She calls herself a spirited individual and she has accomplished a lot in a short span of time. Joyce Muthoni is the founder of Viral Gorrrila and has worked in her first business for 6 years.
She started her first business Proteque Consulting while still on campus, just before she graduated. After six years of running it, Joyce started a balloon business, retailing helium balloons. In under two years, her balloon business is now getting into retail stores and expanding into other regions in Kenya, after successfully setting up the Nairobi and Mombasa offices.
The balloon business led to the founding of Viral Gorrrila, a digital marketing agency. It was because of digital marketing activities that her balloon business grew its client base. Joyce quickly saw an opportunity to venture into an untapped industry and help companies gain more market share through digital activities.
Tell us why you choose the name Viral Gorrrila for your business.
Viral Gorrrila is a digital marketing company that deals with a number of things including website design, Google analytics, Google ads, social media marketing and advertising, and content development. I believe that content is king and conversion is queen. the coining of the name Viral Gorrrila came from a need to have our audience be intrigued, attracted and curious about what we do.
The essence of our work is to ensure that as many people as possible get to learn about our clients’ brands and services. The ‘viral’ bit is coined from this while ‘gorrrila’ came from the word guerilla in guerilla marketing. The goal of the company is to develop creative, captivating and memorable content for our clients and this is what guerilla marketing is about.
Our creative content seeks to fulfill this and create advocates out of the audience. The Viral Gorrrila term in its self-symbolizes disruption, doing things differently, changing the way digital marketing has been done in our country and helping our clients and other brands see the value of change. The “rrr” in Gorrrila reflects this.
Why do you say you’re a new kind of digital marketing agency? What makes you different?
There are a lot of agencies in the country, some with a wealth of experience and others starting out and learning the ropes as they go along. We have a strong team that is conversant with Google advertising and social media advertising.
We also have a deep focus on creative content development and we have ventured into animated productions in 2D and 3D for our clients and are pursuing a digital channel that will air only animated content made in Kenya. This will, later on, open up to airing content from the rest of Africa.
What exciting projects are you working on lately that you can share with us?
My work and keen interest in the animation field has led me to work with a local gaming and animation company that is making great strides in the market. I was approached by the Director of ISHAKA LLC, Mr. Sagwa Chabeda, to assist in the project concept and fundraising.
We are currently working on a gaming, animation and manga franchise that is set to take the African, European and American markets by storm. It is a bold statement to make but it is a viable endeavor. We have attracted interest from some international production and distribution companies who are looking for new content to market to the world.
The ball is in our court and we want to tell our African stories and help the world understand who we are, our cultures, traditions, and heritage. We want to give our viewers an authentic display of the different countries in Africa, one story at a time.My keen interest in animation has led me to work with ISHAKA a local gaming & animation company Click To Tweet
You started your business while in school, what was your experience being a student entrepreneur?
I started my business in my final year of campus. I had some work experience previously in my father’s company and it was here that I made the decision not to pursue employment after my education. Understanding my personality and passion, I knew what my dreams were and I didn’t want to wait to pursue them.
The great thing about starting my business while I was still on campus was that I got business referrals from my fellow classmates who were older and already running their own businesses. I also received advice from them on business planning and execution. On the other hand, I was inexperienced in many things and my lack of experience cost me a lot of money and brought a lot of tears. I had no HR, finance or management skills. My background was in marketing. I had to quickly learn the ropes and continue to keep an open mind, learning attitude, build tough skin and pursue continuous development.
Starting entrepreneurship at a young age has given me time to make mistakes, understand my strengths and grow into the business woman I am today. I am now very clear on what I can and cannot do and this has helped me to avoid taking up projects that I know I will not be able to adequately serve. Starting early has also been beneficial in giving me time to grow my network and I can confidently say I am a very resourceful person.
I have come to appreciate the pains and pleasures of entrepreneurship and I have a big heart for those who want to venture into business. I appreciated the assistance I got when I was on campus as I started out and I would not hesitate to help anyone seeking advice as an entrepreneur.
You have to tell us about your balloon business, how did the idea to run this come up? How exactly did you use digital marketing to grow it?
The idea of Helium Balloon Company started as an accident from a marketing campaign I was running for a client, that failed. I had been awarded a contract to do a guerilla campaign for one of the leading FMCG companies in Kenya. The plan was great, we intended to use helium balloons to promote their confectionary products.
This strategy failed on the day of execution because the reaction and interaction with the balloons were overwhelming and we could not fulfill the intended purpose of the campaign. We went back to the drawing board and decided to use air balloons instead. The campaign was well received by the market on the promotion day and everyone was enjoying bursting balloons and eating chewing gum until the county council officers of Nairobi arrested me and part of my team for a violation of environmental cleanliness. This was something I should have had a permit for but was not included in the licenses I had procured from the county offices. Long story short, I was not paid by the company for any of the work. I lost about $7,000 and was left with 3 helium tanks almost full of gas.
I was depressed for a while because I had invested all the money I had in the campaign. After a while, I got back on my feet and a year later I decided to just sell the gas off and return the tanks to the supplier. I had to figure out how to let people know that I was supplying helium balloons and get them to buy from me. I used my personal Facebook page to talk about them and ask people to buy them. Slowly, I sold off one tank of gas, then two and finally when the third tank of gas got finished, I looked back and realized I had run a small business from my dads’ house and it had brought revenue.
I could have returned the tanks at this point but I decided not to because for the first time in a long time I felt rewarded for my efforts in business. I made the decision to start the business formally and register it as a limited company. I sought funding from friends and family and invested in a website and Facebook advertising for the company. To this day I have only used Facebook advertising and Instagram as marketing tools for Helium Balloon Company.
The company has grown in reputation and size within the market and a lot of our customers are now referral based. We are among the top three suppliers of helium balloons for events. We are now going into the mass market retail of balloons and party items. Our plan is to be the leading supplier of helium balloons in East Africa in the next four years and then venture into the rest of Africa.
What practical advice would you give to a young woman looking to work with companies like Safaricom, Chase Bank, Foreign Services Institute, and other brands you’ve worked with?
I would encourage any lady who wants to work with top brands in the market to first package themselves and their service offer very well. Work on your personal brand as well as your corporate brand. Let the way you present yourself and the quality of your brand material communicate the quality that you intend to bring to the table.
It is important to do a good job because your business will grow once people trust you and believe in your work. The second thing I would encourage one to do is to build their business networks by joining business clubs and attending functions like trainings that will not only enhance their business skills but also expose them to people who work within these organizations.
The third thing I would advise a young lady to do is to maintain her professional integrity. Carry yourself with respect and other people will respect you. It is the only way to build a sustainable business relationship with any organization.Work on your personal brand as well as your corporate brand @JoyceMuthoni Click To Tweet
What is the number one tool that has helped you manage your many hustles?
The number one tool that has helped me to manage my many hustles has to be the “human resource tool” aka my team. I have come to appreciate and value the benefit of having great people working for you. My business ventures would not be where they are today if I did not have the support of my staff.
They have encouraged me when I felt like quitting, they have made me more responsible because I know that their livelihoods depend on my ability to lead and grow the companies. They have also helped me to learn to let go and trust that work will get done. I have seen tremendous improvement in their work and that encourages me to delegate and work towards bigger things.
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