Founder Feature: Patrick Ohemeng Tutu of AsoribaThis week we sat down with Asoriba CTO Patrick Ohemeng Tutu. Read on to learn why he believes coming to MEST has been one of his best decisions yet!
People hear about the MEST training program and they think it’s too good to be true; but, it’s real. So if you get the chance to be in such a program, you should count yourself as one of the luckiest and most privileged people across Africa.
Where are you from?
I am from a small town in the Ashanti Region of Ghana called Agogo.
Tell me a bit about your company.
Asoriba was founded in 2015 while we were EITs at MEST. My cofounders and I are very passionate about church, some of us have parents who are pastors. We found that there was a lack of technology targeting the Christian space. In Africa there are over 520 million Christians and 2 million churches, so this was a big problem with an even greater opportunity. We found there were problems with member management, attendance monitoring, communicating with members, managing finances, and more. There was a need to provide a solution that would meet the church member and church administrator needs. So we set out to build Asoriba.
Asoriba is two products. One, which is a CRM, is designed for church administrators to effectively manage the entire value chain of the church - from member management, to communication, finances, attendance and branches. The second product is a mobile application designed for churchgoers to allow them to stay connected with their church and other Christian churches, to follow other Christians and valued religious leaders all over the world, and to give back to the church.
What do you wish you had known as an EIT? Do you have any advice for this year’s group?
I would advise any EIT reading this that this is not the time to joke around. This is a unique opportunity. People hear about the MEST training program and they think it’s too good to be true; but, it’s real. So if you get the chance to be in such a program, you should count yourself as one of the luckiest and most privileged people across Africa. Like Jorn would say, talent is equally distributed across the globe, but opportunities are not. The EITs should take advantage of all the opportunities they are getting from the program. Their focus shouldn’t just be funding, but also self improvement.
Why did you come to MEST?
I joined MEST because I wanted to learn how to run a business. I already had some experience, but I noticed that if you want to have a business that scales across your country or city then you don’t only need what you already know, but you also have to acquire a different/new skillset to scale. When I heard of the opportunity to apply to MEST, I didn’t waste time at all. I must say it’s been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life.
What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST?
My favorite memory was when we got our first client. I couldn’t believe that we had built a software that someone was willing to pay for. I remember I couldn’t sleep that night. I was just reminiscing and thinking about the whole experience. I kept thinking if this keeps on happening, then in the next few years our company could be a multimillion dollar company.
How did MEST help get you to where you are today?
In a lot of ways. First, MEST taught me how to think globally. Typically, you have a short-sighted perspective of things and you want to see things happen quickly because you are putting in so much effort. One thing I learned from MEST is that if you want to build something, then you have to build it from the ground up, and you have to adapt systems and strategies that have proven to work before you can really scale up your business.
I also learned about team spirit and teamwork. Without a dedicated and committed team, it doesn’t really matter what idea you’re working on. MEST has taught me how to think; it has taught me run a business.
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?
We started this company without taking funding. It was a very tough call for all of us founders to bootstrap. Having a small company, trying to close deals with very big churches was a very big challenge because these clients want to deal with known brands. We got past that challenge because of the team and support from every angle, the incubator fellows, Jorn meeting us and giving us every form of advice. Our early adopters also encouraged us a lot. So it was motivation from our stakeholders, partners, customers, and particularly the team itself that saw us through.
What would you say is your greatest success?
My greatest success has been seeing customers use our product. It is so exciting when you know that you’ve built something that is useable and solving a real problem. Our hope is to replicate that and reach many more customers in the next few years. Right now we are still striving to reach every church, every single church member, and until then we wouldn’t say we have been successful, yet.
Who is your tech idol? Why?
Mark Zuckerberg because he was able to prove beyond every reasonable doubt that he could build a company to this level. At the early stages when he was approached by some companies for acquisition, he proved that he would be able to run the company without selling it. And now Facebook is everything. I like how progressive the company is. I like how Mark is leading them to achieve their end goal. I pray that one day our company will also have the same level as they have.
What is your favorite tech company in Ghana? Why?
In Ghana, my favorite is SMS GH because of how they have been able to progress over time. People think SMS is not a big thing, but they have been able to prove to everyone that when you are focused and you know exactly what you are doing, nothing should be able to stop you. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with the founder, and I’ve heard his story. It’s kind of similar to the kind of situation we find ourselves in. They started just like us; now they are eleven years old, and they have made one million dollars already.
Who/what inspires you?
First, there is a man I came across whose name is Charles Addo. He is one of the executives at Barclays Ghana. He gets things done. He is one person who has taught me not to give myself excuses, to not justify why things can’t be done. He started companies, successful and failed. He is a no nonsense person. I have him as my role model.
The second person who inspires me, well group of people, is my team. I would always go for my team because I know they’ve all got my back. If I’m going down, they will help lift me up and if they are going down, I will help lift them up.
The last group of people is my family. They are like my best friends. They have been very supportive in everything that I’ve set out to do so I really am inspired by them.
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