Q&A: Establishing data mining company, Doban Africa

Doban Africa was established by Elvis Bando to help companies and corporations manage data that comes in various channels. The company has also come up with medical products like Zahanati, which have been featured in big news outlets such as Aljazeera and Reuters. The founder spoke with HumanIPO on the start, challenges and future of Doban Africa.


HumanIPO:  Who are the founders of the company? When was it formed?
Elvis Bando:
Currently I am the sole founder of Doban Africa. It was formed in November 2010 and incorporated on 23rd November 2010. So we are celebrating our 2 year anniversary tomorrow. And we are excited about that.

Q:  What does the company do as its core business?
The core business of Doban Africa is to provide data consultancy; from data collection, visualization, to analysis. In addition, we help build tools to help in data collection/visualization and data mining.  We also sell data to app developers and researchers.

Q: What need is the company solving through its products?
We are into big data. We are a data mining/data analytics company. We felt that current marketing campaigns, product offering, especially in Kenya, has not benefited from the big data that are churned by users each and every day. Business intelligence, though not a new concept in Kenya, is still at its infancy. Secondly, most app developers fail for lack of updated data and without a data vendor, we might continue to see apps whose usage dips after the data run on is stale. We saw an opportunity to position ourselves as providers of these services and we took it. Our products leverage on these data and artificial intelligence to provide intuitive services and innovative solutions.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced when setting up the company and the products?
I would say that the biggest challenge setting up the company was probably experience. I had just quit my job at Africa Nazarene University to start this. I barely had any experience of challenges of a startup. Basically our first two products flopped, a human/Ai search ask engine kwetha.co.ke, and a product search site pricelist.co.ke (more like Google trader). The lessons from these two have been invaluable. In building these products the main challenge has been work prioritization. Having multiple projects without sufficient resource to complete them within time has been the greatest challenge. In addition, in Kenya the concept of business intelligence consulting is still young so getting clients has been quite a task, so as not to lose this focus we have had to consolidate business intelligence with our other products so as to remain relevant even as the acceptance of business analytics grows.

Q: How did you get through some of the challenges?
One of the things you learn in a startup is patience. I would say some of the challenges I have overcome by the sheer power of patience, hope and resilience. You learn to be dynamic and agile. There are some other challenges like resource that are not as easy to deal with in a startup environment. Financial resources particularly dictate especially how fast you develop. We are still scratching the surface on this but we will get there someday.

Q: What are the near future plans/projects for the company?
To mark our 2 year anniversary, we are launching a parcel tracking and management tool (d-trail.co.ke). Basically it helps courier companies track and manage parcels and their riders. We have been working on this for a while and we are excited to launch the beta version of it. It has already generated some interest and we have a number of companies trying it out now. Currently it is only for courier companies but our plan is to have it on every e-commerce website in the country.

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