Justice Towett, 29 and Martin Ndeto, 26, both computer science graduates from Kenyatta University, are an example of what meaningful friendship looks like.
Together, they have created KDuka, a web application that enables you to create your own e-commerce website in a matter of minutes with no knowledge on coding.
“Justice and I have similar visions for our careers, and even as friends back in university, we found ourselves gravitating towards similar interests – hanging out at the same places during our free time and exploring similar after-school interests.
“Working on school exercises also brought us together. For example, coding was a challenge for Justice, which I walked him through,” Martin explains.
At some point while in school, they were contracted to maintain computers by a certain organisation. They spent Sh5,000 of the money they earned to register and start their business, Zerone IT Solutions. Here, they deal with web development and networks – connecting your devices and being able to remotely control them.
The idea to set up KDuka came from a request they got from two consequent clients. The first client wanted an e-commerce platform set up for her, and setting it up cost Sh110,000.
Soon after that, they were approached by another client to set up something similar.
This made them realise that setting up a platform that can be accessed and used by many different people would solve a bigger problem for those working with limited resources but would like to set up online stores to grow their businesses.
“We soon realised that web development is not very sustainable when you rely on clients alone, so we started to think about other services that we could provide on a long-term basis. As we worked on our clients’ projects, we were on the lookout for opportunities, and that was how we stumbled on the idea of KDuka,” explains Martin.
“We dove straight to the deep end, and one by one, we learnt how to work around the puzzle of creating the platform, a product which is absolutely capable of morphing into whatever the client wants through customisation options embedded on the platform,” says Justice.
The first step is to visit the website, kduka.co.ke and sign up. Once you do this, you are given steps and guidelines on how to set up your own store.
“The stores are made in such a way that an average and literate digital consumer can navigate. Once you sign up, you follow prompts that guide you on getting your site ready in under five minutes,” explains Justice.
The platform is a shelf where you display and catalogue all the products that you have for easy visibility, accessibility and purchasing by your clients.
“In KDuka, users have a chance to enhance their brand through the available customisation options at no cost. For operational costs, we charge one per cent commission from all the sales made by our users,” Martin explains.
So far, they have 150 sign ups which have saved users the developer costs, the time it takes to design and so on.
Apart from the free account, the site also provides analytics and other value add tips such as how the store is doing and how many visitors it received.
“The site offers free and premium packages. The premium package, for which we charge Sh420 a month, enables the user to have their own full domain (e.g. www.nameofyourstore.com), enables search engine optimisation and you can further push your brand – you can also use google analytics on your brand,” explains martin.
“The basic package, which comes at no monthly charge, affords users a subdomain (e.g. nameofyourstore.kduka.com) and other important details for a store like product categories to enhance display,” Justice further explains.
These two young men are onto something – and that is solving the problem of many young people who sell their products online but lack access to affordable platforms to grow their businesses, especially for start-ups just getting into ecommerce.
“The platform gives users a chance to enhance their brands themselves as opposed to using other online platforms where they do not have a chance to make their brands stand out,” says Justice, who primarily worked the platform’s user experience and front-end coding. Martin worked on the engine back-end.
They hope that in the near future they can expand KDuka from being just a Kenyan market product to becoming an African market product.
“Good things do not come easily – developing the site has been one of the greatest challenges I have had. The first release took us six months – this version was too complicated for the ordinary user, so we had to rework it again, which took us close to a year,” notes Justice.
But building a product is one thing, and pushing it out there another altogether.
They are hoping for more sign ups from the current 150 and an expansion in the type of businesses that set up stores on the platform.
Currently, the majority users of KDuka mostly sell electronics and hair products and own boutiques.