My African Startup Story

Tonee Ndungu

These are the first-hand stories of Startup founders in Africa, both African and international, and the unromanticized madness that goes into this amazing but demanding continent.

All Episodes

Talking about a business with a founder is like talking about life with an old drunk.. so much wisdom and zero chills. Here is Mark high as a kite, as only a former investment banker-to-truck logistics startup founder could be. The shiny coins battle the god of regret: Time.    Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 23

28 min 27 sec

A  5 billion Euro portfolio wasn't enough, said his 85 yr old self. So he dropped it all and started from scratch. And trucks became his new thing. Trucks. If nothing else, this man is that black monk that sold his Ferrari...   Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 22

29 min 13 sec

Audrey's entire story is just a mix of happenstance and purpose mashed up with randomness and focus. The juxtaposition is incredible. The grit, unbelievable. See how far she's come, then understand that she is just 27. Then sit back and appreciate how little age has anything to do with success. Getting things done is everything. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 20

24 min 54 sec

Audrey's entire story is just a mix of happenstance and purpose mashed up with randomness and focus. The juxtaposition is incredible. The grit, unbelievable. See how far she's come, then understand that she is just 27. Then sit back and appreciate how little age has anything to do with success. Getting things done is everything.   Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 17

31 min 26 sec

Do it for you. Only you. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 16

30 min 39 sec

Sometimes it's not what we want to do, it's what has been laid up for us that we find ourselves having to do. You can call it a calling. Fate. Life. The universe. God. Call it what you will, but do it, you must. How does that sit with you? Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 15

44 min 2 sec

Higher education vs. real-life experience is always going to be a coin toss. If you have never had to choose between going to school and to learn the skill and get into the business and honing the craft, you have never really seen a devil's choice quite as vividly.  How did she play it? The pink university or the green screen? (see what I did there ;-) ) Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Mar 2

32 min 7 sec

It takes 1/1000th of a second to take an Instagram photo, but it can take years for that to mean something commercially. And then there is the whole 'privacy' vs 'authenticity' angle, 'controversy sells' vs 'good is boring' and we can keep going. Being an influencer is a profession. Here is one of the best there is, and the startup story of herself. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 22

33 min 4 sec

When we are planning for the future and you have optimism driving you, you make awesome plans. When things seem to go sideways, yeah, the only thing you really do have is your attitude. Do something with that. Because that is the only thing you can do something with... Life will go on. That's just truth. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Apr 2020

33 min 38 sec

The influence the mantra you have, while you are going through something, is often so underrated. You can be outwardly positive all you want, but if inside you do not have that same vibe, you will be in all sorts of trouble. In this CONVIB 19 planet lockdown, especially with our lives literally depending on our ability to successfully social distance from one another, here is something to build you up. YOU have this! You just do. You're a freaking beast! That's the mantra for a time like this. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)    

Mar 2020

44 min 30 sec

Joram just launched the $500,000 entrepreneur all-in-one stop shop called SNDBX in Kenya. I know, we can't use it right now because we are all working from home with CONVIB 19 doing what it does, but when we leave our houses..in June..we may need a spot to go re-learn collaborative co-working spaces. So being the optimists we are, we talked about his journey to this point. Then we quickly washed our hands with soap... Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Mar 2020

44 min 28 sec

It ends here. Well not really. Erik Hersman on what is now, and what will be the next thing he works on. And the other important conversation that will be had in time... Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Mar 2020

22 min 34 sec

How do you sit with yourself when the product you thought about in the forest, that was coded overnight for starters, has founders that have met once in person and has a "strange name" is deployed in the largest natural disasters in the world? It's like driving in a storm, on the wrong lane, with your car on fire, a bear in the back seat and your tummy having the runs. Well...you get some more tea. And improve the code. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Mar 2020

38 min 24 sec

A big part of the African tech scene was ignited by stories. Many of these stories were synonymous with ambition, adventure and the grit that led to success, when forcing your way through stereotypes, privilege and a lack of access that was technology a decade ago. For a continent in a world where was never meant to be for us, we have come a very long way. Many voices were part of the choir and few as loud and glaring as Erik Hersman's keyboard. He tells his story with as little pazazz as possible. But he knows, as do many people in the tech space, there's a lot that would not have happened if the renegades he was a big part of did not exist.  Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Mar 2020

