#17: As a studentpreneur you can tackle big national problems, Samuelle Dimairho tells us how he did it. Student in Accounting at the Online University of Oxford Brook, UK, and entrepreneur at Aura Group in Zimbabwe.

#17 Samuelle Dimairho

Founder at Aura Group

Meet this week awesome studentpreneur: Samuelle Dimairho student in Accounting at the Online University of Oxford Brook, UK, and entrepreneur at Aura Group in Zimbabwe.

Wrap up:
Each studentpreneur’s story is different and what works for some people doesn’t for others, however I’d like to point out of few things in Samuelle Dimairho’s journey that are similar to the studentpreneurs I have talked to:

He started 20 different ideas to to succeed a couple of times, he is another example of starting fast and failing fast. Also he has been a big reader from very early on, which is how he chaged his mindset to become an entrepreneur. He listens to a lot of audiobook while commuting so no excuse if you don’t have time to read books, you can listen to them. He started very early, at 14, doing internship from which he gained professional experience but also made a lot of connections, that’s how he started his network. As always mentors play a great role in his entrepreneurship journey, he has several who have different areas of expertise. He met his first one at church, you never know where your first mentor will come from. Finally he really enjoyed the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award competition where he met likeminded studentpreneurs and mature entrepreneurs. So apply now at GSEA.org.

Books:
– Rich dad, poor dad (Robert Kiyosaki)
– The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey)

Tips:
– Share with everyone, especially your professors, your idea in the infant stage for validation purposes.
– Take advantage of free online courses (MOOCS)
– Attend Startup Weekend the Global Student Entrepreneur Award

Visit Samuelle’s website: www.auragp.com

Full Transcript:

Samuelle: Okay, good. So I’m from Zimbabwe, which is in Southern Africa. Many people know the country Zimbabwe for their own things, but it’s a very beautiful country that everybody who comes here falls in love with it. It’s a very nice place to be. I live in Harare, which is the capital city and where I grew up in Harare.

Julien: How many inhabitants in Harare?

Samuelle: Harare has a population of estimated between 2 and 3 million people, and the country’s population is about 13 million people.

Julien: Okay, pretty good size city. All right, so how did you get started on that journey of entrepreneurship? Like how old were you, like were you in primary school, high school, do you remember?

Samuelle: Okay, so my business journey started when I was in high-school. And it started in grade nine with financial journals, you know dreaming big time on the  financial markets, something I found interesting. My dad gave me a book to read, “Rich dad, poor dad”, which was, yeah, which was very interesting. And, you know if someone who was already the kind of business-minded, I just fell in love with the book and ideas that it put up in. That’s what got me started.

Julien: So you, you broke the mindset of getting an education, getting a job, instead, you just, you started a business.

Samuelle: Exactly.

Julien: So, what attracted you in financial journals at the age of 15?

Samuelle: Well, by then I had read, read “Rich dad, poor dad” and I’m like “Okay, my objective was to make money”, well, which is what every businessman wants to do. We are not ashamed of making money. Yes, so my motivation was to make money, and I said okay, may be a good place to start is the stock market. We had, you know, a bit of inflation in our country and ah, you know, inflation, I think, by then in 2006, there were about, you know inflation was, in the double to triple digits range, so it was.

Julien: Sorry, double digits? Even triple? Well, I, I, that’s crazy. That’s.

Samuelle: Yeah, yeah. Well, that was the beginning because by the time we stopped using our local currency, inflation was about 8 billion per cent per annum, and prices would double in every fifteen hours or something like that.

Julien: So, basically, you buy, I don’t know, a credit for the phone on the first day of the months. And by the end of the months, the same card is worth, what, 20 times, nothing?

Samuelle: Well it’s worth nothing basically because if I bought a loaf of bread for $10, never mind I bought it at the end of the month, tomorrow that loaf would be $20. And then the next day to it would be $40. You know the next day to it would be $80.  So anyway, in about 2006, the inflation was still double or triple digits, which is a lot by global standard, but that was the beginning. So, there was lots of speculation happening in the market. And I was like:” Look, let me get into these stock markets. Get in that game”. So, then, I was still too young to invest and be, and hold an account with a brokerage firm. So, I used my mother’s National Identification to open an account under her name so that I could trade. And that’s, well, and so that as to trade, you’re going to have to be fifteen and up. From then, I used to make my own pocket money for I never used to ask my parents for pocket money because I was making enough to sustain myself, for the little things that a 15 years old kid bought.

Julien: So, how were you going to get, did your mother, did she know that you used her details, you opted to do that?

