Otto Beseka Isong is Founder & CEO of Akwajobs.com. He’s also a leading business development strategist in Silicon Mountain.

From his experience in the business world, Otto Beseka in this article discusses why Cameroonian startups that focus on growing the market but fail to grow the metrics, are bound to tank. 

In my journey as a startup founder, I’ve come to the realization that metrics are as important as markets. In my case, new metrics provided the guide in redefining a hopeless market.

Today, I run Akwajobs, a job board built on technology provided by Nuke board, an offshoot of Njorku.com.

Job publishing is a cutthroat market in Cameroon, which happens to be a small country. There are over 20 job boards for an online population that is less than 4 million — most of who spend more time on Facebook and Instagram than on the rest of the web as a whole.

Using the wrong business model to grow the wrong way

When we started in 2015, we were looking at an advertising model. As such, our focus was on the reach of the website. Then, Google Analytics was one of our favorite tools. It gave us insights into how many people visited the website. How they browsed it. The number of pages they viewed and a lot more.

Measuring website visits made us feel we were growing on a week-to-week basis.

Of course, we grew.

Business Model: Choice of Metrics Are As Important As Choice of Market For Startups

So we studied the dashboard and identified the content that went viral. We put more effort into such content and focused most of our attention on surfacing such content. But digital advertising isn’t a good business model for web/mobile-based businesses in Africa.

When it dawned on me that we couldn’t build the business around advertising, we had to find alternative business models. At that point, our focus was less on the reach, and more on getting to a business model that works for us. We carried out another Google Analytics study and realized the content that went viral didn’t deliver the most value to us as a business.

Even though it brought us more traffic, that kind of content was actually destroying our business.

How?

First, the content was in the form of “Continuous recruitment at ABC Company.” Everybody wants to work at popular companies with big brands. Such content gives them the possibility of making their way. However, it attracted the lot, without any filters. So in the end, everyone applies but the employer recruits none. Whereas for the other content that was specific recruitment offers for specific positions, training levels and years of experience, few people checked, fewer shared and applied.

Growing the right way was slow, but it was worth it

With this new insight, we stopped the continuous recruitment and other general recruitment offers and started pushing for more specific offers. We also started monitoring the number of employers checking the applications and the number of professionals recruited. This pivot in the metric we monitored gave us a tremendous edge in the marketplace.

Business Model:Choice of Metrics Are As Important As Choice of Market For Startups

From here, we had the opportunity to start asking not just the real questions but the hard ones as well.

  • How do we get more employers to check their applications on our system rather than push for applications to be sent via email?
  • What do we do to improve the user experience for professionals and employers?
  • What do we do to ensure an employer always finds the right candidate when they use our website to recruit?

Though this change in metric significantly limited our efforts in surfacing viral contents and eventually curbed our traffic growth, it, nevertheless, boosted our week-to-week relevance to what really mattered to our main users — getting hired by professionals and recruiting the right professional for employers/recruiters.

Since then, our evolution has been more about what matters to professionals and employers.

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