Founder Feature: David Tetteh

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday February 7th 2018

This week we sat down with Kudobuzz CPO David Tetteh. Read on to learn why MEST-Day-Out is his favorite memory from his time at MEST!

Where are you from?
I’m from Aseseasu in the Eastern Region, a few hours drive from Accra through the Akwapim-Togo Ranges.

Tell me a bit about your company.
Kudobuzz provides AI-powered SEO and social reviews to help businesses across the globe build trust with their customers to increase sales.

Why did you come to MEST?
MEST presented the opportunity to pursue my passion. I also came to MEST for the community, the mentorship, and the opportunity for funding.

How did MEST help get you to where you are today?
I had a desire to start a company growing up, only that I thought of doing it at a much later time due to the resources, talent, and experience needed to pull it of. MEST made it possible to bring all of these aspects together much earlier than I had thought possible. It brought something that could have come true many years later in my life within my reach and made it doable in 2 years. I think this is perhaps the best way MEST has helped everyone who participated in the program.

What do you wish you had known as an EIT? Do you have any advice for this year’s group?
The projections you make will most likely be far from reality. Being able to balance ambition with the reality of where your startup is, in terms of state of product, cash reserve, etc., will help you stay focused and become sustainable before you run out of cash.

If you could go back in time to when you were just starting your company, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself to build a lean product and get feedback as quickly as possible to help learn direction. It will save a lot of time, money, and, perhaps, the company. Having a clear sense of what variation of your product users will pay for early on is a lot better than building all the cool features you believe your users want.

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?
Every founder loves the products they build, especially the first one. For us it was Nevahold, a service we built to help consumers share complaints, questions, and reviews with businesses through social media. We had tens of thousands of people using it, but over time it was clear not enough businesses were going to use and pay for it to make it a sustainable business. Thankfully we had also started Kudobuzz based on a key trend of how businesses were taking advantage of their positive reviews they received. The tough call was to pivot and completely focus on Kudobuzz. In hindsight, it was one of best decisions because it allowed us to build Kudobuzz, while we had enough cash to test and fine tune the product for our users.

What would you say is your greatest success?
It’s one thing to build software, but to have real people use it and pay for it is extremely humbling. For us, having thousands of businesses across the world rely on Kudobuzz is our greatest success. I remember when the first sale came in and subsequently checking our email notifications to see if another payment had dropped. We ended the first month with $22 and since then we have reached new milestones. This is what keeps us going, staying focused on look forward to the million dollar revenue mark.

What’s your favorite food?
I ate more fufu than I had eaten in my whole life during my MEST days, yet nothing comes close to jollof with nicely cut colourful vegetables and some meat.

What do you like most about Ghana?
The relative peace and freedom we have in the country. It’s fundamental to our everyday lives; eating some fufu on a weekend, watching football, openly having a public debate about the state of the country, and fulfilling our passion without fear. I will attribute this to the people of this country, who are very hospitable, accommodating, and religious, which has helped during the different stages of our democratic process.

What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST?
MEST-Day-Out is by far my favorite memory of the entire program. Twice the entire community went to the Palm beaches of Ada Foah, on the Southeastern Coast of Ghana. This was a great time to reflect, have fun, and reenergize for the semester. In many ways it was a reward for many months of hard work on capstones and presentations. We often do the same at Kudobuzz to keep us relaxed and focused on our goal.

What is your favorite tech company? Why?
Back in 2010 during guest lectures, Ehigozie Binitie, CTO at Rancard, shared the story of how he and his co-founder built their first java based SMS product. They’re making revenues we all dreamed of for our future companies. Since then, I’ve following them closely and its inspiring how they’ve navigated market changes to stay relevant. Today they’re the backbone of some of the services we enjoy from telecom companies. In some ways Kudobuzz is like Rancard, not heavily known, but helping businesses deliver great experiences for their customers behind the scenes

Who/what inspires you?
The belief that if we continue to improve and deliver great products to our customers we can look back and know for certain we made an impact that would inspire young people across the continent to do even more. I remember many years back watching Bill Gates at Microsoft’s PDC and David Rutter at E3 speaking of the next release of EA’s FIFA, which millions of soccer fans await every year. The idea that a relatively small team create software that improves productivity and entertains people all over the world is very inspiring and hopefully Kudobuzz will be able to affect lives likewise.