Friday, July 19, 2024

Robert Lang’at: How I bagged Airtel, Safaricom bulk SMS business

It is often said that patience in business is an important virtue, irrespective of the size of the business. This is the story of Robert Lang’at, the founder of technological firm Mobitech Technologies.

In an interview, the telecommunications engineer revealed he started his business in 2012 with Sh50,000 capital, undeterred by the limited resources.

“With the little resources I had at the time, personal savings, and contributions from friends, I started Mobitech Technologies from home. Then, I moved to a shared office after getting a few clients. Later, I secured the required business permits and moved to our own office,” says Mr. Langat.

Co-Op post

The company, which is a licensed content service provider with the Communications Authority of Kenya, majors in bulk SMS services and premium short codes.

“I was in the IT and telecommunications field, creating mobile applications. Then I saw the gap in the market to offer bulk SMS solutions and other IT-related services to businesses and institutions,” he says.

While Lang’at struggled with winning clients’ trust at first, his patience paid off after winning partnerships with leading telcos in Kenya like Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya, where he offers them value-added services.

NCBA

Kenya’s greatest asset is its human capital

“We started by creating a great product and building good customer relations. We have a web-based portal that we create accounts for their customers that they have full control over.’’

The business, which has five employees, serves more than 1,000 clients in various spaces, including internet service providers, learning institutions, Saccos, casinos, supermarkets, government institutions, real estate companies, welfare groups, hospitals, and sports betting firms among others.

NCBA

“We charge a flat rate of 35 cents per SMS across all networks in Kenya. We don’t charge any monthly maintenance fees or set-up fees.’’

“There is no expiry period on the SMS purchased. For a sender name, we charge a one-time fee of Sh6,800 per telco, adds Mr Lang’at.

He notes that the bulk SMS industry has become saturated, adding that many entrants encounter stiff competition.

“There is stiff competition from other service providers. The regulatory fee that should be paid to the Communications Authority of Kenya is also a challenge. The pandemic also led to a drop in business as schools, for instance, cut back on spending,” he says.

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