43 min 26 sec

"We teach what we know, but produce what we are!" Dr. Chao Mbogo. Remember that. Always.   Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

38 min 9 sec

When you start you usually don't know where you will end up. That is true for most people, and though everyone is screaming "Have a plan", most of us really don't have much more than a mashup of ideas, hopes, assumptions, and best guesses. Well, here is one of us... she just happened to really trail blaze. And it was all for an experiment. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

39 min 24 sec

When you do it like 'this is the thing' you were created to do; when your life is a set of choices you make for yourself and not made for you by someone else; when you own your path and you have a little jar of faith in yourself, you can really love your life. That does not mean you will have it all planned out. It does not mean love and luck will always be on your side. And it does not mean winning in the way you expect. But you will win. You will find the plan. And you will be lucky, and you will be loved. Facts! So live... Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

44 min 8 sec

'Blankets and Wine' has become a phenom in the festival circuit in Kenya adding to the thriving festival culture in East Africa that is a new wonderof the world (I think at least)! You cannot say you have lived the Afrofusion life if you have not been to all of them at least once. The people that make these events happen are like wizards and mages because the complexity just sounds absurd in a not-very-easy-to-do-business environment like the one we have in East Africa. Here is Muthoni DQ's story and her path to making one of these festivals a must-see... Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

33 min 13 sec

'Blankets and Wine' has become a phenom in the festival circuit in Kenya adding to the thriving festival culture in East Africa that is a new wonder of the world (I think at least)! You cannot say you have lived the Afrofusion life if you have not been to all of them at least once. The people that make these events happen are like wizards and mages because the complexity just sounds absurd in a not-very-easy-to-do-business environment like the one we have in East Africa. Here is Muthoni DQ's story and her path to making one of these festivals a must-see... Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

31 min 1 sec

No semantics, no-frills, no-chills. Start afraid and don't overthink. Then go! That's Muthuri Kinyamu and TurnupTravel Pt.2 Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

40 min 34 sec

If you looked for it, you would not be able to see it. That wild side; adventure spirit; that hunger to see more of the world than your day job commute will allow. Muthuri doesn't stand out in any of these either, but what he and his co-founder Brian have done with Turn-Up Travel is fascinating. Disrupting the travel industry in Kenya which gets 11% if it's GDP from tourism is a big deal, and when a 'non-expert' does it in 3 years, it's worth a look. This is that guy... Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Feb 2020

32 min 51 sec

If you got a good friend to look you in the face, really close, and tell you "the cause of all your problems is your inability to do the right things consistently to get the right results" you would be fine with that wouldn't you? Well, we all say that's what we want, but do we really?  Changing your mind has to be the highest level of maturity. And your only way out of this silly money foolishness. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

32 min 28 sec

Being one of Kenya's biggest musical acts is easily an accolade he owns on his shelf, but translating that into a livelihood while it lasts is the real show of success. Behind is all the glitz in the 4-minute music videos, there are 1436 minutes left in a day, most of which have a cost (think rent/mortgage). So how does it work? What did he learn? How did he learn it..and what does that look like right now? Facing the music is about looking at his wallet straight in the face. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

42 min 16 sec

20 years in the game (and still looking 25 which is an advantage) Mugambi has a bank of wisdom for the younger artist and those in the creative space. But knowing what he knows now: learning that everyone is a penny or a dime away from broke, understanding the value of savings, a positive attitude, discipline, and passion: what would he do differently? Better yet, what quest-ion would he serve. Because we all have one. A quest. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

42 min 54 sec

If you become a success, you will fall into one of two groups; make yourself responsible for looking out for the next success story and grow it, or try to defend yourself from disruption. The second group is way bigger than the first.. and the beginning of their end is always an ever-present reality. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

32 min 18 sec

"Anarchy of the soul is a passion or dream, buried in a life of meaning." From an I.T. degree to finding a home on stages and in front of cameras, there is something about not following your childhood passion that is life-numbing. He had migraines that took him to hospital, adventures with *those* bosses (you know them to, don't you) and a stint at a club, then church, then club, then church.. with a crew 15 people deep! His African startup... was himself. Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

