India in a Social media dilemma with lessons for Uganda

Remember that time we all switched to VPNs after Facebook went kaput? Well, something similar just happened in India with Koo, an app many thought would replace X (formerly Twitter). Millions are now looking for new platforms, and there’s a big lesson in this for Ugandan innovators.

Koo’s Story: Up, Up, and Then…Gone

Launched in 2020, Koo promised an Indian chatting experience with support for over 10 local languages. It gained fame in 2021 when Indian government officials flocked to it during a fight with X. The Indian government wanted X to take down accounts they thought were spreading lies, but X said no. This caused a big scene, and Koo looked like the perfect Ugandan answer. Millions downloaded the app, hoping it would be the next big thing.

But wait, there’s a twist!

Turns out, running a social media platform ain’t cheap. Koo struggled to find enough investors to keep it going. Even though they almost beat X in user numbers by 2022, they just couldn’t get the cash they needed. Talks with other companies fell through, and in April 2023, they had to lay off a bunch of staff. Finally, this week, they threw in the towel and shut down completely.

Lessons Learned: Big Dreams Need Big Bucks

So, what can Ugandan tech startups learn from Koo’s story? Here’s the key takeaway: having a great idea is awesome, but you also need a solid plan to keep the lights on. Finding investors is crucial, and sometimes, even the most popular ideas might not be profitable enough.

This doesn’t mean Ugandan innovation is doomed! It just means we gotta be smart about how we build and grow our businesses. By planning for the long haul and finding ways to make money, Ugandan apps can take flight and avoid the fate of Koo.