When techpreneur Ryan Meiring (37) came onto the startup scene in 2004, his aim was to provide safe, secure and accurate data, while – according to the startups official website – “helping clients automate mundane tasks and eliminate human error.”
10 years later, his startup Big Inja is up and running and doing just that.
Big Inja, which is available on iOS and Android, acts as a scanner and barcodes your business, allowing the user to keep track of assets, event management processes, stock control and even attendance monitoring. The system works by pairing the smartphone app with the company’s servers, which crunch the data before displaying it visually according to customers’ requirements.
The Johannesburg-based startup was officially launched in August 2014. Meiring shares the journey behind the app, and how he envisions its future.
We established Big Inja 10 years ago (December 2004) but only 2 years ago began development to move our proven products to an online platform to take advantage of smartphone camera scanning. In August 2014 we formed a new PTY: “The Digital Data Dog” and officially launched our new web application.
We focus on delivering our products and solutions to SMMEs, we want to empower small business with all the tools that will see them compete with much larger organisations. With recent advancements in technology we should be seeing the cost of doing business coming down, not going up.
We aim to differentiate ourselves by supplying supremely advanced solutions at a fraction of the usual costs. No contracts – low month to month fees is what we are about – we believe that a client should be blown away by the product and should not be locked in if they are not getting maximum benefit. We also design our solutions with the end user in mind. We embrace the art of simplicity and believe that solutions should not require an implementation team to get up and running.
I am an Industrial Engineer and solving process management problems is what get’s me giddy with excitement. I am also a complete data geek and love designing analytics that reveal never before experienced business insights. We love converting raw data into information that can be used to make informed business decisions. Big Inja – the Digital Data Dog – affords me the opportunity to indulge myself in these passions daily.
One of our challenges is demystifying what we do – as soon as someone takes one of our products for a spin they are sold, but it is difficult to illustrate the power of what we can do without a physical demo. The beauty of a digital product is that you have access to a global market but getting that market to understand just how much we can help them remains a challenge.
Africa’s prosperity lies in its people being equipped to thrive and not just survive. The current focus on the extractive industries is unsustainable and is a lazy approach to developing the continent. As startups we get this but I just get the feeling that until our African governments fully embrace and support this we will not benefit from the talents and industry of the continents professionals and entrepreneurs.
With a sufficient skills base, Africa can quickly respond to problems but we will not develop the level of ecosystem seen in the States (even though we have the capacity and raw talent necessary to do so) until the true natural resources (Africa’s people) are recognised and supported at government level.
In the next two years we want to grow our team and accelerate development. Our growth strategy includes regional license agreements, which have served us well to this point. We have established agreements in the Events space but in the next 2 years we see similar agreements being established in other product areas such as Asset Tracking, Stock Control and Customer Relationship Management.
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to stick it out. That’s it. In my opinion the difference between success and failure is perseverance.
I was very reserved when I started out. I have subsequently realised that you need to have as many conversations as possible – allies come in all shapes and sizes and from all angles. Speak to everyone about your ideas!