Kenyan firm which won AVA Digital award reveals strategies on how it wins contracts

Their customer portfolio boosts of big brands such as Safaricom, NIC bank, CBA, Cadbury Kenya, UAP, and Nokia to mention but just a few.

This headache is especially true for tech companies who always wonder how they can approach big multi-national companies to bid and win multi-million contracts and grow.

A small Kenyan firm is, however, making huge waves in the African tech industry and the world, since its inception it has continued to bag big contracts one after another.

What more it has also given seasoned tech companies across the globe a run of their money and more recently even outshone American and United Kingdom based tech firms after it w0n the AVA Digital awards, 2017.

Bean Interactive, a digital agency based in Kenya specializing in digital marketing, planning and execution won a platinum award in the information experience category for their work on the Blaze by Safaricom website.

Martin Kiarie, after graduating with first class honours from the University of West of England with a Bachelor of Computing and Information Systems, came up to Kenya where he teamed up with his childhood friend, Allen Kambuni and together founded the tech company called, BEAN short for Bluetooth Enabled Advertising Networks with only USD 6000 as seed capital in 2009.

Their bravery soon paid off in a big way and currently their customer portfolio boosts of big brands such as Safaricom, NIC bank, CBA, Cadbury Kenya, UAP, and Nokia to mention but just a few.

So when I recently sat down with the duo for an interview, I popped up the question, what is their secret to winning big projects and disrupting the market from day one you opened for business?

“We actually have a principal of being underdogs and so when we are challenging for projects bigger than ourselves, we don’t go and approach it on capacity or size, we instead focus on our competence which is our knowledge of the industry, our insights and our determination to achieve success, that is our we win big projects”  Martin said.

Small businesses always operate with the belief of ‘the earliest bird catches the worm’ or ‘the winner takes it all’ which in some cases works but not every time, Martin believes there is a huge flaw in this belief and SMEs need to be flexible and change.

“we also don’t work in isolations for us other digital agencies are not competition but they complement our business so for projects that are bigger than our scope or what we can handle sometimes we have partnered with them to achieve success because again at the end of the day we are trying to grow the industry not take from each other, so that is how we have approach it” he said.

Joyce Muthoni, an entrepreneur and owner of Helium Balloons echoes Martin’s sentiments of cooperation rather than competition.

“Competition is a good thing, before that I used to say never ever but now I know better, your competitors are not your enemy and actually help you to become better, accountable and on your toes and above all let you know what is happening in the market, so don’t look at competition as a bad thing” Ms. Muthoni said.

Allen Kambuni, bean co-founder chips in and adds that continuous market research is also key in staying ahead of the game and being aware of changing market trends.

“We have a very active research and development culture at bean and it is one thing we encourage and invest in, that is part of our DNA as the founders of the business”  He said.

Kambuni says while the transition journey will not be a walk in the park, SMEs should never give up.

“For me every time I have always wanted to quit, I always remind myself it is always darkest before dawn, that is when you are about to make it and I think about that, so every single time I get into that space I just say a prayer and I keep those positive words in my mind and I try to bring them out in what I do.”


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