“That element of having an assured future is still very strong with our folks, not only our parents but fellow classmates.”
Europe and the United States may venerate startups as social icons, but the founders of Chura, a platform for sharing mobile resources across platforms, discovered that this was far from the case in their native Kenya. They had to convince both their parents and colleagues that starting a company was a smart decision.
Even in Kenya, access to capital for a startup is very limited, and both old and young generations still see education followed by employment as prudent. Parental and community support can be crucial. So, these founders had to get both groups on their side.
##Talking to Your Parents About Being in a Startup
“It was a bit challenging to convince a parent after spending 6 years in campus in university… not to seek formal employment.”
Both founders of Chura often speak to classes in their spare time about starting your own business. What they see is that not only is there not a culture around this, but students are often afraid of the idea. “What will we tell our parents?” is the common question.
While they haven’t fully convinced their own parents, Samuel Njogu’s mother still talks to him about “looking for secure employment,” they’ve made significant progress. While Samuel Njuguna’s parents initially thought he was “taking some drug or something” while he was working on Chura, he simply avoided family gatherings until he could show some progress. Once major news outlets began writing positive stories about the company, his family began to understand.
Samuel Njogu is still faces challenges, his parents, as is often the case, want him to play it safe. They rightly see starting a technology company as a risky venture. Overcoming this deep cultural norm is difficult, but by showing his own successes, Samuel Njogu is slowly winning over his parent’s understanding. In spite of Chura’s success, his mother still sends him job postings regularly. But overall, both are happy with their progress and Chura has overcome many hurdles, recently reaching 1 million Kenyan Shillings in monthly revenue.
“We convinced several folks we were doing something right… Because the idea has largely been that life should be a conveyor belt: you go to primary school, high school, then after high school you graduate and then you’re expected to go straight into a white collar business.”
Can you relate to the stories we told here? How is your experience different? We’d love to hear from you. Your questions and comments are what will help us make better lessons in the future.