One afternoon in September 2015, Eliud Wakanyiri was watching Television when he had his light bulb moment. CNN had featured Nigeria’s hotel booking platform Hotels.ng, in a report that detailed its journey from the beginning. Eliud was at the time considering enrolling for a Masters degree, a decision he has since shelved and opted to venture into the world of business.
“I have previously ventured into business, running a matatu business and at one time a mini-supermarket. I had however not ventured into technology”, he says. The trained Accountant then began researching on viable ideas which culminated into the birth of his business Joy Inc. “At the time, I did not have a business but I began making purchases for an office space, which was not really a good idea”, he says. This he believes was a show of the commitment of how bad he wanted to get involved in the technology space.
One of the ideas he constantly had was a solution that would allow businesses to connect with other business, who are their customers culminating in the birth of SureLynk, a company under the Joy Inc. brand. “I had a myriad of ideas, which failed to materialize, but I believe SureLynk was in its incubation phase in my mind at the time”, says Eliud, the Business Development Manager.
Surelynk is an integrated platform that allows businesses to connect with other businesses and then customers. The platform allows SMEs and even large organization to under a single unified platform to sort out their marketing and sourcing need while at the same time seeking opportunities. “The idea is built around a business”, says Samuel Lemaiyan, the company’s finance and administration manager.
“Think of an organization such as a hotel. By signing up onto SureLynk, you get to promote your facilities such as room, within the platform, tackling your marketing. At the same time, the platform allows you to source for any goods or services from suppliers in addition to allowing you to tackle your staffing needs. The platform also allows you to seek opportunities from listed tenders”, he says. “I personally view SureLynk as an online mall for businesses”, he added.
In addition to offering all services in an integrated platform, SureLynk has also managed to institute verification of the services listed, which gives the users of the service a form of validation in the services being offered.
How does it work?
SureLynk lets businesses to, for a small subscription fee get a mini-site on their SureLynk’s integrated website. “When a company subscribes to our services, we build the site for them within our platform, which they have control over”, says Eliud. On the individual company page, the organization has several features including the home page, the products or services page, an events page and a track record.
Under the Homepage, SureLynk allows the business to have a banner where they can talk about their line of business, as well as have the contact information. “This acts a “landing page” for a business to tell the world who they are and what they do”, says Eliud. The products tab on the other hand allows the business to list all the goods the company has or the services the organization offers. “A real estate company on our platform will use this page to talk about its various construction projects or several of the houses it has available. It can also detail the services it offers from construction to surveying and others”, he added.
The track record page on the other hand shows the entire portfolio the company has, detailing all the jobs a business has previously engaged in. To further ensure certainty, under the track record, one can have their portfolio endorsed by former clients or parties who have previously engaged with the business. “This gives credit to the portfolio the business has listed as truthful”, says Eliud.
SureLynk wants to enforce the legitimacy of the businesses listing on its platform. In addition to the verification of the track record, the organization also ensures that businesses listed meet a certain threshold. In the registration of the business, the organization must list its contact people on the platform to allow for the conducting of background checks. The business must also have a KRA pin number which gives it more legitimacy as a business while at the same time, the SureLynk team visits the premises of the business to authenticate the information offered by the business.
SureLynk offers its subscription in three models including MyHustle, Essential and Standard each with different packages and limitations. MyHustle plan goes for Kshs. 1,900 per month. The MyHustle package allows the user of the service to upload up to 15 photos of their product and has caps regarding how much promotion can take place within the platform.
The other package, Essential gives users more access to the platform than my Hustle. Under this package, the user can add up to 40 of the products offered by SureLynk and offers better ranking of products and services. Essential package charges users Kshs. 3,500 per month. The elite package among those offered by SureLynk is Standard, which charges users Kshs. 7,900 per month. This offers the user access to list 100 of their products and services besides allowing them to have a higher ranking on the platform.
The other monetization strategy applied by the company includes promotion of products within the site. For a small fee, a business can increase the rank of their listed product which gives it more prominence than others listed on the platform, meaning a wider access to the market. Surelynk also recently unveiled EasyHire, a new package that allows companies to within the website recruit and meet their staffing needs. “The only consumer-facing module on our platform is SureHire, where individuals can post their CVs and then get recruited by the company”, says Eliud. “For a fee, a business can ask us to help them bridge their hiring needs, where we shall tap into our database and match their needs with the currently available job seekers”, he added.
SureLynk has close to 50 businesses listed on the platform, in just three months of operations. “We have managed to lock in different companies on the platform ranging from real estate companies, motor vehicle firms, auctioneers and even event firms”, says Eliud. The company has also grown with the team expanding to 6 employees who are mostly in marketing.
On the challenges and lessons, Eliud says he has faced several challenges including the fact that he is a trained accountant. “In coming up with the product, I engaged some developers to come up with the product but they tried to skim the idea and do it themselves”, he added. This set him back a while in getting to come up with the product but it was a lesson learnt. How does he deal with this challenge? “Any skillset can be learnt and taught”, he says. “As an entrepreneur, you have to fully understand your business from the administrative to the technical aspects which is what I have done with SureLynk”, he added.
“I sit down with my team and we work out any of the challenges and seek out the best way forward”. “The business has also taught me a lot about patience. I remember at one time I was kicked out of a WhatsApp group as I kept demanding instant results which were not instant”, he added. “Patience, I have learnt as very important skillset for any business. His advice to entrepreneurs is not to fear failure and go right in and start. “When you master the commitment and decide to go right ahead, success will follow you”, he adds.
On the future plans for SureLynk, Eliud believes they have barely scratched the surface. He hopes SureLynk will keep growing and have more businesses joining the platform as it is both cost effective and attractive for them. “My hope for me is to see each of the individual sites; events, automart or even the real estate packages grow to be as good as the niche sites offering these services”, he says.