FIP 045: Product design and validation for the urban poor with Simon Dixon

In Nairobi alone, 1.4 million people live in informal housing settlements. The individual structures’ are built using meager resources, often poorly constructed, and are prone to fire. In 2015, Simon Dixon co-founded Kwangu-Kwako, a social enterprise that builds safer, healthier homes for families in informal settlements.

On this episode, Simon takes us through the ups and downs of Kwangu-Kwako’s journey to the sale of its first unit. We specifically talk about the following:

  •  How to get genuine feedback on your product.
  • The importance of diverse customer feedback at various stages of production.
  • How can you incentivize people to partner with you when you have very little to give?
  • When starting a business there is always risk involved. Can you capitalize on opportunities to pass some of this risk on to third parties?
  • The importance of attracting well respected and influential members of the community as you grow.
  • Getting referrals? This is often a sign that you’re doing something right.
  • Bridging the gap – You may have interest in your product, but what if customer’s can’t afford it? What next?
  • Why its important to celebrate the little milestones along the way – help to boost morale and keep people focused.
  • The importance of being agile – can you change focus when things aren’t going according to plan?


What was your favourite lesson from this episode? Let me know on Twitter by clicking here!

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