Three weeks ago, Innov8tiv featured an article about the growing numbers of music download and streaming services in Africa. Albeit the African music industry seems to be crowding with players, but each player intends to survive the heat of the competition and monetize their efforts to become Africa’s Spotify, if not better. So Innov8tiv decided to conduct a one-on-one interview with the Director and co-Founder of Mkito.com; one of the new players in the industry. Innov8tiv seek to find out what are the various personal and industry challenges that are unique to music services start-ups launching in Africa.
Like we pointed out to you in our earlier article that ran on June 4th, Mkito.com was launched on April 29, 2014 in Tanzania and hopes to sign up 500,000 users by the end of its first year of operation. Mkito.com allows for a 30 second of streaming of a song, after which the user can download the song if s/he liked the song’s “preview”. The following is our exclusive interview with the co-founder of Mkito.com
My name is Sune Mushendwa and I am co-founder and Director of Mkito.com. Before Mkito.com I have been working on a number of projects related to music including Swahili 4 Kids which is a small company producing music and children’s stories in Swahili and also running a music studio. I graduated with a degree in architecture in 2004 and a master’s degree in Medialogy in 2008. I have been working simultaneously as an architect on one hand and on the other smaller projects on the other. However as of late most of my time is spent working with Mkito.com.
What inspired you to launch the Mkito Platform?
Mkito.com was started out of necessity. With CD sales having become virtually non-existent in Tanzania because of illegal online music distribution there was the need to create a central platform that would cater for the masses and also generate revenue for the artists.As Tanzanian internet users have become so accustomed to getting music for free I started playing with the idea of how music could be distributed for free but still generate revenue. Streaming is still not a viable option as internet speeds are still quite low in most parts of the country so we did tests with attaching short ads to downloaded songs. The feedback we got was very positive and this then became the central idea to start developing the platform. We are adding a streaming service in the future but for now it’s a download service.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
The one thing that I am very happy about is that I have the opportunity to work with things that I love. For me it’s not about big numbers but rather the impact on individuals as a result of my work. So whether I am designing buildings, writing lyrics for children’s songs or working to reform the music industry in Tanzania I feel I have accomplished something when I see a happy end user.
What was the most difficult period in your Career life, and how did you deal with it?
I am just getting started so I know there will be many difficulties to come. But generally dealing with people is what I find the most difficult especially when you are trying to get new business connections. People tend to be skeptical by default and it takes a lot of convincing before people let you into their circles. But if you have your goals set and believe in them then there isn’t anything to stop you.
In your experience, what do you think is severely lacking within the Tech Communities?
The gap in infrastructure across the country and population is a big set-back. You’ll find superfast broadband in some areas and the equivalent of dialup internet connections in other areas. It makes it rather difficult for Mkito.com as a company because we then have to develop taking into consideration so many variables not only from a technological perspective but also from a user’s limited understanding of technology. We end up spending so many resources and so much time in dealing with customer support. But hopefully things will smoothen out soon.
What are the most important things you have learnt from being an entrepreneur?
I don’t really consider myself an entrepreneur. I’m more of a dreamer with a passion for seeing positive changes in the community. What I have learnt however is that you cannot do it on your own. You need to surround yourself with people whom you can learn from and whom you can teach. A strong team is vital in bringing any good idea to life and to sustain those ideas in the form of a business or otherwise.
What is your advice to future entrepreneurs?
Create positive change.