WhatsApp hit the 1 billion user milestone on February 1, 2016 joining a very exclusive club of services with a billion users and above. With just a handful of apps serving 1/7th of the global population, you would wonder what chance a local developer has of creating another messaging app that could go global. It
WhatsApp hit the 1 billion user milestone on February 1, 2016 joining a very exclusive club of services with a billion users and above.
With just a handful of apps serving 1/7th of the global population, you would wonder what chance a local developer has of creating another messaging app that could go global. It would appear the Instant Messaging (IM) space is saturated, but this hasn’t stopped developers from trying (check out the appstore and be amazed).
Cue AfriChat, an IM app that also offers users a secure file sharing service as well as groups with up to 1000 members. Founded by Sopiriala Samuel Jack, a Nigerian from Rivers State, the AfriChat app was developed by a team of 10 people.
For network based services (like IM apps, social networking websites and ecommerce marketplaces), gaining momentum and overcoming the chicken and egg problem is the first and most critical challenge. There’s an overwhelming amount of literature (as well as how to articles on the web) about tackling this challenge. The general consensus is, it’s not easy but it’s doable. One of the tactics is, getting a celebrity to endorse your product/service.
Well, AfriChat, may have just lucked out. Sometime last week, the Nigerian Senate President, Bukola Saraki, tweeted this
— Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki (@bukolasaraki) February 11, 2016
I was curious, so I tracked down the founder and asked him how he and his team were able to pull this off.
Turns out, there was luck involved; a lot of it. “I will credit it to God’s Intervention and luck on our side” Samuel says though he also believes that the app is an amazing product that would leave a strong impression on whoever uses it.
When asked about the stiff competition the AfriChat app will face from the other “usercorns“, (apps/services with over one billion users) Samuel isn’t phased. “Every IM has a unique thing they are offering and so does Africhat. We’re already slowly, acquiring users and we’re here for the long haul.”
Samuel just completed his masters program in Information Technology at the Open University of Malaysia, Accra Campus. The app has been in development since 2013, when he concluded his undergraduate program. Since then, Samuel has gone on to start up his own company which is responsible for churning out a bevy of other apps (apart from AfriChat) as well as offering other IT related services. The company, which is based in Ghana at the moment with another office opening up in Nigeria soon, currently has 10 people consisting of programmers, content creators and UX experts.
“As a first class graduate of Information Technology, my tech/programming background helped a lot in envisioning the final product as well as assembling my team of like minds and we started working.”
The AfriChat app was launched 1st November 2015, and has been downloaded about 2000 times, with a 85% active user base, according to the founder. When asked what new features are coming to the app in the following months, Samuel prefers to keep his cards to his chest.
No worries. Our eyes will be on this one.