Thriving in congested reseller industry

Thursday, May 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Judy Nyaruai Muhoro, founded Infinity Take, a bulk SMS company in 2015 after she quit her sales job. Photo/MILLIAM MURIGI

JUDY NYARUAI MUHORO founded Infinity Take, a bulk SMS company in 2015 after she quit her sales job. She tells MILLIAM MURIGI of her venture and the important lessons learnt along the way.


Becoming a bulk Short Messages Service (SMS) reseller has proved to be a challenge for many who want to venture into the business.

This is because the industry is choking from cut throat competition and price undercutting.

However, Judy Nyaruai Muhoro has managed to become one of the few women who have succeeded in the sector.

She is the managing director of Infinity Tech Africa, a company she founded in 2015.

Nyaruai, who at first was working as a salesperson in the telecommunication sector, bumped into the idea of bulk SMS business by default. Having interacted with many players in the industry, she realised it was still hard to get quality services, despite many players. 

Since this is a highly specialised business, one has to understand it to invest in it.

The differentiator is developing a robust platform with adequate capacity to carry traffic and different functionalities to serve client needs.

After seeing the gap, Nyaruai decided to pounce on it. She invested about Sh1 million to develop the platform and acquire necessary licences from the Communication Authority.

Bulk SMS is a service that enables the sending of large number of SMSes to a broad audience at once. 

It can be used by businesses, community groups, marketing agencies or anyone wishing to communicate with a large group of people at once.

Campaign period

“We acquired our Applications Service Provider licence from Communications Authority in 2015.

In 2016, our company Infinity Tech Africa opened its door to the public with an aim of providing a communication channel between organisations and their client base using bulk SMS,” says the Bachelor of Arts in Economics graduate from the University of Nairobi.

Her first few customers were from contacts she had gathered when she was working as a salesperson.

Her strategy to start small bore fruits as her business was on a growth path right from day one.

She continued acquiring more customers and before she knew it, her company  became a reliable and trusted brand.

Her break came durig the 2017 campaign period. Most politicians, vying for various seats, needed the service to communicate with potential voters.

Political parties also needed efficient mode of communicating with their aspirants and members as well as with registering them.

Her company stepped in to provide custom-made solutions, which enabled her business grow tremendously.

At the same time, she started attending a series of e-commerce conferences, a move that opened her eyes to a world of opportunities.

With a viable product the customers needed, there was nothing to stop her company from growing into a household name.

Customer apathy

“The same year, we started getting clients from neighbouring countries and we decided to expand our wings.

We opened branches in Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi in 2018 and we are eyeing other African countries in the near future,” adds the 42-year-old, single mother of two.

Today, her company has grown to become one of the leading service providers, thanks to an able team of professionals.

Besides offering bulk SMS services, the company has also included other services such as customer satisfaction surveys, SMS to email services, customised messages, data analytics and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services, which gives clients codes for specific operations such as balance inquiries or top ups.

However, Nyaruai says it has not been a walk in the park. She has faced challenges just like any other company. 

Apart from cut-throat competition and price undercutting, another key challenge she has faced has been customer apathy because some industry players send mass SMSes to many people, creating the impression that bulk SMS service is bothersome.

However, despite all these, her company has thrived not because of shortcuts, but because of offering quality services.

She says the company has been able to stay afloat because they take customer feedback seriously.

“We aim to provide services that help our customers to become more efficient in communicating with their target audience. 

“Our services must match customers’ needs. We boast of an incredible uptime as our services are hosted on the cloud,” she says.

Strong platform

According to her, there is a big opportunity in the industry because there are many organisations seeking cost-effective communication strategies to gain a competitive edge.

“Times are changing fast; gone are the days where face-to-face communication was established as the only method of building lifelong relationships.

Companies are currently using effective tools to keep in touch with their customers in a personalised style,” she explains.

Statistics show that bulk SMS marketing is leading when it comes to connecting with clients. 

Around 98 per cent of all SMS messages are opened. However, business owners still have to work hard to understand their customers’ needs. 

Bulk SMS incorporates two types of services: the first is free sms to the end user (phone owner).

Companies use this as a communication channel with clients, for example, for payment confirmation, feedback, and enquiries. The client company caters for the cost. 

The other is a premium service where clients are charged for receiving information every time they conduct a transaction with utility companies such as mobile banking services.

Through these services, companies are able to channel their marketing drives as per their product or service market demand. 

“Bulk sms can assist in provision of service to a customer. For example, when a customer has applied for a loan, they can be updated on various stages and sent reminders of repayments.

This adds value to a bank’s service chain and it is why my dream is to build a strong platform that enables SMEs and corporates to communicate efficiently with their customers,” she adds.

 Her advice to anyone using bulk SMS marketing is that since creating a stable relationship with clients requires patience and experimentation, they should not give up. They should, instead, keep trying what works best to increase response rates for their business. 

“Keep modifying your bulk SMS messages till you find the right balance,” she says.

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