I wrote this article originally for the  Wall Street Journal

I’m privileged to have travelled extensively in my life; half the time with just a backpack. My thirst for knowledge as an entrepreneur and an investor has exposed me to diverse startup environments across Africa, America and Europe.  Like all techies, I’ve been especially fascinated and inspired by Silicon Valley, which has been spotlighted for its strong appreciation and financial backing of IT Startups.

But in Africa and especially Kenya, IT has come a long way in a short time because of the practical solutions it’s offering to basic needs.

This vibrant tech and innovation friendly environment has drawn in multinationals like IBMand PHILLIPS, to set up shop in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. Consequently tech startups here have been trying to make a name for themselves as the next big thing.

Unfortunately about 60 %  of small and medium-sized business in Kenya fail within the first few months; my own personal experience with failed IT businesses revealed a gaping need to nurture and mentor tech startup’s in Kenya. This was the reason I started Nailab, a startup incubator.

Unlike the Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley, which have perfected and entrenched their startup backing for over a decade, the Kenyan tech hubs have had to play catch up in less than five years.

Entreprenuers participate in a Crowdfunding workshop at Nailab.

Japheth Kagondu

While Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley are now at an advanced stage in innovating lifestyle driven apps, Kenya’s innovations are driven and motivated by current challenges and seek to solve problems at a basic level. A large number of innovations that come through our entrepreneurship program have been developed from a social enterprise perspective.  A great example isCladlight, a Nailab startup that seeks to reduce motorcycle accidents by increasing visibility of the motorcyclist, which is one of the major causes of road accidents in Kenya.

I strongly believe that incubation is the key to opening up Africa’s “Silicon Savannah”; the government has already laid a foundation for innovation through its National ICT master plan in 2008. The five-year road map was designed to create the infrastructure for a well-connected, informed country that would support tech innovations.

Access to high speed Internet across the country has further contributed to Kenya’s success on the IT hubs front. Other factors that have propelled Kenya’s innovation revolution forward include:

1. Network: The Kenyan startup community is comprised of accelerators/incubators and venture firms, most of which are based in Nairobi. There is however a community of tech centers based outside of the capital. This means that all the spaces have to strongly tap into each other to learn and maximize on the benefit package offered to local entrepreneurs.

2. A Growing Mobile Market: It is estimated that the country has a mobile penetration rate of more than 63% and that two-thirds of Kenyan’s mobile subscribers use mobile money services. The sustenance of the M- transactions has been attributed to the convenience of the solutions that have continued to be developed to become more inclusive and also cater for payment of utility services e.g shopping, rent, and water etc.

3. Collaborations and mentorship: The private sector’s involvement has opened up market channels for consumption of our startup’s products.  The community of mentors provides links to both the Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley, thus playing an active role in encouraging entrepreneurs.

4. Government facilitation: Through the government’s support, infrastructure is being created. In 2013, Nailab signed a $1.6million contract with the government to roll out the incubation concept through a pilot programme across the country. The president also gave a decree that young entrepreneurs now have a chance to access 30% of government tenders and contracts. The policy directive was informed by the state’s realization that in order to meaningfully address the issue of youth unemployment, it is necessary to give entrepreneurs such opportunities.

It is quite clear that the environment has been properly cultivated to motivate innovations. However there is still great hesitation from venture capitalists. This could partially be due to the lack of demonstration of clear business plans and strategies by entrepreneurs and also the availability of development aid that most entrepreneurs here use to help grow their ventures. There is also perceived risks by investors due to the country’s political climate and security system after recent terrorist attacks.

This not withstanding the Kenyan market has demonstrated immense growth in the last five years. As an investor I foresee the rise of a billion dollar industry driven by innovation – it’s waiting to be tapped.

Mr. Gichuru is the co- founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nailab, a tech accelerator in Kenya. He is currently serving as a board member of AKVO, a non-profit foundation that runs open source internet and mobile services, that is headquartered in the Netherlands

I’m driving behind this truck full of young men, I realize that most of these kids are from poor families like most of us,  not middle class Kenyans. Then one of the lads holding a can calls out a homeless guy living under the bridge on Mbagathi Road and gives him his canned food presumably his lunch.nsyfood

I could only imagine that was part of his portion for today and he was going to do some hard manual labour (truck turned into Kibera) building a nation of very ungrateful middle class, who right now are sifting through the newspapers to find something to bemoan about. Of course they will also be very quick to point out that I am complaining about them complaining. No, I am complaining about all the whining….. see, they will not discuss recruitment of the NYS, or offer mentorship to hubs like Nailab or volunteer for anything, including inspiring this young NYS recruits… but wait.. just wait  for one thing to go wrong.. and things will always go wrong…

Of course I expect accusations from the trolls and the expert subarus in their corners that I now work for government or I have changed my attitude since the president visited our office and maybe they are right, maybe sometimes you need to meet someone, have a brief conversation and your life changes.

Maybe I have met myself and realized how vain and unimportant the approval of “my peers” is and how little they have actually contributed to where we are today and how quick they will be to laugh and blog about us if we fail.

Maybe I have realized that those who work with us every other day, the people who innovate, the ones who introduce us to investors, to corporates, to media are NOT those who we desperately seek approval from; our so called smart progressive people with 20,000 Twitter followers due to their “powerful influence online”. No,  it’s those we are likely to ignore when they tweet us, or say hi to us in an event, yet they are the ones that matter… but I digress….

I’m not writing this piece to condemn the middle class, actually, I am undoubtedly part of this group, but I hate it. I hate the association, I loathe the attitude. I hate the ignorance and arrogance that cannot be backed up by anything. I would rather be identified and be friends with that lad from NYS any day; because I know he is for real, he is authentic, genuine. This is the guy who will stop and help me change my tire on the road. This is the man I want to salute. I wish I had 100 friends on Facebook or Twitter like him, who will focus on helping solve 1 problem at a time and not the other 9000 plus, actually I hope someone unfollows me on Twitter when they read this.

Back to what I was trying to say, if you are one of the 100 and you see one of these trucks, hoot twice ?#?2Hoots4NYS, give them the thumbs up because if we do not appreciate them, they will get discouraged and flip on us. Organize your church youth group to have a thanksgiving day for these guys in your neighbourhood, or your University class or your “Chamas” – If this was his only hope to join NYS, if he didn’t… where do you think this guy would have been in 3 years? Instead of mugging me and you, he is working and sharing what he has today.

Don’t just share this blog post, tag a few of your friends, add your own appreciation message to this guys. I hope we can find the lad who shared his food and we get to meet him and appreciate him in person!

Many thanks to Collins Mwendwa for editing this post, but I am sorry I screwed it up with my horrible grammar from Ongata Rongai Primary  (this is the long version, the short version is on Facebook)



So tomorrow this 2 hour play will premier at the Michael Joseph Center, Safaricom… a few reflections…

Writing a play is harder than I imagined, I have watched so many movies and I will think twice before I critique a nigerian movie again.

It’s so hard to build a story line, add dialogue, add a cliff hanger or two, it’s amazing how clear things are in our heads until we put them on paper and they look like the rumbling of a crazy person…. but some cool things happened along the way, I met an awesome crew of actors, musicians and hustlers

Let me introduce you to the lead actors and director briefly

Jinna Mutune: is the visionary, writer and only director (Leo the movie) I have ever worked with so I might be biased when I say, she knows her stuff. She is driven, passionate, and she gets the work done. From her I learned once more the importance of picking the right people to work with and the push to get things done.



Dunco : I always thought the guy who sang “hafungi macho” and “Kupe De Kalle [Tobina]” was crazy (below). I was right … amazing dude to work with, he is alive in the moment and in my books a man worth knowing. I will let you see him in action.. thank me later.

Kambua : You know this amazing musician, TV & Radio presenter on hot96 Inuka show daily, what you might not know is that she is also a strong stage actor with presence, talk of multi skilled, multi talented and a gentle spirit.


@debarl Inea – You see him every morning on NTV AM Live – TV presenter, actor, singer. This would not have worked out without his commitment, mad respect for the hours. Just discovering he was in Tusker Project Fame :)



Kawira : Our favourite TV actor what do I have to add here, Kawira is an amazingggg actor, she is also very natural, bold and beautiful, you will never find another Kawira , just like there is no other Juliani period!



Paddy Jayson Mwangi – An innovator, entrepreneur and an actor, how cool is that, I feel right at home with Paddy, he innovated the chewable toothbrush and sold millions of them. He is also a very humble, real and cool dude.



Finally, Big Sam, Kip too, Jackie & Imani who are supporting actors and they all can sing!

Humility, commitment, hard work, being real with yourself, improvising and prayers are things I am reminded by these guys.

Also that I’m the only guy who cant sing to save his life on that set.

An article on CNN states that “ Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a terror group so extreme that Al-Qaeda has denounced it, is taking the lead with a social media propaganda war the likes of which has never been seen.”

The terror group has gone ahead to create an app called “Dawn” to keep people informed about the insurgents by auto-posting pictures on Twitter. The app was so popular,it has hit an upwards of 40,000 tweets & retweets in one day, making them a trending topic, the kind of thing as #KOT we love: trending topics. This app has been removed by Google from Google Play.

It’s also said that such groups are using social media to recruit sympathizers. CNN reporter Nick Paton-Walsh interviewed a defector who said he used to recruit for the cause through direct messages on Twitter.

Terrorists have increased dissemination of visual content. ISIS is now releasing HD quality videos showcasing their killings, roadside bombs, chase kills, assassinations (I will not repost the video) and other atrocities they claim credit for. It’s a fact that #KOT are very eager to share anything online, be it brutal, violent or gory, it gains attention. A good question: did we see images of the dead in the Boston Marathon bombings or of the Sandy Hook shootings? From Thika Road bombings to the atrocious Mpeketoni attack however, we seem more than eager to share videos and images.

Have the people causing chaos finally tapped into our vanity, our desire to be the first to share news good or bad for retweets and likes, that we have become their online army, helping them effectively spread their propaganda…  which, ironically, is terrorizing us?

(CNN) — It’s a truth of warfare in the digital era: Bullets and bombs often are augmented by status updates and tweets.

We have chosen a side without realizing it and in the process we are becoming our own worst enemy. Is it because we don’t have guidelines or we just don’t care as long as we are popular for 15 mins on social media?

1. Images and Videos: Standard terrorism strategy, by reporting and parading each death. The more mutilated the body is, the more fear it invokes and they hope it inspires wannabe jihadists, these images will even intimidate security forces. Who wins? For every gory image you share, you spread fear and intimidation and you can see whose cause you are advancing.

