Episode 003: Love the Hustle. Says Patrick Muhire. If You Don't, Quit and Find What You Love.
EPISODE 003 OF YOUNG AFRICAN ENTREPRENEUR FEATURES PATRICK MUHIRE, FOUNDER AND CEO OF VUGAPAY.
You can connect with him @patrickmuhi on Twitter.
Born and raised in Rwanda, Patrick is a self-taught coder. In 2015, he created VugaPay, a mobile money platform, after two days of frenzied code writing with his business partner and brother. In three years, he’s secured seed funding at Kigali’s seminal Transform Africa pitch event; snagged a $150K investment from famed Silicon Valley investor, Tim Draper; and moved to San Francisco to challenge himself and grow his business.
VugaPay has since expanded to over 8 countries across the continent and counts over 20,000 users.
My conversation with Patrick was illuminating – and a lot of fun. We chatted about his important early influences, the accidental success of his first app Rwanda TV, his counterintuitive secret to a strong pitch, and why he wishes he were Nigerian.
There is much to learn from Patrick’s story, so I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.
- What sparked Patrick’s interest in coding. [00:10]
- His recommendations for free online resources for learning how to code. [1:45]
- Patrick’s biggest influencers and what he’s reading right now. [2:10]
- His biggest takeaway from watching Gary Vaynerchuk's videos. [3:07]
- How his thinking on entrepreneurship shifted from securing $$ to providing a value-added service. [6:03]
- Why Patrick cut his losses with his first startup, VugApp, and moved to create another app.
- The backstory of Patrick’s first successful app, Rwanda TV. [9:11]
- What he’s learned about the African market’s demand for apps which could be the seed of a new venture. [12:39]
- Patrick explains working with his brother with whom he co-founded all his apps. [13:47]
- The impetus for starting VugaPay. Which pain point did it look to solve? [15:04]
- How they persuaded the telcos to support VugaPay despite their initial resistance. [18:04]
- Patrick explains how kLab, the tech hub in Kigali, was key to helping him get his foot in the door with the major telecom companies. [20:26]
- How Patrick raised funding for VugaPay, including $150,000 from Dark Draper Ventures, a VC fund based in Silicon Valley. [22:02]
- Patrick’s major takeaway from his raising his first seed funding for $20K. [24:02]
- African investors are starting to invest in tech, but it’s in small chunks, making it hard for startups. [27:25]
- VugaPay makes money from a 4% transaction fee which is lower than their competitors. [28:26]
- How VugaPay aims to attract corporate clients by providing a value-added service that doesn’t exist on the market). [29:06]
- Patrick explains the difficulties of expanding into new markets. [30:46]
- The most important lessons that he learned from the Speedup Africa event in Ghana. [33:11]
- The best advice that he’s gotten from Tim Draper. [35:54]
- Patrick’s counterintuitive secret to giving a strong pitch. [37:32]
- What Patrick is looking forward to in his business this year. [40:18]
- His thoughts on the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in Africa. [41:51]
- The future of local hosting capacity in Africa. [44:30]
- Patrick moved to San Francisco, California over 9 months ago to challenge himself and grow as a thinker. [45:39]
- The hardest decision Patrick ever made was not listening to his parents who wanted him to get a Masters and a PhD. [47:21]
- Patrick’s one piece of actionable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa. [48:39]
- Why Patrick wishes that he were Nigerian. [50:00]