How Emma Went from Surveying to Building A Successful StartUp (MiahUG)

Emmanuel is an online business owner and entrepreneur who is behind the fastest growing startup in Uganda, MiahUG.

Hey, Emma. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Emma is a guy who wears many hats, though I have been trying to reduce them.

I am deep in love with understanding human psychology.

I love storytelling, especially when it comes to public speaking.

miahug ceo

I am a fourth year student at Makerere University doing land economics and am also a Founder of Makerere Gavel Club, which focuses on public speaking.

I am also a Digital Marketing/Content Strategist at CADD Centre Uganda and Cyber School Technology Limited.

And of course, I am the Founder/Chief Visionary at MiahUG.

When and why did you start

This is the same question I have been trying to answer. I am glad I now have the answers.

The idea came up in 2018. How it came about is something that I least expected it.

It was a time I was going through my personal storms. I was lost and I was trying to find myself.

I was selling pen perfumes at that time to university students.

It was through that personal experience that I realized a gap. I wanted to find a way to deliver these perfumes to students’ rooms faster and I was thinking of expanding to delivering food.

Then a thought hit me, “There’s no way I could allocate their room numbers.”

That was the genesis. The rest is history.

What products and services do you offer exactly?

MiahUg is an online marketplace for student accommodation.

We offer an online platform (both a mobile app and website) where students can find and book hostels instantly.

We also understand that students have side hustles.

We have “Miah Marketplace” that allows students to buy and sell stuff from their fellow students.


How did you know it was time to enter the technology industry and what was the turning point?

To be honest, I didn’t know anything. But by the Grace of God. As I earlier said, I was on the journey of self-discovery and that was when I started listening to TEDx talks, which I believe is my turning point.

I got obsessed with YouTube videos, even up-to now. It was still in 2018 when I landed on a TEDx talk by Tai Lopez about reading book a day.


Then I started following all of his videos, got into his emailing list and wanted to enroll for his courses. But they were very expensive.

That’s how I discovered Digital marketing and that was my turning point.

What’s your background and how has it helped you get to where you are today?

It was greatly influenced by Makerere Gavel Club. Forming this club gave a chance to escape my comfort zone.

As any introvert, networking is something I disliked. But this time, things were different.

I had to organize club meetings, write proposals and letters to College administrations and also talk to students which required interactions with people.

I learnt a lot about effective communication, team building and team work.

And the other is my experience as a salesman. Selling perfumes helped me overcome the fear of rejection.

Lastly, according Myers Brigg, I am an intuitive person which means I am very experimental.

My personality helped me connect the dots especially with my ability to try out new things.


What limiting beliefs did you have to overcome to make MiahUG possible?

  1. Fear of Rejection
  2. Fear of Rejection
  3. Fear of Rejection
  4. Fear of failure
  5. I am not enough

When I had started working on MiahUg, I was super-excited about the whole idea.

But motivation doesn’t last long. Soon, I started facing obstacles especially when it came to design the prototype.

Remember I don’t have any tech background. But I needed to adopt and learn Adobe XD.

I had to overcome my self-limiting beliefs of “I am not good at this.

And I am not creative to make something useful.” I decided to study highly effective and successful to hijack my mind.

What were the first steps you took to get the business off the ground?

The first step was to fix my mindset. I started reading books about business, personal development, and taking short courses.

I understand that this is not a direct answer to the question. Vusi Thembekayo explains this best; “You have to become a success before you manifest any material stuff.”

So for the business to kick off, I had to dig deeper inside myself.

I wanted to make sure I come from within. You can call it “Branding first, Marketing last”

What challenges have you had to overcome when building your reputation and finding clients for your online business?

(Takes a deep breath) Finding the right team to work with is the first on the list.

Building MiahUg has taken us 3 years to finally launch our MVP. I have switched teams four times.

MiahUg has been the longest project I have ever worked on. Getting people who are getting to stay committed to your cause is like a miracle.

That’s why you need to find a team with whom you share similar values.

The second challenge is internet bundles are costly.

Another one is the issue of expertise and lack of strong computers that can support mobile development.

What was your first business and how did it go?

I started with selling perfumes which had good returns but sales slowly reduced because it was time consuming.

I later started forex trading with an aim of getting quick bucks. It ended in tears.

But it’s something I will resume again in the nearby future.

There are currently a number of competitors within your area of specialization, what makes your online business different from the rest? Why should students looking for affordable accommodation choose to work with you?

First and foremost, MiahUg is not a brokerage entity.

We are centered on providing a digital platform to both students and student housing providers to run their daily activities.

MiahUg ensures convenience and reliability by giving real-time availability of rooms.

Students make booking requests for a room of their choice.

For every student who wants to get things done with less effort, our brand helps you “Make it Happen”.

Everything you need, right from finding a hostel to buying a perfume!

Because we need you to succeed in other areas of your life, we give you 24/7 remote access to pay your hostel fees with no-hassle experience and also buy or sell anything to your fellow hoteliers at zero cost.


Any books, podcasts or people that have inspired you recently?

Ohh yes, The Power of Now.

I am inspired by the story of David Goggins

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out with an online business, what would it be?

Don’t get emotionally attached to your business.

Don’t build your self-esteem based on the results of your business.

Take short courses and upgrade your skills.


What are your plans for for the future?

I think I forgot to mention one thing about MiahUg. MiahUg is a Proptech startup.

Our future plans are centered on developing technologies/systems that disrupt the real estate industry.

We are looking at research and development about the trends in student accommodation.

We are currently working with Spotcon International Ltd to develop a property management system for Building owners and landlords to remotely track energy consumption and collect building information to help in decision making for future purposes.


You can reach Emmanuel on LinkedIn for business.

And don’t forget to check out MiahUG to book your next accommodation facility for cheap!




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