What do you do if you come across such content? Inbox/DM request removal of content otherwise  Twitter, YouTube  & Facebook have a report button.

2. Retweeting, Reposting, Shares: A retweet is like an endorsement, we can debate this till kingdom come. Before you hit that button, ask yourself: how true is this and is it factual? The fastest way to lose credibility with friends is to be the person who repeats fake stories online and offline, you can say bye bye to your reputation. Want to know if something is a hoax? go to snopes.com and search.

Do you retweet everything a ‘Twitter big shot’ tweets? Just because they say it, does it mean it’s true? If you have to share, repost or retweet, add something of your own to the conversation.

Don’t be a parrot, be a thought leader that people will want to follow.

3. Being Human Online: When you type on your phone/computer you are looking at a screen. In reality, you are talking to other people. Before you post, you have to ask yourself: Would I say it to the person’s face? A friend recently told me he is building a ‘KOT haters’ list; not sure what he will do with it but I can clearly tell I would hate to be on it.

4. Quality Content: We want more people to follow us, retweet and comment on our posts. The solution is posting quality content, this means you spend an extra 10 -30 minutes on research. Google does not have a limit on search. As a rule, always look for the original source of the content you are sharing. Again, ensure you are able to defend yourself when asked hard questions.

5. Flaming, Trolling, Insults: Nothing says “I am unwise” as expressing an opinion using vulgar language. Smart people discuss issues, not people. The ability to focus on the issue at hand without attacking anyone for their opinion improves the quality of debate in any forum, including the KOT space.

There is a world of difference between insults and constructive criticism. If you are attacked, the solution is simple: do not to respond reactively (this goes against all your feelings at that moment). Through that simple action, you increase the overall civility. Let me give you a quick example:

You have 500 followers and someone calls you names on Twitter, they have 50 followers. Only 50 people + yourself will have seen the insult. The minute you respond to that person, you will have exposed the insult to 551 people online, most of whom are people that respect you.

It’s true that information is power, but… power to whom in this case?

For sometime now, I have watched a few people trash the local tech ecosystem. Before I continue, I know I will have sparked some fires and stepped on a toe or two by the time many of you are done reading this article; I am open to alternative views.

From tweets to online conversations, I have noticed some worrying trends that would make any investor hesitant.  Reading comments from two investors who have stepped into the (Kenyan) market in the last 2 years:Nikolai of (88mph),whose sentiments can be read on this article on Wired.co.uk, as well as other magazines, including Mbwana’s (Savannah fund) tweets, one is led to believe two things.

  1. NGOs are spoiling the tech ecosystem with too much ‘fluff money’,
  2. There is too much hype and very little action in Nairobi

Both are wrong.


I have a lot of respect for these gentlemen, but I strongly feel that it’s time for some local perspective on a public platform. As a contributor of what we are happy to refer to today as “The Silicon Savannah”, it’s time for me to get off the bleachers and share my two cents.

1. Who Funded the Building of the Tech Ecosystem in Kenya?

Answer: NGOs.

I need to make this very clear here:

a)    It was not the Government, whom I acknowledge played a key role in laying out the Fiber Optic Cable and not forgetting the Konza City plans, Kenya’s dream tech city.

b)    Neither was it the Private Sector,

c)     It was definitely not any PE fund, the likes of Savannah or 88 MPH.

Yes my good people, I said it. It was NGO “fluff” money that funded what we do today. We all know iHub was the lead in this space followed closely by Nailab. The fact is, these two spaces where funded by Omidyar, Hivos and 1%Club, respectively.

Before anybody convinces you that NGOs are messing up the Tech ecosystem: NGOs contributed largely to the building blocks of the ecosystem and are still doing so.

2. How Did This Ecosystem Grow?

Answer: Getting together.
Hackathons, Barcamp sessions and Startup weekends led to the formulation of the community.  For the first time in the history of tech in Kenya, designers, developers and entrepreneurs had an opportunity to convene, debate, hack & showcase skill. Suddenly entrepreneurship was on everyone’s lips. Young people displayed the apps they were building, corporate professionals identified people they could hire and solutions that could be adopted into their systems, developers outsmarted each other on their level of skill, co-founders connected……. a community was birthed. A similar kind of community as the one seen in Silicon valley, just younger.

Back to the question of funding:  who funded these sessions? Brace yourself: NGOs.

NGOs ran themed hackathons that exposed local developers to thematic problem areas that needed solutions. The once isolated developer was getting exposed, learning about local problems, much-needed solutions and making the best of their skills.

At this stage, we have a community, what happened next? Some greedy investors rushed into the space; in my opinion, too fast and uninformed.

3. The Growth of App Developers and Startups in Kenya

201o saw NGOs invest heavily in more tech-oriented gatherings that brought more developers, designers and other interested parties to the spaces; everybody wanted to develop an app, more “free” money was won and guess what? Young developers could now afford a better computer and a phone from their winnings to test their solutions.

Come end 2010, and  the first foreign investor, fully focused on the startup space, stepped into the scene. 88Mph went straight to the NGO funded communities at iHub and run a competition that offered 1 million shillings to the winner.

M-Farm won the competition and I guess to their surprise learned that they had to give out 10%  20% equity to the IPO48/88MPh organizers. The game had changed. What was published as winnings had become an investment. But it was perfect: willing buyer, willing seller.

Please understand that high speed internet was only 1 year old by this time, the fiber having landed in Mombasa in 2009.

I know for a fact nobody in that competition knew what a term sheet was…  too soon.. right?

The Winners of IPO48 201, The three ladies Jamila, Kate and Lillian, went ahead to start three companies, Mfarm, Ukall and Redcape – this companies are still operational today.

And herein lies the first problem for the investor

The NGOs loved the solution M-Farm had designed. Being a young startup, they naturally needed more money to experiment and scale. NGOs were more than happy to offer a helping hand. Only one person was not making money: the investor who could not exit because the valuation had not changed. To make matters worse for him, the startup did not need his money in exchange for equity because they had enough money.


 “When you look at the infrastructure here, we should be miles ahead. But there’s so much fluff money, no hard talk, NGOs propping businesses up — it kills it” Nikolai Barnwell, 88mph Ref: Wired

I will let you decide if to blame the startup for taking a much-needed investment without undue pressure from NGOs, or the investors who rushed to invest into a social enterprise, without understanding all the players in the ecosystem.

The statement above ,in relation to this story ,says this to the NGOs: ‘Do not give startups money so that we can make money.’ Good for investors, bad for startups that  need some form of seed funding.

Let me explain why these competitions are important.

Unlike developed countries, a Kenyan techie does not have access to credit facilities at 20, or after campus. A lot of sacrifices would have to be made, like selling their father’s assets, to buy a laptop. Neither does s/he have access to credit facilities that could enable him/her to buy that domain name, host an account, or pull high speed internet access to their house. NGO winnings are what funded these costs for many young developers doing amazing things today. I am yet to meet a VC who will cover early social overheads for an app developer despite their potential. (If you know of any please make that quick introduction and I will be the first to congratulate them).

4. International Press & The VC’s

This interest grew faster due to international press coverage and the coining of the term “Silicon Savannah”. Suddenly more investor interests were piqued.

Did these startups run around the world talking about building the next Silicon Valley? No, they did not even have the networks to do that; the investors did that, they had the connections, they could not resist international media. It is ok to expose your investment, attract more investors and sell more products so … the hype grew.  Just search and see who talked to international media in 2010/11/12.

All this attention spurred further VC investment. Again, with little to no local investment familiarity, coupled with minimum understanding of local problems, they went ahead to dispense money to what they imagined was the problem: bigger open tech spaces (read high overheads). They then went ahead to ask the aspiring innovators and developers to pay for rent. Some of these startups were incubated in other spaces at the time.

Two of the startups that 88MPH invested in: Ghafla and Sematime (tusqees), were incubated at Nailab for 12 months (rent-free). The two were part of five other start-ups.  Trinc Media, Eneza and Card Planet (the other three), now have investments from Radio Africa and Savannah Fund respectively.

Who paid for their RENT at Nailab you ask? NGO money did, and to be very specific 1%Club.

So is there a place for donor funding in the value chain?

As I try and wrap my head around this…they invested in these young developers but asked them to pay rent from the same investment……..case of ‘from my left hand to my right’.

Results: All that hype and few results led to frustration by both the investors and startups.

5. The Startup, Government, VC & NGO dilemma

As time has gone by, I have noticed fewer and fewer hackathons are being held. One of the building blocks of the eco-system is being abandoned. In fact, in the last 90 days, I can attest from my observation, to seeing a total of 3 hackathons done by independent spaces. Reason? Development aid organizations do not want to be criticized for “giving out incentives” to developers and startup by PEs who claim to be ready to invest but have barely made any impact. So what happens next? The following, is as I foresee it:

  • Incubators will start receiving fewer applications because the pipeline is not very well stimulated and VCs will complain that there are fewer and fewer innovations in the country and guess what, they will move to the next country.
  • Tech spaces will shut down and we will have all missed the tipping point.

So What Next, You Ask?

The VCs need to stop blaming NGOs for making earlier poor investment decisions. Just like the startups you failed, you need to pivot or persevere. Kenya has successful and winning startups like Pesapal , SevenSeas, Virtual City, Wezatele among many others doing extremely well and could do with some PE funding to scale even further.

You don’t hear smart investors like Richard Bell complaining because ZUKU is still growing.

I believe Govt & NGOs have laid and continue laying the  foundational bricks; they are doing the hard lifting.Players in this industry should  stop nitpicking on startups and how they have a silver spoon. Just because you had to walk from Kawangware to town does not mean the new innovators have to do that. We really don’t care how good the old days were. Let government and development organisations give out grants and run hackathons across the country if they can, this will keep the pipeline busy channeling out new developers, experimenting and learning.  VC/PE funds can swoop down on those who successfully pull through, and in turn can make their X returns.

PE funds that want to invest in Africa should partner with the right local investors. It’s foolish to think that you don’t need a local anchor investor who has run a business in the region and can provide the much-needed information/insights on how to grow a business locally. If you fail, blame yourself, not the region or ecosystem; make smarter decisions on your next investment.

There is a place and a role for everyone in this market. Development aid organizations have the money and can take the risk. They know the complexity that comes with doing business in Africa and can lay a good foundation. PE funds need to encourage and be a part of this, but be strategic, so that in the right time, they can invest into these already tested ideas at minimum risks and scale them to be competitive at a global level.

Africa is home for us, Africa is not for sissies.


Every new cohort of startup has to undergo an afternoon of a somewhat intense leadership sessions with Sam Gichuru the CEO of Nailab. The following Article is borrowed from his Blog with permission.

