When Angani resumes business, the business landscape will have changed and they may never return to normalcy. Time will tell on what exactly led to the outage, perhaps the three; Brian Muita, Phares Kariuki and Riyaz Bachani will spill the beans, individually and get us to the better picture. Perhaps also we will never know the truth. The truth will be about who you believe could be more honest.
But their business has suffered and will continue to suffer. Angani is about four years old, and for a start-up, the solid infrastructure they had built in such a short time is testament to the team that made it formidable. CNN listed them among the 2014 start-ups that rocked the year in Africa, a no mean achievement.
Cloud computing services can be offered and are being offered by many companies worldwide. In Kenya, Angani was just one of them, but they were regarded the best locally. That meant that everyone who wanted local services, thought of Angani first. But why were they able to build a clientele that fast, solidly?
- The individuals; Kenyans knew them by name and could relate to them in one way or another. This familiarity which comes in handy when there is a problem builds trust. It ensures that while someone could go give the business to anyone, they will come to you first. They know you, and they want to build you.
- Their knowledge; The three had considerable knowledge gained through academic excellence and professional know-how. Let us sample their expertise;
Brian Muita, the then Technical Director, has over 10 years experience covering the telecommunications and development industries. At Ushahidi, he was responsible for the design and implementation of SwiftRiver, a big data platform for social media analytics. At Strathmore Research and Consultancy Centre, Brian oversaw the implementation of Academic Management System that is in use in various academic institutions in the region. Brian has also worked as a senior billing engineer at Safaricom.
Riyaz joined Angani in May 2014 as the Chief Operating Officer, responsible for helping the company scale its operations and expand its presence across the region. Before joining the team, he was in charge of Wazi Wifi and the Group Chief Technology Officer at the Wananchi Group. He was also the founding CTO at Kenya Data Networks (now Liquid Telecom (K) Limited). Riyaz has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Phares has a rich background of technology and mentorship, no wonder he was Angani’s CEO. He was both Business Manager/Solution Architect for VMware, an American cloud computing company. He also worked for dataposIT, which was a startup at the time. The company provides various technology solutions and consultancies including networking and research, data recovery, storage and archiving among other information lifestyle management services. In addition, he set up and the mentorship program for the iHub in Nairobi and Garage 48 brand. His great strength is in business development that ensures reliable and sustainable revenue models.
It becomes difficult for someone, including the current clients who are suffering to reconsider going back to them. This is especially since the truth is not coming out as to what exactly led to the outage. Once trust is lost, gaining it back is a hard sell, even here since Riyaz is still in the company, he has a huge task ahead.
People believed in the team, that team, spring-boarded by the individuals is know more. The script has changed.
The other reason why Angani was doing good has something to do with the service itself. Being a technological service, it means that other global issues can affect it and it well mitigated, the effect are minimal. For instance, when there is a problem with the cyber optic cable, somewhere in the sea, local hosting is not much affected. It is one incentive people looking for cloud computing services would favorably consider.
In addition, for a web platform, local hosting means that your page loads faster. Kenya, today has generally high speeds than before. But is even better when your hosting is local because communication with servers travels a shorter distance, and is not impeded by many factors.
When a user requests information from a server, like loading a web page, the information has to travel from your server to your hosting provider’s network, then between several other networks, via some exchanges and switches. This distance is shorter when hosting locally.
Local hosting is not necessarily cheaper. They have to build huge infrastructure, especially hardware which is not cheap and easily available. This means that the costs are transferred to customers. But Kenyans did not mind this since they knew well they are building their own, something they can be proud of.
Whatever really happened at Angani has negative effects beyond it. Trusting and giving business to similar entities just got more difficult.