We bring to you yet another insightful, exciting and inspiring session of PyLadies Night. For this session our guest for the night was Lady-Omega Hammond CEO & Cofounder of Ampersand Technologies Ltd, a software development company that builds web and mobile applications for businesses.
Sharing with us her journey on the topic “How to kick off your own Tech Startup”, our guest inspired our community members in the most realest way. Read below how our discussion went:
PyLadies Ghana: Kindly introduce yourself and also tell us one fun fact about yourself please
Lady-Omega: Hello everyone, I’m Lady-Omega Hammond, a software business developer and I run Ampersand Technologies Ltd, a software development company. I Started my company with three other guys in 2015 building web and mobile applications for businesses. We provide app consultancy, app design and app development services for sme’s corporations and multinationals. Worked with companies here in Ghana, Nigeria, USA and the UK building over 10 applications and counting. Happy to be here to share my learnings from my experiences so far. One fun fact about myself is that I love cooking.
PyLadies Ghana:And what's your favorite dish?
Lady-Omega: Jollof with grilled chicken, coleslaw and kelewele
PyLadies Ghana:Kindly describe yourself in one word?
PyLadies Ghana: Nice to hear that's a whole lot. Tell us one fact about you regarding your tech journey?
Lady-Omega: I’ve never been a CEO before prior to starting my company, so it’s been a lot of learning for me as we have grown.
PyLadies Ghana: Growing up did you ever imagine yourself as getting into tech and being a CEO of a tech company?
Lady-Omega: Yes and no, I knew I would engage in technology but it was mainly something I did for fun and just learning about tech stuff but I didn’t think I would be a CEO of a tech company.
PyLadies Ghana: It's amazing to see a lady as CEO of a tech company, kindly share with us how it all began?
Lady-Omega: After university, I joined the MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology) program to study software entrepreneurship for two years with the goal of starting a software company at the end of the program.
That’s where I met my cofounders, we had worked together on projects and identified each of our strengths and weaknesses. Based on that we chose our roles and my team members believed and voted me as their leader. Mainly because I was good with engaging with people and understanding their needs, pushing the team to work and achieve our goals together.
At that point I still doubted myself but I gradually grew into the role and built my confidence.
PyLadies Ghana: Impressive! Kindly share with us one reality and myth of tech startups?
Lady-Omega: “Tech startup - All I need is a laptop, code and a million dollars in investment”
A startup is a business and not a joke, based on your idea you will need to think like a business from day one and not think like it’s just something you’re doing for “fun”.
Startups normally are solving problems on a small scale but the different processes you adapt and how you handle your customers will determine how you will grow and be attractive to investors. Understand your problem thoroughly, engage your customer like a human not an app and think like a business owner from day one. If you don’t know how to, read a book, watch a video, just educate yourself.
This will translate into how you’re valued and will translate into cash.
PyLadies Ghana: Wow! With your experience so far, how would you define a tech startup or what is a tech startup?
Lady-Omega: A small business solving problems using technology
PyLadies Ghana: So what are the key characteristics of a tech startup?
Lady-Omega: This question? Lol!
I'm not sure I have the 100 % answer for this but this is what I think:
A problem - A huge curiosity of finding why something happens the way it does causing a gap, pain, discomfort etc
A solution - A way of solving what has been identified in the problem and making it better that people will value . This could be a Technology service / product
One person / a team that can provide the solution through use of technology concepts, resources and knowledge.
Results - increase Cash-flow / impact / growth
Soft skills like communication, marketing , emotional intelligence (is a plus )
PyLadies Ghana: Are there types of tech startups?
Lady-Omega: Yes we are differentiated by the types of technologies we use, categories or industries we are focused in and the type of customers we serve. But the general type of tech startups are those who provide tech services and those who provide tech products.
PyLadies Ghana: We might have so many ideas on building a tech startup, what are the initial things to consider before beginning a tech startup?
Lady-Omega: Does the solution practically solve the problem and how long are you willing to commit to solving this problem?
Do you want to make profits or you just want to be known to have built something cool?
Think about how your solution is practical and incorporates existing ways of how things are done. Building tech solutions is fun but you can easily get carried away.
