2015: A Great Journey It Was
2015 has been one long year with many highlights of up and down moments. Actually, I think it can be summarized as my most eventful year.
January: Birthday things and New School
Many things happen in January for me each year.
On 6th is my birthday for those of you not aware, yes, I am a January baby. Speaking of which, since this post has been made prior to my birthday, I expect to be remembered on that day :). This year, we decided to combine my birthday with Shavuya’s, my sister. Hers is on 18th January.
So on 25th we set out to Karen Botanical Gardens, booked a gazebo for ourselves, invited close family and friends (about 10 people in total) and had a small get together to celebrate both birthdays. My cake was a black forest and Shavuya’s was a white forest. The management of the place was really friendly too and helped out a lot in facilitating the whole thing. The cakes were made by Tambo Creations.
Other than that, I started 1st Year at St. Paul’s University doing a Degree in Business in Leadership and Management (BLM). This came with the usual hectic first year rush of trying to register units and pay fees on time and ensuring all was well. Plus, there was an orientation too one of the Saturdays in their Nairobi Campus. I, however, chose the Limuru Campus.
St. Paul’s University
My experience with St. Paul’s is a very weird one, considering I have been in the Strathmore system since 2008 (Form One). Not that St. Paul’s is bad, but nothing beats the efficiency offered by the Strathmore education system. From pre-registration all the way up to the exam period, the Strathmore education system has perfected the art of efficiency to the extent that you could say it is like second nature to them. With this in mind, adjusting to the St.
Paul’s system has been an uphill task, but one that is manageable.
The mode I chose to study was also new. Since I work full time during the day, I chose the distance learning mode of study. This may sound like an easy option, but it is far from it. We do have some physical classes though (about 3 per semester).
The last week of January was spent hiring and orienting new interns into Tatu Creatives. This was such a relief after we had spent a whole month going through 88 applicants, but we managed to get 6 new people. Out of which only one made it to associate partner level to date, Kevin Kidali.
February: Black Month
All through October/November 2014 up until February 2015, I had not been feeling well. What started as a gas problem back in late 2014, developed into a bigger issue by the first week of February. By this time, my body muscles were all stiff and painful, and my appetite was completely gone.
This led to me being admitted at Aga Khan on 3rd February. I spent 2 nights there as they did numerous tests, scans and x-rays to determine what was up. It was later discovered that I had been suffering from an autoimmune disease called Lupus, and that I had had it for very many years, unknowingly. The symptoms where there, but they were misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, and the meds seemed to work each time there was a flare up.
After being released, I spent the better part of February recovering while Jeff, my business partner, ran all the company affairs the entire month.
The sick leave gave me ample time to get back to reading books and even do a complete renovation of my room. I got new paints for the walls, re-did the ceiling and got some new artworks to hang on the wall.
Towards the end of the month, we lost one of our cats to a dog attack from a neighbour’s dog.
March: Back to Normal
By March, the meds were working just fine and life went back to normal. My doctor’s appointments reduced from bi-monthly to once every 3 months. So things were starting to look up.
My experience with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra was actually not bad, but the whole experience of being immobile in February made me realize that the physical size of the phone was actually not user friendly at all. But I shall definitely miss the screen clarity of that phone and the fact that it seldom used to crash. But, then I remember that it did not have flash and I no longer miss it so much.
However, I regret the fact that I did not utilize it to take any underwater pics, this opportunity was taken by my close pals instead.
So, out of frustration of using it in public, especially town, I decided to get a replacement. The HTC Desire 816. I have to admit, this was a serious downgrade. I was looking for a 5.5in phone that was slim and light. Yes, I got that. But, I got a phone that hangs enough times, is really low on memory (what can one do with 8GB internal memory in 2015?), and keeps having these weird mood swings each month. Sadly, I still have it, but its stay with me is long overdue. Sorry HTC, but never again.
Back to Work
I also reported back to work, and being the main finance guy, the first thing was to clear the accounting backlog that had accumulated over the entire month of February. I was also brought up to speed on new developments especially with the Digital Development team. Before I could even settle down properly, I found myself having to represent Tatu Creatives Ltd in the Kenyan finalist round of a global completion called the GSEA Competition.
Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards (GSEA) – An Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Competition
I only had 3 days to prepare slides and rehearse for the pitch. To be honest, I really do not like last minute things, so I had completely refused to do it, but due to pressure from @iBizAfrica and Jeff, I just decided to give it a try. This competition was a major thing as the winner was going to represent Kenya in the finals to be held in the US within a month or so (mind you my passport was expired – still is actually). There were six teams in the finals (Tatu Creatives Ltd included) and all had really good representatives who had mastered the art of public speaking. Those who know me, know that area is not my forte.
The D-Day came. It was 11th March. I pitched my heart out and sat through very grueling questions. Questions such as those you see on Shark Tank. The media was there recording your every success and, of course, every failure.
The judges verdict was simple: We had the best overall presentation, from the slides to the pitch flow, especially being a Creative Digital Agency. But, we failed on the business explanation side. They wanted a concrete plan of how we were planning on changing our revenues from what they currently are to like 10x more and at the shortest reasonable time-span. Basically, the value for their money should they invest in the company. Another thing they wanted to see is, should they inject capital into the company now, what short term and long term actions will Tatu Creatives take, and why.
With that, we took in 3rd place, got some goodies, did some interviews and photo shoots. It wasn’t bad at all. It was a great experience I have to say.
