Safi Analytics CEO Lauren Dunford has started a new fire on social media when she said in a statement that Kennedy Ng’ang’a, it’s co-founder as a disgruntled former employee and not co-founder and shareholder.
Dunford, in a statement, claimed that she and her other co-founder Jason Dunford registered the company in the US in March 2017, and in Kenya in July 2017 and Kennedy was the company’s first employee and not co-founder, as he had intimated in a video shared on social media earlier.
Good morning. Safi Analytics and I are committed to working with integrity while caring for our team. Here's our official statement on recent allegations made by a former employee. I understand, take to heart and will address the concerns that have been raised – Lauren pic.twitter.com/iAYTzd6C0f— Lauren Dunford (@laurenedunford) January 22, 2020
Dunford claim Kennedy only joined the company two months after its registration in Kenya and called him co-founder to appreciate his joining the company at an early stage and his passion for data analytics.
Dunford claims Kennedy had not created the company, had no outright equity in the company and was a fulltime employee like the rest of the team. The CEO says Kennedy did not create the company’s software and was, therefore, let go when he did not achieve the company’s set goals.
In a video shared by politician, human rights activist and photographer Boniface Mwangi, Kennedy insists he has been witch-hunted out of the company and ousted with no recompense. The Geospatial Engineering graduate claims Safi Analytic’s expatriate co-founders are sidelining him and are taking over his shares in the company he helped create.
As a GIS analyst, Kennedy allegedly influenced Lauren to quit her idea of solar energy as the sector was saturated with various companies, and instead focus on energy monitoring for factories and companies. That’s when they partnered and launched Safi Gen which later rebranded to Safi Analytics.
Kennedy allegedly launched, build the software and acquired customers for the company from mid-2017 to mid-2018, when Dunford was still doing her MBA at Stanford. After the earlier pilots under Kennedy, Dunford hired Weston McBride who now become the third co-founder. McBride, a funding expert helped the firm to raise 2018, the company raised around $2m in equity funding for deployment and expansion.
However, trouble started immediately the firm raised funding as Dunford and the new co-founder, both expatriates, wanted him out. Kennedy alleges that there was pressure on him to resign and give up his shares but when he refused, he was shown the door without compensation or severance pay.
Kenyan Tech Start-up Ecosystem: Tilted Towards Foreigners?In 2017 Kennedy Nganga, launched Safi Analytics, a smart metering start-up, alongside two foreign nationals.2018,the firm raised 200 million in capital and that's when @laurenedunford tried to push Ken out of the company. pic.twitter.com/EzCtX9qvNL— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) January 20, 2020
Kennedy has now taken Safi Analytics to court and is fighting it out with Lauren Dunford and Weston McBride. Kennedy says he helped build the cloud-based platform providing simple real-time energy data, alerts, and recommendations to diagnose and solve energy challenges.
The Geospatial Engineer says he is part and parcel of the smart metering energy firm and he wants his fair share before he is ousted. He also says no due process was followed in his ouster and the charges were all trumped up to ensure he leaves without his equity and compensation. It’s not a matter of racism to him but a matter of discrimination in his own country and in his own company.
Kennedy reminds us of early stories such as Kenya’s PesaTalk which saw its founder and CEO ousted, a new team hired and later shut down entirely by the then 88mph or Rainlex Investments. Later the same thing nearly happened to Kenya’s PesaPal but the founder, being smart never took in new funding. Had he accepted investments from some international investors who really wanted him out as CEO.
Angani co-founders were hardest hit by these board politics and left to start NodeAfrica while Kenya’s iHub saw its co-founders evicted as the money started pouring in until it grew to international standards and was later sold for a profit.
Recently, Frank Tamre of Moringa School, announced he had left the company he co-founded to start another one. Though there were rumors that he had been pushed out, the CEO disputed such claims saying the two had a mutual agreement on the move but Tamre remained depressed for a while before he could get his life together.
Why Kenyans seem to be falling for these traps repeatedly could be because investors invest more in expatriate associated companies than those by Kenyan locals. Breaking the Pattern, a recent investment report by Village Capital saw that expatriate-founded startups took home 90 percent of the funding into Kenyan ventures with the need to break that pattern to grow the ecosystem.