If I could pick a title, I would like to be called the Chief Magician :), because most times I feel like everything is an illusion.

There is no CEO school, nobody teaches you how to be a CEO, one too many CEO’s behave like super hero’s, they behave as if they can jump buildings and catch bullets with their teeth, others are complete assholes without even realising it, of course their underwear’s have be worn outside.

Startups founders struggle  because they are unlikely to have worked closely to a role model CEO and when they join an accelerator program like Nailab they are expected to behave like leaders right away.

Having seen so many startups fail due to co-founder conflict and poor leadership, we carry out an intense 2-hour leadership exercises for new cohorts.

The following are some 10 quick leadership lessons we try to pass on to the new startups as early as possible

  1. Assign roles very early and ensure you have enough resources to complete the task at hand.
  2. Measure progress and the resources you have to ensure everything is done on time and on budget.
  3. It’s always easier to make decisions when you have all the facts on the table.
  4. Things can get very emotional, think with your head and decide with your heart.
  5. There is a big difference between activity (busy) and productivity, (results). Any activity you undertake should be productive or it’s just a waste of time.
  6. Get rid of the jargon when you want to understand something. Ask for it to be explained to you like a 5 year old.
  7. Encourage everyone to participate in the growth and survival of the team, that is one of your core jobs.
  8. Give room for the silent ones, encourage them to contribute and stand for themselves.
  9. Be careful about those that make one too many jokes as a means of escaping or humiliating others.
  10. Hire slowly but fire quickly, take your time to find a perfect fit, if you have to let someone go, do it quickly and be compassionate about it.

Learn to avoid interruptions, dedicate slots of time that people can interrupt you unless its an emergency situation.

I have not run a fortune 500 company so take this with a pinch of salt and think for yourself. what kind of human being do you want to be ? because that will be reflected on the kind of leader you turn out to be.

Do you agree with this 10 tips? Are they worth Sharing? Let him know in the comments below and share with your network.

what is the secret to your success?

All these events happened in a single day in 2013… but started a few years ago.

A few years ago..

I went to my first stag party, I have always been the curious kind and if you have read anything else I have written you know that already, I had barely sat down when a young girl who was about 20 years came and stood next to me and though she was a bit scared, she went ahead to say that for a fee I could have sex with her. My friend laughed and walked away, I was about to tell her no.. but, I’m not that kind of a guy… I never dismiss anyone just because, I have a story and I believe everyone else does, furthermore, this sounded strangely like a challenge, I love challenges. So I told her to take a seat next to me and we struck up a conversation. To cut a long story short, I learned that it was her first stag party, she had been invited by her cousin and she was angry at her boyfriend and figured she had nothing to lose…

I guess nobody had ever told her ‘Never make a permanent decision about a temporary situation.’  Just like her, I seem to take my startup mentoring job everywhere and I decided to offer her a piece of advice.

I told her three things:

1. Before she walked through that door she was not a prostitute, after she slept with a man for money she will be one.

2. She will never turn that fact back, and easy money is addictive and

3. If she went ahead and indulged in this actions at 20, she would look 30 in 3 years from a lot of frustrations, drugs and emotional distress, I saw this growing up in Rongai, girls who were very pretty and got caught up in such a lifestyle grew old very fast.

Of course after sounding like her father, she asked for my phone number then she strangely asked if I could give her fare, it hit me that talk is cheap and she was focused on what brought her here, money.  I got my wallet out, I  never carry money I only had 1000 bob in 2 five hundred shillings note, I told her she could have it … she surprisingly refused and split it giving me back 500 bob, she had realized she was not meant to be in this party.. and neither was I, I had learnt all I needed as well and so I left.

Today (Nov 2013):
Item 1: This week I’m in Europe in an Open data Conference,  I received a whatsapp and it said “ Thank you very much for taking your time to talk to me that evening, I never went back. I am now working and living in the Emirates and while I regret going there, I never regret that conversation ever. Thank you”.  We had a long chat with the lovely young girl and she is doing very well in the Emirates.

I am over opinionated, aggressive and not very wise, I have done some crazy and rewarding things in my life, broke many rules, failed and succeeded in some things…. but this tops all my lifetime achievements so far.

Item 2:  Today same day I got caught up in a Facebook viral game that forced me to post 1 of 7 items. I could have refused to pick one but I realized that “choices have consequences, even when I comment on a friends wall” those who understand the game know what I’m talking about. So I picked ” I forgot to wear my underwear today” that was 2 minutes before I took the stage as a speaker, my dutch friend  & social media guru patted my back as I took the mic and laughing he whispered, “I hope nobody in the audience has seen your facebook post… yet”. Took a lot of courage to do my short presentation after that.

Item 3:  A friend from High school sent me a message today complimenting me about my “success” and asked what my secret is. I responded that everyone is successful, we just tend to all use the wrong metrics for measuring our own success.

So I concluded, I am successful but I’m not rich at all, most times I am one paycheck away from poverty, which brings me to the two items above:  I thought maybe my secret is I never run away from a challenge, whether its going to a stag party and changing a would be hookers life or posting a scandalous message on facebook or getting lost in a foreign city……….. I take risks.

You will discover you are successful if you use the right metrics.

An old facebook post I thought I should turn into a blog post.

I have been having this thought since early morning today, when our focus is on eliminating poverty, we focus on poverty, this means we study the people, cultures, etc looking to find a reason as to why they are poor, our solutions are limited to that information we gather and so we only give them opportunity equal to what we think they can handle, we later get frustrated and blame government, culture, people e.t.c when they cant seem to “lift themselves” after all our research and input.

For the last 3 years, I have watched this social entrepreneurs who’s approach was “opportunity” not poverty eradication (from my view) not hand outs, they created “opportunity” and some blew it, some made it work., their slogan is “I make it work”, which brings me to my point.

Lets focus on creating opportunity. I almost feel this is different from focusing on poverty, of-course we can say they both aim at the same thing… but work with me here… shows like the Amazing race, Survivor don’t focus on your ability (current situation) but give you an opportunity to prove your ability… America and Australia founding fathers focused on opportunity, discovering new lands or being shipped to far of lands as rejects of society, they dint focus on where they come from but where they wanted to be.

Every now and then I meet someone who reminds me of my past, while sometimes I am inspired how far I have come other times I am irritated because I want to meet people who see where we can be in the next 10 years, that would inspire me more.

If am not blubbering, my question then is…. how do we create a “land of opportunity” ?

The following is the speech delivered by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta on December 12th, 1963 ! – so that we never forget why we celebrate  Jamuhuri Day.

“December the 12th, 1963! This is the happiest, the most wonderful day in my life, the day our beloved Kenya becomes free.

It is a day which can come only once in a lifetime – the day when a lifetime’s effort is suddenly fulfilled.

Foa a moment it is hard to believe that it is true. For this day has been won with such long effort, such sacrifices, such sufferings…

Now at last we are all free, masters in our own land, masters of our destiny…FREE!

What shall be my message to readers of PAN AFRICA?

First: Enjoy yourselves! Be happy! Breathe deeply this sweet, pure air of freedom! This freedom is your’s – your’s for the rest of your lives, to pass on to your children and your children’s children. Freedom!The most glorious blessing of mankind.

Let us share together this great day of joy.

Today our national flag, the flag of free independent Kenya, flies proudly, gaily in every corner of our land.

Today we may stand in reverence to the music of our own national anthem.

These are the symbols of our hard-won rights. Treat them with respect, Honour them.

The second part of my message is this.

Treat this day with joy. Treat it also with reverence. For this is the day for which our martyrs died. Let us stand in silence and remember all those who suffered that our land might be free, but did not live to see its fulfilment. Let us remember their great faith, their abiding knowledge that the victory would be won.

We are like birds which have escaped from a cage. Our wings have cramped. For a while we must struggle to fly and regain our birthright for the free air.

We shall make our mistakes, But these will be only like the temporary flutterings of the escaped bird. Soon our wings will be strong and we shall soar to greater and greater heights.

This freedom has not come easily. Nor must we expect the fruits of freedom to come easily.

This nation – Kenya – will be as great as its people make it. So I ask you to make this day of freedom a day of dedication.

I ask you to dedicate yourselves to the memory of those who have gone before us and to those who must follow us. I ask you to resolve to put aside all selfish desires and to strain every ounce of muscle and brain to building a nation which shall honour our dead, inspire our living and prove a proud heritage for those who are yet to come.

In the name of all these – HARAMBEE!!

If this is #tujuane, we would have something to say about it, we have a target to ridicule, someone to blame, someone we can use as a yard stick, well it’s not.

Most of my friends know that we have just covered 3800 Kilometers on a road trip in the United States, which is like driving from Nairobi to Pretoria in South Africa. But this post is not about road trips it’s about being accountable and responsible.

As I get ready to go back home, I realize that we are the people responsible for our own demise on the road, each and every one of us.

On the road we need rules and laws that work, it’s that simple, we got a parking ticket here in the States for being 3 minutes late, the cost of parking for 60 minutes  was $2 /”Kshs 170″ the fine for being 3 mins late, i.e 63 mins was $63 /Kshs 5355 !! we never got late again), we also got into an accident for missing a small detail (the fine might be up to $300 :( , after that you never forget to obey. rules & laws..

Who is to blame for the death in road accidents in Kenya? I liked Gado’s Cartoon this week as it depicted the people responsible but forgot to depict you and me. We killed them, stop crying, we killed those 41 people in Narok, we killed those students who died last month, we have been killing each other with our actions every other day, stop asking who is responsible, you are.

A driver is not from a different species, neither is a policeman an alien, we are brothers and sisters playing different roles at different times during the day and when we compromise and fail on our part in one particular role we hurt or kill ourselves in the next role.

A policeman takes a bribe during the day from a defective Matatu, later in the evening his colleague takes the same Matatu and dies in a horrific accident.

A Matatu driver over speeds, causing another driver to veer off the road killing everybody in the car including a 7 year old who is his son’s best friend in school.

A passenger enters an overloaded vehicle, encouraging the driver to keep overloading the vehicle and the next week the same car

Was re-writing and reposting this article that I lost half of it somewhere…. sorry, I cant re-write the ending anymore but I will try and summarize it.

You are responsible for my life and for the life of my loved ones and I am responsible for you and your loved ones.