If the solution brings you profits that’s a plus but it’s not always clear in the beginning, rethink it and make it work as you build.
Can you do this on your own or do you need a team? Use what you have to create value, it’s what will attract others to join you in building.
No idea is new under the sun, but how the idea is implemented is unique depending on the person or team. You thought of the problem so you’re capable of solving it.
PyLadies Ghana: What are the things that have to be in place before beginning tech startups?
Lady-Omega: A problem and a workable solution, and an adaptive mindset.
Deep (in-depth) understanding of the industry your solution is built in.
Knowing how the technology works, business insights and market research is also very important.
Learning how to code and building a tech product are two different things, please don’t mix the two.If you’re learning, learn well. If you’re building, build it well.
Businesses are normally set up for profits so don’t spend all your money buying the coolest laptops, expensive subscriptions etc.
Learn about investments, educate and invest in yourself as well.
Mistakes/ failures will happen but how you handle it after it happens defines the kind of business owner you will be.
PyLadies Ghana: Is there a process of kicking off a tech startup? Kindly enlighten us if there is?
Lady-Omega: I won’t say there is a process, it’s just finding / discovering a problem, solving it and wanting to solve that problem for multiple people for free or for their money.
There are varied ways this can happen so I can’t speak to one process.
PyLadies Ghana: What can one do if there is difficulty in decision making when kicking off the tech startup?
Lady-Omega: Do something fun and come back to that decision .
If you still can’t figure it out then you’re lacking knowledge, so ask for help, read an article, read a book or listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video.
PyLadies Ghana: What are some of the challenges one must expect when beginning a tech startup?
Lady-Omega: Building technology solutions is hard but don’t give up. Your hard work will pay off. Invest the time to learn how to write code professionally, learn about coding practices and don’t be ignorant.
Getting people to pay for technology is even harder but give them value and this will get easier.
Technology is evolving so your solution or the technology might not always work.
Your perceived customers will not be your actual customers. Customer behavior can’t always be predictable. If you don’t get customers, change the problem.
In a whole, nothing good comes easy. See each challenge as a way to grow and build yourself. Have fun whilst building and keep your values in check.
Every minute there is a tech solution out there but the world is still waiting to benefit from yours, stop hiding it on your machines and minds.
Dealing with challenges in general has to do with how you as a person think and process issues. Whether it’s technology or life in general you need to understand nothing is perfect.
There are thousands of books that speak to these various challenges and it is starting a tech startup. But the most important is always figuring out what your problem is clearly, the practicality of your solutions and finding people to value the solutions as much as you do.
Disclaimer : Changing the problem / changing the solution if you’re not getting customers is tricky but we spend so much time and resources it’s difficult coming back with the same vim to pitch to customers.
PyLadies Ghana: What is your advice to anyone desiring to kick off a tech startup?
Lady-Omega: Do it! Suck at it! Do it again and be great at it. If you thought of the problem you’re capable of solving the problem.
Questions from the audience.
Question1: Hello @Lady Omega Hammond Thank you for your insightful answers.
Were there times you felt you couldn't do this?
Lady Omega: Yes, countless times. Even last week I questioned myself but every time I’ve done this it’s helped me map out the things I do wrong and what I can do better.
This question used to be driven by fear but now it’s driven by being the change I want to see. I wake up every day to think, process and engage people with technology because I really want to achieve my vision of connecting people with technology. I thought I wouldn’t survive 5 years but I’m still growing.
Question2: Did anyone make you feel or think you were not capable of doing this?
Lady Omega: Yes, especially being a female leader. I get a lot of side eyes, statements, comments and “it was a joke but not a joke” from both females and males but I recognize that how they see me it’s more their point of view not mine.
Yes their statements were hurtful in the moment but I brush it off and stick to how I see myself. I’m my biggest cheerleader.
And this is a wrap! I hope you have learnt a thing or two.
Thank you for reading and don’t forget to share to inspire others.
This session was hosted by Theresah Agbenyegah and published by Vanessa Otchere
Storyteller with the passion of telling the right African stories. I love to capture the social issues that come in living in this digital age. Also, I have experience in using tools in fighting misinformation. A volunteer by heart who loves to see change.