Are you looking to scale your business and engage with your customers around the world? Beem is your number one stop digital solution. Beem is a mobile communication service provider working with companies and businesses to enable them to interact and transact with their customers through mobile communication channels like USSD, SMS, Airtime, Mobile payment and chat box in WhatsApp.
Beem has been around since 2012 providing their services and operating in 20 countries across Africa. Mr. Taha Jiwaji, the chief executive officer sat down with Media Convergency for an interview and shared their journey, challenges faced along the way and the accomplishment achieved. They are located at Zanaki Street, Posta in Dar es Salaam.
The Attended Problem
What Beem observed is that many companies that directly work with consumers, having a high population of customers in Tanzania and across Africa end up failing to have a simplified way to connect with their customers at an individual level. So what Beem did was help these companies reach their customers directly and personally through the digital communication channels such as Chat Box, USSD menu and SMS.
The Startup Journey
“My parents had a computer shop and at that time they needed a way of how to communicate offers to students for the laptops that they were selling, looking back newspapers were not a suitable way of reaching students so they opted for SMS as a communication channel, we started experimenting the medium of choice, I remember I was in college at that time, after a couple of the tests done being effective, we built a platform around it to actually send offers based on one’s interest, it evolved overtime to a platform where businesses were able to communicate, when it comes to offers and transactions with their existing customers.
The Startup Investment
Taha tells us Beem has grown organically over the past few years, they have not yet raised any external funding, “This was a family business and it first started with our family savings including the savings I had accumulated from my previous job and those were invested into developing the platform” So when the business was up and running, the profit gained along the way was re-invested again onto the growing the business, the team and their geographic presence.
How Beem Works
The Beem Solutions are split into two aspects; one is Beem engage this is their self-service platform it includes businesses that are not tech-enabled, one can use their service by signing up and be able to manage their contacts, set up campaigns all these is done in the portal and the channel of communication used is via SMS, Airtime and Chat box.
The second aspect is the Beem API’s this is primarily focused on tech companies, software developers that need to integrate with Beem’s services to reach mobile operators, it could be a USSD menu that a developer wants to build or send a transaction notification via SMS hence integrate with Beem’s API and be able to deliver that service.
Beem APIs gives you access to SMS, USSD, Number Verification, Airtime & Mobile Payments to connect with your customers easily like, If one has a product and is looking to do a quick integration to gain access to SMS, Airtime, OTP, USSD & Payment services or If you are rapidly growing across multiple African markets and need a single platform and API to reach multiple countries.
They mainly work with Large or medium size SME’s that is consumer facing and have large number of customers from 500 to 1000 that need to be served or sell to or communicate with. Beem Africa’s customer ranges from Banks, Corporate Companies to mosques, churches and small groups that need our service.
How Beem Reach their Customers
Taha tells us, “We have a reseller program where we train other resellers to have their own SMS or marketing business so they buy services from us and resell to other customers so most of our customers come through these trainings also by participating in a lot of tech events helps us advertise our business.”
Features of Beem
The platform has different features that carter for the needs of their users. This includes a Manage Your Contacts feature whereby a user adds individual contacts or performs a bulk upload, then organizes his or her contacts into groups and tags them by tracking activity and gathering insights per contact. Another feature is Customizing Campaigns where one can send and schedule SMS and airtime campaigns to a few contacts or a mass to hundreds of thousands of contacts from your contacts or from a file. The Time Saving Templates feature, one becomes a power user by saving frequently used messages as templates and sender names where the user personalize and brand his or her SMS campaigns with his or her own sender names and IDs.
Beem’s Eco-System Positioning
“We differentiate ourselves in a sense that we have managed to bring all of this communication channels in one platform but also to be able to deliver these communication services across multiple countries in Africa, we have also grown as a team, having domain experience in these space and good skillsets.”
Beem Africa have actually not only surpassed in the way they offer their services but also built their brand from the way they operate internationally.
Prior Challenges and the Achievements
Taha speaks of the challenges faced early on in their business “We had not built up a stronger team, you know as you scale you face more challenges and those can be solved with the right people like having software engineer that have experience in building large scale transactional systems, technical sales people that are able to communicate about our services, we did not have that early on.”
“Being able to grow outside Tanzania to East Africa and then in Africa is Beem’s was and still is our greatest achievement.” Adds Taha
“Soon all businesses have to leverage in Technology to survive and we see ourselves as the building blocks for any business to be able to serve their customers on digital channels whether it is sending notification via SMS or collecting payments via mobile money, so 10 years from now we see ourselves serving 10000 customers, having a deeper presence in more markets across Africa and having strategic partnerships that would help us scale better.” Says Taha
Taha advices youth who are running tech-startups or aspiring to do so in the near future, to be patient for it takes time for a business to mature and to find a product market fit, research early on, on the market you plan to target and believe in yourself.
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