Today on The Small Business we are profiling Lenasi Cloud Hosting. Lenasi Cloud Hosting is a leader in the Kenyan Internet Technology Industry that deals with the provision of web services and products to Kenyan SMEs and Corporates. Their services include web hosting services, domain names, SSL certificates, website development, email hosting, VPS hosting and website builder applications and other website hosting related advisory & IT Consultancy.
I caught up with the CEO, Newton Mwaniki to find out more about the business, and the joys and challenges of running such a business.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Newton Mwaniki, and I am an entrepreneur with a passion for using technology to solve societal problems. With a thirst for learning, I can best describe myself as a student of opportunity since continuous learning enables me to always know what is happening in my industry and perfect my skills besides coming up with new strategies.
I am the founder and CEO of Lenasi Cloud Hosting, a digital company that acts as the bridge between businesses and the Cloud. Lenasi Cloud Hosting helps corporates, small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals to establish their online presence through the provision of fast, reliable & secure web hosting, branded email hosting, domain names and SSL Certificates.
How did your company start?
Lenasi Cloud Hosting was born back in 2014. It was a result of two years of being a dabbler – hoping from one venture to another just to make a quick buck! My journey to the digital world started in 2012 when I was trying to make some quick money online. I started blogging but gave up within 6 months after making a mere 9 shillings (not kidding). Affiliate marketing at that time was booming and so I jumped on the bandwagon. What I failed to put into account is that at that time Kenya was not yet fully ripe for affiliates so, as you can guess, I failed again!
In mid-2013, with the little experience I gained from blogging and affiliate marketing, I ventured into Social Media Marketing. Luckily when Kilimall was launching, I got an opportunity to be their freelance Facebook marketer but I didn’t stay long since they wanted permanent employees. In early 2014, I decided that enough was enough. I needed to venture into a business that would last but I didn’t know where to begin.
After a lot of reading and research, I realized that the solution was only one; Solving Customers Problems. Having been in the online world, I had seen it all. I had discovered that small businesses were struggling to get online and market their services & products online. That’s when the lightning struck and I decided to start an agency to offer the solutions to businesses.
So far, have you seen the vision that you had set out for your companytake off?
4 years down the line, despite the challenges I have faced, I can confidently say that the vision is being achieved by thousands of customers who have placed their trust in us.
How many people work for you?
I have a team of 5 people who are in charge of System Management, Technical Customer Support, Marketing Co-ordination and Web Development. Apart from that, we have business partners in Nairobi, Nakuru, LakeHub in Kisumu & Mombasa who act as our regional representatives.
What makes your company stand out from others? What makes it unique?
I would love to brag here but let me just state that Lenasi Cloud Hosting Is the first & only provider of Cloud Hosting in Africa that is powered by OnApp Virtualization. This has enabled us to provide a 99.99% uptime reliability and make websites load faster.
Secondly, our customer service is top notch! We have gone an extra mile of offering live chat, online tickets, direct phone calls and support via email. Don’t take my word for it, just check the customer reviews on our social media pages.
We also stand out because we support Kenyan Charities and SMEs by offering free lifetime Cloud Hosting as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility.
Lastly, our competitive pricing, money back guarantee and unlimited high performance has enabled us to be ahead of other companies.
Do you get people to help you out in sourcing and executing the ideas for your projects?
No man is an island. I rely on my able team to contribute and execute ideas. I also try to seek opinions and assistance from our partners. How could I even forget our lovely customers! Their support and feedback have also been crucial in developing efficient processes and our systems.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I knew you would ask this question. I have a passion for entrepreneurship and helping people and businesses grow. My joy comes when I see a client is fully satisfied.
“Therefore whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31 the word of God and especially this verse really motivates me a lot.
Describe to us your typical day of work
Being a frequent traveller and a digital consultant, I would say my schedule is not always fixed. However, on a normal day; I wake up at 5 am, have some personal time and do my devotion then take a shower. I then take my breakfast at 7 am and from 9:30 am to 6 pm I’m either at work or meeting with clients for consultancy. In the evening, I prepare and take my supper at 8 pm, catch up with the day’s news and friends then retire to bed at 10 pm. I do not work on weekends hence I use that time to go out for fun or relax at home. Did I mention I love to read books?
What are some of the biggest and most memorable moments so far?
I still remember when I got my first client. It was like a dream come true. I was so encouraged and got the confidence I needed to succeed. The first customer was a foundation for my business and he gave me a reason to wake up every day and do what I do.
He is still our client to date and over the years we have really become great friends. Did I mention he refers his friends and clients over to us?
What are some of the ups and downs you’ve faced in your business?
During the initial stages, getting capital to expand our marketing campaigns was a very big challenge. I had to come up with innovative methods of acquiring customers.
What are the challenges of being a young business in Nairobi (or elsewhere)?
Nairobi is a hub for Africa, it has created a lot of competition due to the multinationals opening up businesses month in month out.
The cost of doing business in Nairobi is also relatively high when you put into consideration office rents, licenses and permits, not forgetting the high cost of living.
I won’t even talk of the traffic jams…
Where do you see your company in the next ten years?
Right now we are on the clouds, in the next 10 years we will have landed on the moon (just kidding).
Our vision at Lenasi is to expand all over East Africa in the next 3 years and offer our services to the whole of Africa in the next 6 years. In 10 years, we plan to have had a global coverage.
We also intend to add more web services to our suite as we increase our customer base and satisfaction.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Commitment: Rome was not built in 2 years, neither will your business. A startup is like a baby, you need to commit your energy your expertise and your finances to ensure it grows. Commitment is what will separate you from the rest.
Team: A company is as good as the team behind it. Ensure you hire people who have your best interest at heart and they will align themselves with the vision of your business.
Lastly, Focus! Focus! Focus! How many times did I say that? Do not be a jack of all trades, have a clear vision and purpose in your entrepreneurial journey. Focus on making your product 10x better than any other product or service.
Any recognition or successes so far? Tell us about that
We have not received any awards. However, if an opportunity comes, we will not fail to seize it. Right now, our main focus is the satisfaction of our clients and expansion to the whole of East Africa.
Lessons you would like to pass to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Education is not enough if you can’t use your knowledge to pursue success in the business world.
Start with the WHY. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Why do you want to start that business? Why will you be waking up in the morning to do what you do? Is your primary motivator money, influence, freedom or to help people e.t.c?
Start! Just start. Bet on your own abilities and do not let the fear of failing hold you back. Start with what you have from where you are with who you are with.
In order for you to succeed in the entrepreneurial world, you need to first solve a customers’ problem and understand that people only pay for 1 of 2 things.
People pay for:
Results: You do something they couldn’t do for themselves
Convenience: You do something they don’t want to do for themselves, or you make something difficult easier to do
Lastly, a product that is merely marginally better than your competition is worthless! In order to attract and retain your customers – your product needs to do one thing at least 10 times better than any other product or service.
Looking back what would you have done differently if you had a chance to start over
Wait, you mean time travel exists? Anyway, even if I would go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing. I appreciate all the mistakes I did and the failure I underwent since I learned from them and they enabled me to arrive at the big idea.