One on one with Innocent Kinara Rasugu the co-founder of afrotabs together with the co-founders; Dennis and Roger.
“We saw the difficulty in finding chords and lyrics for African music and saw the need to create a platform for people to find, create and share chords and lyrics for African music. It’s a platform that can be used all over Africa.” Innocent explains in an interview with Thefounder.
We sought to find out what ignited the spark in the team of three to start this type of business. Innocent informs Thefounder that Roger’s winning the Intel Native Developer Hackathon award in 2014 for an app he made called Afroguitar would probably be it. He talked to Innocent about taking the idea further and eventually turning it into a business. They further brainstormed on the idea broadly.
The original concept was more of a teaching resource together with chords for African songs but they decided that the idea would be more scalable if they just focused on chords for African songs. They saw a clear gap in this area online: chords are not something new, the challenge is that as a musician you can’t find chords for 99.9% (as told by Innocent) of songs by African artists. You only find American, European and other artists from different continents hence, the origin of afrotabs.
Recruiting the team
So far the three entrepreneurs are the only people in working on the business. So how did they get together? Roger approached Innocent to help him take his award winning app forward, Innocent agreed but recommended that Dennis be co-opted as a developer of the application. Innocent says that they all feel right for the project and make a great team. “We really work well together.”
Advice on recruiting the team
“Find people who are good at what they do, have the same view of entrepreneurship or work ethic, people that are passionate about their work, open minded and can execute as members of a team.
Advice to university students who want to become entrepreneurs
1. Get an understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is about providing solutions with skills, abilities, ideas and information you have. Your financial background doesn’t matter – this may sound cliché but when you finally “see” it you will appreciate it and get fired up. You will see that in this sense there is a levelled playing field for EVERYONE!
2. Do something – don’t just talk about it. Dare to try. You never win if you don’t try. Do it
3. Don’t read stories about how much successful entrepreneurs are worth or how they spend their billions, read about how they started, WHERE they started from. This are the truly meaningful and inspiring stories especially once they make you realize how ordinary successful entrepreneurs are
If Innocent had the chance to start his career over again, what would he do differently?
• Perhaps have my eyes opened to entrepreneurship much earlier
Skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Innocent believes that the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur include
1. Ability to see opportunities with the mind
2. Ability to bring resources together-people, raise money and gather information
3. Ability to execute – take an idea and actually turn it from idea to product or service. Most people just talk about things but never actually do them
How long does he stick with an idea before giving up?
I never give up without trying so I stick with an idea until I try. I only give up if it doesn’t work after trying. And even then, I try and learn from what I could have done differently.
A typical day at afrotabs
“We all have day jobs so not much in the way of describing our typical days, but we stay in touch 24/7 on WhatsApp on a group we created. We are always conversing. But our daily routines ideally entail going to work and in between work one of us may think of something for afrotabs and will either note it down to raise it later or post immediately on the WhatsApp group. Then in the evening we each take some time to do any task that will keep pushing our project forward. We have shared responsibilities amongst ourselves. Our official physical meetings usually take place on Sundays after church.
How being entrepreneurs has affected afrotabs co-founders’ family life?
We have had to make our family members believe in us and give us their moral and sometimes financial support and the benefit of doubt
In our second part of this interview, we take a closer look into the reality of being an entrepreneur with all its perks and glory. Check back later for the second part, cheers.