Young techie sets up a fast growing ICT company despite facing a number of hurdles
By Paul Kamau
Since the dotcom bubble burst back in the year two thousand, technology has radically transformed not only how various companies operate, but also our societies and daily lives. Infact, it would be safe to say that technology runs our lives these days. Smartphones, tablets and computers… we really can’t seem to function without them. In a very short period of time, technology has exploded in the market and now, many people cannot imagine a life without it. Ken Kyalo, the founder of Lokyatech, fancies everything techie. Kyalo was born in Kitui County before relocating to Limuru in Kiambu County to join his dad who was working there at the time.
“Although I was born in Kitui County, I grew up in Limuru town and attended Limuru Model for my primary education,” he shares. Kyalo would later join Machakos School for his secondary education, before being admitted to the University of Nairobi (Chiromo campus), where he pursued a course in space science. “We were the second batch of students to study astro physics which has a lot of information communication technology (ICT),” recalls Kyalo. Space science is more of physics, mathematics and computer technology. “Most people assume I studied ICT but I didn’t. Given that I already had a lot of passion for ICT, it was easy to join the market after university,” he adds.
After graduating, Mr. Kyalo approached a close friend who had prior experience and exposure in the market as an ICT consultant. What motivated him is the fact that his friend had started his own company which was doing well. “I was fresh from campus and I didn’t know the intricate of the job market but my friend mentored me,” he says. Kyalo was therefore able to successfully establish Lokyatech. The company has been in the market for seven years. Interestingly, its name is derived from Kyalo spelt backwards. “Lokyatech is my baby and I wanted it to be me since it is the only company that I have ever worked for in my life making it quite unique”, he affirms.
According to the founder, the desire to start his own company was born from the realization that most companies do not have a techie department .This is especially true for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Normally, they prefer to cut down on costs by outsourcing.As the founder, his first role is to steer the company in the right direction. At the same time, he makes sure that his staff members do the job satisfactorily to his client’s expectations. “I have a habit of visiting my clients and getting feedback on the kind of services that we are offering them,” he affirms.
What makes Lokyatech stand out is honesty with its clients. The company insists on being reasonable when charging clients. “If you are honest with the people whom you work with, you don’t overcharge, if they call you with a problem, you do not amplify it.” For Kyalo, the most important thing is to create a personal touch. “You are not there just to work but to also create friends and meet new people such that they will always keep calling you back,” he shares.
Products and Services
Lokyatech’s flagship product is office ICT support. This includes (but is not limited) to office networking, computer maintenance, software upgrading and supplies of any tech based equipment like monitors andcomputers printers. The company also develops websites and email hosting as well as optimization and installation of closed circuit televisions (CCTVs).
Lokyatech started as a very small company with only one employee but at the moment, it has been closely working with a bigger techie company. In fact, as Kyalo confides, plans are underway for a merger in the near future. By the same token, the company’s revenue stream has increased and the market niche has also gone up. “My biggest achievement was during the Covid-19 pandemic when we entered into a very lucrative contract with Infinity Industrial Park,” he shares. According to him, that was a game changer since during the pandemic, most people would work from home and technology played a big part in enhancing their performance. Another big achievement for Kyalo has been creating employment for the youth. “For me I call that a major success since I have employed an average of eight people both as casuals and IT consultants,” he affirms.
Many businesses breathed a huge sigh of relief to see the 2020 in the rearview. Putting that year behind us proved to be extremely challenging from a public health standpoint not only due to Covid-19, but also from a business perspective. For companies that survived and even thrived during the pandemic, the ability to utilize technology to drive new ways of doing business was a major factor in their success. But while 2020 may have hastened digital transformation for many organizations, growing pains remain—and some IT issues continue to present major hurdles.
“Before the pandemic Lokyatech was stable, the company was growing and I was really impressed since we were getting more clients”, he shares. However according to him the pandemic was one of the most challenging moments that he has ever faced since he started the company. “I no longer have some of my previous staff members. Most left the city and some others got employed elsewhere,” adds Kyalo.
Infact, he says that at the moment, it’s like the company is back to factory settings. He attributes that to the fact that some of his clients have since closed down their businesses. Another major challenge that has adversely affected his business is taxes.
The Lokyatech founder is of the opinion that for a small company that is trying to survive and quite new in the market, the government should offer a tax holiday.
“I think for start-up companies, the government should offer a tax holiday or a friendly package as compared to the more established companies to help us employ more youths,” he recommends. At the same time, today almost everyone has knowledge on ICT. He shares that some of hisclients go to an extent of trying to fix the problem themselves, as opposed to hiring a consultant.Another major challenge is thatcounterfeit products have infiltrated the market.
In the next few years, Kyalo would like to grow Lokyatech. Against this background, he plans to roll out an aggressive campaign to market the company. His advice to anyone who would like to venture into ICT is simple: “Make sure it’s your passion because if it’s not, you will give up.” At the same time, he advises that you should venture into ICT with anentrepreneurial mindset. “You get into ICT knowing that technology evolves every day and therefore you should not limit your market in Kenya alone since you can work remotely for anyone in the world,” he ends.
Beyond the office
Marital status: single and searching
Hobbies:Regularly does skating, cycling and football. Also addicted to video games.
Favourite food: Githeri with soft green maize and beans.
Dream car: Volkswagen Golf TSI
Best quote: Life is short, pursue your passion. Just do what you love and stick to that. If you do something you don’t like, you will very soon be visiting the psychiatrist.
Life’s philosophy: Be Yourself. Don’t let the society dictate your life, don’t let friends dictate how you live. Just be yourself as long as everything you do does not infringe in other people’s rights.