Our first founder of the year is Doctor Femi Kuti, the co-founder and CEO of Kangpe. I stumbled on his website late last year and was incredibly fascinated at what the service was about. Kangpe is a healthcare service that allows people to ask questions from real practising medical doctors via a mobile phone 24 hours a day with or without internet. Answers provided by the doctors on this mobile application are in turn received within 10 minutes. In addition, the answers provided on Kangpe are strictly confidential so the users identity are not tampered with.
This week on Startup Stories, Dr Femi Kuti provided some insights into why he decided to start the brand. Kindly read and share below.
Startup Story of Kangpe
The inspiration to start Kangpe came from my experience a doctor, I noticed that once people found out I was a medical professional, I would be immediately peppered with questions requesting for health advice. It occurred to me that people likely needed a platform where they could request for this type of advice on demand thus the idea of Kangpe was born.
As a service, Kangpe launched about a year ago and has provided over 50,000 answers to our users. We are live in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda and are looking to expand to more countries across Africa, especially in francophone Africa. Kangpe has had a massively positive effect on people’s lives as now people can find solutions to those deep seated but embarrassing issues they wouldn’t otherwise have had a medium to solve. In addition, the fact that people can now access healthcare at a speed faster than they could in the past means that we’re essentially creating a healthier society.
Our team is made up of people who feel very privileged to be doing what we’re doing. Frankly, we are the first point of call when it comes to finding health solutions from a trusted source. This is something that, though seriously needed, didn’t exist in a workable form till we came along. So with each passing day, as we see the hundreds of people we have helped find solutions to their health problems, we cannot but feel driven to show up for work the next day.
Running a startup is many times likened to riding a rollercoaster. Some days you feel like you’re conquering the world, other days you’re questioning your very existence and wondering if leaving your job for this startup was a wise career move.
However, I’ve believed so much in what we’re doing at Kangpe that the few times I have felt like packing it all in, I’ve asked myself 2 simple questions. First, do I honestly believe that this work WILL be done, the answer to that was a resounding Yes. We have an amazing tool in the mobile phone that has opened up immense possibilities, it is only a matter of time before it becomes an important tool for healthcare as well. Second, how would I feel if after all this work, I end up not being the one who gets the work done. The answer to that was a simple “totally bummed out”. Usually after answering these questions, I know I have to keep at it.
Like every other startup, we face challenges at every turn. Our major initial challenge was getting the word out and getting people to know we existed. We realised that the only way we could do this cost effectively was to build a product people love and wanted to market for us. So we put a lot of effort into making sure Kangpe as a service does what is says on the tin.
Another challenge we still face is finding adequate talent, not just in technology, but also in non technology roles. Many people say that there are no jobs in the country, I beg to disagree, I believe strongly that there are a ton of jobs, the problem is there aren’t enough skilled people to take them up. This is a problem that I am well aware is been faced by a ton of other startups on the continent.
A lot of the marketing for Kangpe is based on word of mouth. As people use the service and have derived immense benefit from it, they have been more than willing to share it with friends and family. We have also benefited from the exposure from Free Basics by Facebook. This is a platform on the Airtel network backed by Facebook that allows people benefit from online essential services without the consumption of their data. As we provide essential health access, Kangpe is one of the services on the platform. This has exposed us to a large group of people we might not have been able to access on our own.
We have a very simple vision at Kangpe, to be the top of mind provider of healthcare access across Africa in a fast and simple way. What this means is that, whenever an African, anywhere and at any time, has a health problem, issue or question, we want to be the first place they visit for a solution because they know they will receive a solution they can trust and in a timely manner as well.
I think the biggest startup advice I can give is probably, “Don’t be afraid to try”. People will tell you all sorts of things to discourage you from pursuing your idea, but if you believe strongly enough in it, go ahead and give it a try. At the worst, you know that road doesn’t work, at best, you could be on to something amazing. Either way, you don’t really have as much to loose as you think.
Dr. Femi Kuti