April: Naivasha Weekend Getaway
On Friday 24th April, we set out for Naivasha as a group of 4 young guys (and a lady). This was one of the most random and memorable trips ever made. At the beginning we had numerous hiccups though, such as delaying to leave Nairobi (we left at around 4pm) and then running out of fuel in Kinungi at 6.30pm and the petrol station’s card service was not working (thus keeping us there for one hour waiting for it to work).
When we arrived at our lodge we found out the hard way that pictures lie! So we had to look for alternative accommodation at 10pm. Since it was already too late, we settled for Crayfish Camp.
Crayfish Camp is an amazing place although I still believe the prices are on the higher side for what you get. It took a while to settle down at Crayfish because we had lost the ATM card that we were using to pay for things (we found it the next day at the previous hotel we had checked out) and then Mpesa services were down on that day (it was during the Mpesa Migration Period). So we had to wait up to around 11pm for mpesa services to start working again so that we could pay for our rooms.
The rest of the weekend was packed with many tours and activities. First stop, on Saturday, was Mt. Longonot. Last time I had climbed this mountain was in 2008 while in form two and I had been dying to come back. I had accumulated so much psyche of trekking up that mountain once again. Sadly, Michelle could not make it to the top and someone had to stay behind and wait with her. That person was me. So unfortunately, I got halfway. Jeff and Alvis made it though and even went round the peak (so envious right now, should have been there too).
Hell’s Gate National Park and Spa
The next day, we decided to do something a bit more chilled. So we went for Hell’s Gate National Park and did the full tour which was totally worth it. After the tour, the guide showed us a heaven inside the park: The Hell’s Gate Spa. It is said to be among the top 3 biggest natural spas in Africa. Even pictures cannot describe the beauty of this place.
We crowned off the day by having fish by the lake at a local fish joint before setting off on the 2 hour journey back to the then rain-filled Nairobi City.
May: Fabou and Kijana Afrika
May 30th was a historic moment for Kijana Afrika. This was the official launch of the Kijana Afrika fashion line and it all went down during the Fabou Event held at the Michael Joseph Center, Safaricom House.
5 models walked down the runway with Kijana Afrika clothing putting on what could have been considered as one of the best showcases for the night and also most unique showcasing.
June: Pre-GES Summit at Strathmore University
Strathmore University hosted the Pre-GES Summit on June 9th ahead of the GES Summit that was to be held later on. H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta was the key person of the event and he made a point of visiting some of the businesses at @iBizAfrica.
Originally, we were not meant to be among those to get to personally speak to the President, but we decided to be smart about it by creating a massive banner that will attract his handlers’ attention and make him pass by. I am glad to say the banner did just that. We got to not only shake his hands and give a courteous hello, but also got to explain some of the key projects that Tatu Creatives was working on, especially our security application, The Looker.
Swimming at Hell’s Gate Spa
To finish of the month, we had organized to celebrate Timothy’s birthday in Naivasha on 28th June. This was done at the Hell’s Gate Spa. This second visit to Hell’s Gate was even more exciting mainly due to the large number of people this time and the fact that this was a celebration day too and every one was in their highest spirits.
July: Tatu Creatives at the GES Conference
July was one busy month with the whole GES thing going on. Stress levels were at their highest as we tried to beat deadlines to ensure that everything was set for that week. And when the week finally came, stress levels were even worse because of the amount of standing and pitching and talking that one does. Manning a stand at an expo held at KICC is no easy task!
Personally, I did not think we made any gains by taking part in the Expo. A lot of cash was splashed into it, but the returns from it were not of equal measure.
Kijana Afrika Photoshoot in the Wild
It was during this month that we had Kijana Afrika’s biggest photoshoot in the middle of the Nairobi National Park. Our photos even made it to the local dailies.
August: A Billion Reasons to Believe
This was the month I was selected among 5 other Strathmore University students to share my story of being a student entrepreneur in the same stage with James Mworia (Centum CEO) among others. The event was organized by Capital FM as part of their Campus ThroughPass program. It was sponsored by Coca-Cola as part of their “A Billion Reasons to Believe” Campaign.
September: Launch of The Looker App
On September 26th, we launched The Looker during an event organized by Nairobi Baptist Church and the Nairobi Police Department. The event was attended by many top police bosses who all showed great support for the Looker project and were all willing to help the application grow.
Other than that, I decided to take a drive to Namanga with Jeff and Crystal that month and also visit the Nairobi National Park with family just for an afternoon chill out session.
October: Fourteen Falls Visit
Believe it or not, the last time I went to Fourteen Falls prior to this was around class 5 (back in 2003). I had even forgotten much about how the place was. So on October 20th, we decided to go down to Thika with Jeff and just have a good time there. Jeff even jumped from the top of one of the waterfalls!
November: Lake Oloiden
Enter Ian Yego, the young and talented agri-businessman! The things he has done for his age still amaze me! So one random Saturday afternoon we decided to go spend it in Naivasha. Personally, I had run out of new places to see in Naivasha since I am there almost every 3 months. So Ian had the amazing suggestion of late lunch by Lake Oloiden (yeah, I too had not heard of such a lake before). But, when we got there, we found one of the most tranquil lakes in the country. There is only one hotel serving the lake and their service was really good that day and they also offer camping utilities at good rates.
December: Kilifi Trip and Shagz
I have written a whole blog on the Kilifi Trip (check it out here).
Other than that, I spent Christmas with family back in the village and it was a nice time away from all the hustle and bustle of the city.