While at Ashesi, alumni Emmanuel Nkansah ‘13 and Frank Anamuah-Koufie ’13 had been involved in setting up several mock businesses, in attempts to strengthen their entrepreneurial muscle. None of those businesses really took off. However, nearing the end of their mandatory one-year national service period, the two resumed conversations about starting a real business.
“We had both come to learn that there was a need for more creative and digital service agencies in Africa, and there was an opportunity to start a digital agency that could step into that gap. We had experience as creatives and web developers, and together with friends Elysia Amarteifio ’13 and Daniel Botchway ’13, as partners, we registered our business and started operating. The named their company Cavemen.
So on 1st August 2014, Emmanuel and Frank stepped into their makeshift office for the first time to begin work as “Cavemen”. “Our name, Cavemen, is a tribute to the early humans who were original inventors,” they say. “They invented spears and wheels, and discovered fire. We chose the name to remind us that our core business should always be about solving real human problems.”
Their first attempt at pitching their services to a local company seemed to have gone well, until they got a call saying the contract they bid for had been awarded to someone else. And though they were prepared to go through the process with several other businesses for the next few weeks, a referral from an Ashesi alumnus helped them win an unexpected first contract.
“It was a multinational company that was looking to establish its Ghanaian presence online, and it would be our first major contract. We were nervous, but after pitching our services the company awarded us the contract, and we got straight to work!”
By the end of 2014, Cavemen had turned a profit, unlikely success that Frank and Emmanuel credit to their network of Ashesi alumni, friends and family. “For most of that year most our clients came by way of referrals; from fellow Ashesi alumni, from people we had done work for in the past and sometimes from family. God had been good to us as always. We also constantly leveraged the expertise of fellow alumni in various fields, especially in finance and human resources, in improving our performance. The support made a lot of difference for our business.”
Though their business had started off well, Cavemen had to rethink their work location. Their original office was based in a corner of a photocopy business, owned by Emmanuel’s uncle, and they run their operations from there until the end of 2014, when they decided it was time to move to a new place.
“It was becoming difficult to host clients in that space, which was really bootstrapped. We knew that as our business grew, it would not be reassuring to clients to see where we operated out of, no matter how good our work was. We needed to find an office space that matched the kind of brand we wanted to build as an agency.”
With that in mind the two moved to a new office, which they also left after four months, because the rent went up after their trial period, and was more than their business could afford. “It was not easy finding affordable space, and we spent most of 2015 just trying to find a more permanent home. In 2016, they learned about the Workshed, a co-working space started by fellow Ashesi alumni; seeing how that worked perfectly for their setup, they quickly signed up.
Today, with some fifty clients and counting, and a steady stream of problems to solve, the team has recruited two recent Ashesi graduates to join them full-time. “We want to expand our design, and business development functions, so it is great to have Dellis and George join our team. We are also working on launching some apps we have been working on for some time, and this will hopefully help us move our agency forward even more.”
credit – ashesi.edu.gh