Samuelle: Yeah. I know she was fully aware of it, ah.

Julien: Okay, good.

Samuelle: Because I had to ask her.

Julien: Okay, so, from then, you were, kind of, independent for all the small stuff.

Samuelle: Yeah, for the small stuff. Yeah. And, ah…

Julien: How did they feel?

Samuelle: You know what, it’s cool. Well, it felt nice to know that, look, I can be able to do what I want, when I want, ah, and the, look, okay, my, my parents raised my well and I, of course, was the response.  Even though I had money, I was, I was also responsible with it. I didn’t go crazy and starts doing all sorts of funny things that teenagers enjoy, which are, can be harmful. But, ah, I, I always used it for good use. Then my friends, ah, you know, saw the success I was having, playing in the stock market and they were like:” Look, we want to give you all money to invest for us”. So I actually signed contracts with my friends also. They’d all give me money; I’d invest on their behalf, if we made money.

Julien: So you were a broker for them.

Samuelle: Oh yeah. I was like, a fund manager. Yeah, fund manager.

Julien: Okay, yeah, yeah. Okay.

Samuelle: A fund manager who promised they made it, that we would share money if we made. We’d share the profit if we made the profit. And if we made a loss, I was indemnified from the loss. So basically, and I never made any losses.

Julien: Can I join, can I join?

Samuelle: Yeah, yeah.

Julien: Okay

Samuelle: Because it was, it was quite interesting, ah, of course, it was probably illegal, but I didn’t know that. And, oh, and we were all minus and couldn’t maintain the contracts, but we all had some sorts of understanding anyway, and nothing ever went, never, ever went wrong.

Julien: Well, that’s the beauty of ah, being a student entrepreneur, like, you don’t want really have to know all the rules right? Because you’re under-age and…

Samuelle: Yeah, exactly. So it’s just, get it on with it and ah, you know, you’ll learn as you go.

Julien; But, hang on. You were, ah, so you were buying and selling stocks online? Like, from other markets or from Zimbabwe?

Samuelle: Just in Zimbabwe only. So, our market is a manual market. It was a manual market thing.

Julien: A manual market?

Samuelle: Yes, so imagine, back in the days, in the banks, that the banking sector, imagine, banks with no systems.  And how it is builtwe closed the same transaction that you have, always the book, those little booklets for them to record you.  So, you can imagine that kind of era, that’s where our market was. So, that was where my, my first business idea came. So, one day, I sat down after reading one of “Rich dads” or one of, one of Robert Kiyosaki books, and I’m like:” Look, I want to make a list of twenty things that can be done in Zimbabwe.” And I made my list of 20 things and I decided to [inaudible 5:57] in on one thing. And this one thing was automating our capital markets in Zimbabwe.

Julien: That’s pretty big. But that sounds actually, you had no competition right? Nobody did it?

Samuelle: Well, many people were trying to do it in different ways, but they all failed. They, they, we’re talking about is automation for the 696s, when I was 6 years old. So by the time I was 17, which was eleven years later, no-one had done anything. So me being young and naïve, well, I’m like ”Oh, okay, these, these old guys can’t do it. I’m going to come and do it.” Yeah, I wanted to go and find software developers who were going to write the system and provide these platforms for these guys to automate. Because when you automate the capital market, you first have to establish what’s first for the central depository system. This is a clearing, it’s a cast to, an electronic cast to the clearing and settlement platform for securities. So just think of it as a banking system, so that when people want to transact, they deposit their stocks and shares, and when you trade those shares, you want the money and the shares to move electronically between accounts.

Julien: Where did you find the developers?

Samuelle: They were all locals, so.

Julien: Locals?  All right.

Samuelle: Yeah, yeah, yeah, local. My, my brother is, is a, my brother Jerome is a software developer. And, ah, but he’s based in Gokwe. So, he kind of referred me to his friends that were local, and I eventually packed it up with a number of developers, watch on it. Going on with that, we were, initially wanted to write some software, and we embarked with this project in 2008. And then, the Securities Commissioners Zimbabwe got established. So instead of us providing assistance for the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, the Securities Commissioners, they made us to oversee, keep for setting up of a central securities depository. So what a central securities depository is, is a company that operates the CSD system. So, in, instead of this being an utmost stock exchange, they said, let this be an independent company. And when the stock exchange trades, they integrate to the CDS system.  And you only have one CDS system in a country and you can have like 15 stock exchanges. So for example, in America, they use what the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, which is the CSD in the US, but you’ve got like 20 stock exchanges. But they all do their trading and settlement through DTCs.

