Saturday, January 17, 2015

Do Not Be Afraid - Success in Start Ups

I am not encouraging you to be reckless... by all means no.

Do your research, know your users, understand your partners interests... take precautions but by all means when it comes to action - Do Not be Afraid... just do what you need to Do and Fail in Action not Fail in Fear.

To succeed in start ups you need to be brave enough to fail

In my community I attend meetup after meetup and all I hear is people say... but here in Kenya this is the case... here in Kenya this is not possible... the regulatory environment... the availability of capital... my idea will not be stolen... how can you help us?

All I am saying is if you want to be an entrepreneur you have to lose "Victim Mentality" we have enough problems in Africa... we have the brains and access to resources to solve them... we are just cowards - stop being afraid... be brave.

The Bible - one of the world's most read religious writings says "Fear Not" - 365 times in the book.

One day each one of us will die... whether it is by choking on spaghetti watching a Mexican soap or Mountain climbing. I want to make sure that if my life ends on spaghetti then I really enjoyed the challenge of eating it... I don't want to zombie through life - I want to taste every bit of spaghetti I eat and feel every crag of mountain that won't hold my feet and be exhilarated by both

So let us take on the challenges our country is facing lets us put our best foot or best frontal lobe or best fingers forward and do something.

Let us build communication channels between human beings and systems, let us make processes more efficient, let us make transactions better, let us make human lives simpler... better... more healthy.

Fear prevents us from action
We will not put out our idea because we think it will be stolen... well here is your 411 you aren't the only one thinking it... but you could be the only one doing it

Fear Makes us hurt one another
How many times have we rejected an innovation just so that we can secure our jobs. Fear makes us evil... we deny millions of people better lives just so that we won't be out of a paycheck or so that an obsolete technology can continue making revenue for my company.

Fear is the price we pay for No Adventure
Everything worth living for - love, purpose, meaning... challenge us to be brave. We cannot love and open our hearts to love if we are afraid... we cannot do something greater than us if we are afraid... we cannot find meaning in our lives... and with the universe if we are afraid.

We cannot reach out to help others (read social entrepreneurship) or risk our viewpoint to understand others (read proper user experience research and empathy) or build great innovative business (read disruptive technology) without failing if we are afraid - Be Brave

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Power Breakfast Interview: Changing Kenya using ICT

Dr. Bitange Ndemo and Engineer Martin Obuya speaking about what we need to make Kenya's developers and innovators impact the people of our country

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Queues and Happy Saba Saba Day

I do not like queues at all... I know that queuing was invented for efficiency but many times nowadays we have queues because of poorly planned processes or abstaining from using relevant innovative technology

Anyway this year on July 7, 2014 there was a lot of political jitters because of the planned Saba Saba rally.

This proved to be a really great day to do stuff like go to KPLC to find out why my prepaid meter had just gone blank. There was no jam (queues of cars on our roads) it was total queue-less heaven

Tellers at KPLC were relaxed on Saba Saba day

Miracle of a empty KPLC hall on Saba Saba day

Some tellers took a break because customers were few

Cheque queue at KPLC

Here are pictures of the worst queues I witnessed this year (I know you have experienced worse ones at bus stations... so I left those out - a clear result of poorly planned transport system.)

Queue outside Kenya Revenue Authority

Queue outside KRA all the way to Vigilance House

Taxpayers queuing outside Revenue authority

Queue on Aga Khan walk outside KPLC

Queue on Aga Khan walk outside KPLC

Queue outside Cooperative Bank next to August 7 Memorial Garden

Students Queue at Kenyatta University Finance Window
I am sure you have your own pictures of worse queues. Technology can change this state of affairs if institutions are responsive to innovation, if they design process around their customers and if they put people first before process.

Jesus said " 27And he said to them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath."

I really believe we can make lives simpler if we read into these words and put people at the center.

On Kenyan Banks and People Friendly services

This year I joined Chase Bank Kenya.

Chase bank have an awesome standard of customer service... they have really short queues... customers get to be attended to one on one.

Believe it or not - an ATM card/Debit card takes 15 minutes after request to be processed.

This for me I found to be a good example of a process centered around people... not the other way around as is often the case with many banks and institutions in our country

no queues in Chase Bank

One on one customer service
Well if Chase is my new bank there has to be an EX somewhere.

Fortunately my Ex Bank unlike one of my other previous EX bank Barclays does not accumulate charges on accounts... with my Ex Bank you can stop banking with them and still keep the account without charges... you never know if you need it on some rainy day. This is not what it sounds like - I don't play banks... I am just not good at staying in bad relationships especially banking relationships

So my Ex bank and I broke up but I didn't close the account... here is the story


My Ex bank like other Kenyan banks have migrated to the EMV chip cards. Well with my Ex bank the migration seems to be giving them a headache so my old debit card expired and they suggested I might be better off just getting the new EMV instead of a replacement.

It took four months for my new card to come through... many payment services I had linked to the card were closed.

I survived because the Kenyatta Branch of this bank had some really good tellers who encouraged me that my card would be out soon... took time to chat to customers... strangely enough they never had long queues despite the number of customers.

Finally they even helped me re-apply for a card... after their re-application. It took exactly two weeks for me to get my EMV chip card.

My conclusion was that my branch in CBD had lost or my first application.

Anyway... you are probably wondering why I left after surviving four months and finally getting my card.
The card didn't work and when I asked my friendly branch... they were helpless... they said I would have to go to my branch.

So here a couple of clips of my branch. We were in a queue of almost 20 people (see the mirror reflection) there was one teller and there was a member of staff catching up with a friend for almost an hour and two other members of staff who initially said they weren't assigned to the teller desk when I asked them to help out

Staff chatting with a friend for almost an hour as we wait

About 20 people queuing at my EX bank