Founder Feature: Christian Osei-Bonsu of SynCommerceThis week we sat down with SynCommerce CEO Christian Osei-Bonsu. Read on to learn why programming classes are some of his favorite moments at MEST despite the challenge they posed for him!
Where are you from?
I’m from Bonyire in Ashanti Region in Ghana, but I’ve spent most of my life in the Brong-Ahafo Region and the Greater Accra Region.
Tell me a bit about your company.
SynCommerce makes it easy for online merchants to manage their sales across online sales platforms, such as Shopify, Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy. We are currently primarily targeting the Western markets, so most of our merchants are in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe. We have a few merchants in Asia.
Right now SynCommerce is working on two new integrations that we are close to finishing, which we are super excited about. These will be for Amazon and BigCommerce!
Why did you come to MEST?
I started a business while in university, which unfortunately failed. I didn’t know enough, have enough experience, or have enough insight. MEST was a good opportunity to acquire all the necessary entrepreneurial and software development skills to continue on my journey.
How did MEST help get you to where you are today?
MEST helped in a lot of ways specifically through the training I recieved and the people I met while in the program. I met the team that I am working with now and gained a lot of insight from the rest of the EITs. MEST also gave me a network in the software space that stretches beyond MEST and even Ghana. I have to mention the funding I was given to start my business. That has also been very valuable.
What do you wish you had known as an EIT? Do you have any advice for this year’s group?
My advice is to make use of everything at your disposal, every opportunity that you come across. You should take advantage of everything from the beginning and work on your ideas, your goals, your dreams.
If you could go back in time to when you were just starting your company, what would you tell yourself?
On the business side, I would tell myself to focus on a basic solution for the problem we are trying to solve that merchants are willing to pay for. When you’re starting out, there are so many things you want to do. You want to work on all of them from the very beginning. It’s very difficult. I would tell myself to just pick one important thing that your target market wants and is willing to pay for, focus on that, get it to work well, and start a revenue stream that can sustain the business for awhile and then build upon that.
I would also tell myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I should be ready for the long run. If I’m going to work on this, I should have the stamina to go all the way through all the struggles, challenges, and difficulties that come my way. I’d remind myself to persevere.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced while at the MEST training program and the MEST Incubator? How did you get past these challenges?
At the incubator, the challenges have been business related, and the biggest challenge was when we were still working on our product. There wasn’t a stable flow of income or revenue, and we were running out of cash. No one wants to be in that position.
What helped us get beyond that challenge was that we knew the problem we were solving was real and the potential was there. We believed that once we were able to get the idea working we would have merchants using it and revenue coming. I guess the lesson is pick a problem that truly exists and an idea you believe in and are passionate about, work on it, and then you’ll be able to move beyond even the biggest challenges.
What would you say is your greatest success?
A success that I’m really proud of is building SynCommerce for people that are not even in Ghana. I’m proud that people who have never met us and are not anywhere close to us are using it and happily paying for it.
What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food is gari and beans - red-red.
What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST?
At the Incubator my favorite memory is when we received our first dollar. There’s no feeling that can compare to getting the point where your product is out there, working, and someone is satisfied enough to give you their dollar to use it. It’s a great feeling. And it serves as a great motivating factor to keep going.
While at MEST, I have to say more than one. The first is when we were given our contracts at MEST and told to read it and come sign it. We were also given the option to take it away and come sign it later on. I asked one friend whether he was going to take it away and bring it later on. His response was, “No way. I’ve wanted this and waited for this for a very long time. I’m doing it right here.” It really motivated me. It told me if people really want it that much then you don’t take it for a joke. If you’ve gotten here, make use of it and let it count.
Two, every software, programming class was a good memory for me. It is something that I’d always wanted to know more about. I can assure you many of them were not fun, but all of them were good memories for me because I liked it so much and I loved getting to know more about it in the end. It was a good experience.
What is your favorite tech company? Why?
Groove. It’s one of the tools that we use at SynCommerce and I’ve come to like it so much. It’s for customer support management and ticket management. I like how they started and have been able to grow as a business. They started just like SynCommerce without any huge funding and have had to turn away funding opportunities because they believed the best option was to grow their business on their own.
Who/what inspires you?
God and the Bible. I’ve come to believe that there’s nothing in this world that I can’t do without Him helping me through it. He’s been at the center stage of my life from infancy till now. We’ve made Him the bedrock of Syncommerce and we believe that by His grace and power He’s been able to bring us this far.
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Due to COVID-19, MEST postpones training program to next year and doubles down on growing portfolio companies
At MEST, we continue to be deeply concerned about COVID-19 and have been closely monitoring developments locally and globally. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our community and we will continue to follow local authority and health official guidelines.
Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty that the future of travel holds, we have been unable to conduct in-person interviews and host recruitment around Africa for our next cohort. For this reason, we have taken the decision to postpone the Training Program to next year.
While these circumstances are indeed unfortunate, we see this as an exciting opportunity at MEST to double down on providing support and mentorship to our existing portfolio companies and the African ecosystem.
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