35 min 28 sec

In the second part of Nivi's interview, we look at BRCK, what she does now, the opportunity education is missing in Kenya and Africa in general and why nothing is built better for Africa to help leapfrog the world of yesterday like the internet. Are we doing what we should with it or are we just being bums? Music: Sun El Musician: Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

33 min 32 sec

From taking 20 kids from an urban poor community ice-skating, to the impact an iPhone can have on a determined mind, Nivi's entrepreneurial path has to be the best coming-together of luck, serendipity, madness and some kind of mystic magic. There is everything Netflix could want in a movie, but that would also make an excellent Sunday afternoon read. Education technology is her thing and she is most vocal through her deeds and her grit. This is one for the ages. Music: Sun El Musician - Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

44 min 15 sec

Trying to put together a story of someone's entrepreneurship journey is crazy. So just listen. This is Mikul on tragedy, his mental health, just where money should fall in the grand scheme of things, what family is to him,  the investment scene in an African country that welcomes ex-pats warmly, the elements of a complete life and if he is really happy. Let's go eat out for this one!   Music: Sun El Musician - Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

39 min 8 sec

The norm, almost to a point of being a stereotype, is that the Indian business ethos is to keep it in the family. So what happens when you come back from a decade abroad and the factory floor doesn't appeal to you? Especially when the alternative is building your tech business from scratch in the post-dot-com bubble burst and the 2008 financial crash? You go back to basics and remember what it was like selling "Kiondos" (traditional African baskets) in London... Sun El Musician - Ntaba Ezikunde (feat. Simmy)

Jan 2020

32 min 32 sec

Rina talks about confidence in boys vs girls, the unfair advantage that isn't nearly enough to overcome patriarchy in finance and what the world looks like in 5 years. Music: Sune El Musician - Insimbi

Dec 2019

23 min 54 sec

In almost everything in this life, especially in business, its harder for Black women, and harder still for African black women. So when they do get their time in the light, they know how to shine on all sorts of levels. Rina Hicks is part of that crew..they just go and go and go. Because when in doubt, just go..because you will always be in doubt.  Music by Sun El Musician: Insimbi

Dec 2019

32 min 57 sec

In part 2 of John's conversation, he talks about cryptocurrency, why banks are in trouble, Millenials and Libya and the future of money, which is just one form of currency. There is nothing as scary.... and as hopeful, as a futurist.  Music by Sun El Musician - Insimbi

Dec 2019

34 min 30 sec

Entrepreneurship has been sold to this generation as a remarkably sexy and fascinating journey that feels something like a ride on a rainbow into that big pot of gold. That is like living on psychedelics and hoping to crack the code on eternal youth. John is one of Kenya's authorities on cryptocurrencies to the point of doing global conferences on it. But it did not start that way. In fact, listening to his story, he probably should have quit many times over... Music by Sun El Musician - Insimbi

Dec 2019

31 min 38 sec

Coming back from a number of unsuccessful decisions, Michael is pivoting the business once again. And it is all about reading the customer, something very few builders of software are good at doing. Does he succeed, or does he fail...or at this point does he even care? Music by Sun El Musician - Insimbi

Nov 2019

30 min 36 sec

It started off as a business partnership facilitated by an international development agency. 12 years later, Micheal is a sage at what doesn't work and what works...and how to move from one to the other. And he also has an interesting view on what it's like watching Kenyans be..Kenyan!

Nov 2019

30 min 10 sec

Rebecca Crook runs Metis. And that is all I am going to say. But it has everything to do with what lessons we learn from those that have come before us and those that are currently telling us what to do with lives they do not yet relate too, understand or even remotely comprehend. The Kempinsky culture vibe..

Nov 2019

33 min 20 sec

In the second part, Olive Gachara gets into the nitty-gritty, down and dirty trenches of learning how to make money in a new space and the 'crazy girl lost it' stigma that comes with being the child of the 5 big jobs' continent. Fun fun fun... 

Nov 2019

28 min 57 sec

For this first-ever podcast, this is  Olive Gachara and her journey from selling flowers at 5 AM to making a national fashion magazine sell and being a KCB Lion's Den investor. And she is just 33. Her African Startup Story starts here. Pt. 1

Nov 2019

33 min 10 sec