Julien: The clearing house is in, is in one place.

Samuelle: Exactly. So in London, it’s Crescent-based [8:15], the Europe, it’s Europe-cleared. So now the Securities Commissioner say “Look, we want the tender, for people to come in, set up this company, I want to tender the key basis with the technology, the finance, the people, right? And all of the sudden we had to throw out  everything we had done because now, those regulators said “We want something that has been working in, for five years, a system that we developed not have been working for five years.” So, you basically had to change strategy from being a system providing, instruction in establishing the company, so where to look for resources, where to register the company. We had to stuff it , and ah, yeah, if you do, it’s quite a process, but I think , you know , between 2008 and 2010, when the tender close’s happened, we had been prepared so much that by the time the tender that came in 2010, we were ready for it. And there’s no, unless, could make just.

Julien: Ah, so you knew about the tender in 2008, but it only came through in 2010.

Samuelle: No, in 2008 we didn’t know what there was ever going to be a tender. We were just interested in providing a solution. But, you know, we, it’s time when, ah, for what, you know, it’s changing because it had to happen. But by the time the tender closed, we were already been working, working so much.

Julien: So, you had experience to show, so your resume didn’t matter, like, the fact that you were young didn’t matter, but because you had been in the parading for a few years then.

Samuelle: Well, I was young and I was, in the earlier of the day, no qualifications to my name. So, but, the developers, they had all the credentials. They were very qualified and in fact, we had one person that did the doctorate and had 20 years of experience in Europe. So, one thing I learned this is through the entrepreneur that, you know, you can tackle even the big problems, national problems, international problems. You don’t have to know everything, but you just have to be able to put a team together and get people to buy into your vision, or forge a change to achieve. I remember, by the time we had to then set up the company. It’s a central securities depository. We now, I had to go out and look for additional partners. We managed to bring in one of the largest trust executives in Zimbabwe, which were big. She staked all that in this process. And, ah, they had been in business for the past 15 years, very respected with 40% market share, and very experienced that, you know, when they checked with their accountant, they were with over 20, was, they checked that they had come in for the past 25 years . And you know, we also had, you know MTN in Iran? You know when MTN was, yeah, it’s, they, is a mobile cellular internet called MTN. So, the one in Iran, ah, we needed to have started many years ago. They have five people that went, and literally set up that metric from zero to 25 million subscribers.  Now we had one of those five guys in our team as well.

Julien: Ah, okay. So you’ve gotten people that are used to be, you know, to solve big problems. Okay. But hang on, hang on, when you brought  that partner on board, like, how, like, you were sitting in the same room, like you know, and, you know, you don’t look like you’re forty, you know. So

Samuelle: Yeah.

Julien: So how, how did you, were you scared, like, how did that work for you?

Samuelle: No, I even, not scared, scared for what. I always, ah, I believed in my abilities. I’ve been investing in the market since I was 15, and, by the time I was 17, 18, 19, I had ditch of the main knowledge that some people didn’t even know. And with me, being young and understanding technology, on the team, I was the youngest, and about 80% of the team would double my age or more. So, there was only one or two guys that were, actually, we had one or two guys that were probably 20 years old, no, not, that was not double my age at the time, but, I mean, at the, at the end of it all, you just sit down and you’ve got a good idea, and it’s bankable, you know. People will listen to you and they will give you the audience, and look, it was an opportunity for everyone to make money. So, I was going to make money. They were going to make money too, so.

Julien: Yeah, no, no. That’s true, that’s true. But that’s, that’s pretty impressive. So then you built, now you’re running an also company.  So how did you move from one to another?

Samuelle: Okay, so, maybe I’ll just quickly fast forward and give you the, this was this project. So, while Chengetedzai, I would be with the setting up the CHT, we tendered, we won at the end of 2010 after seven month tender process, which had lots of going back and forth.

Julien: Yeah

Samuelle: But we, we eventually, we won it, and the, you know, in terms of setting up, now, we had won the tender but the problem in our head was dealing with, breaking down that dinosaur, that was big.

Julien: Yeah

Samuelle: Because, the way the market was operating, it was a dinosaur. And it was full of many holes, was, you know, because it was just paper-based. There were lots of frauds happening and they would, people with, with skeletons in their cabinet.

Julien: Yeah, you’re exposing everything with your automatic system.

