Abel Linyonyi: Your business has a bigger potential to scale if located outside of Nairobi than when located in Nairobi
Tell us about yourself, Abel?
The name is Abel Linyonyi, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am an extrovert but what they do not know is that I tend to be very bubbly in small groups but when I am in spaces with a lot of people I always digress to my corner. I was born in 1992 in Bungoma county in a small village called Tongaren. Later on, my parents moved to Garissa county and that is where I grew up. After high school, I joined one of the universities in Nairobi to do law but when I was in the second year I realized that the university was not certified by the Council of Legal Education and so I had to drop out. My parents were very angry with me at first and were unwilling to continue paying for my education. However, they came around and I was able to join Daystar university where I did a degree in Mass Communications.
What have been the highlights of your entrepreneurial journey?
It all began while I was still a student at Daystar University. While I was in the second year I became the host for one of the most popular shows at Shine FM which is the official radio station for Daystar, after 3 months, I became the youngest production manager at the radio station. I did that for 8 months then I left to form an association called the Communication Association of Daystar students and together we made a film called Rampage. On screening night everything went so well and we got amazing feedback. That is when I realized that I had a passion for production and camera work. When I left school I got an internship with a salary of Kshs 15,000. I did that for 3 months. After that, I became an assistant Camera person at Property Show. I left the company after 6 months because I felt I wasn’t getting creative freedom. I started covering events and making money from it and later on I started my own business.
Describe your business to us, What exactly do you do at Agency 39?
I have lived my life with the general principle to always strive to diversify my knowledge as much as possible. Overall I am a communications person with a variety of skills. I am good at writing and camera work. Writing comes in handy when I am coming up with communications strategies and creating content for the website for my clients. However, our main offering at agency 39 is video production. We produce a lot of video content that ranges from documentaries and features for organizations to help them with publicity.
Who is your primary target market at Agency 39?
We target organizations such as Parastatals, NGOs, and Government. The reason being that we are living in an era where unemployment is very high thus making it difficult for us to rely on the youthful population as our target customers. In the future, as a way for us to give back, we are planning to work with startups and help them with their branding and marketing at a convenient price or even free.
How is it like to build a business in Bungoma? Is it tough or easy?
Starting a business here was the best decision I ever made, to be honest, I don’t know why people are congesting in Nairobi. First, the Nairobi market is saturated with so many companies chasing after the same opportunities. The popular companies get the lion share of cos making it difficult for new upcoming companies to scale. The situation is different in Bungoma. For the longest time, the most popular sector was Agriculture, people focused on farming and selling of farm produce. All these other industries are rather new therefore entrepreneurs get a head start because its not very competitive. Also, the operational costs for running a business are low. One good example is that it is much cheaper to rent office space here in Bungoma than Nairobi.
Was the start difficult in terms of mobilizing capital and resources?
I started by working from home. I attended different forums to network and talk to people about what I did for a living. My biggest gig when I started was from a guy in Mombasa where I made Kshs 200,000. He was so impressed with my work that he went ahead to recommend other clients. The work became overwhelming for me to do on my own and I had to bring in a few people to help out and that is how Agency 39 was born. For every event we covered I made sure to save some money to buy standardized equipment.
What are some of the biggest lessons that you have learned throughout your entrepreneurship journey?
I have come to learn that you can achieve anything that you want however the only thing holding us back is that we have a predetermined mindset. Sometimes we convince ourselves that what we want is beyond our reach. The other lesson is to never rely on your friends or family to be your business partners. I learned that the hard way. It’s okay to confide in them, ask for guidance and let them cheer you on but draw the line when it comes to running the business.