At only 29 years old, Jared Mwanduka is not only a CEO and established technology expert, he was also the receiver of the Connected Award from Techtrend Africa this year. The award recognizes the top impact makers in the tech sector.
From running a successful company to working towards being an industry leader, Jared is quickly becoming ‘the man to watch’ in the region’s tech space.
In this article, WOK spoke to Jared about his stellar career, his recent awards and his plan for the future.
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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I am Jared Mwanduka, 29 years of age, born and bred in Kenya from Kitui county. Currently I am the CEO & Founder of Learnsoft Beliotech Solutions. An IT company based in Nairobi Kenya. We deal in software development. After my primary school, I attended one the best performing schools in the county – St. Charles Lwanga School in 2008 and completed in 2011 with a mean score of A-.
I developed interest in Information Technology field and thus I decided to pursue any IT related field. In my choices, I was lucky to be selected to join Kenyatta University in 2012 to pursue bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
The early days of campus life were tough with coding/programming and it looked like things were not working. The course being something I was passionate about; I gave it my all and I was able to gain good skills in programming. Four years later (2016) I graduated with second class (Upper division) in the same course. I’m currently pursuing my masters in Data Science and Business Analytics from The University of Texas at Austin.
I am a software engineer with passion in developing solutions that bring a lasting solutions to the existing needs of the society. This I do with passion!
What’s your career background?
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Before my graduation, I had already developed a solution for schools where I aimed at automating the processes in the Kenyan school. My first target was the high schools since I felt primary schools might not be a good starting point. I lacked the market to sell the product and again, I didn’t think it could be easily purchased since I had not tested it in a real environment.
I was glad to be introduced by one of my friends who started teaching in one of the schools in Mwingi – Kitui County who really needed a system. That was my first sale. It was big challenge but we managed to refine the system bit by bit until it worked for them. With excitement, I posted some of the screenshots on my social medial platform and boom, I got the second client.
Alongside the freelancing business then, I sought other opportunities and worked with System Partners Limited as software engineer in 2017 for a year. In 2018, I was engaged by Coseke (K) Limited as a software engineer in 2018. My career growth in the skills and personality has been a consistent one, opening more opportunities and recognition. In Coseke from just a junior Software Engineer, to Senior Engineer and now a technical manager the growth curve just goes up. At this point, I am proud of whom I have become.
I formed Learnsoft Beliotech Solutions in 2018 with the aim of growing my space and selling more, because start-ups face many challenges if no other source of income is guaranteed. Ever then we have grown from one employee to now with 22 employee – incorporating techies, business and marketers all working together to meet the needs of the society.
When did you start your company and what inspired you to start it?
The inspiration to start Learnsoft Beliotech Solutions was out the need to attend to the immediate needs of the schools. I also viewed it was an opportunity for me start testing on how my coding skills would work in an actual environment.
I got into ICT business by a series of trials and trials. Although I was sure I had the skills to build systems which solve a real problem in the society, getting to convince people to buy the solution was not easy. Yes, my background was rich with knowledge and understanding of the needs but I needed to work extra hard to be recognized in the competitive market.
The passion and the purpose were clear because I chose ICT and ICT seemed to choose me, the missing thing was the client. When my friend at who worked as BOM teacher then asked me to present my system to the school management I convinced the team and they chose to be the ‘guinea pig’. I gave the best solution to them, making them happy.
What are your main products and services?
Software development is the core service we offer, with 12 products in the market, the Learnsoft SchoolERP for primary and secondary schools and the E-SaccoERP for saccos take the lead in the best-selling products.
Among them we also have Learnsoft Payroll Master for managing payrolls, Toppos Point of Sale system, Farm Management System, Biometric Fingerprint system, Learnsoft HMIS for Hospital management. We also deal in E-Commerce website designs, mobile app development, graphics designs, software consultancy and training.
How do you deal with competition?
In the IT sector, technology is changing every minute and our win has been through ensuring we match to the changes in the technology and customer needs. We recently upgraded our school ERP to not only handle the 8-4-4 curriculum to handling the CBC curriculum that helped us to get more primary schools as clients. Our solutions have very beautiful and user-friendly interfaces which make the users create a special bond with them once they start using.
Our support is also top-notch as we noted that if the client is not support within reasonable timeframe from the moment a support ticket is raised, they get frustrated. We have replaced other vendors by ensuring this factor is prioritized and deploying more support engineers to give remote connection, physical and call support.
What’s your biggest selling point/what sets you apart from other companies?
We stand out of the crowd in the way we give our clients and prospects a first priority. Ignoring a call from a client and failure to respond in time is taken seriously by our head of support team. We have well trained engineers and system analysts who ensure the needs of the client are well understood so we develop a solution that fully fits their need.
Our solution is also one package – a one-stop-shop where it has been integrated with every module a client may need. Additionally, all our products are designed to give a sense of simplicity and friendliness of function and interface. Lastly, our marketing team is efficient in ensuring every opportunity is grabbed and executed.
Other than competition, what are the other challenges you have faced in your career?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, things were uneasy and we struggled to keep employees on check. Business went down due to the unforeseen uncertainty. We closed our physical office due to unpredictable revenue. However, we strategized and came out stronger to take advantage of the situation by ensuring we could meet virtually and execute business like the normal way.
Change in the education curriculum from 8-4-4 to CBC affected our school clients and thus we had to redesign the system to fit the change, which had time and financial implications.
You recently bagged an award recognizing talent in your industry. Tell us a bit about that.
This year has been quite a great milestone. It saw me win The Connected Award from Techtrend Africa, an award that recognizes the top impact makers in the tech sector. The Global Hero recognition was a gold winners’ category under the Product Designer.
The second award was through the Town and County Planners Association of Kenya (TCPAK) where Learnsoft Beliotech Solutions was awarded certificate of recognition because of providing the Learnsoft SchoolERP system that has transformed and shaped the operations and processes in the primary and secondary schools in Kenya.
What would you describe as the highlight of your career?
The most spectacular highlight is the awards I have received in a row. They have come to convince me that I’m walking the right path in career and there is a community I’m influencing positively.
I has motivated me to do even more to ensure I can discover and be ready to use technology to solve the needs of the society. I has taught me that I cannot give up because there are many people looking upon me.
What’s next for Jared Mwanduka?
I’m aiming for greater heights that would ensure I reach a larger audience through software solutions. I would want to create opportunities to young people by offering intermediate skills to them as they transition to the market.
In my time, I almost missed my graduation because I lacked somewhere to engage in my industrial attachment that was a mandatory requirement for graduation. I wouldn’t allow that to happen to any young person in my knowledge.
I would want to offer them an opportunity to learn and gain skills needed in the market. Additionally, we also want to grow and invade not only the eastern Africa region, but also the entire Africa and the world through provision of top-notch software solutions to the clients.