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(Un-edited )
Its about 265 miles (426 KM), and takes about 4 hours, we hope to have lunch at Barstow and Dinner in Las Vegas. We will cut through the Mojave desert and soon enough the coastal temperature is gone, its now dry heat, elevation keeps increasing and the risk of your car heating up is very high.

desert drive

Somewhere along the way, we meet this group of guys.

this are the real biker.. looked like a gang, each man is carrying a woman, as soon as the women saw me taking photos… they pull down/up their blouses to flash me their breasts…. no I don’t have those pictures

We drive for 114 KM just before Barstow we encounter a tiny desert storm, its low visibility and we have to drive slowly, we get to Barstow and decided we need to visit Calico Ghost town, we ask for directions from a store owner and we buy hats, its obvious why cowboys wore this wide brimmed hat, the heat is more bearable, the desert winds increase and so does the dust. After 3 miles off-road, we arrive at Calico Ghost Town.

Welcome to Calico

Cant help it with the picture of Calico

Calico Ghost Town from the top

And another beautiful view of Calico- we obviously love this more than the big cities

Lovely place, its a must see

Then we enter a Salon and have our lunch, we are served our drinks in Jars, as I devour my buffalo meat burger, Bart is still keeping to his diet (this European’s and eating healthy …its is starting to make me question my diets and lifestyle)

I guess cowboys never had glasses…

About 2 hours later we are in Las Vegas and its  as beautiful a city as you would expect, the lights are amazing , we drive around looking for accommodation to the Tropicana and then to hooters, we discover accommodation is very cheap, in a typical 5 stars, you can pay $100 per night, if your are gambling the drinks are free. We are cheap skates we still go to a motel 6, we need to try our hand at gambling later.

We Drive down Las Vegas Boulevard, this is a must do, cant really described it, but the Cesar palace, Bellagio, the cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood and a small Eiffel tower are all here in majestic display.

Las Vegas Boulevard

We decide to start with the Bellagio, if you watched Brad Pitt & George Cloney on Ocean’s 11, you will understand the fascination, we watch the water displays outside, the little Eiffel tower, the Cesar palace and planet Hollywood all well spread  some  with connecting bridges.

This is another must see.. its very very beautiful

We decide to gamble $50 and within an hour or two, we have made almost $200 and then we lose some and we end up with $150, we call it quits, we are smart investors we know when we have made 200% profit now we have money for dinner.

Then as we leave the Bellagio, a taxi rums right into the back of our lovely red “viper” as we now call it, the car spins 45degrees right in the middle of Las Vegas busiest street, then the second thing happens, in about 45 seconds we have 1 police cruiser on scene, then in 15 seconds after that, there is one more, an ambulance, a fire truck with guys on laptops, an insurance inspection guy who is taking like 6 hundred pictures and then the police on a motor bike shows up and records it all.

An Ambulance arrives and parks next to our red viper

The police cruisers…

The Cruisers .. too afraid to look up , might see Seal 6 parachuting to secure the area at this rate..

All for this scratch on our red viper , Anything bigger than this and we would have had a helicopter and a few drones circling the accident scene, we are surprised we don’t have CSI Las Vegas and the National Guard…, this is a complete overkill and its very intimidating to say the least, but they do their work efficiently and effectively and in an hour we are on our way.

The little scratch on our Red Viper

Enough of Vegas, tempted to stay in Vegas one more night but that would be against the rules of road tripping!!, so enough of Vegas already, we are going to drive to Arizona State and go see the magnificent Grand Canyon, its now Day 4.

Just arrived at Grand Canyon. Good day , need to catch some long needed sleep.

We arrived in Hollywood early evening and got booked at the USA Hostel; this is a great place to stay on budget, bed & breakfast is at $38. In 2010 I stayed in San Francisco’s and really had fun.

Its 5 minutes walk to Hollywood Boulevard where the “Stars are Immortalized”

Jimmy Hendrix

and this

At the Chinese theater we find this Jack Sparrow street performers.

Guess I cant steal the Dead Mans Chest from this Jack Sparrow evil twins

We get some Mexican food, walk around a few clubs and see the nightlife.  It’s obvious that the line between reality and fiction is very blur here for most people.

Half naked girls going to the clubs, the plastic surgery, the fake boobs, celebrity wannabes, costumed freaks, skinny hulk, a really tall basketball player, a short Iron man, 3 guys dressed as Batman and somewhere along the way, we meet the Joker going home.

It’s a complete freak show, people have been sold a dream of fame and celebrity lifestyle here and they bought it hook, line and sinker, its funny but in a sad way.

For guys who have traveled widely, we both agree that the Red Light District in Amsterdam looks like a kindergarten compared to this, this is a-bit more shocking than we expected, we feel like villagers, sadly I see this being the same dream being peddled in Nairobi lately, of big wigs and celebrities, take my word for it, it’s a very empty and soulless life and make a point of visiting Hollywood in your life.

The next morning, we wake up and cook breakfast then we drive down the Hollywood boulevard, windows down, blaring some reggae music

Hollywood Boulevard

We get to Venice beach where everyone is trying to catch the perfect wave to surf. We meet some more strangers at the beach, hoping to bump into a celebrity… haha

At Venice Beach

Then am joined by Lora, who just got dressed in pink underwear/diaper by the owner, she likes me.

Then we meet Muthoni and then Fred who are both running shops at the Venice Ocean Front walk, who is a Kenyan selling Curios, am told of some Kenyans managing parking lot around the Venice beach (Fred’s Shop is called Gonzo Africa, pop-in and say hi)

Fred Gonza, at his shop on Venice Beach

We are 3 minutes late and we end up getting a parking ticket; we are back on the road right away and head towards the Mojave Desert, we hope to be in Las Vegas by Dinner.

meter run out at 11:25, we arrived at 11:27 – 2 minutes, wonder if the meter calls the Kanjo Guys in this country .. wewe Kuja mbio…parking ticket pap!


Landed in San Francisco, after 20 hours we need some rest, we hook up with Bart Lacroix, my co-founder at both Nailab and 1% Club, We have a couple of meetings in San Francisco but before that we each have 10 days of leave for the year,  we had decided we wanted to do a Road Trip but none of us had any specific plan.

So Day 1. We are going to drive as far as we can in 10 days, that’s sort of silly because we need to come back but well, lets think about that on the way.

What we need is first is to hire a car, so we get this red little thing.

Little Read Car

We hook up this little girl (Pic of GPS), We get lost for 45 minutes trying to get out of San Francisco, we buy some biting’s, water and finally we are on the highway/Freeway

Maria, our Annoying but reliable GPS Device

We have one destination, some place that someone promised Bart he could see whales, its called the Big Sur, also rumor has it that we will believe in God more if we drive along the pacific. Bart has to drive all the way, he drives on the wrong side of the road in Holland anyway like they do here in the States.

Our First stop is at Monterey, a small fishing town on the coast, we have lunch and walk around watching people fish and others in their boats and yachts our focus is the Big Sur, but its getting late and we need a place to sleep.

We end up at Big Sur Camping and cabin and we discover that it will cost us $257 for a cabin, that’s 3 times our daily budget!, then the following conversation takes place.

Guys, it’s ok you can pay $50 for a tent site, we might have one more camping spot opened, do you guys have a tent?

.. No…

mhh no problem, we have a space tent here you guys can use this one, someone left if behind,  You guys have sleeping bags?

… No… (this is the point you feel stupid)

mhh, ok, we have one sleeping bag, but if you drive down the general store you can buy one more for $25, you guys do have blankets .. right

… We look at each other and like little boys shake our heads (now we feel like complete dummys, take note: buy blankets and sleeping bags just incase)

No problem guys, I will get you some foam’s and you will be perfect.

They later found us an extra tent, an extra sleeping bag, nobody smirks, nobody looks at us like we are stupid and unprepared, everybody is very nice, we discover that its almost a culture here after we buy firewood and forget the lighter at the general store… (Don’t laugh)

Before long, we have the two tents figured out and set up

I grew up using paraffin and putting on a Jiko (charcoal stove) trust me lighting a camp fire is a different story, so we bought the wood at the general store, we only forgot to buy the lighter… don’t ask…but our very helpful neighbor who has been comping for 16 years sorted us out in a minute and we had a big camp fire

The expert fire .. dude, forgot the lighter in the store , at-least we had ordered for it

The people at Big Spur are the most friendly people I have met in the world, from the reception staff to the other campers, there is a strong belief here about Karma, “what goes around comes around”, the helped offered is overwhelming, people give you gifts for nothing, they are polite, they ask if you need help, everyone is so friendly, it’s actually spooky, just 4 hours ago we had to pay $50 to store a single bag in San Francisco hotel, here, we have almost everything for free, there is no cellphone reception, they don’t have email and no WIFI.

We wake up the next day, find the new shift and they are as friendly, we bid them bye and drive to the general store, there is an inn next door and we have breakfast with Sergio, he wishes he could join us but he has to work, he wants pictures of cars from Las Vegas, by post because he also does not have email. We are sad to leave Big Sur. But we have to continue, because …we…..are….on…a…road….trip!

I cannot describe the road along the pacific and pictures cannot describe the scene,  it’s breathtaking, the ocean comes to the edge of the mountain / really big hills, the read is between the two, in the horizon unlike other places, the ocean seems join the sky.

Dodge Vipers in Santa Barbara, driven by Senior Citizens, about 4 of them

Here we get to see the Ocean like this…

Bart enjoying the scenic View

Then we find this…. Elephant Seals, one of the last colony, so its not only Kenyans who have a problem with “elephant poaching”

We find a Colony of Seal Elephant Discovered in 1992

After a long beautiful day of driving we just arrived in Los Angeles. We are staying (of course) in the Hollywood neighborhood; booked in at the USA Hostel we are their last customers for the day, 1 or 2 days in Hollywood? Not sure,

Basically we have two choices, one is go Continue South, to beautiful San Diego, (Option A) problem is with our thinking right now, we will end up in Mexico which is 30 minutes from San Diego on the other hand, we have Las Vegas (Option B) this is usually how the movie” hang over starts” …. We go where we get the most suggestions from you.

A man should live for something bigger than himself

While I have to answer a lot of questions about how to build startups, lately I have other concerns, one of them is how to help young men become competitive in a society that seems to pay a lot more attention to women / the girl child.

After incubating a good number of young entrepreneurs  mostly men at nailab, I have learned that men who are successful in business have accomplished great success in their day to day living as well, they know what matters most and when it does, after a long protracted discussion with friends on social media @samgichuru and facebook they requested me to write a post about this topic and 2 hours later it had been shared over 100 times, so here it is for future reference.

I have used this as a blue print since I was in my early 20′s and I keep learning and changing as I go along… but read and decide if this is the kind of man you want to be or not…

1. You are not a man because a woman said you’re a real man. You are a man – period! You don’t need validation from women  or other men to affirm your manhood.

