Tinaye Munonyara would you like to introduce yourself to Shout-Africa readers, please?
Hi I’m Tinaye, Creator of StudyKit Pro™ and Owner of Liztan Solutions. Thanks for taking this opportunity to speak to me. I am working on some exciting stuff within the mobile apps and digital space.
1. What does this nomination at the Zim Achievers awards mean to you and your business?
I am honoured and humbled to have been nominated in this category among some talented individuals. A large part of what we do as entrepreneurs involves long nights of hard work and enduring many setbacks, it’s always nice to get some appreciation and support, from all quarters. Zim Achievers is unique in identifying and bringing together people from home that have come out to the Diaspora, who are pursuing their dreams and doing something unique to also put Zim on the map. This creates an element of unity, inspiration and embraces our culture. My business has been exposed to a global audience so far with our app downloads penetrating new territories every day, which include Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and most recently, just today – a place called Brunei Darussalam! Having had this international digital presence, being a nominated at Zim Achievers is an opportunity for me and my business to further engage with the Zimbabwean community worldwide.
2. Are you familiar with some of the other nominees in your category and the other categories?
Yes I am familiar with a few from the other categories but only discovered the nominees in my category after the nominations were announced.
3. Was there any particular reason that made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
When I was in High School in Zimbabwe, as students we ran a very profitable student business selling ‘cream puffs’ and doughnuts at break and lunch times. We even took a weekly salary which was great and students loved our products! At university I pursued ventures which included winning UK national enterprise competitions, selling guest-list events as well as selling flash drives to students. These experiences inspired me further to serve. One of the reasons that I decided to become an entrepreneur was because I found it meaningful, enjoyable and inspiring to me, despite the many challenges. I saw being an entrepreneur as a career path that would get me to change the world, I wanted to serve people through my innovative ideas and aspirations, and saw that service was key to enriching people’s lives, and that it would create value and in turn allow me to generate multiple streams of income which would help me develop the freedom to pursue my other passions.
4. What is the best way to describe your business?
Liztan Solutions is a mobile technology business providing innovative and bespoke digital solutions which include developing mobile and web application. We are pioneering into the Mobile Learning Space with our initial project, which is an award-winning educational app called StudyKit Pro™ which was approved by Apple Inc and is achieving thousands of downloads worldwide through the iPhone, iPod-touch and iPad devices. StudyKit Pro™ is soon to launch new versions and be rolled out across multiple platforms. We are working on some exciting digital solutions that are going to transform the way people learn – making education more accessible, easier, enjoyable and more engaging through our technology. I recently signed a major strategic partnership which will now give us more scope, skill sets and expertise to serve both B2B and B2C markets for creating mobile apps and other digital solutions.
5. How and when did you come up with your business idea?
About two years ago. Whilst at Kingston University studying Business Management, I was head-hunted and trained to serve as an Academic Advisor for the Kingston Business and Law school. Whilst undertaking this role I got to serve over 150 students through one to one sessions and found there was a real problem with student writing skills as my role involved assisting them with a range of areas, namely advice on writing quality essays and reports, referencing properly, structuring work, research skills, etc. I liked the concept of apps and decided to create a mobile solution that would solve problems of poor academic writing, poor interviewing techniques, developing employ-ability skills, presentations skills, and help with study & exam techniques as well as professional advice on personal branding. I developed my idea further, built a professional team and decided to add the service of creating apps for others.
6. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced starting up and how did you overcome them?
Some of these challenges included accessing funds and the relevant contacts in my sector, as well as building a team with people with the expertise, skill sets and qualities to pursue the vision and deliver quality. The first step to overcoming these challenges was in realizing the hidden opportunities that lay within them. I overcame through always asking the right questions and taking action, as well as being patient and persistent, never giving up and staying focused to achieve the exact results I had set out.
7. What are the biggest challenges you face now?
We have now entered a new round of funding at a higher level and seeking the right strategic partners, sponsors and investors. Due diligence and doing business with the right people is key, the challenge is finding those right people, but it’s now a matter of time. I am excited and searching. Other big challenges are more technical and market related as we are in a fast-paced technology space where competition is ripe, changes happen fast and the demands of the market require constant innovation and problem solving. All this keeps me ticking and thinking on my feet!
8. What advice would you give other Zimbabwean entrepreneurs starting out today?
Cherish humble beginnings. You can start with nothing, wherever you are today but also realise that Cash flow is King, so always manage well that bit of operating cash which is key to keeping the engine running. Learn to keep good records, track and quantify your progress, measure and evaluate results, reviewing and reflecting on yourself and business will allow you to refuel and refine your strategies so ask for feedback, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to fail.
Take responsibility and get on with what needs doing, learn to embrace and endure boring tasks which are important like filing, or doing the numbers, business is fun but it’s also hard work which involves some boring aspects, which still need to be done! I would also urge that you become a voracious reader, learn to Speed read so you can scan and devour chunks of information quickly. In this information age such a skill will make you more efficient and help you manage information well. Learn to make decisions firmly and promptly, Due diligence is good, being cautious is great, but it’s also down to having those things balanced with being bold, brave and executing! Get on with it! Make things happen! Lastly, if it’s worth it and valuable, never ever give up on it, chances are, you will hit rock bottom just before your breakthrough. Sango rinopa vaneta vadzungaira.