The Port 003: We meet the brains behind the Jaguza e-commerce platform

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After a long break the port is back, and for the third episode, techjaja met with Edward Ssemuwemba  a developer and founding member of  Jaguza yet another hot startup from Uganda:

Presenting the Port : Jaguza Edition:

TJ: What is Jaguza?

ES: Jaguza, which means “celebrate” in vernacular, is an ecommerce platform using the web and mobile to connect vendors and service providers to the people planning events such as weddings, birthday or corporate parties. Jaguza is unique is such a way that not only do you have access to providers for a variety of events, one can also plan the next step say contact the vendor via call or email, share with friends through social media, create wish lists and develop budgets for any event to mention but a few.

TJ: Why events specifically, why not just create billboards for anyone?

ES: We are a group passionate about events, the events scene is growing tremendously in the country, I know people who get to celebrate baby showers even before the baby is born!, then you have baptism, it’s all celebration and its part of our lives, so we thought that was something we could change

THE JAGUZA PROMO VIDEO

[youtube url=”http://youtu.be/3AJVX-ICzDE”]

 

TJ: How did it all start?

ES: Well, it all started with the CEO, who was then doing an online course on cousera.org, Human Computer Interaction to be exact and as an assignment, she had to come up with a tangible project. It so happened that at the same time a friend of hers had a wedding coming up and she noticed all the running up and down and voila the wholel idea was born! We started a team of nine people and then the website was put up with no providers however, we did our own marketing and managed to get clients on board!

TJ: How do u find the tech start up scene in ug?

ES: Well its not for the faint-hearted.. it requires dedication, perseverance and patience

TJ: Is it for fun or for money?

ES: Both – Passion because we love what we do as well the money… 🙂

TJ: Hmm… how does Jaguza make money?

ES:Through subscriptions from the service providers and they get space on the virtual billboard.

TJ: Mobile or web, what is your main ground?

ES: We want to go Mobile because the numbers for people access internet using their mobile devices is increasing exponentially

TJ: There is an android app, any other mobile platforms?

ES: Work in production… we are going all out …iOS and Windows coming very very soon jaguza_1

TJ: Why go native? Isn’t it easier to make mobile versions of the website?

ES: Yes there is an option of responsive design such that web app can convert to mobile, but we want to have the experience on the mobile, there is something about an in muilt app, well it takes a while developing but there are several capabilities in built in a phone for examples we can leverage on services like Google maps: and get a much better experience and greater accuracy when using native application.

TJ: What is the future for Jaguza?

ES: We offer virtual billboards right now for people in Uganda but we hoping to role out to neighboring countries ie Kenya and Rwanda and break these boundaries… then continue develop features based on the clients needs 🙂 We are also going to launch a Magazine

TJ: What marketing channels does Jaguza use?

ES: Word of Mouth – Social Media – Articles have been published about Jaguza – Daily Monitor, Tech (something) – TV show – We are yet to incorporate other channels such as radio

 

TJ: Can tell that Jaguza’s success depends on the internet penetration, whats the future of internet in Uganda and the impact on Jaguza?
phone app
Mobile look of the App

ES: There is lots of progress that has been done in the light of Internet penetration.. we have Google putting in the fiber cable… there organization such as UCC and NITA that have been set up by the government and not forgetting the fiber cable that is coming in from Mombasa… All these aspects are geared towards enhancing the internet connectivity of the country… So the future is bright for Jaguza… Another aspect is in terms of the ever increasing reduced cost in purchasing devices that have access to the internet… we have more and more people having access to the internet. The beauty also lies in the fact that other people in the diaspora that would want to have access to the SME service providers that we are marketing have unlimited access to the internet…

TJ: There is evidence of high startup failure how is Jaguza surviving this? (Is Jaguza still a startup anyway?)

ES: We are getting support from an agel investor as well as clients already paying subscription for the virtual billboard. We have been here for roughly 1 year and we are evolving as more and more people use the application so By virtual of the fact that we listen to what the different clients need then I believe we re here to stay

TJ: How can a hot startup in Uganda get some Venture capital money?

ES: There are a couple of ways that we are also looking into.. competitions, getting connections from already existing organizations that set out to help start ups like Outbox…

TJ: What is cooking? because that is what “the port” is all about?

ES: We will be launching a new version of the web application as well extending the mobile to Windows and iOS platforms… that is all I can say for now… All you have to do it wait because its going to be massive

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