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Interview with Jani Landman | Founder and CEO of nobuk

Jani Landman is an Entrepreneur and a Cofounder at nobuk, a software company that provides a mobile-first solution, which enables the consolidation and overview of financial, and business transactions, for micro and small businesses.


nobuk was created by Jani Landman and Elvis Bando under the Antler Venture Building Programme for East Africa.


In our interview with Jani, we explore her entrepreneurial journey and the value proposition of nobuk.



Hello Jani. Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. Before delving into your entrepreneurial journey, please give us an overview of your background prior to becoming an Entrepreneur?


Jani: Hi there, thank you so much for inviting me to share my journey! My educational background is in Politics, Philosophy and English. I completed my undergrad at the university of Stellenbosch. My experience spans from Project Management in Marketing Agencies, Client services in the financial sector, and most recently I spent 4 years focusing on Entrepreneurship Development for a philanthropic investment fund in South Africa. I have always been very keenly focused on working on impactful projects. This has, and remains to be a driver for my career goals.


nobuk offers automated transaction tracking through mobile money provider, Mpesa, as well as a few bank providers. nobuk uses this data to provide value back to the customer with insightful reports, as well as a customer engagement solution that allows businesses to manage debt, and upsell their already existing clients.
- Jani Landman

Why did you become an Entrepreneur?


Jani: Entrepreneurship has always been part of my life growing up, and my father was my first entrepreneurial role model. He ran his own businesses with great success, and has been teaching us since we were young that there is always something you can do to generate value with the skills you have.


I started my first business when I was only 11 years old, with the help of my dad. Since then my journey has been dotted with side hustles, businesses and finding ways to connect the dots, and create value.


It was not until I started with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, that I actually saw this as a way to solve problems, and understood the power that entrepreneurship has to fundamentally change the status quo.


It was such a powerful experience seeing many young South Africans go though the program and develop game changing businesses solutions. After 4 years of working alongside some of these businesses, I decided that It was my turn to get my hands dirty, so I set my sights on joining an accelerator program to give me the space to ideate, and to find a Cofounder.


With this in mind I joined the Antler East Africa Venture building program. My goals were simple, I wanted to build a commercially successful business, using technology to provide solutions which have the ability to address a social or environmental need. Additionally, I needed a Cofounder to partner and walk this journey with.


What’s the origin story behind your software company nobuk? We would like to know where the idea came from and what value proposition it offers to its customers?


Jani: Elvis Bando and I, founded nobuk in our time at Antler East Africa. In our discovery phase we started at personal finance and thought that individuals didn’t have an overview of their finances, and wanted to make sense of what they were doing with their finances. However, when we were interviewing people, we noticed that this problem was painful for the individual customer, but it was much more a pain and necessity for businesses.


We decided to shift our focus to businesses, and found that, not only did they not have a full view of their finances, they found the process of understanding their finances through traditional bookkeeping, time consuming. It was at this point we delved deeper into the bookkeeping process to understand what the problem was and how we could resolve it. To really understand the problems, we spent about 5 months and interviewed around 500 businesses.


Our research found these businesses didn't have a good grip on their finances, and record keeping was tough, but what we also learnt that record keeping was not an end in itself. These businesses were keeping record for more than the purpose of running a good business. They wanted to keep track of who owed them, how much inventory they had sold, and who their clients were.


What we also learnt was that due to a lack of overview and proper bookkeeping records, a lot of these businesses were excluded from accessing a business loan to grow their businesses. With this in mind, we founded nobuk, a mobile-first solution that enables the consolidation and overview of financial and business records, for micro and small businesses.


nobuk offers automated transaction tracking through mobile money provider, Mpesa, as well as a few bank providers. nobuk uses this data to provide value back to the customer with insightful reports, as well as a customer engagement solution that allows businesses to manage debt, and upsell their already existing clients.


All this information is used to build the digital financial records that they can use to access credit. The name, ‘no book’, is a statement of our vision for the future, where these small businesses no longer have to rely on piles of manual receipts and record books. It is also an assertion of the current reality that small businesses prefer not to have books for the sake of it. Rather, they prefer to find ways to increase their sales, better retain their customers, and of course access much-needed credit to grow.


We have brought together our commercial, marketing, technical, and credit scoring skills to build a game-changing solution that leverages best-in-practices UX design, process automation, and AI, to help small businesses in Kenya, grow.


nobuk allows customers to make sense of their finances by understanding how money flows in and out of their businesses. Customers can easily identify clients and products that drive revenue. They can also map out their expenses to see where they spend the most, and what percentage of their revenue they are spending.
- Jani Landman

Why did you launch nobuk in Kenya?


Jani: I met my Cofounder in Kenya and we spent a lot of time researching Kenyan businesses. Our solution was heavily focused on mobile money transactions, and we automated as much as possible with this type of payment system.


We were also attracted to the incredible entrepreneurial spirit that exist in Kenya. Almost everyone in Kenya is, has or will soon be running a business as their main source of income, or as a side hustle.


Lastly, smartphone penetration and digital savviness in Kenya is fantastic. This is key for an app-based start-up. That said, for expansion we are setting our eyes to other neighbouring countries that also have greater mobile money penetration. We hope to make this our key differentiator.


What benefits do customers get from using nobuk to track their transactions?


Jani: nobuk allows customers to make sense of their finances by understanding how money flows in and out of their businesses. Customers can easily identify clients and products that drive revenue. They can also map out their expenses to see where they spend the most, and what percentage of their revenue they are spending.


Furthermore, nobuk assists customers in managing client reminders, for those who owe them. This is done triggering automated reminders for those clients to settle their debts. Lastly, all this information is transformed into pseudo credit scoring data, which we can use to accurately assess our clients and propose loans based on their ability and willingness to pay.


What part does artificial intelligence play in the services offered by nobuk to their customers?


Jani: As mentioned earlier, process automation is key for us, as we know these businesses don’t have the time to go through long user flows, to get to what they want. So, implementing our smart AI to make this process as simple as possible is key for our customer.


The robust parsing of sms messages enables us to automatically categorise payments as either income or expenses. It also allows us to match payments to past sales, invoices, and debts. We are also able to assist with forecasting sales, expenses, and auto suggest messages to send to certain customers.


You are a resident Entrepreneur with Antler, a Venture Capital company. Did you raise your seed funding from them, and what other support have they provided you?


Jani: Yes, nobuk africa is a portfolio company of Antler East Africa and we raised our initial pre-seed round though the venture builder program. However, the support received from the Antler East Africa is much more than just financial. The support is tailored to each startup's needs. They provided us with hands on consulting support during product development. The network of advisors we have had access to, has been most valuable.


Before concluding this interview what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa?


Jani: Be kind to yourself! Building a business is tough and even lonely at times. It is very easy to get caught up in the big goals that will inevitability take time. Whilst it's important to work towards a larger plan, be sure to celebrate the small steps in the right direction!


Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.


Jani: Thank you so much for the opportunity!


Be kind to yourself! Building a business is tough and even lonely at times. It is very easy to get caught up in the big goals that will inevitability take time. Whilst it's important to work towards a larger plan, be sure to celebrate the small steps in the right direction!
- Jani Landman


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