How to Think Like An Internet Entrepreneur [Interview]

Readers, we’d like to introduce Gerald to you. We learnt about him from this comment on a previous Like Chapaa article. Gerald is an Internet entrepreneur who has a network of 15 websites. He is also part of the team that runs Mara Gates which is a local tours company that relies on the web to drive the business.

We thought Gerald’s would be an amazing story. I hope you agree.

Q. Gerald, tell us about yourself and what you do.
I graduated from JKUAT university with a Bsc Science degree specializing in Mathematics, Chemistry in 2002. After university, I didnt want to become a teacher so I went to a college in Westlands to learn web design and other IT related studies. It was in that college that I learnt about Internet marketing.

I took it upon myself to learn SEO, PPC advertising etc and other forms of internet marketing. I also read stories of people that were making good amounts of money on the internet and this intrigued me.

The challenge was that there were no colleges in Kenya that taught Internet marketing well and the ones that touched on it were offering very shallow or basic information.

After college, I got a job with a tour company whose main source of business was the Internet and my work was to get more leads for the company through my self taught skills. After a few months business started increasing for that company and they had to move from a house they were operating in to a big office in town. From there on I increased my knowledge in Internet marketing.

I worked for 6ys for that tour firm until i resigned in 2009 to start my own company to help businesses make money off the Internet. The company is called Ebiz Connect Solutions – http://www.ebiz.co.ke.

In the process of time I also opened up a tour company towards the end of 2009 with a friend of mine. Our main source of traffic/business was from the web. This tour company, for its small size, has been doing very well and is able to compete with the big players in the tourism industry.

Q. How did you find out about selling sites and how did you start?
I stumbled upon selling of sites just by reading discussions going on in the internet. Thats when I came to learn about Flippa.com. I needed some money for personal issues so i decided to list one of my sites on Flippa.com and even though i didnt sell it at the price that i listed on that auction site, someone contacted me and we concluded the sale later.

[ For the readers: Gerald built and sold the website: www.cutedogbreeds.com ]

Q. www.cutedogbreeds.com?? How did that come about?

Since dogs have a huge fan base around the world, in 2007 I decided to built a site where people could upload photos of their dogs and rate them. To make some money, i incorporated Google Adsense into the site.

Q. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Concerning building a business off the web, the main challenge is that there is so much information to digest on the internet that it can incapacitate you from doing anything. There are too many “experts” out there trying to tell you what works or what doesnt and some of this information contradicts one another.

You also need to be cautious of sites peddling “secrets” that will teach you how to make thousands of dollars per month online. Yes there are genuine business persons that are making millions off the web but there are many more lying to unsuspecting people. Research first.

The other challenge is being consistent. Its easy to build a site but the hard part is marketing it. If one is not consistent and strategic in marketing, you will end up not making money and will end up dropping the project and start another one and this can become an endless cycle

Q. What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in Kenya?

For internet entrepreneurs some of the challenges are;
- Slow internet connections
- Lack of proper training in Internet marketing
- Limited startup capital to run the business

Q. What was critical to your success?

Not giving up. Also you need to treat making money online as a serious business and not just something you try

Q. What about the competition and marketing, do you need to advertise, print flyers participate to conferences or is it mostly word of mouth?

Just like any offline business, for your website to be seen, one needs to advertise. Whether offline or online, you need to have a budget for marketing your business. From personal experience, I prefer marketing my internet businesses online as this is more effective.

There are various methods you can use to market your business online. Some of them include optimising your site and building backlinks to your site in order to get high rankings in Google. You can also use PPC (Pay Per Click) to advertise your services. PPC is very effective if done correctly. My tour company gets a lot of business by advertising through PPC

Q. Do you think that in order to “make it big” online you have to live in a western country? Or does Kenya offer more or less the same opportunities?

You dont have to live in any western country to be a success. You can do it right from the comforts of your home. Our tour company is doing well and we are selling travel all over the world right here in Kenya.

Q. Where do you see yourself and your business (es) in the next 5 years?

Making passive income from Affiliate marketing about $3000 per month

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Create a plan and strategies my income expectations and how to execute each goal consistently in order to reach the expectations that I have set.

Q. What advice do you have for internet business entrepreneurs in Kenya?
Building an internet business takes time, effort and money. Many want to try and cut corners believing the lie that one can make money quickly and fast.

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That is all for today, readers. You can get in touch with Gerald by visiting his website: www.ebiz.co.ke

Additional Resources

Comments

  1. No links on the ebiz website seem to be working. Loved the interview extremely informative.

    • Yah This guys site is suspended. What’s up with that?

      • Hi Sam
        Sorry about that…the automatic charge renewal for the hosting fee failed to pass thru my bank card so the site was suspended…he he

        Its up

    • changed the site software from Joomla to WordPress at the time i was doing the interview..in the process there was a problem with the configuration settings on wordpress so you could not access the inner pages of the site..but i sorted it out

      Some of the issues we face with hosting of sites once in a while

  2. I do like what Kenyans have done to enter the e-commerce industry empty-handed (in terms of money) but full-brained (in terms of innovation and passion).

    Keep high Kenyans and you will never miss a thing.

    May be, it is important for all Kenyans to understand that the time for using “papers” in the name of KU and UON acquired degree certificates to succeed is long gone. It is the time to embrace what someone is passionate about while utilizing the literacy acquired from those universities to Stretch, Go and reach success.
    Cheers Kenyans.

    Brian Wambua from StretchGO.

  3. I totally agree with you Kelvin; Gerald is the kind of inspiration that Kenyans need. It is very encouraging to see that Kenya playing an increasingly significant role in e-commerce.

  4. great stuff, n how do we know about genuine websites or deals from the internet ,that would help,and because money can be an issue wonder how much little is the target for
    startup capital

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