After Tony Eboyi, 26, graduated with a degree in project management in 2013, he set up a blog, his intention to market his skills and share the knowledge he had acquired in school. At the time, all he wanted to do was to practice his research and writing skills. And not seated in an office somewhere - he was not keen on getting a job.
“I was not interested in being formally employed because I wanted to develop a personalised path and find ways to monetise my interests,” he explains.
One of these interests was writing, having come third in a national essay competition in high school.
His blog, came about in 2012 during his attachment as a liaison officer in an insurance firm, thanks to an abundance of time and free Internet.
“People kept writing to me, wanting more information about what I wrote. Instead of responding to just one person at a time, which would have been taxing, I looked for a way to respond on a larger scale, hence the start of the incubation of Biz HUB, a platform where young people meet and interact with experts in various fields,” he explains.
In 2014, he would register TWIC BRANDs, a branding company that houses all his innovations: Biz HUB which officially started operating in January 2017, Merchandisers Galore, composed of a pool of youths interested and talented in sales and marketing, and the Magazine Club Kenya, the initiative under which he runs a magazine distribution channel.
Primarily, TWIC BRANDS provides merchandising solutions, advertising, training and tutorials, and carries out social enterprises with, or on behalf of corporates.
“One of our most successful projects is the magazine distribution channel. We source magazines directly from publishers and use riders to deliver them to the customer,” he explains, adding that his company works with most local magazine brands, including Salon, Parents and True Love. Interestingly, the magazine distribution idea took fruition in high school, where Tony distributed teen magazine, Insider (it is no longer published) to fellow students.
Clients that his company has provided branding services for include KCB, Safaricom, Cooperative bank, Samsung and BIDCO.
Biz HUB, in a nutshell, seeks to put together opportunities that exist within the creative industries.
“Through Biz HUB, we hold themed business conversations at Highland Platinum, Galaxy Lounge, along Moi Avenue in Nairobi every fortnight on Friday evenings from 5.30 to 8.30pm. The sessions facilitate conversations between professionals in various fields, who interact with young people interested in getting into these fields,”
As for TWIC BRANDs, it holds monthly speaking sessions at Kaimosi Friends University College (KAFUCO) where, using the Biz HUB model, students get to learn about the available freelancing options.
“Although I am the force behind the mother company, I involve people that have more experience in the areas that my brand specialises in to share skills with me as well as the corporates that I work with, this is how I have been able to build my skill-base,” he explains.
Tony sees freelancing as the future of employment, with concepts such as virtual working, due to deeper Internet penetration and is fast testing such concepts. His company works with young freelancers who are assigned various projects on short and medium-term contracts. He employs between seven to 10 freelancers on any given project.
In the short-term, Tony and his partners at Biz HUB, Harris Amwai, Brian Kimotho and Linton Chege, intend to replicate the model of Biz HUB in schools, universities and colleges.
“I started with what I had with an eye on growth and scaling. I began by setting up the blog and then expanded as money became available,” he explains.
He urges young people who wish to start businesses not to be held back by lack of money – just begin with whatever resources you have. He also advises starting off your idea as a project or program rather than going straight ahead to register a company, which you can then do once you have structures in place.
“One of the greatest challenges that I had when I brought in partners was getting them to understand the bigger goal I had for the business - this led to a lot of strategy conflict at the start,” he says.
Getting companies to understand the value that TWIC adds to their brands has also been difficult because they are using newer modes of branding, yet the gate-keepers seem to favour and cling to the old school tried and tested concepts.
“Story telling is the future of marketing. Brand stories, giving information that will make a consumer favourably understand the product and the modern-day influencer based, experiential marketing, where we make the consumer believe that they are the only problem that the company is focused on is the new model of marketing,” he explains.
HOW DO YOU GET CLIENTS?
I have four ways of doing this - one is through cold pitching. I look at what companies are already doing with their brands, and make them an offer which I send via email or I request for a meeting, where I pitch better branding ideas.
The second method is referrals, the third networking. I make a point of attending as many events as I can, which provides a chance to market my company.
The fourth is through social media, which I use to push my business. I also use the blog to enhance the visibility of the company - a website is like a physical shop because it has static information, whereas a blog would compare to a road show truck because it is updated regularly, such that a visitor gets newer information at every visit.
Was registration of the company a complex process?
Registration of companies is a much easier process now because of the introduction of the e-citizen platform, so anyone who wishes to start a company should not be worried about red tape.