Chura is a Kenyan start-up looking to make a fortune in the mobile phone business by helping subscribers to convert their airtime in one network to whichever network they are in.
Techmoran managed to catch up with the start-up and this is how it went.
- Briefly describe what Chura really is.
Chura is swahili name for a frog.Chura for us signifies transition in leaping from one mobile network to another. We give mobile users access to all mobile networks.
- What inspired you to come up with this solution?
Chura was officially launched on 1st December 2013. Check it out at www.chura.co.ke. The idea was developed when we realized most Kenyan mobile subscribers use different networks for different purposes. An example is a subscriber that has one line for calls, another for texts and another for the internet. We thought it would be convenient to be able to serve all these lines from a single point in a fast and efficient way.
The airtime for cash service was created for users that had a lot of airtime, wanted to convert it to cash but had no avenue to do this. Additionally, at the time users who bought airtime erroneously from their mobile money account could not have the transaction reversed.
- What solutions are you specifically offering?
Our innovation is unique in enhancing network interoperability and we are able to do this using 4 services namely:-
1. Switch Airtime-Transfer airtime across networks.
2. Buy Airtime-Buy Airtime from any network using any mobile money service.
3. Airtime for Cash-Convert your airtime to mobile money.
4. Bulk Airtime-Send airtime to multiple phone numbers at the click of a button.
- Describe how Chura Works.
-A user makes a request-online or through sms-for the service they would like to do.
-User sends airtime/mobile money to Chura.
-Chura sends airtime/mobile money to their desired number.
- Where did you get funding when establishing Chura? (VC?, Angel Investors?) What is your business model and revenue generation system?
Chura is a bootstrapped project-meaning it has been funded out of money from our own pockets.
Our business model consists of
1. A fee charged for services provided and
2. Profits made from sale of airtime acquired from the other services.
- What has been your success and what are your accomplishments so far?
The product has been launched to enthusiastic reception by the market. In a span of 6 months, Chura has managed to acquire over 3500 users with over 50% being repeat customers.We have also enhanced access to the product by releasing an SMS system hence making Chura available to all mobile users.
- In the implementation, what have been the challenges and problems you have experienced?
Since Chura bootstrapped project, we have thus experienced financial challenges.
The culture of closing up technologies by network operators also presented technological and logistical challenges when developing our product.
We have solved these problems through sacrifice and creativity.
- What has been the response and feedback so far?
Feedback for our service has been overwhelmingly positive. Most of our users are very happy about the convenience and efficiency that Chura provides.
- What has been the experience pitching your start up to possible investors or incubators?
We have received positive interest and offers from investors, but we haven’t taken up any yet. As for incubators, we are incubated at the C4Dlab-An incubation lab at the University Of Nairobi.
- Where do you envision Chura being two years from now?
We are projecting exponential growth. We are working on a number of avenues that will enhance our product’s accessibility and user experience. We are also looking to replicate our service in other Multi-SIM markets in the region.
We are also on track to launch some new products.