As a local Tanzanian football fan, have you ever asked yourself or looked at where to get data and statics about football that speak in an African context? Search no more, Soka App is a digital product specifically designed and developed to connect football lovers across Africa to get statistics and data about local teams in Tanzania as well as latest news on the premier league.
Operation lead and Co-founder Michael Kimollo sat down with Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) in an interview to speak of how SOKA App came into existence, the attended gap and how their provided services work. Michael shares the inspiration behind in establishing Soka App, attended gap and how they will deliver service to their customer. They are located at Sinza in Dar es salaam. Soka App’s tagline is “African football on your fingertips” meaning all the information and latest news about football can be accessed with one’s smart phone.
Michael shares that apart from Soka App they also have other two different platforms and one of them is known as Ecoshilling, a product built and launched for companies that are dealing with solid waste management processes; this product allows them to keep records about data of their clients. The second one is called HyPay a platform that is available on WhatsApp, it allows business owners to sale their products and to receive money through WhatsApp. All these digital products operate under one umbrella called Hyper Interactive a research and development company focusing on building high value solutions and solving community problems using technology.
SOKA App’s goal was and is to be part of the solution when it comes to providing actual accessibility of statistics and data on local competitions especially African football.
“We came together with our team and assembled all the resources that we wanted and developed a platform available as an application in Google Play store and Appstore called SOKA, so once downloaded one is able to get live score of all games that are being played across Tanzania, East Africa and Africa as well. What started as an idea now has over 60000 downloads and a very engaging community of people who enjoy the product.” Says Michael
“Our role was and is simple and that is to put together the technology pieces and bring what normal football fans want to hear and get through their mobile phones” he adds.
Bootstrapping using Digital Technology
Soka App started as a story of University students with no capital but we were lucky enough to have Buni Innovation Hub who were like our incubator who helped us in formalizing idea with minimum amount of initial capital.
Michael together with his team struggled to make the product profitable, in the beginning the product did not generate enough income that can fit all the requirements. But in 2017 they got the chance to raise some cash through grants from Tony Elumelo Foundation.
“Through the Tony Elumelo foundation we were able to raise 5000 USD that helped in the setup of the office, network operators and general operations of the application” says Michael.
Targeted Customer and User Interface
Michael shares that “Our product is tailored in a way that targets football fans who are really in love with local football teams like Simba, Yanga, Namungo, Azam FC. These people are struggling on getting local football statistics so we are here to help them deliver those data through technological ways”.
Soka App reach their users through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram where they get to share information about what Soka App does, another approach is through referral.
One can access Soka App services by downloading the Soka Application that is found from both Android and iOS users. After downloading the Soka App, it will enable the user to see the full fixture of all matches and their date of when it will be played. It also allows users to browse different competitions like NBC premier league, African league, World Cup and the statics scores of different leagues, team profile, news associated with local football competition and option to interact with other football fans through quiz segment.
Eco-System Positioning and Achievement
Mr. Michael shares that they have been able to attract partners and currently they are partnering with Mwananchi Communication Company Limited under their Mwananchi sport brand.
“In Tanzania, we have the largest data base of football, we have a structure with a data base that centralize all the information about football and allows users to access it all, just by a click of a button so one can browse and acquire all information about Tanzania football in a single platform. It was like a dream to have our own App, so having an App with over 60000 people in Tanzania who are using it, being able to cover all these matches live while also having a data base that contain all the statistics about Tanzania football to us is a greatest achievement” says Michael.
What to Improve
A lesson learnt from Michael in developing a product is that one ought to spend 20% in product development and focus 80% in business development. He went further to share other challenges encountered earlier. “As you know, it’s started as an idea of university students with shortage of cash flow, so lack of capital for initiating our platform was the big challenge”.
“One thing that will enhance our product is mobilizing the resources so as to get more people on the platform and generate many data points as we can because apart from the advertisement space that we sell, the core value that we offer is the background and the historical data, so we would invest so much into resources that will help us in collecting more data as possible and having many people in our platform says Michael”.
The pandemic changed the way people operated, be it businesses or government institutions.
Michael shares that “Covid-19 affected our product in both positive and negative way, where by during the pandemic football games and activities stopped, when in it came to selling football statistics and data, we weren’t able to because of there were no new statistics due to the pandemic which led to reduction rate of people visiting our platform”.
During the second phase of the pandemic, some restrictions were loosened and sports activities were conducted in the stadium but football fans where not allowed to enter, so Michael shares that it was during this time that an opportunity arose for them because the number of people who downloaded their app at that time increased so as to acquire latest football information.
Next Step in Innovation and Advice
Soka App is trying to build a single source of truth about local football, but also looking forward to have partnership with different stakeholders that together can grow their platform and reach their goals such as working across Tanzanian borders.
Mr. Michael shares that an innovator needs to focus more on the problem they want to solve and targeted people before technology. After understanding the problem then technology comes as a second part and from there on, they can think of how technology will help in solving it.
For further details about Soka App visit Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) YouTube channel by scanning the QR Code to this article. Like, share and subscribe for more insightful stories, one can also access the online conversation about Soka App across all social media platforms using the hash tag #ImpactTechTZ
To read more about our report featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report