Jaguza app developer building technology enterprise
Posted Tuesday, December 17 2013 at 00:00
Catherine Nassimbwa has delved into the bustling e-commerce world by developing a web application that brings different service providers together for people planning events such as weddings, birthdays, graduations and anniversary parties, among others.
There is nothing about Catherine Nassimbwa that spells the nerd she is. For long, we have been sold the impression that people who are passionate about computers are unfashionable, boring and usually men. Nassimbwa is neither. Her dress is chic and her speech is engaging. Get her to talk about computers and the sparkle that will form in her eyes is proof that a nerd is about to speak.
The 27-year-old Master of Science graduate in Electrical Engineering is a boss in a world that is male dominated. I raise my “wow” about her gender, and she replies, “With the right attitude to work, determination and commitment to a noble cause, the world of science and technology is a fertile ground for women, Africa inclusive.”
Nassimbwa is the CEO of Jaguza, a web and mobile e-Commerce application designed to connect service providers to clients who seek these services.
Classroom assignment becomes business
In July 2012, she undertook a free online course on human computer interaction under the instructorship of one Professor Scott Klemmer of Stanford University. She received a couple of assignments but one of them was to design an application.
“The application had to impact my lifestyle in terms of how I managed my time or how I went about my day to day business. Around that period, a cousin of mine who was a movie freak had visited. We would go watching movies at Cineplex. The challenge was that their website was down so it was impossible to find out the movies that were showing online. We could only know from their premises,” narrates Nassimbwa.
“I thus got an idea of an application that would guide movie goers about the movies that were showing at the different cinemas in town. This application would also have trailers of the movies and enable people to book their tickets online. Meanwhile, I was doing the assignment but at the same time forging a business idea.”
Sharing the idea
She shared her mind with a friend. The latter supported the idea and suggested that besides movies, the application should also cater for folk who attend music concerts by informing them about any prominent artiste slated to perform in the country and enable them to book their tickets online. The idea became richer after observing the plight of another friend who was organising a wedding.
“Getting a venue for his reception, a photographer and someone who would prepare a cake were strenuous. This left me with an impression that there must be other people like him who can also be catered for under my idea,” she says.
“When we think of photographers, everyone wants Mega pics or Dolico. Yet there are other companies out there that could be providing a similar service and at a cheaper rate. Talk of a venue to host a party, many fancy Serena. But there are way many nice places that serve the same purpose. In this era of many parties, service providers have to be a snap of a finger away.” Nassimbwa says.
That’s what led her to designing an application that would be a platform for linking people offering these services to people in need of them.
She partnered with four friends to develop the application; Allan Muhumuza (the Java Web Application Developer), John Paul Otim, Edward Ssemuwemba, and Timothy Asiimwe (Android and iOS Mobile Application Developers).
First, they sought a name for their company and settled for Jaguza, a Luganda word that means celebrating.
“We preferred it because our business rotates around celebration and it is a name that Ugandans could easily relate with,” Nassimbwa states.
When the product was ready, every employee was tasked with looking for service providers who would be interested in marketing themselves through the Jaguza platform.
“We started with the people that we knew or were close to us. One would go to a cousin who was into catering and another would go to a friend who is into decoration,” she says.