When I met Kess Daniels, I knew he was an exceptional man with huge ambitions. Kess has been active and successful in the technology start-up ecosystem for six years. He is the founder of Voize Media; an award winning new age, PR, media, events and digital communication agency. Voize Media is the brain child behind Techvoize Magazine- UAE’s first freely distributed consumer technology/gadget magazine. I think he is a geek and a half. He enjoys trying out new adventures and of course ‘birthing’ new companies. Enjoy!
TO: Kess! I am delighted you made time out of your busy schedule for this. I read your profile for the first time and I though hmm… pretty impressive. Tell me, have you always been business oriented?
KD: Thank you Titi. I am just as delighted as you are. Well, I am an Entrepreneur. I love to learn, to change the world around me and if opportunity presents itself I like to add value to people. Everyday for me is an opportunity to fix yesterday and make tomorrow better. I don’t think I have always been business savvy or oriented if you like. I think my passion to be an Entrepreneur started when I read a few books among which was Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
TO: Do you think that Entrepreneurs are born and not made?
KD: I would say both. I think we are born Entrepreneurs but along the line most people lose it, while people like me develop it.
TO: So, how did you start Techvoize?
KD: How I started might be a 1, 000 page book. (Laughs) In summary, I had an idea then I created the prototype, showed it to few friends and they liked it. I thought it would be nice to get in a few investors. Interestingly, the investors liked it too. We had several meetings and eventually they gave some seed funds to get it off the ground.
TO: Have you always been lucky to have seed capital investment for all your start-up companies or did you bootstrap at anytime?
KD: Well for my first start up I had a capital investment. However I had sowed in-kind to attract the investors; they saw what I had done before so it wasn’t so much hustle getting their attention even though the process was long. I was also lucky to get some support from some friends who understood the market and what it takes to remain in the business.
TO: Most start-ups mention that getting funding is a major hurdle to realising their objectives. Do you agree with this?
KD: I agree for some start-ups and disagree for others. Funding is critical but some hurdles can be crossed without funding….you might just need a leverage.
TO: The Nigerian technology scene is experiencing some interesting growth and foreign advantages. Is it the same in Dubai? Is the market friendly presently?
KD: No, the market is never friendly; you just need the right wave to thrive.
TO: Would you rather do business in Dubai than any other part of the world?
KD: I scout for opportunities around the world. I love where I am at the moment but business for me is not about location, it’s about serving a need regardless of where that need is.
TO: When have you been most satisfied with your business?
The word satisfaction scares me, as Myles Munroe says- ‘the greatest enemy of progress is your last success.’ I would say I have been happy at various achievements in the past, like when I got funding of $250, 000 for an idea I developed in 2011 and another time when I was invited by BlackBerry Middle East to brainstorm on a new product to boost awareness of the NFC feature on the BB smartphones sometimes in 2012.
TO: Have you ever failed at starting a company?
KD: Oh yes. Officially I would say I have been an Entrepreneur for six years and within which I have founded two major companies and other ideas that have failed or faded away.
TO: So you enjoy taking risk nevertheless?
KD: There is a popular saying that goes- ‘Go big or go home.’ I don’t like taking risks, but in the line of business you need to have guts.
TO: What is the biggest risk you have taken?
KD: I entered into a completely new industry without prior knowledge just because I loved it. I invested a chuck of money and started the business from A-Z and the business is still running..
TO: What challenges are you facing now?
KD: Quite a number of them. The primary challenge will be keeping up with the market needs and policy changes, which can be tough. Another is having a brilliant idea that would impact lives but not having the resource or access to pull it off.
TO: What is a typical work day like for you?
KD: A typical workday is to be at more than 4 meetings which can last for at least 2hours and then managing operations and buried in my laptop, reviewing proposals, replying emails, making long hour calls and having four or more cups of coffee (Laughs).
TO: Do you take any breaks away from work? Work life balance?
KD: Am probably the wrong person to ask about work life balance. Twenty- four hours sometimes is not enough. I do agree it’s important to learn how to balance personal and work life but I have learnt that the hard way. I take a break only when my laptop battery dies. (Laughs)
TO: How do you unwind?
KD: I don’t have any particular way of relaxing, but I would prefer to sleep for every free time I get as that is the only thing I do less in my life. I like reading and of course eating good food. I am more of an indoor person so most of my unwinding activities would be in-house related.
TO: What travel destination would you opt for when you want to get away during the year?
KD: I like the Asian continent more for relaxing, nature and their hospitality, which you never find in Europe. I have visited almost everywhere in India yet it’ll still be my first choice when I need to cool off.
TO: The most adventurous thing you have done?
KD: I did three adventurous things last year when I was in Thailand. I did a bungee jump from fifty meters. I went to Tiger temple to play with Tigers and Lions and finally carried a snake around my neck; I always wanted to try that. How will I forget I rode on the world’s fastest roller coaster in Abu Dhabi (Laughs)
TO: What should we expect from Voize Media in the coming months?
KD: We have been working lately with a lot of amazing people across the world… Personally, I want to be more involved with helping others achieve their life’s purpose through mentoring and guiding them from the vast experience I have gathered in the start-up scene, branding, strategy and publicity. Voize Media will be more involved with the Nigerian Tech and Start-up ecosystem in the nearest future.
TO: It’s always nice to give back Kess. Well done. Thanks for your time.
KD: Anytime Titi. The pleasure is mine.