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In Ethiopia’s startup ecosystem, the headlines are often dominated by exciting launches. But what happens after the fanfare fades? The challenging journeys that follow rarely receive the same attention, and stories of failure are even less likely to be shared publicly.

Shega’s new series called Shega Forensics, aims to fill this gap and looks into the failures of startups, products, and business models in our ecosystem.


Ezedin Assefa‘s journey in software development began over a decade ago. After graduating with a degree in software development from Microlink Information Technology College in 2009, he started his career at the Information Network Security Administration (INSA). After two years, he traveled to Sweden to pursue his master’s degree in Computer Science at the Blekinge Institute of Technology.

Following this, Ezedin worked for a few companies, most notably Sony Ericsson. In 2015, he moved to the United States, where his interest in developing his own product grew while working for US-based firms.

By the late 2010s, Ezedin was actively looking for ways to establish a software development company based in Ethiopia.

In Ethiopia, in the late 2010s, specifically, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, many in the diaspora were eyeing investment opportunities back home. This followed structural reforms that made it easier to do business, along with increasing internet penetration and a growing demand for software products fueled by digitization and a tech-savvy population.

“A friend introduced me to Ibrahim [his co-founder]; we started talking; we had some back and forth and collaborated on some projects before we came together to found Ethio Clicks,” Ezedin recounts. “People were working from home, and the fee for Wi-Fi has been slashed, so it was a promising time.”

Founded in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, by Ezedin and Ibrahim Abdella, Ethio Clicks provides a comprehensive suite of IT solutions, including mobile and web development, application testing, and consulting services.

However, their core expertise lies in developing software solutions for e-commerce and e-learning platforms, according to Ezedin.

Since its establishment, Ethio Clicks has developed over a half-dozen software products, including BeQetero, Zeguilt, Akebabi, Betdelala, Esoora Food Delivery, and ZeMekina.

However, the focus of this edition of Shega Forensic is on BeQetero, a product that met its demise before reaching the light of usage due to adaptation issues. We’ll explore what makes or breaks a product’s success beyond a great idea while examining how a product’s life cycle could be impacted by the ease or difficulty of adapting to technology.

BeQetero is a web-based appointment booking and management app that aims to streamline service discovery and booking for both users and providers. Users can browse personalized listings, search for specific services, and book appointments through their dashboard.

According to Ezedin BeQetero simplifies the process for businesses by reducing administrative burdens and offering a seamless appointment management system.

This translated to a win-win situation where “clients experience the convenience of online booking and avoid wait times, while businesses benefit from a more efficient workflow and enhanced customer experience,” added Ezedin.

Long queues are a common sight in Ethiopia when you’re trying to get a service. This inefficiency often leads to lengthy wait times and missed schedules due to the lack of a robust appointment management system.

When Ezedin conceived the idea of an appointment management app, he envisioned it as a solution to these very problems. “I wanted BeQetro to be a platform where customers could browse service offerings easily, schedule appointments, and avoid dreaded waiting lines.” Ezedin states, “And I believed it could be an ingenious solution to a real problem.”

The development began in 2021. Two developers worked on the app. Sebagadis Kahsay, who was the lead developer, states that substantial investment in labor was required for the development and that it wasn’t an easy undertaking.

After nearly a year of development and an investment of around 400,000 birr in developer salaries, the app was finally ready and went live in 2022.

The next step was convincing potential users to hop on board. “We equipped ourselves with presentations and targeted healthcare institutions and banks, hoping to alleviate their appointment woes,” said Ezedin, browsing an old presentation from Canvas.

The daily struggles people faced when seeking services, coupled with the overwhelming crowds of service providers, fueled the inspiration for the app. “So, we were naturally expecting a positive response,” Ezedin remembers the excitement.

“Imagine hospitals without appointments or banks where you simply walk in and get service. Plus, we were offering it for free.” Who wouldn’t want that?” he continued.

BeQetero’s story, however, took an unexpected turn. Despite the app’s potential and the free trial offer, no organizations signed up. They didn’t onboard a single user until it eventually went down in 2023 after months of trying to onboard users.

Their initial focus was on hospitals, but when their focus on the healthcare sector failed to yield any results, they attempted to pivot to the financial sector and pitch their product to banks, including Dashen Bank, Bank of Abyssinia, and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. However, results and attempts to pivot to banks and government organizations proved equally unsuccessful.

“Some organizations expressed initial interest but ultimately opted to suggest that it’s better to develop their own in-house appointment systems,” Ezedin told Shega via WhatsApp from the U.S.

According to the co-founder, organizations that show initial interest tend to opt for open-source software or develop it in-house. “It turns out that for many organizations, the cost and effort of adopting a new platform paled in comparison to developing their own systems.” 

The turning point arrived after eight grueling months. “Developing the app wasn’t cheap. We invested money, with two developers working tirelessly for over eight months. While the development cost was somewhat mitigated by our partnership with the developers, hosting and other expenses added up.”

While Ezedin remains optimistic about the future, believing that increased internet penetration and digitization will eventually pave the way for BeQetero’s return, the reality is clear: the app, in its current form, wasn’t working. “So, we had to shut it down.”

He attributes the failure of BeQetero to the idea that streamlined appointment booking wasn’t a top priority for service providers in Ethiopia. While Sebagadis mentioned that a great idea by itself isn’t always enough, and they should have done a requirement analysis before they started developing the application.

When asked about the major takeaway, both Ezedin and Sebagadis highlighted that BeQetero was a labor of love. “Long hours and loose accounting are part of the course when you work on startups,” states Ezedin. This environment thrives on sacrifice, but sometimes that sacrifice comes at an unforeseen cost.

“But despite the setbacks our journey exemplifies the rollercoaster ride that Ethiopian startups often face.” Ezedin reflected. “We learn, we adapt, and sometimes we have to make tough decisions.”

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Etenat holds a degree in Journalism and her master's in Public Relations. Previously, she served as a university lecturer and has five years of experience in communications, media, digital marketing, and consulting.