SafeMotos is all the buzz in Kigali. The startup connects passengers with safe motorcycle taxis through its smartphone app.
The app has been downloaded nearly 4,000 times, and the SafeMotos has raised more than US$130,000 in funding, Rwanda's largest ever seed round.
AkilahNet caught up with SafeMotos co-founder and CEO, Barrett Nash. The startup isn't Barrett's first foray into entrepreneurship. He's founded four startups and consulted with 17 others. He's also the entrepreneur in residence at Think Accelerator, the Tigo-backed startup incubator in Kigali.
Nash walked us through what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and how he finds his best business ideas.
At what point did you realize you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
In my first year in college, I worked for a startup, and I was its first employee. From that startup, the feeling that we were actually making something, something that would change how people lived for the better, was striking. Since then, I have always wanted to work on my own account.
What action steps did you take to build out your entrepreneurial skill set?
I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, so I don't think one needs an MBA or something like that. It is only by practicing that you get to be an entrepreneur. People talk too much. They spend their time talking about their dreams and about how little time they have to work towards what they want. I don't like talking much; I just worked and acted toward my goals and visions.
What does your work as CEO involve?
Many people might think that I am a programmer, but no, when it comes to programming, all credit goes to my partner and cofounder, Peter Kariuki.
My work as CEO consists of making sure that the company is accountable, making sure that everyone is equipped to perform their best work, and making sure that the work is done effectively.
Where do you get your business ideas? How do you distinguish a good business idea from a bad one?
For what it's worth, as far as I am concerned, there is no bad business idea. Going through one's day is the best way to get a business idea. After all, the essence of a business is to provide an answer to society. So once you think of a way to solve a problem you face daily and decide to share it with the community, that's a good business idea.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome starting this business? How did you manage to do it?
When you are trying to build something new, the biggest challenge is to handle complaints. One single complaint can outweigh 100 appreciative comments. We always make sure that people get the best service we can provide.
What are your growth plans for SafeMotos?
Eventually we look forward to expanding. Currently we are in the research phase. In a month or two, we will be testing in West Africa, but we look forward to establishing a presence all over Africa if not worldwide.
What do you look for in new hires?
It is very simple: I look for curious people, people willing to learn and work hard.
What is the No. 1 piece of advice you'd give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do and act. The key to being an entrepreneur is not to overthink it. You can fail, but fail fast. Don't be afraid of mistakes. Also, don't let the possible come at the expense of the perfect.