Cloud9xp co-founders Tesh Mbaabu and Collins Mesongo, speak with Ayishat Amoo of WeeTracker Media on how they are matching leisure seekers with the perfect experience providers in Africa. They also shared journey for readers on how they started their business, the challenges they have faced along the way, and the next high for them as a business.
WeeTracker: What are some of the problems Cloud9xp is solving?
Collins Mesongo: Cloud9xp helps leisure seekers find and book amazing experiences across Africa, from wherever they are. So far, we have listings of 500+ things to do on our platform from Vacations to Sky Diving and Go-karting, Scuba Diving to Quad Biking, Cycling to Hiking, and Camping, to Corporate Team Building and Dining experiences. These are things one would dream about doing but lack reliable information on, making leisure seekers lose out on making a lifetime of fun memories, and the experience providers lose out on the potential revenue generated from the bookings. Now, we are even helping our partners (experience providers) with booking management technologies that the majority of them lacked.
WeeTracker: How did Cloud9xp start?
Tesh Mbaabu: We started the idea while still in college, inspired by our love for technology and the enthusiasm to partake in adventurous activities. Information on what to do, where to go and how to start the booking process was scattered all over the place, and with no proper review, systems to help make an excellent choice. That is how the idea of an online marketplace started.
WeeTracker: How does Cloud9xp stand out from the competition?
Collins Mesongo: Our experiences are carefully hand-picked from seasoned experience providers to ensure our clients get the best value for money. We also give you the unique opportunity to select from a variety of experiences and other amenities based on where you are and the destination you have in mind, with extra features like online booking, curation and saving for your bucket list all on one platform. Cloud9xp markets our partners creating consistent business for them too.
WeeTracker: How did you raise funding for Cloud9xp?
Tesh Mbaabu: We are currently raising funds. However, we were an entirely bootstrapped business for the initial year, using money generated from consultancy projects by the founders as we validated the business concept.
WeeTracker: What are some of the challenges Cloud9xp has faced locally and globally?
Tesh Mbaabu: The reality of internet business in Africa deviates from what is obtainable in the Western world. Issues such as the cost of broadband, distrust and poor online shopping culture remain our biggest challenges. E-commerce in Africa could be very profitable; but it will take time and resilience, especially for those who have ventured in relatively early.
WeeTracker: Who is the team behind Cloud9xp?
Collins Mesongo: Cloud9xp was conceptualized and is still run by a team of seven vibrant young minds currently between the age of 19 -25 years, skilled in various areas of the business including design, programming, marketing, and management.
WeeTracker: What piece of advice would you give budding startup founders?
Tesh Mbaabu: Have a big dream, keep working at it, and look for enthusiastic people who will help you grow your business in a professional way, but most importantly understand your company’s vision, aspirations, and goals. You can always change the plan, but the overall goal will always remain the same.
WeeTracker: What is next for Cloud9xp?
Collins Mesongo: We will be launching our long-anticipated mobile applications this September, just in time for our peak season. This will link our customers to experiences in a way that is most convenient and in a real-time fashion. Our platform improvement will also allow leisure seekers to save for experiences, recommend and invite friends to do an experience with them; and partners to manage their bookings and earnings more professionally. This will revolutionize the face of leisure experience booking in Africa in the coming years.
WeeTracker: What has been Cloud9xp’s greatest achievement so far?
Tesh Mbaabu: The uptake of our platform and idea has been remarkable. We have had thousands of experiences booked with us, with a very happy and loyal customer base. We also boast of over 100,000 unique monthly visitors to our website. As much as we have a lot of work to do, it is very exciting and the only way is up from here!