Where do you start when all you have is Ksh. 20,000 ( 230 USD) to buy someone a ‘good’ laptop. Those were the instructions from my colleague gave me. He wanted a nice laptop for their daughter which she could use to “watch movies, play games and go online, nothing serious”.
I have always been fascinated by how my friends & colleagues describe to me what they are looking for in the gadgets they are seeking to buy, be it a PC or phone. When I start breaking it down, how a laptop going for 20K will probably only have an intel celeron processor with 1Gb or RAM and 300GB Hard disk capacity, I lose them (and I think I lost you too). I will spare you the tech speak and simply say, that’s a very slow PC that you will not be able to upgrade and you can’t watch any blue ray movies with ease.
So here I was with a colleague whose budget was at most 25K in need of a ‘good’ laptop. I knew I couldn’t get it from any of the usual computer shops I call up anytime I need some piece of hardware, thus, I went online to OLX. One of my cousins had tried it out when buying their latest HTC phone and they can swear by its efficiency and ability to get one very good deals. My cousin knows his gadgets. We always find ourselves, in the middle of a general discussion with our other cousins, deviating into the latest PC or phone processors in the market, best software for this and that, only for everyone else to go quiet and stare.
That is how I met Derrick of Saruk Digital. Derrick, like many other guys starting out in the I.T products & accessories trade had listed many of his items on the OLX site as well as open a face book page where he serviced orders and answered enquiries. He was among the many guys I called up that day seeking to visit their shop or see the laptops I had identified as being good enough and within the budget. The other 2 never impressed me. Derrick however, despite being located in some dingy spot along Taveta road in down town Nairobi was a very good sales person and quite pleasant to talk to, always wearing a smile.
As he brought and powered the laptop, I engaged him in some small talk on what difference listing on OLX as well as using Facebook generally had made to his business. He admitted that his business had grown faster through more enquiries that led to orders. We kept getting interruptions as he answered a call here to give specs on some new arrivals, respond to some whats app messages there as well as answer queries from 3 other customers next to me. I bought my laptop and impressed my colleague so much, they bought 3 more for relatives.
Within less than 6 months, Derrick had moved from that crowded, light deprived room on Taveta road to a well lit spacious place on Old mutual building along Kimathi Street.
Ever since I bought that one laptop from Derrick almost 2 years ago, I have since bought over 15 laptops since, mostly for my colleagues, their relatives, my relatives and finally, my own Envy.
Due to our long and mutually beneficial business interaction, all from an online classified listing site, I realized that I had a better rapport with him than any of the other computer shops that, despite calling every other week, could not remember my name or even call me back to let me know the item I wanted was now in stock.
Derrick has now moved from being the lone guys selling computers from Taveta road to the entrepreneur of Saruk Digital with a staff of more than 5 guys (mostly his cousins and relatives) who assist him in delivery, sales, repairs and software installations.
I am yet to name my new laptop which most people think is a mac until they look closer and realize its actually a sleek looking grey HP Envy with some power that make my fellow geeks blue with envy.