2. Make your own fortune: Bring home the bacon or pig. Men don’t settle for handouts, wealthy dads don’t count, If you inherit a fortune, then show you are a real man and multiply it 10 times.

3. Pay the bills: With fellow men, contribute your % of the bill, with women, pay the entire bill, which means you take her to the places you can afford… or start calling Maina Kageni early.

4. Make decisions: Ask for advice, consult, but make sure the final decision is yours, good or bad. Nothing is as irritating as an indecisive man even to other men #watermelon

5. Your word, your bond: A man is known for the choices he makes (decisions) and the words he speaks. Say it and mean it, and am not saying be right… When you make a promise, keep it! Men respect men who keep their word, women love them.

6. Follow and Lead: Find someone you can follow, and find someone you can lead. We all follow someone and lead others. You become a better leader when you teach the lessons you learn from following others.

7. Stop idealizing women: Who lied to us that women are perfect? They are not angels, and the minute you put a halo around her head, you completely fail to notice her flaws. You my friend, will call Maina Kageni

8. Being in touch with your feminine side #fail: Ok, every time I meet Christian men coming from Church and they have to say hi, they have a soprano voice, “Hi… It’s so nice to see you!”. Can we stop the nonsense? There is nothing Christian about talking with a high pitch voice. .. Ok, I \_ down.

9. Be Clean! – Scrub twice, rinse, use ka deodorant kidogo. PS: dont smell like a flower, that will send the wrong message.

10. Find a spiritual anchor: A man who knows God will always have a very good GPS to find his way back to himself. Finding God does not mean you won’t fail, just means you will get up faster and smarter.

Some or the items here might vary for people from different cultures, but most are common for all, if you are a dude and you agree with this collection then I say share this and add your own guiding rules in the process..

NB: Sharing and comments allowed.

Africa is embracing technology at a very fast pace. Almost every adult in Kenya owns a mobile phone and half of these are using Mpesa (mobile money). There are high fiber-optic connections to most countries and Internet access is no longer as expensive as it used to be. Furthermore, we are seeing other innovations like iCow, Ushahidi, Webdesk, Uhasibu coming from the continent (ref: ideasafrica.com for more examples).

The biggest challenge facing Africa now is that of knowledge-how to utilize this technology. It’s not enough to develop, mobile apps, enterprise software and purchase high-end machineries. For the continent to be truly competitive, it needs to be able to effectively use this technology.

Building capabilities and know-how should be the next step for the continent. This means that sub sectors like academia, research and development centers should be deeply etched in each country’s ICT master plan if the country aims to remain competitive.

There is a big gap between the vocational training and the market place. A lot of students graduating from across the continent are to a great extent unable to quickly adapt to the industry, and hence, employers are being forced to take them through industrial training before they are useful and productive.
Read the rest of this entry »

I am not shy to be led by another man. Actually, I have men who I follow gladly; some I have met, while others I have not. But when they talk, I shut up, listen, and keep my humble opinion to myself.

Some of you know the story. In my early 20′s I asked a top CEO if I could carry his bags for his meetings. He ended up taking me to very interesting places and I met very interesting people.
Very few young men ask to be mentored. Many just want to have a pissing contest, mere show off. Just this week someone lost a 200K job plus global travel perks because of the way he presented himself. As I listened to him I felt like crying. He has so much potential but was so full of himself. He is currently making around 50k…

If you are going to be a man other men can follow, be a man who can follow. Leadership is developed from servitude.

Of all the requests I get to mentor people, 8/10 are from young, ambitious, passionate women who follow through and give feedback. Only 2/10 are men, and most times they never come back so I never know if that had an impact or not :(

- Guys, these women will own us if we don’t hustle; they will own every inch, every bit of us. We will be whipped like little boys in our early teens and late 40′s. We will be afraid, needy and insecure every time she even smiles at the guy driving a Benz. We will not even dare to dream without their permission….

- Step up like men of old. Find your King David, Alexander the Great, Hannibal like they did. From ordinary jammas they became extraordinary. You too will follow lions in caves and kill them… and nobody will ever dare call you whipped.

(Special thanks to Linda for editing this article)


AFLEWO 2013 : Photography  David Kiania

I never had more than one pair of shoes most of my life, I would walk into a Bata shop, buy a new pair, then discard the old pair in the same shop, it was too old to even give out to any of my cousins anyway. I never knew the problems that come with having 2 pairs of shoes.

This week I had been invited to 4 events, 3 of which I was a guest speaker and panelist, I also had a proposal that was due for submission by Friday, I was really honored to receive this invitations and I was excited about it, of course I needed to prepare myself

So from home to Connected Government, ICPAK and then AFLEWO, I wont even bother getting into the details, between my family, the events, my presentations and a proposal that was due on 31st, I had not slept for more than 3 hours on a single day since sunday 26th it was now 31st May, I was like a Zombie, very mechanical.

I slept for an hour on my cab ride to the airport, 30 mins on the plane and 1 hour at home  before I run to meet my consultant so that we could finalize the proposal around 20:00 we discovered the deadline had been moved, so I run home put the boys to bed as I then headed to AFLEWO.

AFLEWO: find my host, get the protocols, go and nap for an hour in the car then rejoined otherwise I would collapse. I come back and they gave me the instruction, they told me I will be called to the podium. panicked pap!, the fear of crowds, 1000 things could go wrong! I could trip, or get asked to speak or or or….. I ask the estimate number of people, its 15000 + and we are on live television, wah.. you know that ka sweat…,  finally the moment comes and I gather myself together, as I walk to the podium I tell God this is not time for us (God /me ) to have our usual sense of humor.  Don’t get deceived…  have an overwhelming fear of crowds and 5 is a crowd for me (we will get back to this later)

Am at the podium, its too late to panic about anything, I start relaxing and I definitely need the prayers, I lifted my hands and bowed my head to pray and just before I closed my eyes I looked down on the floor and I could not believe what I was seeing, that time you scream on the inside … Oh NO!!!….  for a min my mind went crazy before I started laughing, you know things are bad when you can’t panic and instead you want to laugh…

One after the other Kenyan media personalities joined me on the platform, Michael Oyier, Johnstone mwakazi, DJ Moz, Kambua, Musa Otieno former National Team goalkeeper, The Kasangas, nobody noticed anything and if they did, nobody said a word.

A man has to do what a man has to do and this was time for us to pray and make declarations for this country, also God and I needed to talk about “my situation”, so here I am in front of a live audience of 15000 +, media personalities and millions on live television, I opened my eyes.. looked down the floor again and yes, nothing had changed, no miracles, I was still wearing two distinct pairs of shoes…..

Why: To  do something good for our country, measure our creativity and Twitter clout and hopefully make some new friends.

What’s The Process?

  1. Send out a creative tweet about peace #ChaguaPeace or #ChaguaAmani #MkenyaDaima #ILoveKenya
  2. Get your friends to retweet it
  3. Get 10 bob for every retweet you receive for your creative tweet (see terms)

Example of a tweet: If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other  #ChaguaPeace 

NB: Feel free to tag me cc @samgichuru  or @gina_din on your tweets for a retweet from us

Tip: if you add RT infront of your tweet, it will encourage your Twitter followers to RT it. This will be rewarded in blocks of 25 50 retweets, basically if you get 24 49 retweets, you don’t get anything.

  • 25 retweets = 250 bob
  • 50 retweets = 500 bob
  • 100 retweets = 1000 bob
  • 150 retweets = 1500 bob

Please do not retweet your own tweets that will be shady :)

If your tweet gets stolen, pole, we can’t help you :)

This goes on until the entire Kshs 10,000 has been spent. This money has been donated by my friends and our target is 1000 peace messages. Please help.

Thank you Guys, – We closed this – If you can prove you had most retweets as above – get intouch :) Bless you

Any Questions ?



Below are a few tips on how to backpack, Why did I do it? – for the same reason I do everything else, I want to believe that we can all achieve what we desire if we put our mind and heart into it, I spent roughly $3000 (Kshs 200,000). normally I try and hustle an extra 10-20K a month to travel at the end of the year, so every year since 2010 I have managed to visit, North America (Califonia, Vegas, Dallas), Dubai, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, etc

Some pictures  http://www.facebook.com/sam.gichuru/photos_albums

1. Pack Lightly: I packed 4 pairs of Jeans, 6 Tshirts, 4 Vests, 3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of Socks, 1 pair of Shoes, 1 leather jacket, pair of gloves and Scarf, all this fitted in one bag plus toiletries , I washed my cloths every 4 day if I could find a Laundromat. Always pay attention to the weather before you travel, Winter will require heavy clothing than summer, hence a bigger bag.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Lord is my programmer, I shall not crash.
He installed His software on the hard disk of my heart. All of His commands are user friendly.
His directory guides me to the right choices for His name’s sake. Even though I scroll through the problems of life,
I will fear no bugs, for He is my back-up.
His password protects me.
He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies.His help is only a keystroke away.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and my file will be merged with His and saved forever.


Did you really make a mistake? I hear and know of people praying day and night to get children. On the other hand, I see girls who had sex once and got pregnant…. so, I conclude, either God has a cruel sense of humor or He knows exactly what He is doing. I will go with the fact that ako na clue..

When you meet a single mum and you ask about the dad… the likely answer is “ Oh, I made a mistake in my Read the rest of this entry »

The following is a list of softwares that are a must have for my laptop, phone or tablet.

  1. DropBox – Gone are the days when I had to back up my documents just incase I lost my laptop, dropbox has solved that problem, all my files are stored in the cloud, and when I change computers all I have to do is download dropbox, sign in and all my files are restored within their original folders.
  2. Cloudy Calculator – This is a very nifty calculator, I never knew it existed until I met the very famous PG – Cloudy calculator is a chrome addition, it sticks at the top of your browser and used inside your browser. Read the rest of this entry »

In my early 20′s I was extra “spiritual” and had some extra spiritual friends who are still very good friends today, this particular lady from Western Kenya was serious and very deep kind, one day she had a dream that I would marry a girl called ….. Philomena… that sort of evokes a certain image depending on where you grew up. Now… truth be told, At the early age of 23/24 you want to date and marry a really hot girl with a jisty name like Angelina Jolie … and lets be honest .. Philo.. just does not cut it…. so I definitely was not for that plan and I was not amused by her revelations and dreams at all…
Today while driving to work I thought about Philomena…

Philomena….. if you are out there and still single… it’s not because your prayers were not heard… it’s because of my rebellion …. and the damn name…


When I started writting this blog, I had allot of things to say, actually most of the time am the kind of dude who has allot of things to say… halfway, I forgot everything I wanted to blog about.

