Startup Profile : mNotify

There’s nothing so frustrating as rushing along to a meeting, having specifically carved that time out in your hectic schedule, just to happen upon an empty room and discover the hard way that the time, or place, of the engagement has been changed. Typical. But then again, we’ve all been on the other side of the rope as well. Where last minute circumstances require us to change something about an event and lose half our attendance because we just can’t contact them all to let them know a switch has been made. There has to be a better way to do it!

This kind of miscommunication is exactly the issue that mNotify seeks to address. mNotify is an SMS application focusing on increasing communication between to parties. Sound a bit dry? Put it into practice. Say you’re a graduate schools professor who has had to postpone class for a funeral. No need to post a note on your door and hope all your students will see it as they stroll into class the day of. You can contact all of your students with one simple click, and they in turn will appreciate knowing that they don’t have to get to class before they’ve crawled out of bed or braved the 45-minute tro-tro ride to campus. Everyone is much happier! And much more productive with their time.

Or perhaps you are terrible with schedules, as many of us are! How much easier would it be to have your phone simply buzz in your pocket reminding you or the next meeting at your office, the next exam for your course, the next event for your club or organization? These seemingly small but in fact extremely important interactions are the business of Godwin Amefia, co-founder of mNotify with Ronald Tagoe.

Godwin and Ronald attended Kwame Nkrumah University School of Technology (KNUST) as computer science students. mNotify was born from a poorly attended, though extremely useful, symposium organized by Mobile Web Ghana in 2011. “Most people didn’t know about it because it was only advertised on the schools website which most students don’t visit often,” Godwin explained. As he and his co-founder began to look deeper into the issue, they found it was merely one level of a large issue. “Students miss exams papers due to change in venue, or time which they are not aware off. Some also copy the wrong timetable. Advertisers paste poster all around on trees, wall, doors etc.”

Ronald Tagoe (left) and Godwin Amefia (right), co-founders of Mnotify

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Godwin decided to solve the related problems with one easy to use application. Within the pilot month in 2011, the application already had 1,500 subscribers. Clearly a very serious need was being met in an innovative and productive way.

As Godwin and mNotify dive into the growth portion of their business, the best advice he has to offer is regarding production creation and customer involvement. “Talk to the customer fist before you start development,” Godwin suggested. “Don’t spend too much time trying to perfect the product. Release a minimum viable product (MVP) and your customers will help you perfect it.”

While mNotify such successes and his overwhelming enrollment and being named a semi-finalist for the GIST Tech competition in 2012, Godwin also ran into some tempting challenges along the way. At a time when the company desperately need startup capital, a handy investor offered a large investment. The catch? That investor would be made a majority shareholder. Godwin turned the offer down. “You might see the future of your company how big it will become,” he commented, “but the investor doesn’t see it that way. His focus is not long term and growing your business, but quick return on his investment, which might kill the company.”

mNotify was able to make it by without the investment, and is on its way to success. Catering to schools, churches, businesses, politicians, event planners and even individuals, mNotify’s broad client base and customer-based development approach only increase its potential. Already an inspiration, students and businessmen alike should look forward to the day when mNotify achieves its mission, when posters as a communication method, wasting our trees and clogging our bulletin boards and doorframes, will be a thing of the past.

 

Madeline Vellturo

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