Samuelle: Oh, and we were threated, huge threats. So, literally, between 2011 and 2012, we literally spent fighting politics, right, political projects and politics, ah, you know, we, you know and then, no banks wanted,  no, no investors wanted to put in money in the project, and we were promoters and we had to pump in, you know, hundreds of thousands. No one else wanted to put money because they thought, maybe that, all the boys might be strong enough to destroy our project because that was their interests. They wanted this project to fail. Yeah, but, we eventually won in the, you know, what happened was that, this project, the government got to win with that. We were setting it up. So I think once the tender was happening, nobody thought this project was as big as it is. And all of a sudden, when the cabinet saw that this project, ah, would be getting, ah, you know, over half the country’s GDP in financial securities, they wanted us, they didn’t say, look, government has various strategic interests, through institutional entities that the government knows. So you’ve, or not sure was that with what, three government banks, at the social security, National Social Security Scheme. And, ah, and this was Zimbabwe stock exchange, so, so they, the government then made it compulsory for them to own 51% but through these entities. So, the good thing about it is that since we were dealing with professional institutional investors, it kept it everything going on well. So, we didn’t sign to show that agreement, capitalized the company.

Julien: It’s basically a joint venture then.

Samuelle: Yeah, so, it’s now, it’s a joint venture now. So, we implemented the project and we finished the whole implementing in 2013. And then, now, after dealing with all these politics and getting the market on board, and we have the system ready. Then we now, actually, legislation issues that no laws where they had to, with, be able out how many to start operating and then, you know, everything had to go through Parliament and alike, and eventually passed. And, then we decided operating in September 2014, so between September 2014 and to date, we have, we now have a deposit base of 1.3 billion dollars in securities that are on our system as we speak. And, ah, we’ve done transaction clearing and settlement for over 250 million dollars so far. So our business model is that we get a percentage of every transaction that happens on our platform.

Julien: Yeah, you, you clip every transaction. But, before that, how did you make money? You know, between 2008 and 2014.

Samuelle: Okay, so between 2008 and 2014, so that’s one business venture, I did not, the company that I was involved in when we were doing banking systems and ah, we were doing like, it was in our country. We had hyper-inflation in 2008, then we got rid of our local currency, started using, using multiple currencies so that’s the Rand, the US dollar, the Pound, the Euro, you know, you know, in our country. So, initially, the economy, the reset button in 2008 and then we had to start from scratch. So everything was back to the basics and that was, well, with one of these IT guys that we partnered with the Chengetedzai, we were also, he was also doing something in the banking sector. They do also partner with the minister company, to start doing things in the banking sector, solutions in the banking sectors. And that’s kind of what, what so, he had met us. He was very experienced and came from abroad, but didn’t have local knowledge like I did. So, during that period, we implemented the National Payment system for the Tax Authority. And, ah, it’s a platform that is used by the, our tax authority to collect taxes and receive taxes online. That’s for all the taxes in the country, so I think, which is about 4 billion dollars a year in taxes wherever you dodge out a system, where they’re sitting and processing online.

Julien: All right, and, in terms of employee, like how many employees did you have?

Samuelle: Okay, so, in mine at the, for my company, ah, that I was involved with, we had, well about 15 employees, about ten of those were engineers and then five were administrative stuff and sales stuff.

Julien: Wow.

Samuelle: And in Chengetedzai, I has about 30 feminine employees as we speak, and all the group has, ah, 10 feminine employees.

Julien: All right, and so, what type of skills did you learn from one business and you transfer from, from another, like, did you learn from one business to another? Like, from your first business of being a fund manager to becoming a JV with the government.

Samuelle: Yeah. Well one thing that, you know, I, certainly my financial skill suddenly developed over time. You know, I was pursuing it at the same time. So from 2008 thereabout, I dropped out of school.

Julien: Ah, so you dropped out of school.

Samuelle: Yeah. When I started working on my business in 2008, I dropped out of school. And, ah,  I was doing accounting, so one thing I learned, was that, you know, I learned how to quickly put financial models together, to quickly assess whether it makes sense to persuade a particular investment to a group, particular project, and to see if it makes financial sense. And you know, also valuation to, you know, to value your company and to value what you’re worth and see if you’re selling off his stake, what the price should be, those kinds of things. And I, I learned that, I also learned, you know, diplomacy. What my mentors taught me that, ah, you know, diploma is bottling someone to go to hell, but you send them this smiley. So, so sometimes, when you’re dealing with, in this large project, you’ve got to understand diplomacy very well. And you’ve got to deal with people. That’s one of the most important skills, skills, you know, networking with people and dealing and managing people.

Julien: Yeah, now that’s, you have to, definitely have to learn that, definitely. So you, you just said that you dropped out of school, so, how did you manage balancing going to school and running your business?