T hats how long it has been since I last blogged, I used to love blogging and now I miss it,  I am forced to go back and read my own blog posts, am entertained by the adventures I have had in my life.

Its 17 months since my Co-founder @toneendungu and I started a consulting company (Nailab Ltd) we have blogged less and been stressed more, consulting is a tough job, forced to read a lot, listen and figure out complex problems and travel a lot,  being away from family and your comfort zone, this is my 3 or is it 5th company the first  having flopped/closed down because I went on honeymoon . .. don’t laugh..

It seems that the more we give free consulting work the more opportunities we get to network and meet very interesting people who are likely to offer better partnership deals, the most rewarding role is building the Nailab Incubation (a partnership between the Nailab Ltd & 1% club), I almost forgot, its also 2 years plus since we started the show tech Tuesday on 93.3 Hope FM, I was thinking about it the other day, waking up at 5:30 to make it to the Studio at 7 was my biggest challenge, <- we talk about that another time but this is one of the best free consulting job I have.

18 months 41 formal pitches and over 150 “informal pitches” (i.e elevator pitches)…. I can assure you, startup business is fun but not for the weak… so I promised you on air that I will start blogging again… when I stop, please remind me.

Glad to be back on Radio – so tune in on Tuesdays at 7:30 for Tech Tuesday.


Ok, you’ve been hearing a lot about Startup Weekend lately…But maybe you aren’t still convinced as to WHY you should come…What’s in it for me, you ask? Well, allow me:

  1. Education: Startup Weekends are all about learning. At Startup Weekend Nairobi,   you will get a chance to learn a new skill, programming or business language. Even more cool, your mindset and approach to life and business will change.
  2. Enlarged network: Many other likeminded entrepreneurs will be attending this weekend. So it’s a safe bet that you will interact with other driven entrepreneurs who may be able to offer something new to your business, or in turn, give you the opportunity to offer them something in return.
  3. Learn how to launch a business: You’ve probably been sitting on your business idea for so long, and wondering how to move it to the next level. Usually, Startup Weekend focuses on techies. But in Startup Weekend Nairobi, we have opened it up to entrepreneurs in a variety of fields- IT, agribusiness, communications, science & technology. Remember that many business problems have a potential technology solution. During this weekend, you will have 54 hours to revolutionize your idea and move it to the next level… why would you want to miss that?
  4. Get face time with local and international mentors: No one is in a better position to help you than entrepreneurs who have tried (and sometimes failed) different business ventures. These are the kind of people that we are bringing to you during Startup Weekend Nairobi. The mentors, speakers, volunteers and judges that we have are seasoned entrepreneurs and will offer you invaluable advice and insight, something that you would probably have to pay heftily for.
  5. Get access to valuable start-up resources: The winning teams will not only get a cash prize, but also incubation in some of the top business incubators in Nairobi.  A business incubator will offer you business support, helpful seminars and workshops, office space, & free internet access and a chance to interact with potential investors.

If you are still not convinced, I don’t know what will. Grab your ticket now…don’t miss out on the chance of a lifetime.


Today the project Mzalendo gets a relaunch at the Ihub, Mzalendo.com is a great initiative whos mission is stated as “to keep an eye on the Kenyan paliament”, the project co-founded by Conrad and Ory, is seeking to promote a greater public participation in politics, its funded by the Omidyar network.

You want to know about your paliamentarian, this is the site to visit, you will find current political positions, job history, their level of education, and most impressive is the scorecard, that allows you to rate and review the particular member. You can also share this information on social networking,and the ripple effect would be to create a debate around member profiles and leading to greater accountability.  We at the nailab congratulate Ory and Conrad on this great initiative.


  1. In which battle did napoleon die ? -
    Answer: his last battle
  2. Where was the declaration of independent signed -
    Answer: at the bottom
  3. River Ravi flows in which State-
    Answer: liquid
  4. What is the main reason for divorce -
    Answer: marriage
  5. What is the main reason for failure -
    Answer: exams
  6. What can you  never eat for breakfast -
    Answer: lunch and dinner
  7. What looks like half an apple-
    Answer: the other half
  8. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea, what will it become-
    Answer: wet
  9. How can a man go eight days without sleep -
    Answer: he sleeps at night
  10. How can you lift an elephant with one hand:-
    Answer: you will never find an elephant with one hand

Sam Gichuru demonstrating use of microblogs to RDO http://www.rdorwanda.org

We held multiple breakout sessions with each organization for the next 3 days in Kigali, each morning routine involved being picked from the Gorillas Hotel and coming back to drop our bags late in the afternoon very exhausted, we covered around 6 organizations and still had a list pending that would have to wait for 2012.

The gorillas was a pretty good place to stay and was central to accessing Kigali, it’s actually a walking distance and we discovered this after paying huge amounts of money for cab drives.

For each break out session, we first did a brief analysis of each organization, measuring how well they adapt to new technologies, what technologies they used in running their day to day programs, and reviewing their current and future plan strategy on ICT.

Most organizations in Rwanda where quite ICT “savvy”, they had wifi connections, the staff had laptops and smart phones and most did use facebook but for personal use only very few acknowledge using twitter.

What seemed a-bit foreign was the use of this tools to facilitate communication within the organization and with partners, facebook was for personal use and after brainstorming and discussion we demonstrated how facebook can also work for the organization in keeping partners updated about project progress, and as a marketing tool to attract more donor funding or strategic partners, this included twitter and using phone videos, we demonstrated on micro blogging and digital story telling.


Sam Gichuru presentation on Social media with Oxfam Partners in Kigali - Sponsored by Oxfam Novib

At the end of 2011 we did a trip to Rwanda and Burundi , our trip was sponsored by Oxfam Novib, and we were to meet all the Oxfam partners and discuss their work and adaptation to ICT to enhance their service delivery.

First stop: Kigali, meeting with Oxfam partners, including RDO, Accord Rwanda, and about 10 other organist ions in a group meeting to discuss issues of ICT, some of the topics covered where

  1. Where we are as Organisations working in the development space in east Africa
  2. Use of crowd funding platform like the 1%Club to raise project funding
  3. Use of Social media to report progress to development partners
  4. Use of other micro blogging sites to keep partners updated.
  5. Use of Skype and IM as a means of communication in the office
  6. Use of phones /Short videos in digital story telling

The attendance on day 1 was great with allot of Q & A happening during a tea break, later breakout sessions where organized for each organized.



Had a great meeting meeting with RDO today, at their office in Kigali, discussing how to plan a 2012 strategy on use of ICT in the development space.

This blog will be added much later today, Watch this space

This is more of a diary than my usual blog, covers the fun part I get to have while doing my work – lots of thanks to 1% Club, Akvo, Accenture and the people I bump into on my trips.

Stay: As usual I have this big sabbaticals from blogging, well.. I hope am back, this time am in Amsterdam, tempted to go to Paris, but will see, but for now I have this awesome apartment organised by an amazing lady called Nguyen facing a canal in Amsterdam . (For you Kenyans the G is silent.. Nuyen)

Business: Had a great meeting with guys from Accenture Holland, was inspired by their enthusiasm about the Nailab and for giving me a listening ear, am looking forward to 2012.

Food: On friday we went to a dutch club, that played dutch music, that is after an awesome dinner with the 1% club team, this guys know how to have fun not to mention they got me to ate oysters for the first time.. not doing that again.. with a good shrink I willl forget how it felt sliding down my throat, otherwise I had a great time dinning out with the team and catching up

Fun: So we later went to a dutch club with dutch music.. this is the mugithi version and it was off the hook!… everybody knew the songs and sang along, I must have been the only black dude who was smiling like an idiot.. I was having too much fun, the club was about 600X300 Sqfeet.. making it look like two buses put side by side.. the only problem is.. it never got packed like our old matatus.. people kept coming in.. and by the time we left.. you could only shake your head no space for movement.. took 5 mins to take 5 steps, but that was part of the fun for me, to be in a complete dutch environment, ofcourse Jaap CEO spot a cheetah keeps claiming he never hangs out in such places..

More fun, Peter the CEO/Fonder of AKVO.org suggested a boat ride and after finding a boat.. we needed to look for a captain, ofcourse a few phone-calls and peter got Captain Frodo (yes like the Lord of the Rings), Luuk joined us and his lovely girlfriend. This was probably the best time in Holland, 3 hours in the water and flying our Dutch flag, below are some of the photos taken by our captain the rest will be on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sam.gichuru – now heading to the office, will catch up later on some more blogging… I named this post the “flying dutchman” from Pirates of the Caribbean after spotting an amazing ship docked at the harbour from them days.

Below are photos for the boat ride :

Ghafla! is a local entertainment website containing content and (soon) digital downloads from East Africa. It was founded by two passionate fellas: Mr. Majani and Lyosi Mwedekeli. They are incubated at the Nailab, and one remarkable thing about them is that they won an investment just 3 days after their incubation. The investment valued Ghafla! at a staggering 14 million shillings! We caught up with the Ghafla!Guys for them to share with us exactly how they won their investors over.

Lesson 1: Have some prior work  to show for

Mr. Majani holds the belief that investors don’t like to invest in absolute seed stage startups. “The risk factor is too high,” he states. So what did they do to solve this problem? They had their previous product, KenyanLyrics.com, which they had run for 18 months prior to pitching to investors. Ghafla! is basically a rebranding of KenyanLyrics. This gave the investors reassurance that Team Ghafla! had the vital experience needed to run the company.

Lesson 2: Learn the type of investors you are dealing with

From their experience, the Ghafla!Guys believe that there are two kinds of investors: product investors and people investors.

According to Lyosi, “people investors are those who believe that the idea for a company will keep changing, while the people behind the idea will hardly change over time. This kind of investor will invest after discovering some shining qualities in the founders.”

“Product investors are those who believe that a good product launched at the right time can carry even a bad team through to success. As the old saying goes, ‘you cannot stop an idea whose time has come.’  This kind of investors monitor trends in the market, then look for companies that appear to be riding the waves of change.”

Lyosi and Majani checked up on 88mph(the investment club that put money in them) and found that they were people investors. After finding this out, they then prioritised mingling with the 88mph guys over everything else. At every opportunity, they would invite people over to check out their product, and after that, they would engage in some non-technical banter to lighten the mood. This showed the investors that they were nice guys who are easy to work with.

