We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Michael Mbugua”, Founder and CEO at the Nairobi, Kenya based start-up “Fanaka-Hybrid”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Fanaka is a business operations and management erp solution that automates and streamlines major business processes such as sales, projects and accounting. Our focus is to solve business operations challenges by developing intuitive solutions. Our solution helps businesses to accelerate their growth by making informed business decisions through our comprehensive business intelligence reports based on business activities.
For more information visit
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We had an official launch of Fanaka Hybrid on 15th January 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. Our product is in sales activation stage. Currently doing mass marketing for both online and offline.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
We are running Software as a Service (SAS) business model, clients subscribe monthly for the service Clients pay a standard monthly fee to continue running their business in the portal.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
My partner Wariko Mbugua is the chief operations officer. We meet in Nairobi Kenya and shared a common vision on building home grown business solution for Africa.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We have simplified the process of using erp solutions by re-imagining the customer experience. We developed the product from scratch to build a homegrown solution for Africa, with hundreds of businesses participating in making our solution relevant and practical in Africa’s Erp market. We are focused and dedicated to this product and the solution it offers to our clients.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Fanaka Hybrid is new in the market and we are finding traction of the erp market. Our curve for growth is steady on the rise and we are converting new clients every month.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Our competitors are; Sage, Xero and Zoho, they are seasoned in this field. Fanaka Hybrid is user friendly compared to their ERPS, it is affordabe and combines diverse functions for small to medium business processes.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Our key challenge was existence of other systems that offer close functionality of what we do. We managed to involve many small businesses to contribute to what they would like to see in Fanaka Hybrid and most of them owned up the vision and felt it was their own.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Most people don’t understand the complexity of coming up with simple solution to complex problems. The process requires an in-depth understanding of the challenge presented and an array of possible solutions analyzed to selected the most suitable solution fix.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We are going to succeed because our approach to solving complex business challenges with easy to use solutions through continuous process of innovation. We are persistent and consistent on what we do. We are ready to experiment while safe guarding our clients.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We shall develop value addition systems for businesses and expand our ecosystem from our current point of focus. We shall be focusing on most suitable business practises solution.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
We have been developing custom ERP solutions for corporates for the past 3 years. We chose this idea for we saw a gap in business solutions for small businesses. Most small businesses close within 5 years for lack of proper systems to monitor or manage operations. We are passionate to empower small businesses to make sure they don’t collapse in their initial stages.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We have learnt to handle diverse needs of various businesses within our platform. Client satisfaction is key for the success of any product. We have learnt how to handle complex data analysis and presentation within our systems.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
One of the challenges we foresee in future is recruiting the right teams with the same vision and passion we have for our expansion strategy. A great team is the gateway to the success of any business.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The outstanding benefit for the users is the ability to manage business operations in a central place. Fanaka Hybrid eliminates the need of multiple systems to run a business. Our clients track all their business activities such as sales, projects, and accounting in one place.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Our first clients discovered about us during our launch. We had invited several small businesses and most of them are now our loyal customers. They had an opportunity to test our product and give feedback on future customization.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our current and targeted users are entrepreneurs and their team running small to medium businesses. Any business with general processes such as sending a quotation, invoicing and managing expenses fits well within our solution.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Through referrals from existing clients and online applications from our site we get new users. Our current users are giving amazing testimonials about Fanaka Hybrid that is generating referrals for our business.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Our users love our solution. For most users, once they start using Fanaka, they can’t imagine their business without it. Some love the fact that they can create quotations and email the clients from any location. They appreciate the team collaboration experienced through our system.
20. How are you going to scale?
By increasing our collaborative marketing activities and expanding our marketing team. We are also looking at partnering with Tech consultants and accounts to re-sell and support their clients within our solution.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
We have not developed some accounting reports yet, we are constantly working on them and rolling them out to our clients progressively. We have a help center whereby we update our clients on various system updates http://fanakahb.com/help/
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Yes we will go international. We plan to increase our development, support and marketing team and divide the teams into small cells and assign them regions to monitor and manage.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We know and believe that we are creating a great company to offer great products globally. Through global partnerships with like minded individuals and proper management practices.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We are currently not hiring but in 6 months we will have new opportunities for marketers and developers. Interested developers and marketers can check for updates from our blog.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are looking for venture capitals interested in home grown Africa business solutions.
They can contact us through,
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
The most important thing about great ideas is the first step that you make towards it. Don’t wait until you have everything that you need to get started. Start from what you have towards what you need.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thank you for the great interview.