Samuelle: Okay, yeah, that’s the most exciting question. So I dropped out of high school with two years there, but I dropped out of high school to start the student-chartered accountancy and my degree program. And, what I then did was, ah, I self-studied all the way through, so I never entered a single class and all out, simply get to.

Julien: So you didn’t go to class?

Samuelle: No, I never went to a single class.

Julien: Well.

Samuelle: So, you, I don’t know if you’ve heard of ACCA, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Yes, so I did that without entering a single classroom, also my Oxford grouped degree program. I ditched it without entering a single classroom. So, I would be an entrepreneur by day, and I studied by night. That’s how I, because the class was just in the work of my schedule. You know when you are an entrepreneur, you don’t have the flexibility and freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, you know, ah, because you know, if I’m an entrepreneur, and I have to go and meet a minister or if, go start a business deal, and I have to leave, will leave the house at seven pm to go and do that then. And if I go to class then it clashes, you know, so I just kind of self.  And of course, like anyone, because I didn’t go to class, I took longer. But one of the things I have valued was, to see, I value making an impact more than the piece of paper that I have.

Julien: Well, you did leverage when you learned because you were, you were studying accounting and so, you did say that you learned about building models and scenarios and valuation. Well, that’s, that’s what you learned from class as well, so, it was, you were improving your business and you were improving your studies as well.

Samuelle: Yeah, at the same time, kind of doing it in the, in parallel. Because, it was, one of the things that’s important with student entrepreneur is, to say look, at the end of the day, there is no direct correlation between the qualifications someone has and competence.

Julien: Excellent.

Samuelle: Yeah, because, there’re, there are many people who have brilliant qualifications, but that is, is disaster when it comes to the workplace. And you, well, what a good analogy. If you look at most of the billionaires, how many people are there that have doctorates, but are billionaires.

Julien: Not that many.

Samuelle: And not that many. And in many cases, those that get doctorates, some of them might honour that they’re doctorates.

Julien: Yes. Exactly

Samuelle: You see a billionaire with, not the one they studied for, to gain a doctorate.

Julien: It’s because you donated a lot of money to the universities.

Samuelle: Exactly, you know. It’s, that is a possibility.

Julien: So, what happened when you had to drop out of uni? What, what did, drop out of, was it uni or was it high school? What did your parents say?

Samuelle: Well, I basically showed demonstration to them that I was dropping out with the plan-out; I wasn’t just doing it blindly. And I was going to continue furthering my studies while pursuing business at the same time, and something that I had always been doing even when I was in high school. During my holidays, I would, ah, go and, ah, work for free during my school holidays at various companies, you know, family friends and stuff, just to gain experience and getting involved in the market place. That’s what I was doing and it proved very valuable. So by the time I dropped off studying at school, my peers that continued to high school and went on to get degrees. They finished their degrees sometime last, most of them finished by end, by last year. But the difference between me and them was that by last year, I had, ah, seven years of experience.

Julien: That’s right.

Samuelle; Right, I’ve started, ah, you know, I’ve been in, starting two success in businesses and I exited that third business that I got involved in. And, you know, I’ve managed to make more money than I ever have made even if I had gotten the best-paying job out of college, then, you know, at the same time I had gotten some national and international air group commissions as well.

Julien: Yeah. I know. That’s right. You, you got.

Samuelle: Not bothered qualifications, but I made a few steps ahead of it.

Julien: A few steps? There are lots of steps. You’re right. You’re right. That’s seven years of experience that they don’t have. They, they have a piece of paper, but, and they’ve done a few internships but that’s all they’ve got. Was, as you said, you thought about a list of 20 ideas that you could bring to Zimbabwe, focus on one, and then, build models and build it from there? I mean, like, that’s a lot of experience, so.

Samuelle: And just interesting enough, those three ideas I came up with, I actually, they implemented three of those. I’ve the list, but I don’t have it on me right now, but, you know, out of those 20 ideas, you know, about 8 of those made people lots of money. Maybe I didn’t do it to myself, but, to many people, lots of money.

Julien: I think if, you, you said it a lot. How, how did you learn? You learned a lot from experience and you’ve got to learn from asking people and from practicing early on. Do you, is there also books that you read? Podcast or key people that you talked to that you want to share with us?

Samuelle: Okay, so, ah, I’ve got a lot of books that I read, ah, Robert Kiyosaki’s books on “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, “Cash flow Quadrant” to “Rich Dad’s Guide to investing”.  I already got a bunch of those. I’ve also read “Think and grow rich” “Seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey, also “Million dollar habits” by Brian Tracy, “Goals” by Brian Tracy. So these are some of the books that I have, and I’ve always, have looked for as many books as possible. The list of books is mainly easily digested as chicken and ice-cream, but this, those are some, the main of.

