In the face of heightened competition where startups find it difficult to scale up, Norris Aboagye Boateng seem to be one of the successful Tech enthusiasts who believe you just need to start with determination to get it done. This was our chat with Norris, a software engineer and CEO of News Digest Ghana, as TVA personality of the week.
Reporter: Hello Norris, you are the Personality of the week for TechVoiceAfrica and we welcome you.
Norris: Thank you
Reporter: What do you do as Norris?
Norris: I’m a software engineer at the Quantum Group. I have also been serving as the Tech Lead for the Hacklab Foundation since 2018 and I’m a freelance android and iOS developer and the Founder of Ghana News Digest.
Reporter: That’s great, you seem to have the whole package!
Norris: I do my best.
Reporter: Talking about Hacklab Foundation, and you being the Tech Lead what are some of the things you are involved in?
Norris: At the main event, the team I lead is responsible for helping participants with their technical issues. We are also responsible for reviewing the code of participants to detect any foul play. We develop software to streamline the activities of other team members to help run the event too. Most importantly we are actively working on Hacklab Connect which is a cross-platform social network for the Hacklab ecosystem.
Reporter: Since you started operating as the team lead, what has been the most difficult task or issue you’ve had to resolve?
Norris: Working on Hacklab Connect has been both challenging and rewarding. For the just passed Hacklab that was the only way participants could register and getting it right was very important because there would be no Hacklab without it and we had to resolve some issues just hours before registration opened. The team had to work very hard for it to be a success and because we all had full-time jobs too meant a lot more sacrifices, but in the end, it all worked out and we had our best event yet.
Reporter: People are of the view that working in tech world is difficult and challenging, do you share the same view?
Norris: I agree because nothing good comes easy. When you look at the most successful Tech startups, they all had to solve very difficult problems and overcome many barriers before they made it. Doing the same in Africa becomes more difficult especially, when a lot of people aren’t tech savvy and the way we resist change but things are getting better with a lot of innovation coming out every day.
Reporter: Since you share the same opinion as theirs and you mentioned how startups in the tech space face difficulties, let me ask this with reference to your news digest app; what were some of the challenges you encountered as a startup?
Norris: Our main challenge is monetization.
- Getting people to pay for a service in Ghana is hard especially if the person doesn’t see immediate benefits. Apple news has a subscription model that is doing very well but implementing the same for us from what we gather won’t be the best route for us. Thus making it difficult for us to make any profits from what we offer.
- Getting news sources on board our ads platform strategy. Our ads platform is still under development so won’t comment much on it but it’s difficult to get the news sources on board what we are offering in terms of revenue.
- Monetization is one of the main challenges Tech service providers run into because we are used to immediately receiving benefits from things we purchase as part of our culture. We have some plans that we are executing, so there will be more on it as we proceed.
Reporter: With regards to the finance being an issue, have you tried getting in touch with key players in the tech industry who might help you get the needed support?
Norris: Yes, we are in contact with some stakeholders in the media industry as to how best we can collaborate. Mostly you get help when you have proven to be worth the investment so you can’t go empty handed. That’s what we’ve been working on since we started running. For us to be valuable to the media houses we need to have numbers to back our product so we would be in a better position to get the help we need.
Reporter: So what’s Ghana News Digest about?
Norris: Ghana News Digest is a Ghanaian News Aggregator connecting users to their favourite Ghanaian News sources all on one platform. It is dedicated to revamping the user experience of consuming news and media content generated by top news sources like Ghanaweb, Citi News, Myjoyonline,Technovagh,Ghana Celebrities, Ghana Soccernet and over 40 other sources.
Reporter: What inspired the creation of the News Digest app?
Norris: I’m a news junky who wants to always know what is going on in the world. I use apps like Flipboard, Google News and Apple News all the time to catch on current affairs. Then I realized I knew more about other countries than I knew about Ghana and this was because I wasn’t reading enough Ghanaian news. Most websites as at that time looked cluttered and difficult to navigate and couldn’t find any app that I wanted to use. So I took it upon myself to build something that I can use to catch up on what’s going on in Ghana. That was the birth of Ghana News Digest.
Reporter : This is very interesting and trust me, I just got inspired. But how can any interested media house join your platform?
Norris: Email us the link of your RSS feed at firstname.lastname@example.org for us to run a test on our platform and when all tests are successful you would be contacted for you to review our terms and any other detail. When the news source is satisfied with the terms, they would be added to the platform. Individuals who would like to download the app can also do so via the link https://smarturl.it/u6mw59
Reporter : That’s interesting, as our personality of the week we would like you to share a word with our youth out there who want to get into the tech space but see it as challenging and difficult hence redraw.
Norris: It’s crazy until you start. Ghana New Digest started out as something I wanted and couldn’t find any solution to. I wanted to use it so I started building it for myself and realized others wanted it too because I shared it with my friends and they were very interested in the convenience it offered.
With this, I would says we should try to solve the problems we care about the most and if you derive value from it others will too. When trying to solve problems too it’s important to have your users in mind first and don’t assume for them. The tech space is constantly evolving so there is a lot of room for everyone since tech solutions cut across almost any other industry so there are a lot of problems to solve.
People think you need to be a genius before you can understand technology but it couldn’t be farther from the truth, just like everything else, what motivates you is what will get you the results you desire. When I started Ghana News Digest it was just me solving a problem I had and now Digest has:
News Read: 57,624
Articles Saved: 642
Articles Shared: 1,098
Screen Views(Impressions): 297,357
Articles Delivered: 932K
Personality Take Away: Building something others find value in is the most satisfying thing you can do and that’s what the tech space offers, an opportunity to build something that solves problems.