CEO, Co-founder, Skygarden
As if to prove that the innovations made in e-commerce so far are a scratch on the surface, Daniel Maison, alongside four other co-founders have taken e-commerce a notch higher with the creation of Skygarden. Unlike other online shopping platforms, Skygarden was created for African businesses, and as such, it allows businesses and individuals from the
lower segments of the economy and those in informal markets to enjoy the benefits of online selling.
“The premise of Skygarden was to create an out of-the-box web-shop solution for a public whose businesses had never been exposed to e-commerce. A platform that ensured seamless payments and delivery of goods across different geographical regions, and one that provides a wide selection of products at reasonable prices,” Daniel shares.
Among other unique features, the Skygarden app allows business owners to manage their inventory, as they would in their physical shops, and also relieves them of the burden of distribution at absolutely no cost.
Creating Skygarden is a venture that Daniel considers a serious leap of faith. At the time, he was heading the Kenyan branch of Uwin Iwin– a company that provides incentive solutions for different companies–, and he had successfully scaled the company from South Africa to East and West Africa. “I had a pretty good job for a young person, and leaving all that for an idea was not easy,” he says. Holding on to his conviction nonetheless, he quit his job and went out to make his idea a reality.
He met his co-founders Christian Grubak and Martin Majlund who are based in Denmark, through mutual interest, and were later joined by Isaac Hunja and James Mwai.
According to Daniel, having an idea is the first step to creating a business, but the mode of execution determines how well the business will do. Their first step was to conduct market research with the help of trade engagement managers, by speaking to over 2500 merchants across different markets to discover what their pain points were.
“We all believed in the vision, and through research by God’s grace we were able to create something that the market would adapt to because it involved the principal customer from inception,” says Daniel. From about a hundred businesses at inception, Skygarden has organically grown to about 5500 businesses, a number that grows at a rate of 18% monthly. The company was also recently recognized as the Best Emerging E-commerce Platform, in the 2018 Digital Inclusion Awards.
In an era where entrepreneurship is presented as the only way to strike gold, Daniel cautions that success is not guaranteed. “My personal motto is that you’re never really in control. Time and commitment are the only variables that remain constant but the rest is on God. However, everybody has a seed planted in them and only those who are brave can tap into it,” he says. With a team driven by the same vision, and by having their customers at the center of their practice, Skygarden continues to set the pace in e-commerce.
To young entrepreneurs, Daniel says, “Shine in your own light, and as you invest in yourself, it will naturally pour out into others.”
For more on the enterprising millennial series, read Perpetual Kendi’s story, Founder of Addleston PR & Marketing.