Node Africa, Six Months In

Node Africa Ltd was incorporated about six months ago and it’s been one hell of a ride. It’s a journey that seems easier at the start, but gets rather arduous as you chart your path. There is so much that goes into building a business – putting together the team and the product – that it is a conscious decision by each member to ensure the success of the organization.

As a team, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to build a business. I was once told by Suru Shah, of Blowplast Kenya, that if you are good to your customers, your team and your suppliers, you have three teams working as a force for good for your organization. This comment stuck in my mind, and it has never more apparent during the founding of this new business.

Our customers

We’ve also solved many problems for our customers who are our core focus. They give us the impetus to move. I’d like to mention two of them: Asim Shah at Tarpo gave us the encouragement to start a new business; Liko Agosta at Pesapal, has gone beyond the call of duty and supported us on multiple fronts over the last few months. Simply, we would not have launched without him. We have several more customers who’ve been gracious enough to walk this journey with us and we are eternally grateful to them. We remain committed to improving the quality of our product and service to ensure that we are more than just a supplier to you, rather a longer term technology partner you can rely on.

Our team

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I am very fortunate to work with the team that we have at the moment. They are a true depiction of courage.They took a leap of faith in us and joined us even when we really had no idea where money would come from, what products we would be selling, or how much capital we needed. They gave us the much needed motivation to surge ahead. So, this is a thank you to:

  • Brian Muita, CTO and Co- Founder, friend and confidant, without whom our platform wouldn’t be where it is.
  • Ken Kibui , who works tirelessly on our tech team to ensure that the platform remains up, as well as building some of our new product lines and carrying out seamless customer on-boarding.
  • Nduku Kiteng’e, who recently joined us from Microsoft and has been instrumental in cementing our culture as a company and ensuring that we are a well oiled machine.
  • Njeri Kagera, who runs the finances of the company; she makes sure everything is collected, everyone is paid and that the ship isn’t sinking. She’s our secret weapon. πŸ™‚
  • Sam Mbugua, who is handling sales and is effectively the face of the business. He works tirelessly to bring in new business.
  • Samuel Olembo, newest father on our block, and our favourite supports person as well as ensuring that the customer on-boarding process is seamless. Sam and Ken work closely and effectively as a team.

What’s especially moving is that most of them have fairly young families and have worked tirelessly for the last six months to ensure that the collective dream we have is actualized. Words cannot describe the gratitude I have for them.

Our suppliers

We were able to launch because of goodwill from our suppliers, who traded with us simply because of our career history and gut instincts. We were able to start because of the faith the following suppliers had in our business and we are extremely grateful to them. I’d like to directly name the helpful people:

  • Liquid Telecom (www.liquidtelecom.com) – Joel Muigai, Dan Kwach, Maggy Maina & Carol Bartoo have been a dream to work with.
  • First Distribution (www.firstdistribution.co.za) – Joseph Ongoro fully understands the role of a partner manager in distribution and plays the part. He’s been amazing to work with.
  • VMware (www.vmware.com) – Daniel Ndirangu, Everline Kamau & Dave Funnel have been supportive with our platform build out efforts.
  • Fireside Communications (www.fireside.co.ke) – Rebecca Wanjiku & Joseph Kamau gave us a lifeline with our networking at the last minute.
  • Cisco Networks (www.cisco.com) – John Gitau and David Bunei have provided much needed guidance both on strategy and infrastructure acquisition.
  • Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) – Maryanne Kariuki ensured that we were quickly signed up as partners.
  • NetApp (www.netapp.com ) – Paul Karuchia and David Mugo @ NetApp have been fantastic with a product line we are looking to launch soon.
  • TESPOK – Fiona Asonga got us peering in a matter of days; this was painless and straightforward.
  • Sprint Interactive – Gideon Thande & Susan Silot ensured that we were able to launch on short notice and helped put together our brand.
  • Greenline Technologies – Alvin worked to ensure we had everything we needed.

These companies demonstrated faith in Node Africa Ltd, a young company with no trading history and we hope the relationship continues being fruitful for all of us. They are good people – work with them.

Skin in the game:

I am proud of the steps we’ve made to move ourselves from the start to where we are. I am especially grateful of some of the most notable moments of our journey, I would like to mention below:

  • moving from working out of coffee houses (I can say Java Waiyaki, opposite Safaricom House acted as an incubator for a couple of months) to finally moving into our current address
  • the team growing from Brian (CTO), Njeri Kagera (handling finance) and myself, to include Ken Kibui (engineering), Nduku Kitenge (operations and talent), Samuel Mbugua (sales), and Samuel Olembo (engineering).
  • deploying our enterprise cloud platform, securely built atop VMware’s technology.
  • getting featured by VMware on the quality of our infrastructure (we are leading the charge in this region on software defined networking)
  • becoming participants in Microsoft’s Interns4Afrika talent program, with a new intern joining us this week. Welcome Joan πŸ™‚

We have more planned – and we are excited about the future, including, but not limited to:

  • launching our new enterprise storage platform (NetApp) in two weeks time (on the 21st of July).
  • a DRaaS platform
  • a container engine for developers in this region

The journey continues

This has been an intense but rewarding journey and we hope to keep walking it with our community of friends who have supported us thus far. This is what a community is made of, support, help and mutual respect.