MeQasa.com is what you will describe as a millennial Ghanaian startup, operating on a heavy dose of innovation and out-of- the- box strategies to success.
Registered in 2013, CEO and Co founder of Meqasa.com, Kelvin Nyame and his two co-founders set out to create a real estate platform that makes it easier for individuals to find suitable accommodation in Ghana at the right price and according to their tastes and preferences.
It was a big deal because MeQasa, at that point, was one of the few tech startups to actually attract such financial validation, at a time where everyone was wondering if Ghanaian tech startups were actually financially viable models.
CEO and Co founder Kelvin Nyame tells us, a good entrepreneurial foundation from the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology had a major role to play in how their product was structured and the value it provided for the market.
Above all, lots of the onus were on the team, four at the time, to build a very investment-friendly business and a discipline to stick to its values even in the face of financial constraints.
“I think there were great ideas around before we came, but it is important for entrepreneurs to choose their fields properly. Because a careful observation will reveal the sectors that are attracting investments lately and position your business well.”
Kelvin, in sharing a few more tips on how other Ghanaian startups especially, tech startups can attract needed funding, charged startups to properly understand the market in order to grow quickly.
“ It is important for startups to understand the needs of their customers. They need to practically learn how customers react to their products and see how to better satisfy them. That is one of the ways to grow customer base quickly, and strengthen your business. All these things work together to make you attractive to a prospective investor”, he said.
A little background to Ghana’s real estate and housing sector will help you appreciate the solution Meqasa is providing.
Getting suitable accommodation in Ghana can be a difficult, frustrating process. Though the methods differ depending on your income level, they are ridden with long-standing bottlenecks. For the vast majority, renting is the option, whereas the middle-class will prefer to build their own homes by buying land, and undertaking full construction themselves. Others will prefer to buy or take a mortgage.
Again, no matter the process you choose, there are deep-seated bottlenecks of fraud, gross time wasting, and a big chance of a raw deal from agents.
Here is how MeQasa takes care of all these challenges:
They make available to you all the accommodation and properties available in any location by the click of a button. No need to take time off work or your busy schedule to scout un-end for a place to live. They facilitate a meaningful, trusted engagement between customers and agents, by segregating agents into classes based on level of experience, customer service, and price.
MeQasa provides same convenience for corporate bodies in search of office space and commercial buildings.
From their beginnings in the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, an innovations lab in Ghana, Kelvin and his team have kept an eye on the most effective trends for building a successful startup in an unpredictable economy like Ghana’s.
“ It all started in Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, with my co-founders and I, and the whole plan was to understand the tech and software space. We worked on several projects and then finally settled on MeQasa as a product to go to market with” Kelvin revealed.
After the Minimum Viable product was developed, management of MEST invested $90,000 as seed capital for the group to start.
“ The business was viable, and had a lot of potential at that time. And MEST was happy to invest. So they gave us $90,000. We however realized quickly enough that competition got keener with other foreign platforms coming into the market with huge marketing budgets. At the same time, real estate agents who would have ordinarily enlisted their property on our site, were going to other e-commerce websites who were not necessarily into real estate but made it possible for anybody to post any photograph and get customers. So we found agents enlisting their property on Google Trader at the time. They didn’t last, but they were indirect competitors at a point.”
MeQasa realized that they needed some more investment to be able to compete on the marketing front. The $90,000 from MEST was fast running out, and the business had not started making money. Kelvin and his team turned their attention to the Venture Capital Firm, Frontier. And with their strong results over the one and a half years of running MeQasa, Frontier gave them $500,000.
This pushed MeQasa to the next level in terms of capital liquidity, and resources to pursue more audacious marketing strategies.
Today, the company is growing steadily and sturdily, staying above competition and employing some of the trendiest marketing strategies, modelled around valuable real estate content in the form of a weekly newsletter, content on partner online news platforms, and a blog.
The team was happy to announce to Meet The Boss, the launch of the first ever comprehensive housing guide.
Additionally, MeQasa has been reaching out to other market segments in the real estate sector, the diaspora who wish to own a home in Africa and even plan on having a long business stay on the continent.
This is the story of a Ghanaian startup on the rise, and a typical example that Ghanaian tech startups can be viable financial entities too, if the right business strategy is applied.