Nana Opoku Agyeman, Cofounder of Order Now App, made it through to th the top 7 stage of the 2014 StartUp Cup Ghana competition. His new service, Asoriba, which is currently doing well on the market, builds tech solutions for the church. The StartUp Cup Ghana team caught up with him in this exciting interview as he shares his story:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m personally excited about church, aviation, technology and agriculture; I love to drive change in developing African countries by building teams and utilizing scarce resources. I strongly believe in constant learning and improving on existing solutions. With an MPhil in Agric Engineering (Machine Systems) and An Aviation club of which I’m president, its ok to say I wear many hearts at different places, not forgetting to mention that I’m a pastor in training in my dad’s church.
I strongly believe that technology is one of the things that can help put Ghana’s and Africa’s economy in shape if governments pay closer attention to it. Think about this, if people from all over the world are paying for your software in dollars online, this will earn the country “hard currency which will then shore up the cedi, if not it will keep dropping as you keep burrowing” quoting Citifmoline’s interview on former President Kufour’s statement
As an entrepreneur and one of the innovators of the Asoriba platform, what are some of the highlights of your job?
In Asoriba, I’m responsible for Sales and Business Development Team building and Vision Driving/Management, Customer and Investor Management, Company growth and scaling.I cannot continue talking about myself without my team: Asoriba’s founders ( Saviour, Patrick, Jesse and myself are successful graduates of Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and have known each other for over 2 years. Each founder has a specific set of unique and complementary skill to build a successful global software company. The team is succeeding because;
- All team members are Christians with some founders’ parents being ministers of the gospel, hence giving us a deeper understanding of the market
- There is good team dynamics and
- There is great support from MEST.
How would you describe the entrepreneurship landscape in Ghana?
I personally believe there are a lot of established business men in Ghana, but few entrepreneurs when we consider the definition of the term.
“Entrepreneurship is the process of starting a business, typically a startup company offering an innovative product, process or service” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrepreneurship
I see less of innovation, and more of copying and replication of sound business process and strategies, which is also a very good business strategy.
One of your focuses is helping churches develop sustainable database. Could you elaborate on that and share some tips?
Asoriba is a unique web and mobile application that enables effective church administration for leaders, and seamless engagement with members via mobile phones (App & SMS). It goes beyond a good database and does more. Any forward looking church that see a colossal shift in the way humans engage has already started thinking about how to leverage on technology to effectively run the church and engage with its members who are constantly on their mobile phone and the Internet. What Asoriba does is, it give the church a solution is uniquely designed to meet its needs. To be more specific; Asoriba is designed to make it easy for the church leader to nourish members by sending daily devotions or prayer points seamlessly to the member’s mobile phone. This is possible via the Devotional and Announcement feature in the Web App. The member will receive notices on his/her Asoriba mobile app or as an SMS on a feature phone. This means every morning before you get out of bed, you can have tailor made, spirit filled devotions from your own Pastor. And in the course of the day, you can listen to a past sermon, which could be audio or video from the Media feature in the mobile App.
Think about this same application being used to educated millions of members in case there is an epidemic like Ebola. Pastor’s being powerful community influencers, can get the message across quickly and effectively.
Back to the church, in case there is an event happening live, it can be live stream via the mobile app. This means, you will always stay connected to the Word of God and the church service no matter where you find yourself. Other features include, a comprehensive and current member database, attendance monitoring tools, financial management feature, event creation and sharing tool, branch integrations and reporting system, group and leadership management functionalities, media/content sharing feature with analytics and online payment integrations such as Visa, Master Card and mobile money.
Where can we find out more about your work?
Simply visit proposal.asoriba.com or asoriba.com
Elaborate on some of the challenges you faced and give a clue on how you overcame them.
It’s not been a challenge to be frank. The problem is really clear and real. There is a huge pain and most churches are in deep need of such a unique solution.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs out there looking to launch products or services they are passionate about?
I think one of the first things an entrepreneur needs to do is to connect. Connect to both the problem and the people (stake holders). Stake holders include those who feel the problem, those who have parts of the solution and people who are connected to the problem one way or the other. In the process of connecting, you will identify your winning team you can build the solution with. The second thing is to come up with a compelling solution with clear value propositions (benefits), next a sound business model that will keep the bills paid and brings significant returns on shareholders money. Finally ask God for favour and grace, something you will really need to get to the next level. He has given that to Asoriba.
It’s dispel a stereotype time. What’s a stereotype about Ghana that’s false?
A myth that Ghanaians are laid back and not as aggressive as other African countries, specifically the Nigerians, I think Ghanaians are really aggressive, but they are not loud, hence it is easy for a by-stander to miss it, when a Ghanaian is aggressively chasing something.
How do you use your experience with MEST & Seedstars World to support your business?
MEST has been a tremendous experience, and has really shaped the minds of all Asoriba founders. We are now trail blazing software entrepreneurs. Training in communication, business and software development has been awesome. The parts I have really come to enjoy about MEST are the sales persons who come from the mother company and the pitch session we have.