Lesson 3: Look for investors who have done it before

Prior to meeting with 88mph, Mr. Majani and Lyosi had never put their product in front of investors before. One of the main reasons that attracted them to the 88mph group was that the investors had founded an online sports media startup before, named bold.dk. “The strategy for bold.dk is almost identical to the strategy we want to pursue at Ghafla!” said Mr. Majani, “when you have such a near perfect fit between the investors and the founders, a mutual respect for each other is developed, and there are less differences over the direction your company should take.” This similarity also endeared the investors to Ghafla! as they saw exactly what was needed to be done in that company.


I am hoping to be the first blogger in Kenya to write about Shaker,  Yesterdays winner of Tech Crunch Disrupt definitely deserved it, now imagine turning your facebook, google+ or twitter into a complete virtual hang out, dont get lost on the word “virtual” just finish this article, and you will be blown away.

When you get a Shaker app account, you can join a room, you can see who else is in that room – now forget the yahoo IM room – noo.. a room where you have your own avator so you can actually walk to the bar and order for a drink or go seat next to that cute girl and strike a conversation.

The guys in blue are your friend, the guys in yellow are your friends friends and the guys in grey are people you might have something in common.

The founders deny completely its not a dating site, but from where I am sited, we might need Jimmy Gathu if Kenyans adapt this app the way they adapt everything else.

The only other visible downside is that allot of information is given to strangers, too much private information is shared in the room, this might be a serious violation to privacy to a great extent, stalking etc.

So they have a couple of free accounts rush get one and I will do a follow up blog on the topic, you can follow me on twitter @samgichuru

Go to facebook and search for Shaker

  1. Click go to app
  2. Allow it access to your information
  3. and join a room



Kenyans 4 Kenya is the kind of thing we want to be remember for as a country, not our 2008 post election violence but a people who forgot their difference and come together to save ourselves, in the past I wrote that we need to get more soft power, it’s not achieved by being talkers but by being doers and not for glory but for meaningful change.

The story of Kenyans for Kenya reminds me of the story of Moses, God asked Moses “what are you holding” and he said “a rod”, while Moses saw a rod, God saw a tool that could be used to bring change. Read the rest of this entry »

Today it’s a great honor to Host the Vice President of Kenya at the Nailab, the Vice president will be visiting the Nailab early evening for a 2 hour session with top bloggers and Tweeps in Kenya.

The Nailab was launched in March of this year to provide a platform for young innovators and entrepreneurs to build their business, by providing a value based funding of up-to US$ 10,000 it has attracted some of the best ideas in the country with 2 of them receiving funding from 88MPH and other two signing contracts with multinationals.

Today’s Event Dubbed the #VPmeet, was organized by Kenyans leading social media team, incubated at the Nailab. This is the same team that was behind the engagement on the recent Kenyans4Kenya campaign.

The event is to provide a platform for direct engagement with conversation drivers and opinion shapers online, the realisation is that accountability does not only stop in governance and gone are the days when only journalist or interest groups where the only ones who could keep the government accountable, micro blogging has brought in bi/multi-directional conversations between the leaders and general public and this forum will be the first for Kenyan tweeter/bloggers to engage a Civil Servant on a one to one, it falls well in the Nailab Theme “where technology meets society”.

The Social Media team has proven to be one of the best companies to work with in brand driven activities and online strategies and this event is just a proof of their online influence

This is one of the many events slotted for this year , other players to visit the Nailab will include private sectors and other public sector key players from around the Globe.

Follow #VPmeetup @smusyoka @samgichuru @raidarmax for up-to date information on the event


Download The Kenya National Anthem: Kenyananthem


O God of all creation,
Bless this our land and nation.
Justice be our shield and defender,
May we dwell in unity,
Peace and liberty.
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true.
Service be our earnest endeavour,
And our Homeland of Kenya,
Heritage of splendour,
Firm may we stand to defend.

Let all with one accord
In common bond united,
Build this our nation together,
And the glory of Kenya,
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

This has been an amazing 2 days, I am glad about  the decisions made on this thread, as a result a Facebook page was created to support the campaign initiated by Safaricom, Red Cross , KCB, Gina Din and now later the Nailab.

As of today we are spearheading the social media campaign, using Facebook , twitter and a host of other tools,  32Million has been raised to feed our brothers and sisters in the north as of 12 O’clock today.

I am glad my second virtual  journey has been as amazing and has topped all the others – (I have removed this – I am trusting for just 1 facebook post from someone)

Thank you Kenyans and Friends of Kenya for not allowing one more child to die – Sam Gichuru



(Published with permission from www.techsahara.com , this article made my heart skip a beat)

So I’m here slurping my nice delicious milkshake and meditative, what/who is the most successful startup on the floor at Bishop Magua Center?, (this is the building that hosts an innovative space the Ihub, a business Incubator the Nailab, and a mobile app Incubator the Mlab, ) I am a-bit shaken by my ignorance;  I have interacted with the most successful founder and startup everyday without paying attention!

A startup business is a company with a limited operation history, so a successful startup is one that can grow or has grown rapidly, can or is scaling its operation is breaking even (and here even rumen profitability counts) and  has improved systems and processes and increase in human resource. Read the rest of this entry »

This day was to be my last business day, so I figured it’s time to stop and reflect… but I had one final place to visit, with no appointments. That meant I had to knock on some doors and be brave — don’t try this at home!  I was well received in some offices, while others knocked the wind out of me. This is the story of building 410 Townsend.

Building 410 hosts Yammer, OpenDNS, Shop it to me and TechCrunch – for the techies at the Nailab or Ihub, it’s not so glamorous as you might imagine, but the things that happen in the building are an entirely different story.

Straight to the things that excite most of us, David Ulevitch started OpenDNS in college in 2006, less than 5 years ago, and before that he ran Everydns.  Today OpenDNS has over 23 million users, and he has received funding from Minor Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Greylock and the like. I can guarantee you these are VCs you want to mingle with.

DNS translates what you type in the address bar that helps you find the website you are looking for.

If you typed www.samgichuru.com and you arrived here, that was partly DNS at work.  I am learning that there is an authoritative and a recursive DNS —  have I lost the non techies? I doubt I can write it any better for the techies and non techies than David has in his blog.  To cut a long story short, OpenDNS is all about the recursive DNS.

The most interesting part of the conversation was that OpenDNs might be considering putting a Node in Nairobi, so you might want to pay attention to that if this is your thing.


Too bad for me but everyone at Tech Crunch was in New York for Disrupt (so what was I doing in California when I should have been in NY?).  Someone asked me why I didn’t go to Facebook or Twitter? I did go to Palo Alto but did not make it to Facebook, since I really didn’t have much to do there. I later went to Twitter, but without an appointment, all I could do was hang out with the front desk girl who allowed me to take a few photos… or did she?


All in all a great day with good experiences, but you  might want to think twice before you decide to knock on doors without warning;  it’s not for the faint hearted.




San Francisco is warmer this morning, the weather is great for a walk and am excited to go meet an old friend,  I am going to meet my man Marlon Parker,… No I should write a special blog about Marlon parker but that is as soon as I visit Rlabs in South Africa.

Our place of meeting is Union Square where I find a group of San Francisco Police. Something about Cops in Stato in comparison to Kenyan Cops, is that they are very friendly and easy but they are alert and you can feel their eyes interrogating you, got to say its very intimidating yet… not threatening, Kenyan Cops are just very unfriendly, want to intimidate and threaten you and make you pay for being alive.. .. unaitwai wapi, Unatoka nani… , so I am feeling very friendly and ask the SFPD to take a photo with me.

SFPD are very friendly and willing one of them takes the camera asks the others to seat nicely and he starts clicking, actually the other stopped human traffic to get this done .. very cool, they ask and I answer, I am Kenyan visiting San Francisco .. suddenly  they are extremely excited, am I a runner? they almost ask in Unison, ha.. you have to like that, I am looking at their beaming faces and this is not the time to disappoint…really.. even you….of-course I am a runner, I tell them with a big smile on my face, ha….I actual Won the Karomaindo Marathon a while back and nobody has broken my record to date! .. the camera starts to click again…oh me oh my.

Some Celebrity photos are taken! and I am being given the celebrity treatment but I see the nice neat handcuffs and am starting to think, Sam your mother will not like this…. ,so what dint I know?  a Kenyan had just won the Bay to Break Marathon in San Francisco 2 days before! before they Google me up, I explain that in Kenya some marathons are not won by choice…. for example all they have to do to find out if I can run is shoot in the air, and so as for my glory in the Karomaindo Marathon my motivation was a group of 4 Urchins and the 3 hungry dogs who where determined to commandeer the loaf of bread I had been sent to buy, losing was not an option for that 6 year old boy, my mother was already tired of the many lost bread tales from me.

Karomaindo was a cluster of 5 shops  about 200 Meters from my home,…. the cop on my extreme right is laughing so hard he is almost chocking … figured am done here, safely and I walked into Union Square ready to reunite with an old friend who I always seem to meet in foreign countries.

At Stanford I was hosted by probably the first Kenyan from Northern Kenyan to get a Scholarship to Stanford, Jisas Lema is a very humble young man who spent a few hours showing me around campus and giving me a heads up about Stanford,  if you are reading this and you have a kid interested in computer science, I would suggest that be your first pick.

More info on this, we don’t want Stanford graduates having issues about my grammar esp when I write about their school..

Day 4 was full of activity, after I left Google, I was picked up by my good friend Mark and we headed to 320 pioneer way to chance and see the Y combinator offices and in my heart I prayed to meet Paul Graham. 45 min- 1 hour later, I had enjoyed a very inspiring conversation with Paul Graham and Kate Courteau who took their time to tell me how Y Combinator started (and the fact that it was not part of the plan, how about that) and the conversation has been going on for days now with a wider network of people included as well.

At this point I knew I had finished my now to be “first” visit successfully to silicon valley and I can head back the rift valley and do something with all the information I had learned, but that was not to be…. I ended up extending my stay with another 4 days and possibly heading for meetings back to Google to meet the VP, who later introduced me to people at MIT, Cambridge, LinkedIn, etc.

Y Combinator does pre-seed funding for start-ups , they have so far funded 360 companies to a tune of $5 Million and are currently worth $3Billion , Their model is very simple, pick good ideas at very early stage, pay the founders – usually not more than three, three months pay, and with this help you through the first phase, a demo day is set and you present your ideas to VC, Angel investors and if you can prove you know what you are talking about, you get the funding required and sometimes even bought out, some of their more successful companies that you probably know about are Dropbox, Airbnb, Loopt, Heroku, Scribd, Grepplin, Xobni, Justin.tv.. and you can keep counting until you get to 360! ..