Julien: So you read a lot.

Samuelle: Yeah. In fact, this year, ah, my goal is to read 15 books and I’ve read about 5 so far.

Julien: That’s good. So you give your, you gave you an objective of this year, of the list of books and, and meanwhile, you’re running two businesses here and you’re studying, right?

Samuelle: It’s exciting and yeah. And I have a girlfriend as well.

Julien: Oh, you manage to have a social life.

Samuelle: Yeah. So that’s one thing I, I, I have lots of ordeals and you know, in my car, whenever I move in, between different points, I always make it a point to listen to some audios, because we spend a lot of time in the car, audio books yeah. I’ve also got a couple of mentors, yeah, I have Luxon Zembe, Moffat ChikuniCam Bonds CY, whole, whole, a whole bunch of local people here, Anthony Kates, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, I’ve got many local mentors as well.

Julien: How did you meet them?

Samuelle: Well, it all happened, all happened progressively. The first one being Luxon Zembe, ah, we, we go to church together. Yeah, we go to church together, so, although now we now go to different branches, but of the same church. He was, ah, you know, very expectant of business arena. And he actually, he heard that I was doing, it’s something in business and he got hold of me and said: “You must come and see me so that I teach you a few lessons, so that you, when you got in the market, you don’t want to get, ah, you don’t get your fingers bent.” So ever since then, I started working with him. And you know, it’s, now and then, you know, I get to, I must speak to him whenever I’m stuck at something, and also a lot of people in arms.

Julien: So you still talk to him. That’s good.

Samuelle: No, I still talk to him very regularly and many of other mentors if I’m stuck with something. I know that if it’s a legal matter, go to this lawyer, wasn’t my legal adviser and mentor of court. Mr. Luxon Zembe wasn’t my business adviser. I’ve got to, and Nicholas Mukomberanwa was my strategic mentor. So, depending on what the situation is, I’ll just call and hear them out, to see what they, they have to say based on their experiences. Then, you then just take a blend of everything and come up with a report or strategy to solve the problem.

Julien: That’s good, like, you’ve got different mentors with different areas of expertise.

Samuelle: Yes, yes. That’s very important.

Julien: What else that supports do you think you have in terms of community, or, you don’t really have a relationship with your professor because it’s long-distance, right?

Samuelle: Yeah, yeah. No.

Julien: But you are connected. Do you, you’ve developed a, a network in your community though.

Samuelle: Yeah, yeah. I’m, I’m developing.

Julien: Yeah, I think you did it through, like, to begin with all the internships that you did in all these companies, and then you just built on that.

Samuelle: Yeah, and also the businesses over the years. You know, before one thing succeeds in business, you’ve probably tried 20 or 30 different things. So as you are going in this maze, you meet different people, connect to different people, diverse industries. And my internships started when I was 14 years old.

Julien: Oh my god.

Samuelle: While everybody starts internships in college, I started internships when I was 14 years old.

Julien: I was working at McDonald and I didn’t learn a thing.

Samuelle: Well, well you learned customer service that you meant, and how to get accountable.

Julien: Yeah, customer service, because so and so and so.

Samuelle: You know, but that, customer [inaudible 27:08] customers. So, out of every situation, there’s always something to learn, even in the most mini of job. When I was doing an internship, I was a clerk, an auditor in an accounting clerk. And I remember sometimes, ah, was sent for assignments out of the country with an audit team. And they’ll be like “Oh, this one is the youngster. Give him this box of receipt books to go through, and start checking every receipt book one by one.”

Julien: Of course.

Samuelle: But he taught me discipline. He taught me something about, you know, even in business that whenever you’re doing something, always check cross, check triple, check quadruple, check before anything goes out so that you get the most, everything out of it, maybe not perfect , but as close to perfection as possible.

Julien: And you said, ah, you know, you have to try 20 things for 1 thing to work. Do you have examples of failures that you had on, on your journey?

