My passion for technology started from a very young age. During my spare time, I enjoyed fixing electronic items such as mobile phones, DVD players and Television sets, being able to analyze, diagnose and solve problems gave me a thrill. I must say this prepared me well for the life I live today, which is solving real life business problems. After my high school studies, I was fortunate enough to attend computer classes which broadened my knowledge about computers. I was slowly becoming more and more interested in computers, wanting to advance my computer skills. My father, being observant, picked up on my fascination and bought me a second hand computer right after I was done with my short course. This gave me full access to a space to expand my skills. May Allah bless him.
Taking you back, my initial thought after high school was to pursue a course in Electrical Engineering. However, after interacting with computers for a while and actively teaching myself about them, my mind changed. I became determined to work with computers and that is when I came to learn of Computer Science as a course. Immediately after my K.C.S.E, I packed up and travelled to Nairobi to apply for the course at the University of Nairobi. A little background story about myself is that I was born and raised in Mombasa. The thought of transitioning to a different city alone was a huge change but I was committed on making it work. As if the distance factor was not enough, during the application process, I got news that the intake was full and was advised to apply the following year. The fighter that I am managed to convince the faculty to reconsider. They accepted the application on condition that if someone fails to report, a slot will be assigned. Luckily I got the confirmation and began classes a week later.
If you are familiar with the University of Nairobi, the Kenya Science Campus is located on Ngong Road, opposite The Junction Mall. Being my first time as a Nairobi resident, the hardships that came with adjusting to the new environment always reminded me of the promise I made to myself before I came here. “Do not waste a single moment. Work extremely hard to achieve my goals.” This is where my reliable attribute comes from. My ability to manage and follow through with commitments is well-known.
As my campus days progressed, I realized I very much enjoyed coding and became excellent at both mobile and web applications. Attracting friendship bonds with the same drive, I met Awil, Tom, Alexander and Mutie in my first year of study. We worked on several class projects together and I can tell you that each of these men were and still are exemplary in all they put their mind to. By third year, we had been toying with the idea of doing something jointly and we started a briefcase company which handled websites and small web applications.
However, that was short-lived. Close to eleven months after my commencement, the company faced financial challenges leaving me jobless once again. Life was hard. A few months before that, I had tied the knot. A whole family looked up to me and with no source of income, it was the first time in my life that I questioned my ability. Cutting my budget in half, we actively looked for opportunities and luckily from the links we got through the briefcase company we managed to survive on some freelance work. Knowing this is a pit we needed to get out of, Alexander and I brainstormed on a few products but had a hard time gaining market share as we were not known. Jinal, who was next door where we had worked, came to mind and we knew him to be a business relations and marketing expert. He showed interest from the get go and he knew just what to do. After several meetings around formulating a company, Solutech Limited was formed and registered on 1st September 2014. A scope of the manufacturing and distribution industry presented a pain problem that most of them face, lack of a reliable customizable field sales solution. From this, we rolled out our first product, Solutech Sales Force Automation Tool.
They never tell you this but starting a company from scratch with no capital is not an easy task and can be a dream killer. It requires a lot of commitment, patience and sacrifice. Just to give you an idea of how bad it can get, I did not receive my first salary until three months after the company taking off. Even so, there were times we would miss salaries as there was no money to go around for salaries. A few months down the line, we managed to onboard a few clients and our cash flow improved, becoming consistent. I strongly believe that we had it a bit easy as every founder of Solutech exhibits a strong sense of discipline. Our aim was to grow the company and not ourselves hence proper utilization of funds.
One of the main tasks I undertake at Solutech is management of finances. The role best suits me because of my childhood experience of running my father’s dairy farm business. I was only in form two when my father bestowed me with full responsibility of managing the business when he travelled to India for a while. Since then I became interested in knowing more about finances and gained vast experience in financial related matters.
Solutech has grown from serving zero clients to over twenty five industry leading clients within a period of less than seven years. With that, our team has also gone from having four team members to twenty. I accredit this growth to the great and supportive team we have been blessed with. I am overjoyed to see where Solutech is today and I know we have only touched the surface. We still have a big journey ahead of us and are enthusiastic about and committed to follow the path as it unfolds.
As Marcia Wieder said, “Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer.”
Rayyidh Arif Bayusuf,
CFO and Co-founder Solutech Limited