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Making millions from love messages

Waiting for a licence for almost a year was a tall order for Dennis Makori. As founder of Onfon Media, this almost killed his dream.

Together with his co-founder, Makori set out to offer premium content services or value added services over mobile phones, but they had to endure a year of waiting to be granted a licence by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).

Their aim was to sell ringtones, inspirational, love and Bible quotes as well as offer mobile phone marketing services like sending bulk text messages.

First million

“During the time we were waiting for the licence, we had an office whose rent we were paying. We were incurring costs but were not making any money as we were still waiting for the licence,” he said during an interview with NairobiNews.

By the time they were signing a connectivity deal with Safaricom around April 2007 to offer the premium content services just after they had received a licence, they had exhausted their savings.

“The first deal we struck earned us Sh44,000 in September 2007,” he said.

By the end of the year, the firm had made about Sh500,000.

It had cost them about Sh1 million to set up the firm. The start-up cost could have been higher had they hired or bought a software connecting them to network providers to enable the exchange of information services, but they developed their own.

“If we were to buy that software from the market, it would cost us Sh10 million. We developed the software as we had the necessary skills,” he added.

What they began on a shaky ground is now the proud generator of nearly Sh400 million in revenues as of last year. The firm is now targeting over Sh1 billion in revenues in 2015.

It handles between two to three million text messages from subscribers daily compared to just 15,000 when they were starting.

“There is a service that we are very proud of. It is called love quotes. That is the service that earned us our first million in 2008,” he said.

He admits the service’s success was beyond their wildest imagination. About 150,000 people have subscribed to the service to receive daily love quote messages from the service.