This is a follow up story for Apps:Lab. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Marvin Collins Hosea a senior software engineer by profession, product manager, and techprenuer. Founder and Managing partner at Apps:Lab KE and it's subsidiary entities.
Our company focuses on building custom software and technology solutions for individuals, businesses, organizations,s, and companies. At the moment we do not have any public projects but we’ve been putting work on some exclusive products for 1+ years.
Our company suffered a massive loss due to COVID-19 in terms of revenue and workforce and we had to start from negative in 2021 to 10X-ed our revenue and profitability.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since we last talked, we’ve tried to increase our business revenue. Things didn’t go well in 2020 for the company but in 2021 we grew by 10x. We explored and expanded to other regions with high purchasing power like Germany, Canada, and the USA and it we got rewards from that effort. Majorly, we offered software consultancy work to different partners and technology agencies.
Don’t ever be charitable to people or the community when you’ve not figured it out yet, build yourself/business first up to a point where you’re making profits and enough money to help you sustain yourself and your charity activities.
Some team members left which affected the company in terms of human resources. And I guess they had the right to do so since the company had no revenue, we had reached a breaking point. In 2021 we added three members, two on payroll and one on a contract basis. We work on a contract basis with known and vetted contractors on an hourly basis.
We’ve not done any PR, marketing, etc but we might start doing that in 2022. I have never done marketing since we started this company. Am not even sure if marketing does work, you know like buying social media ads but it is something I must put my money into this year. We took a low profile in 2021 as we try rebuilding what was left of the company after the 2020 COVID-19 aftermath and for now, we rely on word of mouth and referrals from those who know Apps:Lab Limited and from our customers who refer other clients to us, also I would like to take this opportunity to advertise the company, we are a software agency based in Nairobi, Kenya building software solutions for businesses, you should send all tech clients our way at [email protected]
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I have made a lot of mistaken running Apps:Lab man. A lot of them, but one big mistake I have made as a person is being too good and caring. I kinda forgot myself in between, tried too much not for me but for the company so much that it started hurting when COVID-19 changed a lot of things which I had to eventually grow out of. But eventually solitude made me realize this mistake.
I really won’t call our misfortunes during 2020 mistakes per se, because they were hard-to-swallow experience which took me back to the drawing board and strategize on the way forward as a company and as an individual.
Hahaha, cool personal update in 2021! Mmmh, let’s see. I have been working on a fintech solution for a year now, it’s my new baby. I sleep a lot lately which is good, I saw JCole in Rwanda am a big fan of Cole. I really don’t like glorifying properties and materialistic items but I bought a land around Kigali, Rwanda next to a lake and Nairobi, Kenya. To me life is more of living without worrying about paying rent or lease, am closing to achieving that now. The same year I low-key trained 13 people in tech through our company as an experiment and they are employed now, one is working at AWS. I am proud of this and it give me gratification. Finally I started saving up for a Tesla and retirement, hopefully I retire at 30 - 35 years of age. Above all, I talk to God a lot and constantly remind Him that I am ready whenever He is because somehow I feel like I have done enough of what I was supposed to do as a human in my communities and family, so if I die, am okay with it.
Not lessons per se but nice to know/have.
- Get an account from day one. This was very important more so when you’re not good with numbers and generous with your money and company money. You need someone to say when to spend less and what is consuming a lot of money.
- Reduce cost; We started working remotely and canceled any physical meeting unless a client/customer was paying for accommodation and travel.
- Expand to other regions: I decided to partner with agencies from Germany, Canada and USA to get more work and this paid off well.
- Scale on demand: Right now we are a team of four but I scale the team as per project demand on a contract basis.
- Meet once in a while: This practise was introduced at Apps:Lab sometime back and It is the best I think. We meet after every 14 weeks and it is optional.
- Do more with less; Invest in good gadgets and services that increase productivity;
One of the most helpful habit that helped me a lot in 2021 is, clocking hours and saying no when you have to much to do. Saying no basically mean reducing the “noise” from distraction. I use stayinsession.com to manage my time and write journal about my life and what I do every hour.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We usually plan annually because we’re a small team at the moment and the plan keeps changing. So I cannot really point out our five year plan. Hahaha but I pray we remain profitable. The plan is to be profitable
- Early last year I introduced 12 weeks plan borrowed from Adam Wathan where we work for 12 weeks then take rest for two weeks.
- During the working weeks we document a lot of process which we review during the next week and analyze what worked and what can be improved.
We are working on two products this year and maintaining two products and we hope to focus on them for foreseeable future for the next five years.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
- The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia
“We are laser-focused on profitability from day one, to get sustainability soon after, so that we can serve our customers and our communities for long as we wish”
- Tim Cook
“It's not the conditions of our lives but the decision we make determine our future.”
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
My first advice is you will learn from your mistakes overtime and build on them. Not only your mistakes but other entrepreneurs’ mistakes. Some mistakes are so painful and you will regret them for a life time. But as long as you readjust aiming positions and try again over and over consistently, at one point you will get it right.
Second, don’t ever be charitable to people or community when you’ve not figured it out yet, build yourself/business first up to a point where you’re making profits and enough money to help you sustain yourself and your charity activities. Build a reserve for yourself first then pour the extra to others. There is no way you can help others while trying to help yourself or your business too, you will suck out the energy you’ll need to lift yourself at a certain point. And there’s no guarantee that the people or communities will return the favor and help you up, It only happen in rare cases.
Lastly, Entrepreneurs is a hobby until you realize its suppose to pay bills, be profitable from day one or do whatever it takes to pay the bills and finance your entrepreneurship journey.
- Buy a comfortable mattress if you can afford one. You will need comfortable rest if you’re going to put in the work. The same goes for an ergonomic chair.
- Learn on the go and teach others to gain genuine followers or supporters.
- Invest in good equipments, services, products that increase you’re productivity.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes we are looking to hire a graphic design on a contract basis.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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