'Ask An Expert' To Disrupt Nigeria’s $200 Million Value-Added Service Market
What do you do when you have some troubles in your relationships?
Do you talk to your closest friends, acquaintance or colleagues at work? Or do you just bottle it up inside and deal with it the best you can?
Who do you talk to when you want to start a business or make an investment? Do you speak with your employer, creditors or successful entrepreneurs?
Have you been in a situation when you know everyone around you won’t be able to answer your questions?
Have you ever considered speaking to an expert?
So, let’s talk about “Ask An Expert”.
I’m sure by now you could be wondering, who is this expert?
Well, Ask An Expert happens to be a technology solution being promoted by a Lagos-based entrepreneur, Felix Rwang Dung.
“It is simply a mobile directory of experts where people can easily have access to experts for on the go consultation on any issue,” Felix told Bounce News recently in an interview in Lagos.
How it works
Ask An Expert is basically a solution that connects people – experts and their clients. On the platform, which is available as a mobile application and web, there are two users – clients and experts.
As a client, you simply go to the Google Play store, download the app and register and then you see a directory of experts.
All you need is to select the category that you are interested in, read their profiles and then you send a request to engage an expert of your choice.
Once you engage an expert, a call prompt will be sent to him/her. The expert will be able to see the client’s name and image and he/she can accept or reject depending on availability.
*Founder/Promoter of Ask An Expert, Felix Rwang Dung in an interview session with Bounce News.
If the expert accepts, a chat window opens.
That chat window is timed. That chat is not an open-ended chat like WhatsApp. It is timed to between 10 to 30 minutes. And you can continue conversation even if that time elapses, instead of initiating another chat session to continue the conversation.
In The Beginning...
If you use a mobile phone in Nigeria, you must have at one time or the other received a message from your operator asking you to text ‘YES’ to some numbers to subscribe to health, fashion, money tips etc.
That is known as value added services.
But there was a problem with that. The tips you get after subscribing are just regular information pulled up randomly from the internet.
And guess what? According to data from Nigeria Communications Communication, the Nigeria VAS market hit $200 million, about 61 billion naira as at the first quarter of 2018.
That is huge, right? But for what quality of information, you might ask.
Well, that was what Felix said inspired him and his team and they did something about it by coming up with Ask An Expert.
He said: “We did a bit of research before we started. We modelled it as a value-added service, so we looked at the value-added services that were provided by telecom operators, and we got lots of data from them.
“With that, we saw that even within their variant products and services that were being on offer, we saw that information-related services such as financial, medical tips were doing well, raking over a billion naira per month. This is because a huge number of people were subscribing to get lots of tips to get informed.
“So, for us, we looked at it that those were static information that may just have been pulled up from the internet. So, we asked ourselves, how do we make that information a bit more practical, productive and realistic so that it is not just about people getting static information but people being able to reach out and ask right questions and get insights about what is affecting them at that point in time. That process gave birth to Ask An Expert.”
But beyond that, the solution, according to Felix was also inspired by the realisation “that a huge population of our young people need a lot of hand-holding, guidance and support to make right and informed decisions on a daily basis”.
But how far, so far?
Well, the reception has been well, Felix told Bounce News as the adoption rate has been positive especially from the expert side, noting that “there have been several iterations because like any startup we first tested the market to see if the model will work”.
“On the clients’ side, what we have tried to do is to manage their expectations. So, from the initial adoption rate, we have over 1,000 downloads already.
“With that, we have already heard a lot of their conversations and some of the challenges they are facing and how we needed to iterate. With that, we have had to improve the services from that initial solution. So, we could say that the concept has been validated.”
Ask An Expert, he believes has great value because it offers convenience, it is private, provides direct one-to-one, affordable and secure.
So next time you confront a tough situation and finds it difficult to come to a decision, try to Ask An Expert.
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