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Osborn Kwarteng Gives Insights into Why His Tech Startup, PaySail Failed and Lessons Learned

PaySail, well…no longer sailing.

Startup life can be extremely hard. There will be lots of nights when you stay up late and still need to wake up early the next morning. You’ll sometimes wish you have more than 24 hours in a day to be able to execute all your plans. Despite all the hard-work and passion to succeed, startups sometimes fail. Failure is a word we all hate but it happens sometimes.

My experience with startup failure was my first startup, PaySail. PaySail sought to make the payroll and compliance process blissful for modern African businesses with features like automating tax and social security calculations, generating payslips, enabling payment and many more. My co-founders and I were ebullient about our prospects to succeed and we put in all the hard-work to make this possible. We generally had very good times but eventually had to close the shop.

One of the main reasons for our failure was the lack of understanding of our target market. Startups are usually encouraged to understand their target markets and create a unique value propositions that this market will latch on, unfortunately we didn’t do enough validation. Our product was fully online and that was problematic for businesses when we started selling to them. The smaller businesses sometimes didn’t have internet connections and the bigger businesses already had existing solutions.

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Additionally, most businesses in Ghana did not care much about paying income tax and social security. Most businesses pretty much avoided paying taxes and the ones who did already had something going for them. It was heartbreaking to make so many cold calls and send emails to always get rejections. The few demo opportunities we had all ended in “we will call you back when we make a decision.” This hardly happened.

The final factor for failure will be our business model. We started with a freemium model where we encouraged businesses to use our product as a free-trial for a few months before the businesses convert to become paying users. This didn’t work out for us. Additionally, we struggled to identify the main person in the organization we should target and sell PaySail to. We envisaged our product as one for the accountants to use hence we reached out to accountants. These accountants will generally give us a good reception but will never sign off the deal; and it was always difficult to meet the boss in charge.

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After over a year of building a product and selling, we had to shut PaySail down. It was obviously a melancholic moment but the lessons we learnt are extremely valuable for new startups. Startups should spend a considerable amount of time understanding their target market and should build a product that the target market finds enough value in to pay for. Once you are able to find a product-market fit, you will definitely increase your chances of startup success.

Osborn Kwarteng Adu was the Co-founder of PaySail and currently forms part of the engineering team at mPharma, a B2B venture-backed startup that makes prescription drugs in emerging markets easily accessible and affordable. His company has partnered major pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, financial institutions and governments to deliver medicines directly into the hands of consumers in those markets.

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Ghanaian Twin Brothers Launch 0207 Def Jam Label to Champion British Music Culture

Universal Music UK has today announced the launch of 0207 Def Jam, a new frontline label and the UK home of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, with a stellar cast of execs including the appointment of highly respected industry executives and Ghanaian London-born twin brothers, Alec and Alex Boateng as co-Presidents.

0207 Def Jam, which takes the first part of its name and inspiration from a telephone code in London as a nod to the music, culture and art the UK is famed for, is partnering with the legendary Def Jam label which has shaped and propelled cutting-edge hip hop culture around the world for over 35 years.

Alongside his brother, Alex takes the helm after 10 years at Universal Music UK, most recently as president of Island Records’ first Urban Division which has played an instrumental role in shaping the current and sustained trajectory of UK Black music. After taking the role in 2018 he oversaw UK campaigns for Drake, Tiwa Savage, Buju Banton, Nav, Giggs, Unknown T, Ray BLK, M Huncho, Tekno and Miraa May whilst also spearheading the campaigns for George The Poet’s debut book release, British film, The Intent 2 and UK based clothing brand/label Lizzy. Alex is a member of Universal Music’s Task Force for Meaningful Change, which was created as a driving force for inclusion and social justice. He joined Universal Music in 2010 in a digital role at Island Records before going on to hold positions in marketing and A&R, a period which included campaign launches for Tinchy Stryder, Drake, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj as well as A&R for artists including JP Cooper, Sean Paul, Jessie J, Dizzee Rascal, Donae’o and Big Shaq.  He started his music career balancing a marketing degree with DJing, multiple shifts at radio and running his own marketing and promotions company with his then BBC 1Xtra colleague G Money, moving on to consulting roles with Atlantic Records, Polydor and AATW. 

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Alec joins 0207 Def Jam after seven years at Warner Music, most recently as co-head of A&R at Atlantic, where he collected a clutch of industry awards and played a pivotal role in the commercial and cultural success of acts who have defined their era, including the emergence through to her chart-topping dominance of Jess Glynne, the revolutionary rise of Stormzy, Burna Boy’s rapid ascent to global superstar as well as the likes of WSTRN, Rita Ora, Kojo Funds, Stalk Ashley, Preditah and many more. A seasoned broadcaster, he also spent over a decade at BBC 1Xtra where he hosted the breakfast show for several years and a series of other specialist shows with a focus on breaking new British music. Alec remembers a passionate deep-rooted love of music as a child, evolving into DJing and leading the award-winning UK mixtape team Split Mics before halting university after he was headhunted to cut his teeth in A&R. First, he worked with Ministry of Sound and then began operating his own co-owned music company alongside the late industry lawyer Richard Antwi. Together, they oversaw a plethora of success with Wretch 32 and worked with artists such as Popcaan and Gyptian amongst many others.

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Alex’s former Island colleague Amy Tettey will be joining the team as managing director after 11 years, the past four as finance director, at the Universal Music label where she worked across the entire roster of Island artists including everyone from Amy Winehouse to Drake and Dizzee Rascal to Giggs. Alongside Amy, Jacqueline Eyewe and Char Grant join as marketing director and A&R director respectively. Jacqueline – previously senior marketing manager at Atlantic where she spearheaded the marketing of Black music – has been deeply rooted in contemporary Black music and culture for the last decade. She joined Atlantic in 2015 where she has worked with artists including Stormzy, Burna Boy, Lizzo, WSTRN, Kehlani and Cardi B. Char, whose 10-year career has been immersed in artist development and management as well as songwriting, joins from BMG Music Publishing where she has published the likes of Giggs, Ghetts and producers P2J, TSB and AOD.

Alec and Alex report to Universal Music UK Chairman & CEO David Joseph. He says, “Bringing the Boateng brothers together at 0207 Def Jam is an important moment in British culture. Alec and Alex have always done things their own way with success always quick to follow. They have already assembled an exceptionally talented top team with a clear vision for this exciting new chapter in the history of one of the world’s most famous labels”.

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Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “It is a perfect fit having Alex and Alec at the helm of 0207 Def Jam. Their creativity, artist relationships, and connection with culture are all key elements that have made Def Jam such an important label for over 35 years. I have no doubt that Alex, Alec and their team will only make the label and the brand even stronger.”

Alec Boateng, co-President of 0207 Def Jam says, “Music, art and artists really, really matter. I’m super excited to play a leadership role in this brilliant new space we’re creating for amazing music and talent to live and evolve. A space which will support both our teams and our artists to be the best version of themselves.”

Alex Boateng, co-President of 0207 Def Jam says, “Especially in these times, this is a real privilege. I’m proud our collective journey now includes partnering a legendary label with a style that only London and the UK can provide. Looking forward to watching and guiding where the music and art takes the journey next.”

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