I have received a lot of feedback for part one of the series of what happened to Yoza App. I want to appreciate everyone that took the time to read it and send feedback both online and offline.
Tell me your dreams and I will make them come true — Mozey Radio (Streetlights)
To us, the product-market fit was seeing the subscription numbers grow. We had a few customers who loved our product and were our somewhat loyal customers for the next few months. So, with the money already in the bank, all we had to do is make sure they had a specific washer, at a specific time in the week.
Laundry was done on weekends and washers were paid on Wednesdays. Wednesday nights were reserved for a beer and brainstorm session which also gave us the chance to call each other out.
Thursday nights were for Jamrock (reggae night). And we would go to Iguana (Bar). Hand out fliers as well as buy the Deejays some beer or Red bull for a couple of mentions about our product. This was our repeatable execution model, then hit the weekend again
The most rewarding part of building this business was stumbling upon the fact that our service was helping single mothers like Naiga pay their rent and take care of their babies.
I remember some hard days when everything wasn’t working. But we kept on going for the women who depended on the app to find more customers. Most washers went from doing laundry for 2 customers a week to 10 -15 customers.
We got media coverage from CNN and BBC at the end of the 2015 and start of 2016. This amazing PR generated a lot business for us. This was such a big deal for our startup and opened us up to crazy opportunities.
We got an all-time high before Christmas. Customers kept pouring in and we dug into the work. The manual process helped visit our clients. We discovered how most clients would show small acts of kindness to our washers. For example, giving them breakfast before they started washing.
We used the wave to partner with Dry cleaning companies for our premium clients. And another big partnership with IFF.
When you think about laundry, I bet you will think about that laundry bin in the corner of your bedroom you keep adding to but never want to do. We saw the whole customer journey. Though one opportunity we came to appreciate was the powder detergent. It was at the centre of all the laundry, hence our partnership with IFF
“My bed sheets smell really nice and I love your powder detergent.” — Customer feedback.
IFF makes fragrance technology that companies like Unilever use in powder detergent. I must say they are the best at what they do at least from testing different fragrances with our customers.
We were doing market research. Doing it as a service for a global brand and competing with very well established firms.
Our technology made customer research feedback instant. Compared to waiting for months to get this feedback.
We created so much value for the laundry and tech industry with so much ease. I guess that’s what product market fit feels like.
First signs of danger
Much as we genuinely won the hearts of our customer. We overlooked one big thing that was developing and growing right under our noses.
We underestimated the technology divide between our customers and washers. The washers had features phones and our customers had smartphones.
Yes, we appreciated talking to our customer physically. BUT this was turning out to be one painful business to run if we didn’t fix it. True, this played a part in our failure but this was not the only reason that we found ourselves in this mess we are in.
In part 3, I get into the ego clashes and destructive diversification. Among other beautiful chaotic reasons on why we went under.
This article first appeared on Nicholas Jr. Kamanzi’s Medium Account