Samuelle: Oh yeah, many failures, many failures, ah, if they’ve known, probably more failures than successes, well much more to fix there. You know, ah, one of the things that I once failed, it was at managing relationships. You know, once, you know, with my partner in business, we wanted to set up this, you know, large IT company which was going to shake waves in Zimbabwe and in Southern Africa because we just brought an A-team  from everywhere, right? And, ah, you know, it also meant we brought in a lot of egos, and there were a lot of chefs in the kitchen, and I, and the, we, you know, I, I got to work with one of these guys who was, you know, an expert and you know, I even developed a good relationship with this guy, and I learned a lot from him. But the problem, the idea, the idea was that on the back-end, he also was, ah, manoeuvring, and ah, he’s having, he’s at his own agendas running. So I was young and I didn’t, then eventually, because of my association with him, my eyes saluted myself from everybody else. And when everything filled up, part of the wheels came off. I was left in the cold with, and he had gone his way, gone back and relocated to South Africa. And I’m there, I’m all alone and starting again from square one.

Julien: Yeah, but this is a lesson that you learned very early on, like, this happens to anybody in their career, ah but you learned that in your teens, oh, like, that’s.

Samuelle: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah, I, I was feeling dejected, you know, I remember I even, you know, I almost cried. I was really close to tears because it was just traumatizing. But what I also learned is to say that never make business too personal. I can never get too emotionally attached to an idea or business because sometimes, you become sentimental about it, and when you’re being sentimental, you can, you know, end up losing a lot. So, yeah, that’s one thing. Another failure was, you know, ah, you know, raising money. You know, I remembered with, with Chengetedzai, when we won the tender and we were in this laughter [29:56] billion political, you know, environment, when, but then I’m talking politics. I’m not talking about the, you know, government, but, you know, project politics.

Julien: Yeah, of course.

Samuelle: Yeah and market politics, right? And, ah, we wanted to raise money and we, we couldn’t raise money. It was because, you know, whenever there’s a lot of risks and uncertainties; nobody wants to touch with it, even as stick, right? So, you know, I remember doing like, ten pitches, ten, fifteen pitches and no money coming out. But then, this was from the Main Jain festival. Now, amidst student entrepreneur, and we as promoters and co-founders, said “Guys, we have to raise the money.” Whether we like it or not, we’re now at that stage, and you, we have to find it. It’s going to be dollar for dollar, we have to subscribe for shares in the company, you know, over and above or switch equity. And, ah, one of the valuable things that I had been talking about my ideas from the beginning with one of these close lawyers of, lawyer mentors of mine. So when I started to, all my ideas and everything, I always kept my mentors in the loop to say “I’m doing this and that, and that. This is where I am.”

Julien:  Very good. Yeah. Let people know what you’re doing, yeah.

Samuelle: Exactly. So, one important thing is to make friends before you need them. Because you know, do you know what happened? I had the, when we needed money and everybody had to go and call and look for money, I’m the youngest of them all, and with the least amount of money. And I had to find money. So that that my interest doesn’t get diluted and this guy came through for me. He gave me money on a gentleman’s agreement. I, you know, up till now, I don’t still comprehend it but, we’ve never even signed anything for it, but he gave me the money.

Julien: Oh my, wow! You didn’t sign anything.  And he’s a lawyer.

Samuelle: He’s a lawyer. Exactly. And he gave me, you know, thousands over, you know, almost a hundred thousand dollars, right and.

Julien: Well it’s, that’s, I think that’s called trust.

Samuelle: Exactly. Because we had built that relationship over time, and it’s easier to give a friend you trust. And for us, it was all about openness and transparency. I never kept anything from them. And when, there was nothing good to say, you know, you have to be honest to say “Look, this is what it is.”

Julien: Yeah, that’s, thanks for sharing because that’s, those, those are difficult times where, ah, you start questioning and hopeful, you were still staying at your parents’ place or did you have your own place?

Samuelle: No, I was staying at my parents’ place until about two and a half years ago. That’s when I left my parents’ place, yeah.

Julien: So worse comes to worst, you still have a bed to sleep in.

Samuelle: Exactly, bed to sleep in and food to eat.

Julien: Exactly. That’s why it’s good to start very early on.

Samuelle: Yeah, and I, ah, a qualification I was slowly but surely completing. So, yeah, I had that flexibility to take enormous risks and I had nothing to lose, I had more to gain than to loose. So that’s a very unique advantage that student entrepreneurs have because, you’re in a situation where you don’t have any risks. And, ah, it’s different if you’re married , you’ve got a wife and kids, you can’t take, you know, risks, as many risks because you don’t have the safety in some ways.

Julien: You have to provide for the family first.

Samuelle: Exactly.

Julien: Well, so all that.

Samuelle: And even though you have to provide for the families and people, you can also start a business later, but when you’re at young age, it’s you, they, you know, they always say the higher the risks, the higher the reward. So if you look into the rich generation, that Twitter, Facebook, all became billionaires when they were very young.

