Kenneth Baale, 28, is building bridges in the information era and smiling to the bank. He knows the world today has become a global village more than ever before. A Ugandan baker can now learn how the Japanese bake their traditional Tsukemono cake without ever going to Japan, or speaking Japanese. Two things have made that possible in the 21st Century: The internet, and high definition video.
Baale is also aware that internet data is very pricey. Not so many people can afford to download heavy, high quality videos from the internet and one has to pay expensively for the video tutorials before downloading them. The other major gap is that it is not always easy to find what one wants on the internet. Googling can only go so far. So Baale comes in to bridge the gap with a business idea.
“We find highly sought-after information from certified companies (online teaching schools), pay expensively for it, and sell it cheaply to our clients,” Baale says.
That sounds counterintuitive until you understand how digital merchandise works. Selling digital merchandise is akin to magic. You retain what you have just sold. And the process continues like nothing happened. Economies of scale have never been more profitable when it comes to selling digital products. That is why the company can afford to sell you a tutorial worth Shs740,000 ($200) for Shs150,000.
Through innovative thinking and reading the times, Baale’s company, Datanet Infomatics. It has turned a pricey necessity into an affordable must-have.
According to Baale, Accounting courses are currently the most sought after at his company. Video courses that teach ACCA, CPA, CFA, and Accounting Fundamentals are very popular with his clientele. Second in popularity is medical courses for undergrad and postgrad medical students.
“Yesterday, a woman walked into our office after seeing our poster outside the building. She told us she works for a bank and has no time at all to go for further studies. At least at the moment. So she wanted courses on digital marketing so she could study while driving to and from work.
We showed her our catalogue of video tutorials and master classes in marketing, accounting and other related fields. Though she hadn’t prepared to buy, she was so shocked she didn’t know such vast resources exist,” says Baale in his confident, cool-guy manner.
“Although she came for digital marketing videos, she found so much more: audio books, master classes, motor vehicle owner’s manuals, etc. She left wondering why she hadn’t known about such a resource before.”
Whether you are a baker, a writer, a musician, a marketer, a filmmaker, an adman or a fashion designer, a time comes when you want to learn new skills in the field. A times comes when you want to go to the next level to keep up with the competition, or to move closer to your aspirations. Master classes are for that class of people.
The master class video courses at Baale’s company range from home cooking, creative writing, fashion and design, digital marketing, music instruments, journalism, advertising and more. Depending on preference, some of those courses are in form of E-books to be read on smartphones and computers, or audial books to attend to while driving.
According to Baale, languages are also on demand, with Chinese and Arabic being the most sought after. Other languages making considerable sales at the company are Japanese, French and German.
The humble beginnings
In 2008, Baale, then 17 years old, was working for his elder brother in a video library. One day, he decided to start a business of his own. So he bought a CD at Shs1,000 and paid another Shs1,000 to burn the latest episode of 24 on it. At the time, the television drama was very popular and people would be eagerly waiting for the new episode.
Young Baale would hawk the episode in offices on the streets of Kampala, selling the episode at Shs2,500 to whoever wanted it. At the end of that day, the boy who had started with Shs2,000 pocketed a profit of Shs10,000. A business idea was born. Baale finished his A-Level and enrolled at Makerere University in 2011 for an IT degree, focusing on Information Systems in business.
“During that course, I was impressed by the idea of data warehousing. It was a eureka moment for me. What if you could create a data warehouse that has everything that everyone wants? Software, learning materials, entertainment, all found in one database?” he says.
Baale started by downloading all known movies and television dramas. As a student of IT, he had access to free internet. He took advantage of that. These products were easier to sell to his fellow students and even easier to sell on Facebook to non-students.
One thing led to another and Baale now spends his days bringing valuable education closer to the professionals that need it. At the moment, his catalogue is more than 300 terabytes of data. Very vast in the technology and education sector.
He markets his merchandise on social media, but mostly word of mouth is responsible for the growth of his peculiar business.