As part of our #GrindBreaking campaign, we had a chat with Abdikarim Mohamed,Nifties254 creator. This is what he had to say.
–What is the name of your business and what does it do?
The name of the business is nifties254. I make custom skins for devices. Mostly phones, tablets and laptops.
–Why did you pick that particular name?
From the word “nifty” which could mean fashionable and stylish. As I wanted to deal with mostly accessories that fit that description hence the plural was coined.
–How did it start?
I love my gadgets, especially my phone. I never liked the cases though. Felt they added extra weight to carry around. Plus they ruined the well thought-out design. What’s the point of buying a gorgeous piece of tech like a smartphone only to wrap it up inside a hideous case I found a way I could solve that problem and decided to commercialize it.
–Where did you get your initial capital?
Had some savings but a huge chunk of it was borrowed from a SACCO I’d joined.
–What makes you different from your competitors?
I try to strike a tone with my customers uniqueness and personality. The skins we do are custom, client provides the image and we make the skins. So the customer’s personality guides the process.
–Describe what an average day is like.
Correspondence, lots of communication between the clients on Whatsapp and emails as we strive to service their requests. I always seem to be on the phone or on social network. The actual work of making the skins mostly happens after dark.
-What is your educational background?
Bachelor of Science degree in Information Science. Currently doing my masters – International Relations at USIU
-Is this what you always envisioned you’d be doing when you were younger?
Not for a moment. Then again, we didn’t have smartphones back then.
-What challenges have you encountered?
Hmmm… I’d say changing the phone culture isn’t easy. When one is buying a case, they are thinking protection not necessarily style or statement. Sometimes, when I’m trying to pitch the idea to a prospective customer, I get hit by the words “Na iki anguka?”
Skins are for the bold as they offer reasonable protection but more importantly add your personality to the device.
-What drives your decision-making?
Good judgement and reason, I’d like to think so
-What successes have you achieved?
Still early days as we are barely 3 months old. But we have received skin orders from Canada, US, India and a number of African countries… of course we are limited to Nairobi’s CBD at the moment but the international appeal flatters us
-What is the most important thing(s) you would say to any young person looking to start a business?
In the words of Facebook boss, the biggest risk is not taking one. Wasn’t sure whether to start nifties254 in the first place, I’m glad I did.
-What plans do you have for the future?
Aha! thinner, lighter, faster …just like any new version of a phone. But seriously, up-scaling is next. Cover a bigger device range and improve turn around time