Most graduates lack skill sets that will make them potential in the job market. I wanted such skills that will help me out in the future. I was not taught skills in class but through AIESEC.
AIESEC gave me facilitation skills, marketing skills and organization development skills as well as having fun just to mention a few. But a question popped up in my head; Are all graduates going to be employed with what they studied in school? That’s a big no.
The question pushed me into establishing my very first start up, an opportunity portal that provides skills to youth. I started sketching out the structure of the start up and methodologies which will convince youth to use the portal.
I started pitching to investors and luckily enough out of eight investors I approached, only three accepted to invest their funds. Out of the three investors, two were going to invest in kind.
At that particular moment I had to change my lifestyle despite being broke. They say fake it until you make it, I had to wear suits and drive a fancy car specifically the Audi A4 when I had meetings with investors or dinners.
On a Sunday, I received an appointment call on Monday from the investor who will invest in cash. I was excited, positivity is all on my face as I expect good news the following day. As I walk with confidence in the meeting room, I was given an envelope, in mind I thought it was a cheque but a two paragraphed letter stating the investor will no longer invest in the start up.
The two investors who were willing to invest in kind did not bother to invest anymore since they wanted to see if the start up will have high returns on investment from the investor who was to invest in cash.
Lesson learnt; start with building up a service or a product before meeting up with investors. My friend Isaya Yunge has the same start up called Soma Apps and he and his team has achieved what I failed earlier. Since we are all entrepreneurs, I have been supportive.
My second start up was in the fintech industry. I assembled a team and we started training banks on why they should shift from the traditional methods of providing services to the use of digital tactics. We started building up products for banks that will assist clients to do transactions without any bank charges and outsourcing deposit/withdrawal to small scale financial institutions as well as having digital bank branches. We prepared campaigns like the paperless challenge.
The paperless challenge included a digital transaction paper, in which a customer had to sign with a digital signature. The challenge was trouble free to a bank teller, since the details were directly sent to the servers, so a bank a teller had no time to type the details of a customer. In addition to that, other services like opening up a new bank account was going to be easy because the application form had qr code, that will be scanned to a computer and a customer’s details are saved within seconds.
Most banks liked the idea but it was too expensive for them and it would have resulted in reducing employees.
After a month of prototyping in several banks. All banks declined. After that, I took my team to lunch and we had a Fail Festival of our own
Lesson learnt; An investor might like your idea but may not be willing to invest in it. Secondly we were ahead of time.
I like flying, I decided to look upon on how hotels and beach resorts can have hot air balloons. I started researching the costs of having a balloon, school fees for pilots and where in Tanzania do we have a hotel or a place where people go to experience a balloon on air.
After doing my research, I encountered a company based in China, manufacturing hot air balloons. Without wasting time, I dropped them an email and they were willing to manufacture for me at a lower price. In addition to that, Serengeti National park was a place where tourists would jump into the balloon and get a view of the park.
I listed out all hotels within the coastline of Tanzania, Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar. Furthermore I emailed all hotels and recreational centers with proposals on why they should invest in hot air balloons. After a week of no response at all. I visited a few hotels in Zanzibar and I pitched the day I visited them without any formal arrangements.
The idea was costly and maintaining balloon is also costly in the point of view of the senior officials from the hotels I approached. I never signed any deal in Zanzibar but I really enjoyed the sea food and evening coffee plus Zanzibar pizzas mixed a lot of spices.
Lesson learnt; Always aim high. Failing is simply an element in entrepreneurship and in whatever you do have fun.