Episode 003: Love the Hustle. Says Patrick Muhire. If You Don't, Quit and Find What You Love.

Patrick Muhire profile pic.jpg


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]