Founder Feature: Kofi Aboagye-Akyea
I learned more during one year at MEST than four years at university.
This week we sat down with Qisimah CPO Kofi Aboagye-Akyea. Read on to learn why he believes Ghana is the best place to start a business!
Tell me a bit about your company.
Qisimah is a radio content management platform that provides key stakeholders in the music industry with data on where their songs are being played, which radio station is playing their songs, and the time their songs are being played. It’s a real time radio monitoring platform.
Why did you come to MEST?
I normally find ways to hack around problems using tech and design. Before coming to MEST, I had started a customer loyalty app, ImLoyal, with my good friend Kweku Acheampong. ImLoyal displays where loyalty rewards are in various restaurants in Ghana and shows nearby discounts. We were doing this while working full time, and it became difficult for us to handle both. I decided to quit my job and work on ImLoyal full time, which is when we noticed there were things we weren’t doing the right way.
My family asked me to look at MEST and see if I could get some mentors to guide me through what I was doing. When I went to MEST, I met a few people and they told me I should go through the program to get what I was looking for. That was the last day for applications so I went back home and applied immediately!
Where are you from?
I am from Mampong Akuapem in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
How did MEST help get you to where you are today?
I learned more during one year at MEST than four years at university. MEST has been very helpful.
What do you wish you had known as an EIT? Do you have any advice for this year’s group?
While in the program, I noticed that the problem wasn’t at MEST. You had to go out and actually speak to people that were facing a problem to find a solution. I believe that people out there understand problems more than we think we do. When finding a solution and building a product, you need to speak with people. I learned this later in the program, but it would have benefited me if I’d learned it earlier. I’d like to tell the current EITs to go out, speak to people, try to find where their pain points are, and then work around that.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced while at the MEST training program and the MEST Incubator? How did you get past these challenges?
At MEST, my major challenge was balancing going out and talking to customers and sitting in class. It was hard not to feel like we’re here to build globally successful businesses and the customers and problems are out there, why are we sitting in class to do this!
What would you say is your greatest success?
Discovering Qisimah with my cofounders. It’s been a problem in the music and advertising industry for a long time, but no one has really found a close solution to it.
What’s your favorite food?
Fufu. My tribe sticks to fufu. It’s one of the foods I never get tired of.
What do you like most about Ghana?
Ghana is an amazing place to be. I think it’s the best place to start a business because the market is forgiving. You can get away with certain things that you can’t in other countries. You can try your product and talk to your customer if there’s a problem and they’ll actually understand. Ghana is a very cool place.
What do you think is the most unique aspect of MEST?
I think it’s the network, the kind of people you meet while in the program and even when you finish. Also having the MEST brand attached to what you do is leverage. It makes people open up to you. It’s given me the network that I need both in Ghana and in other countries. While in the program, you meet people from all over. Now if I want to start a business in a different country, I can reach out to someone from the network for information and help.
What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST?
There was a period during the training program when Ashwin was taking us through HTML, CSS, and design. His assignments kept coming back to back. You’d get one assignment due at 10pm and then another at 4am. When the time was up, Ashwin locked the folder and you couldn’t submit your work. It helped us adjust to working under pressure and meeting deadlines.
Who is your tech idol? Why?
Mr. Osei Kwame Despite. He is the founder and owner of Peace FM and a few other radio and TV stations. They broadcast in the local dialect so they reach the majority of people in Ghana. He was smart about it because the everyone was using English and he saw an opening on the local side and tapped it, which gave him leverage over everyone.
What is your favorite tech company? Why?
Apple. I appreciate how they sell their products. They are very particular about design, how it looks and feels, and how the customer actually interacts with their products.
Who/what inspires you?
My family. They inspire me a lot. Just to see them happy that I’m doing something good makes me push harder.
[caption id="attachment_5775" align="aligncenter" width="639"] Kofi with his family.[/caption]
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Due to COVID-19, MEST postpones training program to next year and doubles down on growing portfolio companies
At MEST, we continue to be deeply concerned about COVID-19 and have been closely monitoring developments locally and globally. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our community and we will continue to follow local authority and health official guidelines.
Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty that the future of travel holds, we have been unable to conduct in-person interviews and host recruitment around Africa for our next cohort. For this reason, we have taken the decision to postpone the Training Program to next year.
While these circumstances are indeed unfortunate, we see this as an exciting opportunity at MEST to double down on providing support and mentorship to our existing portfolio companies and the African ecosystem.
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