Hire key team players that will take your business to the next level and that bring in value.
Always take care of your customers as they are the engine to your business.
Ensure your team is always learning new things that will benefit your business and themselves.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Teddy Njoroge Kungu, Co-Founder of Repairnet.
Teddy is a highly pro-active and experienced strategy professional with over 10 years’ experience in leadership. He has proven results across all stages of the business cycle — from pre-product release through scaled operations. He built high performing teams and enabled companies to rapidly acquire their initial adopters, scale operations to support exponential growth, and achieve profitability in new markets with new products and services.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about our journey. I have a background in both Computer science and business management having done a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and an MBA in Business Administration. My goal was to have good knowledge of technology and how best to commercialize technology in the business world. I have worked for Multinationals in my entire career and this gave me the exposure on how to start businesses and scale them to big brands in the respective markets. I remember it was 3 years ago I thought to myself that I needed to take my experience to the next level by starting something that would eventually the mass. Many ideas sprung up and it was at that point we conversed with my Colleague Owen and one thing came to our minds…Cars. We love cars and thought, we should come up with a next gen app that would enhance the eco-system of maintaining vehicles in the country. It was quite vivid at the time but we slowly conceptualized the idea to what we currently have. It has been a journey of almost losing hope trying to figure out if the market is ready for this but we always kept on going.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
There were several things that made us wonder if we were in the right direction. Out of the research we did, all the automotive specialists discouraged us telling us the market is not ready for this technology. In addition to that, the fact that we would be dealing with many fraudulent mechanics that charge exorbitant prices to clients to make their quick money will not be ok to have price controls from our app.
At some point we had to question ourselves on whether this is a venture we should put our efforts in. We looked at other companies like UBER that tackled a field that was new and never knew how the uptake would be. They eventually became a success which meant any market would easily pick up any advancements in technology as long as it’s providing a solution to a problem. The Automotive industry is a tough area and there are a lot of inconveniences and uncertainties. If we were to get this right especially in the Kenyan market then we would become a monopoly and easily go to other markets. The fact that we could eventually be the first in the industry gave us the push to give our all.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
One huge mistake I believe we made was not documenting a road map to our journey and steps we needed to make to eventually having our company up and running. We had so much info in our minds on what we wanted to do and we had not aligned to a dedicated plan. This led to a lot of time wastage but this also taught us a good lesson as we got very well organized there after achieving key milestones in our journey.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company stands out because we took a lot of time to do our research in the market on the key pain points that we are to provide an end to end solution to. In addition, we took our time to select a good team to run this venture. We are a multifaceted company with team members sitting in different continents. This helps us think outside the box as every team member brings in different experiences that will help us penetrate other markets globally within the next ten years.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I believe the key thing is planning. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Always keep your eye on the ball at all times and trust the process.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
You never go far alone, but as a team. There are many friends who have been supportive in our journey but I have this particular gentle man who assisted in a key milestone which was connecting us to one of the key government bodies that certifies Automotive engineers in the country. His name is Etinick Mutinda — GM ICDL Africa and coincidentally was my employer at some point in my career. He is a visionary man especially in the educational sector and supports ventures that transform the country. I give him credit for his great help.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
A good company is all about the team…The leader and the supporting team. There has to be a sync between the team players and most of all, a visionary leader…Period.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Below is my take:
- Hire key team players that will take your business to the next level and that bring in value.
- Always plan ahead.
- Innovate at all times.
- Always take care of your customers as they are the engine to your business.
- Ensure your team is always learning new things that will benefit your business and themselves.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
This is very true, you must have a purpose in whatever it is you do even in life. If you never have a purpose then you will never achieve anything. The key reason companies should be purpose driven business is simply to ensure that there is focus. We all have visions as a company, how do you achieve it, what is the process? This creates the purpose of what you do. You must have a purpose since a company will go through many ups and downs that can easily divert goals if the company does not have a focused team.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
This happens a lot to team players and also leaders. I would call them plateaus. One key thing is to reinvent yourself. Try something new (innovate) and that’s why you find companies nowadays have innovation units. This is to keep the company moving forward. Think outside the box and this will always push the wheel forward.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
I believe a company should always be ten steps ahead in understanding the market dynamics. Your company should have solutions that embrace any business environment. It’s interesting for us especially when we are facing this pandemic, our solution is providing a service to our clients that are now forced to work from home. We have moved the whole idea of clients taking their vehicles to the garages. This simply means we have restructured a solution that fits the current situation and more so, if car owners were to go back to their offices, they would still need our solution. Therefore, a company needs to really think of a solution that will stand the toughest of terrains and this brings in innovation.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
This has to be customer relations. People don’t tend to invest in customer acquisition and retention. How you treat your customer will determine if you will have continuous business from them. You need to keep your customer happy so that they walk the journey with you and not just product dropping.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
One key strategy is to clearly bring out the VALUE PROPOSITION. What is the value am providing and the problem am solving for you. If you bring this out clearly then you easily win the sale.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
For a brand to be considered reputable then you must offer high quality and reliable solution. Secondly, you need to provide premium support. Customers need a god product and the reliability that if they have any queries they can easily get assisted.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
You have to be very keen on the customer journey. How easy was the purchase of the product by the client, was the information provided to client vague or clear? Was it sufficient enough to help them make a decision to purchase? How was the purchase process? Easy or a very long tiring process? Is the client support top notch? If you answer these question In regards to your business and get them right then you are positioned for greatness.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
I share the same sentiments. Social media can make or destroy you as a brand. Most companies are never keen on their social media channels. Businesses are heavily advertising on social media platforms and therefore how you present your company matters a lot. At times the public can tarnish your brand especially handling queries or complaints in the wrong way.
Personally I advocate for companies to have digital marketing and Public relations consultants to handle this delicate docket. This way you are sure your brand is in safe hands at all times.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
One of the key mistakes made is poor planning. Secondly, rushing into the market without enough research.
To avoid these errors always PLAN.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would concentrate in empowering the youth who have great ideas but don’t know how best to execute. There is a huge knowledge gap with the youth on how to spring up and this is the one thing I would invest my time on.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!