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jumos-johan-bosini-on-8-rules-on-growing-a-starting

Jumo’s Johan Bosini: 8 rules on growing a startup [update]

“Fintech isn’t about tech at all. It’s about data.” These words were spoken by Johan Bosini at the recent Techstars-4-A-Day event, which was held at the Rise hub in Cape Town.

Bosini is no stranger to the startup scene and is currently involved with VC firm Quona Capital, as well as Switch2 Cover and Taking a Break. He’s most well known for his role in fintech startup Jumo as the managing director of digital financial services.

Before digging into his eight points, Bosini gave a small anecdote about Jumo in its infancy (which initially started out as another company called AFB).

“Jumo was an ‘accident’,” he said (having pivoted from its original concept) and went on to mention that the company (AFB) lost US$29-million during its initial days due to ‘arrogance’ in not understanding a new market. Since then, Jumo has grown into a massive fintech company, that has even attracted top employees from Magento and Barclays Africa.

The company launched credit cards in Nairobi without any insurance against them, with the initiative eventually failing.

“The fraud was remarkable. You could buy a national ID for R20.”

They approached a potential partner, who apparently threw the credit card back at them across the table, unimpressed by the idea. He was asked where customers would keep the card if they didn’t have wallets. Instead, he wanted a mobile wallet due to the increase in cellphone penetration.

It took two weeks for Jumo to build the initial proof of concept and from there the company truly came into itself.

Bosini then went on to talk about the rules for building a startup, which are:

  1. Take people on the journey – basically, don’t do it alone.
  2. Talk to everyone (anyone), even competitors – he said that everyone has valuable information and making connections is key.
  3. Fail fast (not too fast) – for this point, Bosini said you can fail fast at business models, but not relationships (those should always be fixed).
  4. Done is better than 100% – companies, businesses, and websites will never be perfect. Launch with what you’ve got and build it up from there.
  5. Tell stories – Tell a story about your product and what it can do instead of a standard pitch, such as changing one person’s life. Bosini gave an example of lending $5000 to a bar owner who paid it back with interest a few days later.
  6. Embrace the feminine – he says businesses are putting more women into strategic and high-level positions, which means businesses are no longer dominant by testosterone, but now rather collaborative.
  7. New is not always better – building new tech isn’t always necessary. An example of this is the relevance of USSD in the Africa market.
  8. Why? – ask yourself why you’re doing this and why you’re getting people to do it with you.

The last bit of interesting information from Bosini was due to a question from the audience. When asked why Bosini has been running so many companies, he replied: “I liked to build things and not maintain things.”

“I’ll never leave a job after one year. I’ll leave after two,” he added. He says he re-evaluates his position and happiness after a year and nine months and evaluates life in two-year chunks.

Update: clarification

Author Bio

Graham van der Made: Editor
Graham started out as an electronics manager at Take2 Home Entertainment and went on to spend a further ten years in the South African ecommerce industry. During this time, Graham founded and managed an online geek and hobby shop. He has always had a passion for writing and has... More