Paul Graham had some interesting tips to share on how to select start-ups and taught me how to calculate the investment required for each incubated start-up, warned me not to investing in 1 single person, or over 4 people and he had good amusing reason for this among many others, and how many start-ups fail initially, this is no business for the faint hearted.

Paul Graham was generous enough to introduce me to his circle of friends including Megan Smith who is VP at google.org, noticeably for me was also the fact that he did it on the spot, not the usual Nairobi, “I will get back to you” or let me think about it, spot on. I get to realise how much we have to learn back home from successful investors and it all boils down to the basics.

I later went to Anybot met Travor briefly and spent a few minutes with Samson who showed me what the Anybot is all about, this article is a precursor to the main blog article coming soon, if I don’t draft them now, the excitement will keep getting to me, log back in for more on Y Combinator or follow me on Twitter for faster updates on my journeys

Ready about Day 5 and Others



So I kept hearing, Sam Gichuru is coming to Google MTV and I never understood what that was all about, last I checked MTV was a music program or something about houses…  My visit to Google was going to be exciting and as you can tell if you have been following I had to edit to stop betraying all my emotions on a blog.. the exciting was exhilarating

Google MTV is Google Mountain View , this is the Google Headquarters in  Mountain View California, which is about 1 hour with the CalTrain (California Train) from San Francisco, then you take a Mathree (bus) number 40 pay $2 and tell the drive if you are Kenyan like me where to shukisha you (drop you), for me that was Amphitheater 1600 where I was to meet a very impressive and great host Nnamdi.

Google Complex is a big campus, the feeling is that of Disney world for grown ups, everybody looks like they are having fun while being very productive, people are moving in all directions, you meet people in bikes and 4 or so people riding one funny bike, Google bikes are branded, red and green tires , the frame is yellow and red, all other things including dust bins are branded  “Google”, I dint ask but it seemed everybody seemed to ride  a bike and just park it for the next person to use.

Google also seems to take care of its employee by providing food in amazing quantities and qualities, Chinese, asian, india, mexican, etc serving points, smoothie cafe’s in every other corner,  a gym, a controlled swimming pool , volley ball pitch just to name a few, this things are so noticeable and you can tell they create a culture of ownership by employees, later when I visited Stanford I felt that the founders of Google created a similar environment of being in campus yet being paid to be there and have fun.

Talking to Nnamdi was an experience I cherish, I learned allot  meeting a young African who is passionate about the continent and the small things that matter back home, Google has taught him never to limit himself, never let anything get in the way of a great innovation or job, the other thing that I cant seem to get out of my mind is to do one thing right everyday, learn to do 1 thing and to it well and by end of the year you will have done 360 somethings.. right and that is a game changer. I have to say I cant do justice to the lessons taught by writing them down, I should be a doer first and a talker second.

My final stop over was the Google shop where I got myself some stickers, pens and nice Google Jacket you will see me in soon. At this point I dint know I would be back to meet Megan Smith the Vice President of Google.Org , follow me on Twitter for updates

The highlight of my Visit Day 4 Afternoon at Y Combinator

Coming soon  :)


Sorry but you will have to jump this for a later day – Click here for day 4

The first time I heard of sales force was a couple of years ago, I was disappointed, the application was so amazing but I could not download it, cloud computing was confusing to African Techs back then, actually let’s just say I was disappointed I could not pirate it, (yes, I know, you have never use bootlegged copies of anything… no clue what am talking about) among other problems my tribesmen could not tell if it was crowd or cloud the “r” and “l” problems are going to be here for a while …

Fast forward to day two in San Francisco, I am to meet the VP of all things fun at Sales Force Foundation, am running late not sure I want to bump into Ahmed today so I keep a look out for him, not because I don’t want to talk to him, but I don’t have time, actually later I intend to go look for him.

From the moment I walked into the office, I learn what systems and process are, am embarrassed, I know for a fact I want my office to be like that, I sign into the system and within a minute this lovely lady comes out to meet me! No way to describe such efficiency… you have to see it, from the door to the office everybody has a warm smile and looks genuinely happy! we go to one of the  Caribbean Hawaiian conference rooms  and I get to meet one of the software developers.

Julies email titled said “VP of All Things Fun, Meaningful & Rewarding” and we end up having a great fun conversation, she is warm and loves Sales Force Foundation, she is the Head of Global Integrated Philanthropy and I get to learn how the foundation started, its achievements, employee participation, I learn about Marc Benioff and I get a copy of his book “Behind The Cloud”!.. Marc Started Salesforce 11 years ago in an apartment in San Francisco and today it’s a billion dollar company , 1% equity was put aside for the foundation, that was a forward thinking cool dude, who wanted to give back to society.

Julie is not done and she introduces me to a big group of CEO’s and Founders of successful cool start-ups like Gimiso, Justspotted, thenextweb, huddle, skimlinks, usefunnel!

One thing for sure is I want to be a VP, CEO, Chairman, name it.. of something fun meaningful and rewarding, but more so I want to radiate it like Julie does, with energy focus, drive, skills, knowledge and an amazing network.

I am reading the book ” Behind The Cloud” currently and I feel that day 2 has to be written in many parts … summarizing this story is like telling a hungry Massai to smell Nyama Choma without eventually getting to eat it, not going to work,…  basically I will be adding links and useful information to this blog post… in the meantime let me email Marc Benioff… follow me on Twitter for faster updates on my journeys

Day 3 | Meeting at Kiva and other Fun people

Apparently the Silicon Valley is not in San Francisco, well not exactly… ok… so you are thinking, kwani you dint check online… of course I did, but this is not like figuring out where the General Direction of Ongata Rongai is from Nairobi… but the fun has just began 15th May 2011.

Hotel, Motel or Hostel… I settle for hostel, for the simple reason that I like people and I don’t mind being a cheap skate, an image of the movie Saw and some other psycho movies cross my mind but I think, hell… I come from the Muginki country and they never scared me (I should write of the threat I once received from a guy claiming to be Mungiki), so how do I get a cool place to stay, Mkaigwa suggest I use AirBNB a start-up out of the valley, well it worked perfectly, this is after trying couch surfing for a few days, I meet some really nice people and within the hour we are laughing at some pretty tired jokes…. am jet lagged.

I decided to take a walk, am hungry so I get my map, need a local sim card (The cost of a call when roaming is between 120 and 350 depending on what network you connect to, AT&T, Sprint or T-mobile) , well I don’t get one, the Bloomingdales mall closes at 7:00 and my Kenyan self can’t convince the dude to sell me a sim card.

On my way back am thinking, out of every other 3 black dudes I see, one is crazy, homeless or drunk, deep in this thought I see another one walking towards me, he is wearing a Keffiyeh, (That is the white and black Arabic headscarf) his zip is open.. that is disturbing,  a tall black woman is walking a step behind him, he looks dark skin, Somali maybe…. Walks up straight to me and says.. “Habari Ndungu”….. this is more than a suprise, I am 15424.58 KM from home, a guy talks to me in swahili straight up… the next 30 mins and $10 less I walk away from Ahmed, as he turns and starts crying, the man now an ex-con, left Kenya a boy in 1982 after a tiff with the brother, now homeless.., running from Immigration to avoid deportation,…our topics of conversation include, prison, Kibera, San Francisco, his brother, Eastleigh  and for some reason Koinange street – so how did he know am Kenya.. I am still to figure that one out, he claims it was divine, I am starting to believe him.

I am not sure this is a good start for me, I had hoped to bumped into Mark Zuckerberg but Ahmed, bless his soul takes spot one on the blog. follow me on Twitter for faster updates on my journeys

Day 2 : Vice President all Things Fun

So am here setting this blog to go on-line on 14th May 2011 , so if you are reading this blog then I never got to pull it down and this particular dream did come to pass – now that is cool, first think, then dream , then talk about it, then act on it, then make it a habit then.. it becomes part of you .

Between the 14th of May and the 30th I will plan to make my pilgrimage journey to the silicon valley, and no…. ofcourse this is a long way from completing my bucket list, I dream of the potential of starting an incubator with some friends and partners in Nailab, so far we lack the knowledge and skills to do this, so allot of reading and positive energy into the empty space that nailab is.

The journey to the silicon valley is costly, and I have many doubts about it, who to meet, how to do it, where etc, but that never stopped me before.. and neither should it ever stop you…. nice statement if this see the light of day

I am ambitious that I hope to visit the Google complex, Microsoft, Apple, facebook, meet some Y Combinator start-ups, new successful start-ups even better those that failed since their is a big lesson to learn from them. maybe I will bump into Steve Jobs in an apple store,  or Mark Zuckerberg having coffee, maybe it will be  Larry Page and Sergey Brin or Paul Graham or Arash Ferdowsi or that guy in the movie “the social network” :)

….  Rift Valley to Silicon Valley - follow me on Twitter for faster updates on my journeys

Next article – Day 1 San Francisco Ahmed vs Zuckerberg

A year ago we dreamt of opening an incubator in Nairobi, today the doors opened up thanks to Bart, Tonee, Anna and a host of partners, sponsors and friends.

The Nailab was inspired by Y Combinator and Hackfwd and is the first incubator in East Africa that is not a space for rental but a space for turning smart ideas into profitable ventures, while the nailab does not provide seed money, it provides most resources that a start-up venture requires to create co-create and move an idea into a profitable venture worth the attention of serious VC and Angel Investors.

Sitting in a 1,972 sq feet of office space in a beautiful building that oversees the Ngong Hills, Nairobi Central business district, the National park from a distance and Kibera the biggest slum in east africa, the nailab will offer :

  • high speed internet access
  • a dedicated working space for start-ups
  • mentors and coaches draw from different professionals
  • networking events and opportunities
  • VC and Angel investor pitch sessions
  • and a positively vibrant co-creation space

It does make you wish you had just finished school and you are 18 all over again , before joining University.. and you can start dreaming big and creating things, at 32 I doubt am a write off for innovative ideas :) I think I have allot under my sleeves.. that goes on until am 70 for those doubting.

A couple of years ago, a gentleman called Jasper Grosskurth was asked to write  about technologies within Africa, Jasper Grosskurth is a futurist and researcher and until recently he was working for the STT netherlands study center for technology trends.

Part of his research was carried out at the Nailab and every one interested in investing in technology should definitely read the final product of his 3 year work, to download a free copy here http://www.stt.nl/AfricanFutures.

Jasper is currently providing consultancy services at the Nailab with Sam Gichuru and will be hosted at 93.3 Hope fm on 19th April 2011.

allot of questions have come in about the Nailab and I will be happy to answer them, in the meantime you can view the story here on business daily

Sam Gichuru

Works at the Nailab and a bunch of other startups, loves new ideas...


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