Assenty: How Chi-chi Ekweozor built the leading audience engagement platform
In 2016, Chi-chi Ekweozor— a social media marketer turned front-end developer and software engineer — decided to tackle the problem of asking an audience questions on a screen during a Q&A session. She ended up building Accrediteda live interaction and polling tool for events, whether in-person, virtual or hybrid.
Six years and many iterations later, the UK-based company is now helping several businesses engage with their audiences, including leading companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), pro-manchester, BusinessCloud, Newcastle Startup Week, and more. .
Assenty allows clients to use quick polls to build buzz and engagement before, during, and after events, as well as the ability to run interactive Q&As at any time. For the public, it allows them to express their opinion wherever a link can be shared, on WhatsApp, Slack, etc.
For the sixth episode of the “Building From Ground Up” event series held earlier this month, TechCabal sat down with Ekweozor for a debrief on how she built and powered Assenty scale as well as his experience of sailing challenges and more, creating opportunities. .
Before founding Assenty, Ekweozor, a graduate in Electronic Engineering and Communication from York University, worked on different projects as a software developer. Her interest in music then led her to start a live podcast with the idea of getting companies to sponsor content created for emerging artists in Manchester. But it didn’t go well.
“We approached companies like T-Mobile at the time, and they were like, ‘What’s a podcast when we have a MySpace account?’ ‘they didn’t know at the time,” Ekweozor recalled in the chat. .
Ekweozor then decided to turn the company into a social media marketing company, called Real Fresh TV, teaching people how to use Facebook and Twitter to grow their businesses. “It was good business because at that time social media was getting popular, but it was still pretty new,” she says.
A few years later, at an international conference Ekweozor attended, organizers asked members of the public to text questions to a person’s number, and that at the end of the event 3 days they sat and discussed the questions that were texted before responding. .
“Despite how long it took, this process or system worked, and you could tell where people were coming from. But, beyond that, there wasn’t much context to the questions. So from there I figured there must be a technical solution to this.
In between his project time, Ekweozor started brainstorming ideas to tackle this challenge. “Any solution should work on a web page and allow many people to interact with it on a social network without the web page suffering from latency or any other issue that could affect the user experience. That’s how Assenty was born,” she says.
Building on the learnings and relationships gained while running Real Fresh for almost 7 years between 2006 and 2012, Ekweozor built Assenty, with the product going to market in 2016.
Now platforms like Zoom, whose popularity has exploded since the outbreak of Covid-19, offer similar Q&A tools at events, but Ekweozor says Assenty was, before the pandemic, the only web-based platform that allowed event organizers to interact with the public on social platforms while others required people to download apps.
However, building the platform has not been without its own challenges. Reflecting on early mistakes, Ekweozor advises new entrepreneurs not to jump into building a product unless they have identified a clear problem that the solution will solve.
“I would say don’t build anything or write any code without engaging your audience, either in a newsgroup or in a closed way that isn’t public, until you validate the issue,” she says.
Ekweozor notes that it depends on the type of product built.
“There are certain types of problem solving that don’t require a specific technology stack to deliver,” she says. “So you don’t necessarily need to have someone with strong programming skills to build.”
But in situations where the product requires tech-heavy components, it’s a huge plus for founders who can code, hire developers, or an outsourced team early on to validate the product.
For fledgling founders looking to build exposure for their products but with tight budgets, Ekweozor advises startups to focus on building connections with target users instead of spending heavily on marketing upfront.
“I think that’s where your connection with your audience is really important,” she says. “Rather than marketing to attract customers in droves, focus on a group of people I would call early adopters. Promote, engage and connect with them so they talk about your product. »
Ekweozor also hosts Manchester’s famous #FemaleTechFounder, a monthly get-together that started as Assenty’s launch event and has since grown into one of the region’s leading communities to support and nurture female founders getting started in tech. and business.
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