Guest Post: My story as an Entrepreneur and how technology played a role

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P:S: This is a guest post we got from Olive Chao telling us about her story. Thank you lovely for sharing with us :)

House of Chao is An Art Fashion Brand as inspired by nature and culture. It started out as bits and pieces of my childhood interests which eventually made up a list of my hobbies that became habitual, my way of expressing myself, putting a smile on faces around me as well as my own. I seek to sell an experience.

At House of Chao there is A Style for Every Story. My story is loving the Arts. Technology has greatly helped me realize my goals for the future and make House of Chao what it is today, and will spearhead it to where it is meant to be tomorrow. I first interacted with computers in primary school but I did not quite see the bigger picture with them and was rather inclined to play games like Mario. We did not have access to internet and I did not know about social media, YouTube let alone Google. What fascinated me then was Art. I called everything around me art as long as it was colorful, had patterns that were pleasing to the eye, had me in awe and brought out a feeling in me.

I loved math class and in class three told my family I wanted to own a Bank with my name Chao on it. Soon I discovered what I loved about math class was not playing with numbers but in specific geometry. The accuracy in measurements and ensuring it was a proper straight line and using the compass to ensure perfect arcs, perfect circles were drawn, made me view geometry as art. I thus changed career path dreams to wanting to become an architect which was fine tuned to becoming an interior designer, a package I felt satisfied all my dreams and desires, this being realized in my fourth form in high school. For interior design, I would be able to work alongside architects, work with different art pieces from antiques to wall hangings and paintings, work with different patterns, colors and fabrics to bring life to a room, to create a feeling, to sell an experience. That dream was however short lived when I did not make the cut off points to have it as the course I would do in university. But I found new interests and renewed hope when presented with the opportunity of Akirachix.

At Akirachix I began to see the bigger picture of technology and its endless possibilities. I developed an interest in what we were being taught and soon technology was added to my list of art. When the opportunity to join the University of Nairobi to pursue Bachelor of Arts, non-science subjects in this case I took up Psychology, Communication and Literature, under government sponsorship while still at Akirachix, I took it up and juggled both despite it beinghectic on certain days because being able to write lines of code and translate that to a web page or an android application that people can interact with, plus the possibility of using these innovations to create solutions and take businesses to the next level was beyond awe for me. What I learn at University, I seek to use to enhance what I learnt at Akirachix.

Technology opened up my mind and House of Chao became more than a child’s hobby and began its first steps as a startup in 2014 as a class project at Akirachix. Learning about value proposition, minimal viable products; entrepreneurship skills that could be implemented for any business idea, began to make practical sense to me. I read up articles online, watched YouTube videos on how to go about starting up a jewelry business, Ted Talks about theworld of tech among various other conversations, how to make bracelets, how to code for a WordPress website and much more free content the internet has to offer was and still is of great help to take House of Chao to the next level each day, each month, each year.

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Aspects like social media marketing has had House of Chao getting new clients. People are able to learn about my brand and make orders through the Facebook Page and Instagram business account I created. I am able to collect data that enables me to work to improve things. For instance from Instagram I am able to collect statistics of how many people have viewed and reacted to a certain product I have posted, the gender that is more inclined to my product as well as their age demographic. There is the customer avatar we have in mind as entrepreneurs and such data enables me to know if I am reaching my target audience or if there is need for me to fine tune things to suite them or entirely create a product for my actual market audience.

Social media marketing has helped me move from door-to-door marketing such as tell-a-friend-to-tell-a-friend thus I am able to reach masses of different people at the same time. Having a website has worked to market my brand as well as it currently works as a catalogue for people to see what we do and what we have in store.

House of Chao’s Social Media Pages

FACEBOOK House of Chao

INSTAGRAM @houseofchaoke

TWITTER @houseofchao

WEBSITE http://houseofchao.co.ke/

A mobile technology like M-pesa has been of great impact to businesses and House of Chao has a first-hand experience with this. Having a till number as registered for one from KopoKopo, enables our customers to make payments via mpesa at no extra cost and KopoKopo sends me a message each time money is sent to the till number and the customerreceives a message thanking them for shopping at House of Chao. From the KopoKopo application as well as my mpesa statements emailed by Safaricom, account book keeping is easier and these documents act as proof for the accounts. WhatsApp makes it easy to send customers photos of the finished goods before delivery to confirm they are as they would like them to be. This saves time and money. That the customer sees the product before it is delivered, they can request for changes and that prevents a back and forth as to when I deliver a product then I have to return home and make changes then deliver it again.

Other applications like Trello and Google Keep enable me to organize my work well. I create specific milestones as checklists and I am able to keep tabs on my progress by getting to know what needs to be done, what is currently being done and what has been done. If I have anyone on board to help out they are able to pick up where I left off and finished tasks are not deleted as referrals of what was accomplished before and if need be we need to fine tune them, we can easily do so. Other technologies House of Chao has interacted with include Quick Books, Slack among others which at the moment don’t play a big role but for the big brand we are creating, they will be very useful in the near future.

I tend to think that if I hadn’t learnt about the tech world, I would be living an ordinary life in an extraordinary world going through the phases of life for the sake of it; birth, nursery school, primary school, high school, tertiary learning, employment, retirement and eventual death. Technology made me see the possibilities in life. Self-learning, provision of solutions to societal problems, self-employment, creation of employment, and all these done at the comfort of your home at the availability of a laptop, internet connectivity and self-discipline. I didn’t get to have a bank named after me, but I am happy to have the future Art Hub, Art Museum, Fashion House named after me :)

 

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