After a decade in the military, I unintentionally found myself as a startup Co-Founder, raising several million dollars, building technology, teams, cultures, a customer base, a brand, dealing with a board, shareholders, and other stakeholders such as lawyers, accountants, HR firms, the media…BUT I was flying blind. I had ZERO preparedness for running a business and didn’t even really know the industry I was entering. HOWEVER, in the military, and have been a junior athlete was the discipline, structure, work ethic, tenacity, and resilience required by running a company. It was these skills that complimented my Co-Founder so well and what brought our investors on board.
At the beginning of the millennium, there were no accelerators or incubators (that I knew of), and certainly not the wealth of information (and black holes) on the internet to learn from.
I was fortunate that despite my lack of business knowledge and insights, together with my Co-Founder we were able to surround ourselves with experts and outstanding mentors. We over-compensated for what we didn’t know where we could, and for all the positives I’ve mentioned, it’s why our business worked.
I went on to launch a second startup and the lessons learned in the first were invaluable in my next endeavors.
And they’ve stayed with me. Since arriving in Ghana in 2015, I’ve worked to pass on what I’ve learned in founding and running businesses to new founders, teams, startups, and businesses across the continent.
I’m both a generalist and tend to focus on early/pre-seed/Series A businesses, in sectors ranging from agriculture and logistics to insurance and renewable energy; focusing on areas from personal growth and well-being of the founder/s to building teams and the culture; pitching and customer acquisition, to scaling and investment readiness. I also enjoy leveraging and making connections through my networks.
There’s almost an overwhelming amount of knowledge available on the internet now, so I see my role as a mentor and advisor as one to ensure founders have focus, and guidance, avoid the endless noise and distractions, and benefit from my experience (the good and the bad) and the additional exposure I can give them, to ensure they can build their businesses and grow as leaders, and individuals.
This is personally rewarding as I get to pay it forward, potentially discovering new opportunities and people along the way, which can only benefit my own professional and personal growth, and the ecosystems I seek to bolster.