have a clear understanding of how we will get a constant stream of clients”. Hooros Digital is currently Bootstrapped, which is founded on the belief that in order to market themselves as an excellent case to potential VC’s, that their current business model needs to be validated and proven that it can scale.
The founders of the start-up consist of a wide-ranging team of highly motivated and experienced individuals in the tech ecosystem.
Sijabuliso Nkiwane is the current (CTO), with a computer science background with experience in developmental work for a large South African bank.
Emmanuel Sibanda (CEO), considered as one of the brightest young minds in Africa in 2017, has experience in venture capital in tech start-ups and a tech company. Emmanuel as a generalist handles anything from Web development to business development.
Jasmine Desvarieux (COO) is passionate about social impact, technology, and entrepreneurship. She has experience in various fields, including consulting to start-ups to blockchain and enjoys connecting with others to make these fields more accessible. Ms. Desvarieux leads the business development efforts of the team and loves working on improving her technical skills every day.
Vusi Dhlamini (Director) is fueled by a passion for tech start-ups and has experience in the project management with the developments of various software products that the start-up has. Vusi keeps management of projects and ensures that they are running smoothly and that Hooros delivers valuable and working software solutions to their clients. Vusi also helps to drive business development in the Cape Town Area and enjoys working with early-stage entrepreneurs to help them build cost-effective solutions to test and validate their initial assumptions in the market
Hooros aims to serve a customer segment often pushed away by similar companies. Ultimately, this puts pressure on Hooros to formulate cost-effective yet high-quality methods. As a startup, Hooros “is full-service, which aims to be seen as a serious contender amongst development houses, yet more inclusive and entrepreneur friendly” states Emmanuel. Having adopted such a model, the start-up has envisioned challenges that they will face. To mention, a challenge anticipated would be the inability of small clients to pay.
The start-up looks to serve a lot of pre-revenue ventures, as naturally there will always be a question of affordability for clients. To counteract this problem, Hooros uses tools that allow them to drastically cut the developer hours and develop MVPs at a very affordable price. However, rates depend on the entrepreneurs’ needs and objectives of the MVP. Additionally, they try and work with budgets to find a way to help our clients.
Emmanuel and the team effectively have a bigger perspective on the vision of their start-up and the tech ecosystem as a whole, in Africa. “We believe it is imperative to help build the tech start-up ecosystem around Africa.” The foundation of this idea is based on the fact that while there are a plethora of tech-talent and highly ambitious entrepreneurs, the need to validate the assumptions of a start-up through an MVP is incredibly high. Inclusive of Hooros’ vision, is the determination to build affordable world-class MVP’s in record time.
Furthermore, Hooros’ vision also includes growing the ecosystem from the ground up through workshops and training to increase the digital literacy community in Africa. According to Emmanuel through the partnerships “ We want to help more young Africans gain access to skills of the future, creating future collaborators and clients for us in the process.” The workshop activities are seen to represent an incredible longtail vision for the venture in Africa. In the same length, the growth of the start-up is encumbered by a lack of resources.
According to Emmanuel, “It is difficult to raise funding when you also have to be very careful where you invest your money.” Hooros wants to be the go-to start-up for start-ups and SME’s looking to outsource their digital marketing needs to the company in a highly cost-effective manner.
Their future plans also involve replication of the cost-effective software development model with digital marketing. The Hooros difference is the provision of services to both entrepreneurs and established businesses, which are inclusive of digital marketing and analytics services to compete with digital agencies that have an emphasis on quality and efficiency.