Julien: Oh yeah. So, you ended up, ah, earlier this year, I think you were in Washington DC for the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards? How was it? How was it to be with other student entrepreneurs of more less your age?

Samuelle: I mean it was very interesting because we had the same, I think our stories, the challenges we had, and the obstacles we had to overcome. We are almost all the same. We all made great connections there. And that was, you know that, look, everywhere in the world is the same. It’s not any difference, so, whilst, in some countries, you don’t have one problem. You’ve got the other problems to deal with, and sometimes, you, we often underestimate what we have. And it’s only when you meet someone that doesn’t have access to a particular thing, then we see that. So for example, over the years, I managed to build relationships with various senior contacts and, ah, you know, I have even, ah, you know, I had meetings with the Vice President of the country a couple of times.

Julien: That’s cool.

Samuelle: Yeah. And, ah, you know, one thing that, that I have seen is that, you know, some people would be dying to have such contexts right, and to be able to do what they’re trying to do, and, well, that they’re in.  I’m like “Oh, okay. If I want to meet the Vice President, I just have to make a few calls and I’ll get an appointment set up.” But, ah, you know, in other they aren’t, in some countries in Europe, people underestimate that you’ve got PayPal and you can quickly set up an online business and it works, but, like, in this part of the world, we don’t have electronic transactions, and you have to find to work around for a lot of things so, well, it was quite interesting.

Julien: Yeah, it takes time, and.

Samuelle: Yeah, and it was, so one of the things that I was also interested in the States, was networking with the EO members, the organization that you have the old entrepreneurs organization, great, a lot of great guys, some of millionaires and billionaires, but very humble people at the same time. You know, it’s just amazing.

Julien: And wanting to give their time to you guys, to student entrepreneurs, yeah.

Samuelle: Yeah, exactly. They, you know, it’s, it’s so humbling to know that look, we are just students but billionaires and millionaires, and the Vice President of J.P Morgan is here, to be here with us.

Julien: So, would you recommend, ah, all the people to apply for next year?

Samuelle: Absolutely. Absolutely without, without a blinking, you know. And you know that we have, were invited to apply for this. I didn’t even know about it. And, ah, you know, based on what I’ve been doing in the Zimbabwe, one of the previous winners said “Hey Sam, it’s something, like, it’s, you probably, you may want to apply to my profile. And remember, he was in America that time, but like “Ah, okay. I’ll apply.” Then I just quickly put something together then I’m like “Ah, okay. It’s probably, the many ah, I’ll just do nominations they make, and I just copied and pasted a lot of things and then submitted it. Well, the end of the year, I was told ”Oh, you’re okay, you’ve been shortlisted in”. The experience was very great.

Julien: Well, you did mention early on in the interview that, ah, you doubled, tripled and quadrupled check every things, so when something goes out, it’s always perfect. So, if you do, did the copy and paste of something, it was probably, was pretty good.

Samuelle: Ah, yeah I, but that, it was copying and pasting of others’ submissions and adding a few extra words. So those are the submissions that have already been perfect, and, I just added in a bit more spice to it.

Julien: All right, Samuelle. Thank you so much for your time. Is there something else that you do want to tell, ah, our listeners? Like keep them motivated or any other words you want to add?

Samuelle: Yeah, I’ll say, look, here as a student entrepreneur and ah, you know, people often say the sky is the limit. It’s not even the limit, you know. You can achieve anything you want and one of the simplest ways is of identifying something that can make you money, is looking at the problems you have in your society, you know, and finding a way of solving them in a way that can be monetized, right? And, ah, there is always capital that is available for good ideas. And you know, many people who fail and say “Oh, I can’t start because I don’t have capital.” And it’s a, almost a notion that people have, but doesn’t take, necessarily take money to make money.

Julien: And you’re saying that from a country where it’s not easy to start a business, because it’s…

Samuelle: Oil, yeah.

Julien: Ah, because that’s the number one reason and it’s like, oh, yeah, it’s too, it’s too expensive. I don’t have the money, but you did it, right? So…

Samuelle: Yeah, exactly, so it’s not always about the money.

Julien: Yeah, exactly. All right, thank you so much. It was a, it was really ah, amazing. So, ah, all the best, well, ah, we’ll track you on your Facebook page. I’ll share your Facebook page on the show notes, and your Twitter is at S-D-I-M-A-I-R-H-O, correct?

Samuelle: Yes, that’s correct.

Julien: And you’ll be on the, on our website. All right. Thank you very much.

Samuelle: Thank you so much Julien for your time.

 

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