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Never stop learning if you want to scale-Ory Okolloh to entrepreneurs

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Speaking on the last day of the week-long inaugural Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI)’s Creatives Scaleup Accelerator Boot Camp, Ory Okolloh, Director of Investments at Omidyar Network told participants never to stop learning wherever they go if they want to scale their companies.

“Few startups try to know their customers,” Okolloh said. “I read my customers feedback obsessively. The best person to help you is your customer. The first ten people who download your app are the ones who will help refine your product. Your first 100 customers teach you a lot.”

She called upon the participants to listen to their customers feedback as it was the people and not technology that mattered and challenged them to reach out to customers in the counties and villages instead of staying in tech hubs where there are no customers.

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Okolloh said that the mistake most entrepreneurs make is thinking they are too cool to reach out even when no one is buying their products. Instead she urged them to engage the private sector and move out to solve problems than staying in their comfort zones.

Reminiscing her time at Ushahidi, Okolloh said they struggled to raise money, didn’t even have a business model nor budget for marketing and PR until she learnt the art of story telling as the Executive Director. She asked the participants to learn the art of story telling and let their clients tell their stories for them instead.

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“Clients are your best sales people. Let your clients spread the word for you,” she added.

Unlike in Nigeria where founders of firms such as Konga and Paga are doing seed rounds into young startups, Kenya still needs to encourage more local investors to make it sustainable. However, she urged the entrepreneurs to believe in their work enough, see the bigger picture and have confidence instead of buying into the Mzungu co-founder ideology.

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The week-long accelerator gave participants hands-on skills and insights on how to scale their companies from ideas to profitable businesses.

The startups drawn from creative media and emerging technologies included:

  1. Bunifu Technologies, an anti-virus software firm founded in Kenya.
  2. Elimu Digital Media Ltd, a platform that broadcasts secondary education using ELimu TV, Online, Radio, SMS and Mobile App.
  3. MyRide Kenya, a mobile service that makes public transport fun, comfortable and safe with a goal of
    reducing road accidents in Kenya, most caused by Public Service Vehicles, by up to 50%.
  4. The Tsunami Studio, a creative animation-and media house with passion for creating an impactful
    message through our stories.
  5. Ziko Afrika, a contemporary brand pushing boundaries in the African accessories design and production space.
  6. MyMsanii, a musician, DJ and entertainer booking marketplace for event organizers.


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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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