Name: Linda Shachinda
Business: Forthrighter Digital Marketing and Communications (FDMC)
City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia
Website URL: www.fdmc.tech
Zambian Linda Shachinda is the CEO and founder of two companies. The 24-year-old owns Forthrighter Digital Marketing and Communications (FDMC) and launched Bwangu Print after participating in BongoHive’s business incubation/mentorship program. BongoHive is a tech and innovation hub based in Lusaka. FDMC is a digital marketing agency that offers web and mobile app development, graphic design, and bulk SMS. With her new company, Bwangu Print, she adds online printing to the mix. The new firm prints everything, from flyers to mugs, pens, t-shirts, business cards and publications. Customers can upload designs online.
Linda shared her startup story with She Inspires Her.
How did you come up with the idea to start your business? Was there an “ah-ha” moment when you launched your company?
I have always been known as someone who can sell anything to anyone, including poison! My friends literally say I can make someone believe black is pink, and they’d believe me. And because of that, I found myself being aligned more to the marketing industry, but each time I would feel like something was missing because of my love for computers. Then one day I heard of Digital Marketing which combined my two interests. I did different online courses, and with that I started my own digital marketing agency- www.fdmc.tech – where I offered clients graphic design, web development and social media management services.
We found many of our graphic design clients needed their designs printed and, since they trusted us, they would ask to recommend a printing company that would print their work, retaining the quality and at the same time being able to match their budget. Lusaka is a big city, and there are lots of printing companies, so finding a one-stop-shop for all your printing needs is not easy. And even when you find a good service, you still need to face the massive traffic and long queues. If you need t-shirts and mug printed, then you usually would have to go to two different printing companies, that’s twice the traffic and queues, one would literally spend the whole day try to get two things printed. So to provide convenience to our clients, we decided to add a new service to our product list and launched an online printing platform – Bwangu Print Online. All a client has to do is send us their design via the platform (or request us to create one). Once the design is approved, we print and deliver to their location.
Give us some insight on how you raised investments and funds to start and grow your business (self-funded, loans, grants, investor etc).
My mum got me a laptop (she’s like my biggest fan), and I got started as a freelancer. Having a laptop and a blackberry with a provision for hotspot creation was pretty much enough capital to start as a freelancer designer.
Building a business needs a lot of planning and funding until it’s launched, what has been your biggest challenge to date?
My biggest challenge – which still bothers me – is finding the right people to work with. Hiring developers or designers for my startup is totally different from hiring from an already established firm, and gosh hiring is stressful! You can’t make a mistake, you don’t have that luxury when you’re hiring, you can’t just hire someone today and then get someone else tomorrow. Getting people who can understand your vision, and work on it out without constant supervision is really not a piece of cake. Managing all these hiring issues, plus still working on expanding your startup is exhausting especially when there are only 24 hours in a day.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given that has stuck with you?
Know your audience! Create for their needs. Who are your customers? Once you can answer this in your business model, you on track.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started your business?
The importance of managing your time well. Oh my God, when people say every second counts, it’s true, really true. When you’re running a startup, the things you spend doing every second really matter and at the end of the day, they will help expand your business or keep it at the same level. If it’s not business, don’t use your business time on it. Also, remember, when you run a startup, you have to be the receptionist, marketing officer, sales officer, accountant, and CEO at the same time…
What advice would you give to women in your country who are interested in starting a business (Resources? Tips? Tools? Services etc)
Join the BongoHive Discover Program. It’s a 3-week business incubation/mentorship program that will help accelerate your idea of starting a business to actually launching it. As an alumni, I would say the discover program breaks down all your assumptions about your business, and you come out with tested and proven facts about your business. So go ahead and apply, they are nice people.
What are the biggest barriers to women-owned business in your country? Do you think the attitude toward female entrepreneurs is changing in your country?
Uhmmm I would probably say capital. And yes, I see more and more people every day appreciating female entrepreneurs, and at least I have noticed that even media coverage of entrepreneurs will at least include a female, that’s a good thing.
What are you most proud of?
I took the first step, shook off all the fears and shivers and launched my startup!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am survivor, I push and push and push. I have a “CAN DO” mentality no matter what. I grew up in a house of business people with both my dad and mum running different businesses, with one elder brother and a young sister. Since primary, I have been that child who got distinctions in Math and Sciences, and everyone counted on me to be an accountant or doctor. I love the novelty of life, and I thought being an accountant would be too much of a routine job for me, so that one was out. Then, Oh my God, I was terrified by anything that has to do with blood, it was crazy. I remembered one day my mum had injured herself, and wanted me to look at it, and I literally fled away in terror at her request, so there was no way on this earth I was going to be a doctor! So I remained that child who do will do “something with math”, what it was, no knew. No one, including myself thought I’d be an entrepreneur. I think sometimes my mum believes I work for someone and not myself.
What have you learned from your success and failure that you’ve experienced during your business?
Never stop trying, never give up, failure is actually a lesson on how not to do things.
What advice would you give women who are interested in working in your industry?
Feel free, there is lots of space here. We need more women to join the industry, its not really as tough as people make it seem.