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How Kenya’s StartUpNow is helping identify, grow and manage unbeatable startups

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Wilkings Fadhili is the founder and CEO of StartUpNow, formerly Fashion Torch Incubation Hub. This is an accelerator that offers startups a unique way to develop, grow and manage unbeatable brands, in a rapidly growing industry in Kenya and across Africa. In this interview he tells us more about himself and his company.

Tell me about yourself, who Wilkings is and what drives him, his educational

Wilkings is this 25 year old entrepreneur passionate about people, disruptive entrepreneurial ideas and all kinds of brands. He holds a first class bachelors degree in Public Relations and Mass communication from Daystar University. His passion is in designing, developing ,growing and managing unbeatable brands

StartUpNow Founder, Wilkings Fadhili

You recently launched your company, Startup Now. Tell us more about the company.
Let’s say StartUpNow has been in existence for 4 years, StartUpNow is a rebrand of Fashion Torch Incubation Hub, a platform that used to design creative businesses into sustainable fully fledged companies. We started attracting entrepreneurs from different sectors and thought we were being biased, so we decided to rebrand to StartUpNow by WILKINGS to work with all kinds of ideas and build all kinds of brands.

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What does Startup Now do?
StartUpNow is an Idea Development and Brand Scale up up/acceleration company.
We work with 3 groups,
People who have ideas and want to develop them into brands we put them into a 10 month idea incubation phase in building those ideas into brands, we also work with Startups that want to grow and scale up and finally we work with fast growing brands that also want to scale up and grow “unbeatably” e.g Tusker, Cold Stone, Posh Palace, Huddah Cosmetics.
Our mantra is designing, building, growing and managing unbeatable brands.

What was your motivation for starting the company?
To change the game, to develop ideas into companies in a different way and to help brands scale up and grow in a very different way.

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You often describe Startup Now as an Idea Development/Brands and Startup Acceleration company. Over the past few years there have been other names in the industry, doing more or less the same thing. How would you differentiate Startup Now from the others?
We work so differently
1. When it comes to developing ideas into companies we don’t work with these entrepreneurs in groups, we work with them in a a more personal engagement.
2. We develop ideas and scale up brands using our self designed psychological methodologies. This helps our client’s.brands to grow and remain relevant in the ever changing world.
3. We grow ideas and brands in a way they don’t have to think about getting investors, they become self sustainable .

Does your accelerator program have a package for early stage startups who may not have the required funds to secure space at your premises?
Yes we do, we operate more like a company than an accelerator, we think there are many accelerators around and incubators and the impact these incubators need to make aren’t yet felt, that’s why we work with early stage startups in a more personal way, this enables both parties to come up with engagement structures that is favorable and impacting.

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What has been the toughest challenge for Startup Now since its inception?
Our challenge was getting brand designers and strategists. It’s hard to get these people in Kenya, but our team has been learning on the job and they’re the baddest.

What has been the toughest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Most times its been someone believing that such a company with young guys can develop their ideas into a company or someone trusting us in growing and managing their brand. But thank God we are building an awesome international portfolio .

Is there any point during your entrepreneurship journey that you would term as easy
or a walkover?

Nope there isn’t! Honestly entrepreneurship is not easy, it needs a thick skin, every challenge I’ve gone through has been a learning experience.

Last year you were part of the Blaze tour as a speaker around Kenya, how would you
describe your experience on it? What was good, what was tough
Being part of Blaze was amazing, I still am but on hands-on mentorship to the entrepreneurs and contestants under Blaze. Its such an amazing thing sharing your story out there in a bid to inspire someone, at the same time its tough, because you have to really understand every youth from different countries and speak their language.
The most amazing thing was last year I got a Ksh. 16.5 M Grant through Blaze , someone listened to my talk and contacted me there after, I’ll never forget. When you are given a platform to share more about your company or yourself, do it with passion you never know whose in the audience or who Will watch that video thereafter.

StartUpNow co-working space

Where do you think your company will be in the next 5-10 years?
To have branches around different countries in Africa. We just want to be the best in what we are doing.

What would your advice to young entrepreneurs be regarding their startups?
Build something that people want and be passionate about it.

What do you think about the future of entrepreneurship and startups in Kenya?
I think the Kenyan entrepreneurship ecosystem is changing and growing faster. We have a bright future, all we need to do is stop copying each other’s companies and embrace innovation.

How can one be part of Startup Now?
We can be reached on [email protected]
Our handles are startupnow by Wilkings in all our platforms

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